Can Advertisers Keep Up With Television?

A new report from GigaOm shows that television ad spending, just crossing $75 billion 2013, is on the rise, but the general core business in itself is actually in flux. With audience ratings dwindling and secondary screens taking precedence in comparison to general TV viewing, changes need to be made in certain areas. However, not all the news is negative, as television viewership in itself remains at an all-time high.

How execs can keep up with this changing landscape is a tricky business, but the report shows that there are certain trends that indicate where things are going. For instance:

Online video spending is peanuts, and mobile is just getting started. Nonetheless, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) estimates that multiscreen ad spending will grow from current level of 20 percent to 50 percent of budgets within three years.

Social media’s titans are achieving audience reach that may surpass that of U.S. TV networks’, and the social networks are emerging as sources of several TV-enhancing services including combination buys, increased audience engagement, and media metrics.

Lack of industry standards for cross-channel performance measurement is hindering broad adoption and market growth, and it is frustrating all constituents of the television supply chain. But multichannel video distributors are well-positioned and able to collect real-time click stream data analogous to web and online media channels.

The first-place digital-derived TV techniques will play out in any sort of volume is for addressable inventory on cable-owned local spots and video on demand.

Intelligent cross-platform media buying and planning is in a maturation phase. Key challenges still lie in the methodologies for data aggregation and standardization for things like de-duping viewership and the impact that has on impression valuation (for ad buyers) and viewership metrics (for buyers and sellers), but advertisers and program networks are moving quickly to adopt where they can.

The full report can be read here.

Source: GigaOm

Digital Transformation Coming Fast

There’s a big change coming to many different businesses as marketing and commerce shift to digital, and certain executives are going to need to get used to that. The impact of smartphones and tablets is touching every aspect of people’s lives, and more interactions with companies are mediated through digital means than ever before. Businesses need to get digital, and get mobile, before the competition does.

A report from Altimeter Group posted back in April 2014 shows that digital transformation has become a significant movement in the market, with “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle” taking focus.

Out of those reported, 88 percent of U.S. digital strategists indicated that their firms would be undergoing some form of digital marketing transformation in their latest efforts. There are various types being looked at, and although technology will remain an important factor, understanding the consumer journey seems to be the most critical aspect.

What’s the most important initiative Four of the five respondents in the report believe that improving processes to speed up changes to digital properties, including social and mobile platforms, is a big step. Meanwhile, seven in 10 said the same thing in regards to website and eCommerce programs, as well as integrating channels in the hopes to improve general customer experience. Customer-facing technology is also vital, at least, according to 66 percent of the U.S. digital strategists.

Respondents also felt that the need to show execs that digital transformation efforts don’t reflect their current plans is a necessary step. CMO’s seem to be the most likely to support this idea, although CIOs and CTOs are a little lower on the list, even if they do play a critical role. However, their working together is vital, since the “balance between the CMO and CIO to address the needs and expectations of digital customers is required for true digital transformation.” In short, you’re either on the digital bus, or you’re likely to be under it — either way, the bus is leaving.

Source: eMarketer

Jason Kilar’s Vessel Targeting Premium Short-Form Video Creators for Streaming Platform

By Jocelyn Johnson

It’s still in stealth mode and has (not-so) quietly been banging at the doors of the online video space’s major players and YouTube creators. Until recently, Jason Kilar’s secret startup went by the code name “The Fremont Project.” Last month, the company announced its official name — Vessel — via a statement distributed on its site.

But if you go to Vessel.com, there’s not much in the way of clues towards what Kilar, CTO Richard Tom, and the team have been building outside of a vague note that it will “delight consumers and content creators alike.” According to our sources and some digging on the interwebs, though, here’s what we’ve found out:

Vessel is a premium streaming platform specifically for short-form video content. Some of that content would be offered in front of a paywall, for free. In many ways, think Hulu or DramaFever, but for premium short-form content.

There’s been speculation that Vessel would be a mobile video product. While mobile video is said to be a primary focus (especially given viewing trends for online video on mobile), Vessel’s own recruiting materials claim they are building “a multi-platform consumer facing service” so there will likely be a web product as well.

As far as business model goes we’re told there will be an ad-supported free offering (hence the sales hires mentioned below) as well as a subscription option.

Judging by how Vessel has been acquiring talent — mostly from subscription VOD platforms like Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix — it wouldn’t be surprising to see a very similar framework built, but focused on mobile functionality and short-form content.

Some of the new key hires include former Amazon digital media manager Corky Cook (biz dev), former Hulu execs Steven DeMain (sales), Brian Conkling (finance), Lindsay Monroe (design), and Anthony Di Muccio (sales). GigaOm also previously reported that former Hulu execs — VP of product Lonn Lee, head of recruiting Megan Healey, and SVP of advertising Jean-Paul Colaco – had already been poached by last fall.

According to those we’ve talked to, Kilar’s team has already taken meetings with nearly every major content company from MCN Land as well as premium content companies who are not exclusive to YouTube. Vessel is also looking to strike upfront deals with top tier YouTube creators.

The offer

Well, in exchange for uploading content to Vessel first, the company is prepared to offer solid returns much higher than YouTube, much in the way we’ve heard Yahoo is approaching creators. We’re told that any brand-related content can not be added to the site to start though. The vertical focus has yet to be confirmed.

Vessel is working against a relatively tight timeline to get those deals locked up, however, given we’re told the company is readying a launch for fall of this year.

Looks like Vessel should be added to our list of companies poised to take on YouTube.

*Sahil Patel contributed to the reporting of this story.

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via thevideoink.com for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

The Cost Of Indie Games On Xbox One

Microsoft has reversed its stance on indie game developers over the past few months, opening up its arms and inviting them to take part in its ID@Xbox program, which spotlights new titles from them and puts them smack dab in the middle of the Xbox Live Marketplace for the Xbox One system.

However, it appears that this process does come at a price — and it’s no small fee if you’re an indie developer on a shoestring budget. Jamie Fristrom, a developer at Happion Laboratories, recently released a game for the system called Sixty Second Shooter Prime, a twin-stick shooter reminiscent of the Xbox 360 downloadable classic Geometry Wars. Fristrom recently provided a full breakdown of costs in regards to how much it takes to publish a game on Microsoft’s console.

According to Fristrom, costs are around $5000, including sending another development kit to a partner, using hardware such as a video capture device, localization for different languages, and maintaining a URL. Perhaps the most costly steps involve earning foreign ratings from different boards like PEGI and USK, which ranges around $2,000, and getting insurance in case of errors or omissions, which is about the same amount.

According to Fristrom, errors and omissions insurance is required by Microsoft, as “it has to cover IP and copyright violations, so the cheap E & O insurance you can easily find online doesn’t qualify.”

Ratings board payment is also a requirement. “If you want to release in a given territory, you have to get your game rated by the official ratings boards of that territory. It’s sad but true, getting your game rated in some territories can be a lot more expensive than simply translating your game to that territory’s language!” said Fristrom.

But with all the expenses, the process isn’t heartbreaking, especially considering that Microsoft provides the development kits at no charge. “Although those costs were somewhat daunting for a shoestring developer like myself, it was absolutely worth it. Although we haven’t gotten our first sales report yet, there were at least ten thousand entries on the leaderboards last we checked, so we’ve certainly covered our costs and made a living wage to boot – which is kind of rare in the indie game development world, in my experience – so I’m really happy we jumped aboard the ID@Xbox wagon.”

Source: Videogamer

Harry Potter Global Development Team Formed

In an effort to expand its partnership with popular author J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. has put together a new Harry Potter Global Franchise Development Team, based between London and Burbank, which will “develop and execute a high-level strategic vision for the Harry Potter brand and its ancillary businesses,” according to the company.

This follows last year’s renewal of an agreement with Rowling, in which led to the announcement of a new film series, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, as well as a Making of Harry Potter tour stop in London; the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in both the U.S. and Japan; a suite of Harry Potter­-licensed digital devices, and products featuring Rowling’s Pottermore initiative. A future Harry Potter stage play is also in the works, set to open in London next year.

Josh Berger, president and managing director for Warner Bros. U.K., Ireland and Spain, will head up the team, working alongside Rowling’s team at The Blair Leadership. Polly Cochrane, based in London, and Paul Condolora, based in Burbank, will also be part of the initiative.

Said Berger, “With Harry Potter’s consumer touch-points continuing to grow and flourish, I am confident that this talented, cross-company global team will enable us to take full advantage of the many opportunities ahead — helping to bring Harry Potter in all its future incarnations to fans all over the world.”

Cochrane’s role will focus on the “optimization of the Harry Potter franchise globally through a cross-divisional marketing lens, upholding the brand’s premium values,” while Suzie Boavida, Xochitl Ruiz, Moira Squier, Angela Kato-Alvarez, Christine Kittelson, Cynthia Gonzalez and Rebecca Muh will head out the rest of the team in Burbank. Fiona Hickey, meanwhile, will correspond from London.

It looks like the magic hasn’t gone out of this franchise just yet. What do you think Are you ready for more Harry Potter

Source: Variety

Twitter Considering Change That Could Make Everyone A User

Twitter has been experiencing a lot of growth lately, announcing Tuesday that they have surpassed the 270 million users mark with ad sales having increased by 129 percent. This is due in large part to mobile of course. As brands are looking to reach audiences on mobile, the decision of where to place ads boils down to a few key players: Facebook and Twitter.

“We’re in a position to reach the largest audience in the world and every person on the planet,” said Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo in the earnings announcement.

The issue Twitter faces is how to convert its unique visitors into users as signing up for the site and learning its lingo has built a barrier to entry. According to Costolo, Twitter’s team will “continue to improve the experience for logged-out and unique visitors” and “delivering immediate value to new users when they come to the platform.”

What this could mean for non-Twitter users is that they won’t immediately encounter Twitter’s homepage when clicking on a tweet.

Upon being asked if Twitter would consider a Facebook-like algorithm that shows only a portion of the content, instead of the constant real-time stream with everything a user follows, Costolo has said he isn’t ruling out anything.

Twitter appears to be considering possible changes very carefully and, pending future changes go over well with their existing audience, could stand to become a “media behemoth.”

Brands: Enjoy the days where all your Twitter followers can see every tweet while you can. Times are changing.

 

Source: AdWeek

 

Activision Leaves Mark With Destiny Beta

Activision is putting a lot of marketing dollars into its forthcoming release of Destiny, the latest science fiction-oriented shooter from the Halo developers over at Bungie. However, from the looks of the company’s recent playable beta, it’s got nothing to worry about.

The beta, which began on July 17th on PlayStation consoles before heading to the Xbox systems six days later, came to a conclusion this past Sunday, and, according to the publisher, it’s managed to draw a huge crowd. Over 4.6 million unique players participated in the beta during one point or another, a huge number for a pre-release.

“This is the biggest beta of this console generation by a wide margin and the largest console beta ever for a new video game IP to date,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “Hosting a beta at this scale is an incredible feat, so we’re thrilled to see the phenomenal response. But the beta is just a taste of what’s to come. We’re counting down the days to our launch day, September 9th.”

“We were totally blown away by the number of people who played the beta,” said Pete Parsons, COO of Bungie. “We surpassed even our own goals and the feedback was invaluable. We cannot thank the community enough, the response was humbling and in the weeks ahead we’ll be working hard to ensure that Destiny lives up to the expectations at launch.”

Destiny tells a completely different tale than most shooters, revolving around a mysterious sphere and chosen warriors determined to save the galaxy by any means. It’s certainly one that Halo fans will be familiar with, while throwing in some new elements, including the ability to ride a powered jet bike (to get around levels faster) and being able to participate in simultaneous live multiplayer battles for additional rewards.

Destiny will release on September 9th for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3.

Source: Activision

Brands And eSports: The Opportunities Are Growing

The rapid rise of eSports to a major industry force has not gone unnoticed by major brands. The audience of millions in key demographics difficult to reach by other means is an irresistible attraction for brand marketers. Last year’s League of Legends World Championships attracted a viewership comparable to the NHL finals, and this year’s DOTA 2 championships, The International, featured a prize pool of over $10 million (comparable to the top PGA events) and viewership of over 20 million people.

Last year saw the entry of major brands like American Express and Coca-Cola into eSports sponsorships, and as viewership numbers continue to grow the sponsors will no doubt follow. At the recent Casual Connect conference in San Francisco, eSports and brand execs gathered for a panel to discuss the opportunities ahead.

Peter Warman, Newzoo

Moderated by Newzoo CEO Peter Warman, the panelists included Craig Levine, VP North America for Electronic Sports League (ESL); Matt Wolf, head of global gaming for Coca-Cola; Vincent Tucker, senior manager of gaming business group, Logitech; and James Grunke, director of global eSports for Nvidia.

“The reason why eSports is such an interesting platform for us is because the amount of viewership assoicated with it is pretty extraordinary,” Wolf said. “The audience here is probably half filled up, and that’s interesting because it’s Casual Connect. Esports is pretty core, still, so it doesn’t surprise me, but in terms of numbers it’s not — it’s pretty mass market. We’re talking about the kind of numbers, the kind of viewership, that for a certain gender and age split eclipses big events like the Super Bowl multifold. As a big global brand like Coca-Cola, that’s really interesting to us. The trick for us is to authentically integrate our brand into that world and build value for players. That’s what we try to do, and so far, so good. We did a deal with Riot Games for League of Legends, and we’ve had a really excellent time so far with them in 2014.”

“At ESL, we are the world’s largest eSports organizer, and we produce the biggest events in the industry,” said Levine. “At our recent event in Frankfurt with DOTA 2, we sold 23,000 tickets — screaming DOTA fans enjoying the event. Celebrating the world’s best gamers is what we’re all about.”

“To put eSports in a broader perspective, it ties all the world together,” said Warman. He pointed out that each player on the third place team at the World Cup this year, the Netherlands, received a million dollars — which is what each memebr of the winning team at the DOTA 2 championships received. “If you do some calculations on the amount of money people spent on the Compendium, $2.50 went to the prize pool,” Warman noted, “The rest of the money went to the developers of the game. Valve made more than $20 million in revenue simply around the championship. That’s not even spent in the game. It’s an eye-opener that games are becoming entertainment brands, with live events, video streaming, and also making money with the events outside of the game.”

Warman pointed out that eSports is a perfect way to help games-as-a-service generate more revenue. “Companies have invested millions in eSports because if you have a game where it’s all about getting people to spend time in the game, getting people to spend more money, instead of a single moment of a box, the investment in eSports suits this business model much more,” said Warman. “It’s the sole reason why eSports was a lot bigger in Asia up until a couple of years ago, because they’ve always had this business model.”

“Streaming is consumer-generated content, don’t forget that. It’s the most important part. It adds to the viewership. The majority of people who love eSports only watch. Combine that with watching multiple videos on screens all over the place, and there’s far more time spent on games than a few years ago. Ultimately, that results in more spending,” said Warman.

Matt Wolf, Coca-Cola

Part of the appeal of eSports to brands is the heroic nature of what goes on. “There’s something about the aspirational story of someone going from obscurity to the top of the game,” said Wolf. “It’s not just relegated to eSports — that’s sports. Nike’s entire marketing strategy is based on aspirational storytelling, and I think it’s powerful. I think everyone aspires to be the best they can be and fantasizes about ‘what if.’ I think eSports provides a modality for people, if they take it seriously, to go all the way. From a marketing and communications standpoint I’m really interested in that. I think from a brand standpoint, our role is really to inspire and celebrate achievement. As a brand, we do that for other sports, and there’s no difference when you look at gaming.”

The casual eSports arena is also becoming important. “If you pull back from the definition of eSports as just being competitive play, and look at it as a lot of people playing together, and then a leaderboard coming out of that for prizes, then almost any game can theoretically be an eSport,” said Wolf. “A partnership we recently put together with Ubisoft is for Just Dance, which for us is really important. Just Dance is this ultimate nexus of music and movement and play. For Coca-Cola, we’re interested in an active, healthy living approach. With Just Dance, you have people dancing together, and they can dance for a common goal or they can dance for leaderboards. I think we’ll see more and more kinds of games bleeding into this space because eSports and that kind of play creates multiple touch points.”

This Week’s [a]list Jobs – July 30th

[a]listdaily is now your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings.

Here are this week’s [a]list jobs:

  • Riot Games – Brand Manager (Santa Monica, Calif.)
  • Riot Games – Director of Marketing (Santa Monica, Calif.)
  • Warner Bros. – Marketing Coordinator (Burbank, Calif.)
  • Kabam – Director, User Acquisition Marketing for Mobile ( San Francisco, Calif.)
  • Tumblr – Brand Strategist (San Francisco, Calif.)

For last week’s [a]list jobs, click here.

‘Batman Vs. Superman’ Rules Comic-Con

Once again, it appears that the Dark Knight rules San Diego Comic-Con.

Despite the huge presence of Marvel at the show (with announcements surrounding such projects as Ant-Man, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and the recently revealed Guardians of the Galaxy 2), Warner Bros. came away with the victory, as research firms Mashwork and Way to Blue revealed that the company’s latest superhero flick, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, was the most talked about on Twitter over the course of the event.

The trailer for the film, which was teased during the movie’s panel over the weekend, drew huge reactions from those who attended, with some even calling it “amazing,” according to Mashwork. Around 73 percent of emotional reactions to the trailer of the film have been positive, even to those who didn’t see it.

In addition, the reveal of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, brandishing a lavish suit of armor similar to that of Xena: Warrior Princess, got some attention on the site as well, with the official photo (seen above) tweeted over 7,000 times. Fans are already generating buzz over the new costume, and wondering if Wonder Woman will get her own film at some point.

The overall mentioned clocked in at 248,960, and 24,550 intent-to-view mentions were also made with the teaser trailer, according to Way to Blue.

Warner Bros. had been facing slight controversy over the film, mainly due to the casting of Ben Affleck as the legendary Batman character, taking over for Christian Bale. However, the positive response could be a nice turn-around for it, as it could lead in to future DC Comics-based films, including a possible Justice League property.

The studio also garnered huge success from its first trailer reveals for next summer’s release of Mad Max: Fury Road and Peter Jackson’s final chapter of The Hobbit saga, The Battle of the Five Armies. Both trailers can be viewed below.

Source: Variety