One-On-One With YouTube’s Eric Solomon

Eric Solomon sees the concept of influencers growing beyond what we’re familiar with now.

“I don’t think it’s just on YouTube,” Solomon says. “YouTube at this point is nine years-old and the fact that it’s thriving as much as it is is amazing for a nine-year-old platform. We’re going to see influencers grow on YouTube and across all the new media that’s coming about.”

When Eric Solomon provided the first keynote for the day on last Thursday’s popular [a]list summit, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to chat with Eric about who influencers really are and the sheer immensity of untapped talent out there.


From Twitter To Tumblr: Why Social Matters To Video Creators

by Jessica Klein

For online video creators, social media is no minor part of marketing. In a space where fan relationships fostered by various social media channels can make or break viewership, creators large and small have to find time for social.

Take, for instance, YouTube music/comedy duo Rhett & Link, who go as far as to say social media “feeds into everything we do.” Or consider Felicia Day’s digital production company Geek & Sundry, whose head of marketing, Kathleen Barth, says social media “has made a huge difference in how we’re perceived as a company and our overall visibility.”

To successfully run an independent, consumer-facing digital company, which needs to handle everything from producing original content and branded entertainment to audience development, social media is vital.

One reason is because social is indispensable to driving viewers to a video. “It is the number-one way we can spread our message directly about our upcoming shows and events to our fans,” says Barth. ”The root of our success is that we create YouTube videos that people like,” adds Rhett McLaughlin, “but many people have proven that any social media platform can be your primary way of growing an audience.”

But social media’s value also goes beyond simply being a vehicle for generating viewership — it allows the talent to directly connect with their biggest fans. “The most valuable communication over social media is a two-way street,” says Barth, “where our fans feel free to tell us their feelings about our shows, talent, etc. and we amplify their enthusiasm.”

That said, there are a few strategies to “do social media right.”

“Facebook is a platform that’s less timely but reaches more people per post, so we try to minimize how many times a day we post there,” says Barth. “Twitter is very timely and can be posted to often — it’s also where we respond to fans the most, because it’s simple and direct. Tumblr is useful for graphic heavy posts and GIFs.”

“We’ve found that none of the platforms are great at driving viewership to YouTube videos if we’re not doing other engaging content there,” says McLaughlin. One example that he points to are Rhett & Link’s “Facebook exclusive videos.” By offering content that’s only meant for the fans who follow them on Facebook, the duo have been able to build a highly engaged following that’s now sharing more of their YouTube videos on the social network. ”Our social media presence has grown significantly in every place where we’ve rolled out these platform-specific strategies,” McLaughlin explains.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it is. As any YouTube creator would tell you, creating videos while also consistently interacting with fans on the site is a full-time gig all by itself. But when marketing and engagement via other social channels is equally important, sometimes additional help is required.

“Because sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr are each unique platforms with distinctly different ways of engaging with fans, the time required to effectively use them can easily be a full-time job,” says McLaughlin. “For us, that meant needing someone other than us personally to develop and execute strategies that are specific to each platform.”

So the duo hired Jen Matichuk last year, a “recent college grad” with a “great sense of how to use social media.” For Rhett & Link, Matichuk is responsible for strategizing and implementing “fun and interesting content” on all of their social channels. “We have the Facebook exclusive videos, Twitter stories where our fans tell a communal story through tweets, and special days on Instagram like MiniatureHorseMonday and WaffleWednesday,” says McLaughlin. “These are things that simply wouldn’t happen if Jen wasn’t devoting her attention and talents to them.”

For Geek & Sundry, Sarah Rodriguez fills this role. Social media is her full-time job, and “for a good reason, because it’s a lot of work,” according to Barth. ”It’s hard to understand why social media, something most people do for fun every day, needs a dedicated professional to handle it,” she says, “but for brands it’s a very different game that requires a lot of strategic thinking.”

The point being, if you’re a content creator on the web, you’re also a brand. Video might be central to building a content brand, but social media is what solidifies it.

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 for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

‘We Heart It’ Gains Brand Recognition

CBS Films has decided to launch an ad campaign on the social media platform We Heart It in attempts to woo its overwhelmingly young audience base for the new Daniel Radcliffe teen romance movie,What If.

We Heart It made its debut six years ago and now boasts 30 million registered users. The platform can best be described as an Instagram-Pinterest hybrid network, letting users create canvases like Pinterest and “heart” images and videos like Instagram.

CBS Films launched  its own page for “What If” on the platform in May and recently intensified its promotions with means to share branded content. CBS utilized a micro-content strategy that allowed it to share the story and themes of the film in a domestic form within the platform, as well as actively engaging the community.

The campaign includes a video (below), in which the stars of the film Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan urge “Hearters” to participate in a fun campaign.

We Heart It is trying to carve a niche for itself among the giant social network platforms. ComScore puts its latest unique multi-platform monthly visitors at just over 3 million, which is a pittance in comparison to its competitors — Instagram, which has over 72 million unique visitors, and Pinterest, which has over 57 million unique visitors for June 2014. And yet, it continues to attract more advertisers — probably because they are lured by the fact that 80 percent of its users are under 25 years old.

The platform offers advertisers a chance to advertise natively by providing brands their own verified accounts.

“The visual Web is exploding as people are more adept at expressing themselves visually on a number of platforms and, with that, a new era in online advertising is emerging for brands,” said We Heart It president Dave Williams in an online piece with Digiday. “It’s richer, more expressive and far better suited for mobile devices than any form of online advertising previously available.”

The vice president of digital marketing at CBS Films Matt Gilhooley, went further by stating that We Heart It’s reach is noticeably large for a platform that is considered relatively unknown in comparison to its competitors.

“Browsing the platform, it’s apparent that the content people already heart and share on We Heart It perfectly aligns with the relatable themes of the film,” said Gilhooley. “It functions as a visual canvas for everything they love, how they feel, and what inspires them.”

Other brands that have utilized the platform include YouTube, Hollister, Peanuts, Victorias Secret Pink, and Vera Wang.


‘Dying Light’ Showcases Four-Player Co-Op

Dying Light‘s Gamescom trailer shows just how fun (and bloody) a zombie apocalypse scenario can really be… with friends. Giving just a taste of what there is to do in this terrifying open world, the trailer shows a variety of environments and beastly flesh-eaters you’ll encounter.

The game is available for pre-order now and arrives February 2015. Take a look at the trailer below with the volume up for full effect.

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Film Industry Tackles Virtual Reality

With Sony’s Project Morpheus and the Facebook-invested Oculus VR slowly working their way to market, a new avenue for virtual reality has opened up. It’s not just game developers working with the technology, but filmmakers are diving in as well.

New Deal Studios recently filmed a short piece for KickStarter-fueled camera manufacturer Jaunt in Petaluma, California, but used an interesting 360-degree camera set-up that utilizes virtual reality-like technology. As a result, everything but the actors had to be out of each scene, which changes the usual format we’ve come to expect when it comes to routine filmmaking.

The Jaunt camera. Image courtesy GigaOm

Pictured above, the camera was used to film a piece called The Mission, focusing on a World War II soldier who makes his way into Russia, but finds himself captured by German forces before he’s able to get picked up by his allies. It’s interesting how such an old theme can be remade with virtual reality-like tech.

“It puts the audience essentially in the movie,” said Matt Gratzner, director for the film. “As opposed to being completely first person or being interactive in a video game fashion, it’s as if somebody could essentially step into the movie and have the ability to look 360 degrees all the way around to see the action.”

Having crew avoid the camera’s angles was an interesting challenge, and one other studios will face as they attempt to enter the filmmaking realm with similar accessories.

“Your typical coverage in photography as well as just where somebody can stand and not be seen doesn’t necessarily exist,” said Gratzner. “Every perspective from top to bottom, 360 degrees, there has to be action and something going on at all times, otherwise the viewer can turn around and see there are people waiting for the take or turn around and see that basically nothing is happening.”

In addition, the set-up of lighting and sound equipment must be precise, and strategically placed outside the camera’s shooting range. To get one shot in a dark bunker, for instance, The Mission‘s crew had to rig giant mirrors and lights outside of cracks and small windows, to avoid being detected by the camera.

However, New Deal Studios is ready for such challenges, as it has worked in the past on virtual reality films for partners such as Disney, and will continue to adapt to the times. “We’re helping to build the visual language of virtual reality,” said New Deal Studios CEO Shannon Gans. “That we’re very excited about.”

Lights, camera, virtuality!

Source: GigaOm

Bigger Screens Make Casual Mobile Games Harder To Make

Big changes are coming for mobile devices. Samsung has already released new technology in its Galaxy mobile line-up, and this September, Apple will announce a new iPhone that will no doubt be its most exquisite piece of technology to date. Which leaves a simple question – are we due for a change in the way we play casual games

The iPhone 6 is rumored to to be arriving in two models, with a 4.7 and a 5.5 inch screen size, which would make it bigger than previous devices and a little harder to hold in one hand. For those of you who are used to playing one-handed games while keeping the other one free, it may require you to have a bit of a tighter grip, lest risk dropping your expensive device on the ground.

Bennett Foddy, a gamemaker who worked on the Flash-based game QWOP and its recent iPhone version, started up such a discussion on Twitter, believing that a larger iPhone model would, in fact, be a critical error. “I don’t really care as a consumer, mind you,” he said. “But it matters to me as an iOS game developer, where it’s just going to be a design nightmare.”

Fragmentation plays a big part with some of these games’ design, according to Foddy. “At the most basic level, good game design is concerned with the micro details of interactions,” he said. “How does it feel if I put this button 1.2 inches from the edge of the screen instead of 1.1 Does it feel nice and natural to swipe my finger in this particular arc ”

Today, though, designers are required to expand their experience to more than one screen, as part of tactile fine-tuning that could lead to profits. Larger iPhone screens could easily complicate this process, and make games like Threes and Ridiculous Fishing a bit harder to play, he believes.

“Knowing that someone can touch most of the screen with one hand, you can design apps or games that live in the busiest parts of a person’s life,” Foddy says. “On the train, or at the bank, I can play Flappy Bird or Threes or Letterpress, but I can’t play a 3-D shooter.”

The larger screen would also add to the difficulty, Foddy believes. “If I make an app in portrait orientation, I have to assume half my customers will be holding it with two hands,” Foddy says. And if he wanted to make a game explicitly designed for one hand, “I basically have to give away a large portion of the market.”

Foddy isn’t the only one concerned about the new designs. The creator of Threes, Asher Vollmer, stated, “One of the biggest complaints I get on Threes is that the retry button is too far away. It’s in the top left of the screen. I can just barely get away with this because you don’t restart games too often, but if I released a game that required area-specific touch controls I would be in a lot of trouble with newer, gigantic phones.”

Part of the design change-ups revolve around changes to the App Store itself, thus prompting Apple to maybe think a little bit bigger. “The days of Doodle Jump and Spell Tower and Letterpress are gone,” he says. “Everything is in two-handed landscape mode, a mode for people who are sitting down or lying in bed, and devoting all their attention and manual capability to the game.”

It’ll be interesting to see where casual games go from here. What do you think Would a bigger device complicate things, or make the experience better overall

Source: Wired

Most Marketers Believe Native Advertising Works

A new study held by The 614 Group has asked 400 digital marketers just how effective native advertising is. The team worked closely with digital company OneSpot on the survey, in order to get accurate results.

And those results… Quite interesting, as a large number of marketers believe that native advertising is quite valuable. Here’s a rundown of some of the numbers released from the survey:

  • 69 percent of marketers believe that native advertising is valuable
  • 22 percent view it as the future of digital advertising
  • 52 percent of marketers assert that getting to right level of scale is their job No. 1 for native advertising and content marketing
  • 87 percent employ their own websites as a means to promote content
  • 80 percent use social networks
  • 76 percent rely on organic search
  • 18 percent are employing content discovery/recommendation platforms
  • 54 percent of marketers aren’t happy with their content-marketing efforts
  • 29 percent feel perplexed by the difficulties of driving business results

The report also evaluated nine of the providers of native services, including such companies as Sharethrough, Polar, and Adaptly. Each of these vendors were given a series of questions, regarding the effectiveness of their solutions for boosting revenue.

However, the report didn’t quite post positive and negative results, instead focusing on what marketers consider the most valuable assets when it comes to choosing the right partner for native advertising, as well as its long-term effects.

“The big question this market is still facing is how to do native, but there is no longer any question that we should be doing native,” proclaimed Rob Rasko, founder of The 614 Group. He also said his report provides “the foundational thinking they need in order to make informed decisions in the sensitive and critical process of selecting a native advertising provider vendor.”

Source: Adweek

‘Star Citizen’ Takes Off With Crowdfunding

Anyone who is a classic PC gamer will recognize the name of Chris Roberts, who has spent many years producing some of the best space simulators around, including the infamous Wing Commander. Well, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years, he’s back in the saddle once more. His latest project, Star Citizen, has raised a tremendous amount of funds — and not from a traditional publisher.

The project, which once again takes place in the reaches of space and has a strong multiplayer appeal to it, has managed to raise over $50 million in a huge crowdfunding effort, including over $2 million from KickStarter alone.

The funds were divided between both the KickStarter page and the official Star Citizen website, where donations continue to be happily accepted. Backers have been able to buy a number of virtual rewards for the game, including a Hornet fighter and a multiplayer Constellation, which allows players to fly around in the same ship as friends in a humorous, joy-riding fashion.

The game’s development will actually be divided up amongst two teams. The first, the Austin-based Cloud Imperium, will work on the massive multiplayer online portion of the game, under the Star Citizen project name. meanwhile, a Manchester office in the UK, headed up by Roberts’ brother Erin, will focus on the single player component, under the project name Squadron 42. Both halves will be brought together for a complete game once it finishes development.

As far as a given release date, one hasn’t been specifically announced yet, outside of 2015. However, Roberts and company have promised to put the utmost amount of work into the game, so that it carries a similar legacy to Wing Commander, even if it works on a totally different vibe. Said Rob Irving, lead designer for the game, “The product matters. The experience matters. We will sell no wine before its time.”

The game’s massive community has been eagerly providing plenty of advice and feedback to the effort along the way, and several parts of the game have already been released in preliminary form to backers. It’s a truly collaborative effort between the development team and the backers, which Roberts feels has made Star Citizen a far better game. There’s plenty left to be don, and every time the game raises another million dollars more is added to the effort.

One thing’s for sure: Star Citizen could easily fuel the PC era for years to come if it lives up to all its promises.

Source: Ars Technica

Video Entertainment Spend To Reach All-Time High

Recently the video entertainment market in the U.S. which includes pay-TV, box office profits, packaged home video, video-on-demand, and online paid video has had a hard go of it. After a 2 percent decrease in 2012, the market has made slow movement in terms of growth, but nevertheless looks on track to reach a peak of $123 billion next year– the biggest year yet.

What this means is that an average of $1,000 is being spent by each and every household in the U.S. on video entertainment. Quite a high number when you put it like that.

“Diving into the detail, Pay-TV is dominating the overall video market at more than $90 billion, around 75 percent of total consumer spend,” says David Sidebottom, Senior Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting, “and although cord-cutting is generally over-hyped, the minority of snippers and shavers is having an impact on the bottom line.

Sidebottom says that the digital video marketing is seeing solid growth, making up for those cordcutters. That segment was up 25 perccent last year due in major part to Netflix.


Source: Futuresource

Kiwi Prepares Big Budget For Games

In most cases, quality triumphs over quantity when it comes to mobile releases, as you want an experience that will certainly last longer than, say, a Flappy Bird clone. That’s the new business logic that Kiwi Inc. hopes to follow, as the free-to-play mobile company has drummed up $12 million in funds from investors to attract games that have a “wow” factor to them.

With the investment, the three year old start-up company now sits on $21 million, and plans to focus more on games with better lasting value and production values, rather than “quickie” productions that are merely thrown into the App Store and Google Play.

With the new business standard, Kiwi wants players to stick around and enjoy their products more, rather than something to just play passively time and time again.

“When you try and do this with console games it’s 200 people for three years to produce a game. With mobile it’s a quick process and out the door,” Kiwi Chief Executive Omar Siddiqui said. “We think it’s an emergent sector.”

Under this new business plan, Kiwi intends to release two to three games per year. “The games will have to include polish, creative excellence and that ‘wow’ factor when someone opens a game for the first time. We’ll also use things like analytics and iterating as we get market feedback. It will be the whole package,” Siddiqui said. “What this round allows us to do is really focus.”

The company has seen success from better-produced titles in the past, with such titles as Shipwrecked: Lost Island and Enemy Lines finding firm positioning in Google Play’s Top Grossing 25. It’s had five titles in all land on the list, and it intends to get more in there.

Do you think the “quality over quantity” approach is a smart move Certainly, some gamers will benefit from it.

Source: Wall Street Journal