Play ‘Forza Horizon 2’ In UK Theatres

It’s not often you see a video game experience expanded to the big screen, so when it happens – especially with something as beautiful as Forza Horizon 2 – it’s easy for audiences to take notice.

A new promotion running from today through October 23rd will see the Xbox One racing game make its debut in theaters in the United Kingdom. A deal between Digital Cinema Media, Xbox, Dentsu Aegis and M: United division of McCann London will bring the game to 1,500 screens across the country, including Odeon, Cineworld and Vue cinema outlets. Sadly, there are currently no plans to do this in the USA or elsewhere, according to Microsoft.

Using a downloadable cineme app, users can turn their smartphones into steering wheels, as they race each other and compete for prizes as they race for a first place victory. Once completed, the user’s score will automatically be delivered to their device via the app, allowing them to boast their feat with others through social media. Along with the delivery of said score, the app will also provide a link to order the game.

Those who make the top 15 in the competition will win a free Xbox One console, as well as a copy of Forza Horizon 2.

This project introduces a fun new interactive experience to movie theaters, but in a much different way than previous projects, like Disney’s attempt to involve social media with its showings of The Little Mermaid 3D. Obviously, racing will appeal more to fans of all ages, rather than just kids.

“This campaign demonstrates the very best of cinime and we’re delighted to work with a partner such as Xbox to showcase the flexibility and true depth of interaction that the cinime experience now offers,” said Joe Evea, commercial director of Digital Cinema Media. “Audiences up and down the land will love the experience of playing such a great game and competing with the friends through social media.”

Kuran Kapoor, product marketing manager for Xbox Games, added, “In the gaming industry we always strive to bring new experiences to our consumers, from the amazing gameplay available on the Xbox One & Xbox 360, through to the way we interact with our consumers with our marketing communications. We are extremely excited to partner with cinime for the release of Forza Horizon 2, bringing a clever and unique way to demonstrate the thrilling experiences and AAA quality”.

Those who can’t get to the theater can still experience Forza Horizon 2 in all its glory when it releases tomorrow for Xbox One and Xbox 360.

Source: Xbox

Marriott Prepares Launch Of Content Studio

Marriott already does a good job with running its hotels across the country, and even did a little bit of experimentation with an Oculus Rift-powered virtual destination for visitors. However, now it’s going all out with the introduction of…programming

Marriott International has announced the creation of a new internal content studio, which will be utilized to develop, produce and distribute a number of entertainment projects, including web series, short films, television shows, movies and music events. The company formed the studio in the hopes of attracting “next-generation traveler” material to its locations, with a heavy focus on millennials.

“We’re saying we’re going to be the largest publishers of life style,” said David Beebe, who is heading up the new studio and seeking out producers for projects. “We’re going to be the Red Bull of this category. That’s where we want to get to.”

Red Bull has managed to grow over the years, from simply making an energy drink to launching its own sports brand, complete with promotional activities, sporting events, movies and TV shows.

Marriott currently has 18 different brands under its belt, along with over 4,000 hotels spanning 78 different countries. So outreach certainly shouldn’t be a problem. “Everyone understands that all of us today are really media companies and content publishers,” said Bebee. “It’s more about how do we do it ”

Marriott has brought in two executives from Disney and ABC to aid the transition of the network, with Karin Timpone, a former head of product strategy and marketing. “The purpose is to create and establish original content as a key component of the company’s global marketing strategy,” said Timpone.

“Today’s consumers are in control of the message and not necessarily looking for brands to be your friends but to add value first,” said Bebee, who also at one point worked with Disney. “If brands can help you out and give you a good experience, you’re most likely to go back to them.”

What do you think Does Marriott need a programming angle to draw in guests

Source: Variety

How ‘League of Legends’ Introduces Champions

The team at Riot Games knows what it’s doing when it comes to introducing new characters and items in its vastly popular League of Legends. Any new additions are usually trumpeted for all the fan base to hear, allowing devoted (and professional) players alike to delve in and learn new strategies with said characters. Now, Riot Games is at it again, introducing an all-new character within a special promotional site for the game.

With the new site, the company is advertising a resurrected Undead Champion by the name of Sion, through a dramatic presentation that shows the character in four different phases: Glory, Fall, Rise and Reborn. These sections have been opening up day-by-day, getting users closer to finding out more about the mysterious warrior, as well as what he would be able to contribute when it comes to fighting on a player’s team.

The first excerpt, for the Glory section, reads as follows:

“In this world, nothing is given, only taken by those with the power and the will to do so. Today, we honor a man who embodied what it is to be Noxian, a man who would never be denied victory, even by death.

“I remember clearly the day he died. Our hated enemy had marched on us in force. They stood at our walls, ten soldiers fielded for every one of our own, their craven king hiding behind his army to witness us scoured from the face of Valoran with his own eyes. While others counseled me to bar the gates and force our foes to fight for every inch of Noxian soil, this man demanded we march out and face them. He would not cower behind the city walls while Noxus’s enemies still drew breath. With our warriors at his back, he strode as a giant through the Demacian rabble with one clear purpose: to cut their army’s head from its body.

“Jarvan’s royal guardsmen believed they could halt his charge. They were wrong. He cut them down, one by one, until only he and the king remained. Battered and fatigued, any lesser man would have given up the attack, but he was a true son of Noxus. He battled Jarvan beyond the point of breaking and was finally bested… but not beaten. With his dying breath, he locked his fingers around the king’s throat and broke the will of a nation.

“Every Noxian should look upon this memorial and know this is what I demand of you: If you die, do so gloriously. Make the world falter at your loss.”

Fans have been requesting a “rework” of Sion for the longest time, and it appears that Riot Games is finally answering the call, although a release date hasn’t been given for him just yet.

This is a nice change of pace for Riot’s usual announcements, going more for a dramatic flair instead of the usual simple add-on debut. Now it’s just a matter of seeing when he’ll debut.

What do you think Should more add-on content like this be given a dramatic flair, or do you think companies should just hand over the content

Source: Riot Games

CREATIVE: Microsoft Unveils Cube Connected Dance Experience

Microsoft is no stranger to getting its players to dance along with its rhythms, as it’s previously shown with its Dance Central games on Xbox 360, as well as the just-released Dance Central Spotlight for Xbox One. However, with the recent debut of the Cube, it’s taking that experimentation to the next level.

The company has partnered with digital design firm Stimulant to create a new project for Seattle’s recent Decibel Festival, known as the Cube. With it, users can dance in front of large digital displays, using creative composition and interactive art to build a new sense of interactivity with other users. By displaying user’s avatars on separate screens, players can dance together through flowing digital ribbons, seeing their on-screen characters mimic their every action.

Making its debut at the EMP Museum during the Decibel Festival, the Cube, powered by five computers, utilizes senor data from four Kinect devices that are placed inside – the same devices that were sold with Xbox One units over the past year.

With the Cube, players can get a whole new dance experience, with their individual moves captured into flowing and twisting virtual shapes, creating a surreal experience in the process, rather than just dancing along with an on-screen performers like with the Dance Central games. The Cube is also virtually holographic, enabling players to see what others are doing, with the Kinect devices tracking each one individually for utmost accuracy.

With the 3D object, a virtual space is created, encouraging better real-life interaction between the dancing partners. Onlookers can get a lot out of it as well, a virtual light show that may even encourage them to take part in the dancing action.

There’s no word yet if Microsoft will inhabit this technology for future Xbox One projects, but, for now, the Cube is likely to make a few more tour stops to show people the power of the Kinect – and the technology built by Stimulant. You can check out more of it in action in the video below.

Study Shows Consumers Prefer Non-Aggressive Marketing

Seeing bits and pieces of aggression in advertising can be a little more commonplace than you think, especially when it comes to absolute phrases, such as “Choosy Moms Choose Jif” or “If you call yourself a sports fan, you gotta have DirecTV!” However, making such a confident point may not be the best factor when it comes to drawing in consumers.

A new study by the Journal of Consumer Research indicates that ads that take such a direct approach don’t always work, mainly because their slogans can be a little too assertive. For example, the DirecTV statement can throw off those who feel that they’re still sports fans even without the satellite service.

“When identity is involved, people really want to feel like they’re making the choice themselves, that the decision is meaningful,” said Amit Bhattacharjee, an assistant professor for the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, one of the main people who worked on the study alongside academics from New York University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Marketers that “push too hard, it ruins that,” according to Amit, as it “crowds out a sense of ownership and turns consumers off.”

With a group of 120 people questioned for the study, three groups were formed, with each getting a different slogan for Charlie’s Soap, a biodegradable cleaning soap. The first got “a good choice for consumers”; the second got “a good soap for green consumers”; and the third got “the only choice for green consumers.”

The middle option, out of all three, was the most well received, while the worst performer was the “only choice” one, according to the study. The reason it was so oft-putting was because, according to Amit, their sense of “freedom in expressing their identity” was corrupted with such an absolute statement.

“At some nonconscious level, it might be a little annoying or threatening, but put in the overall context, it doesn’t necessarily cause defection,” added Mark Forehand, a professor of marketing at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.

Overall, Amit feels that the lesson for marketers here is to “reference identity without being too explicit, you do want a lighter touch.”

What do you think Are go-getter slogans like that a little too rough to take

Source: New York Times

See How Price Affects Consumer Journey To Purchase

It makes sense that one would be much more methodical about a larger purchase than a smaller one, putting in some more research and comparing prices on the item from one site to another, but there are other interesting differences between those two faraway price points that we don’t necessarily think about as much.

For example, on items with a higher price point, consumers are much more proud and excited about the purchase that they share it on social media while a $10 item is by comparison of little note. It also appears that bigger purchases are more and more often made online while smaller purchases are much more likely to have been made in stores.

Source: AdWeek

Facebook’s Atlas: The Ad Network Utilizing Facebook User Data Everywhere

Speculation has been high this past week about Facebook launching an ad network in the near future and today we find that Facebook is rolling out another ad network that will allow advertisers to buy ads through Facebook that will expand the ad’s reach across the web. It’s called Atlas and it’s a platform that Facebook had purchased last year from Microsoft.

While Facebook stresses that these ads are not “Facebook ads,” they do utilize Facebook’s data to target and track effectiveness of ads. The only difference is these ads will be served on places other than Facebook like mobile apps.

Facebook is anonymizing user data so neither advertisers nor publishers will be able to know identities. In a blog post, head of Atlas Erik Johnson discussed the relaunch of the ad platform.

“We’ve rebuilt Atlas from the ground up to tackle today’s marketing challenges, like reaching people across devices and bridging the gap between online impressions and offline purchases.”

On the difficulty of capturing data across devices, Johnson talked about the inaccuracy of current methods.

“Cookies don’t work on mobile, are becoming less accurate in demographic targeting and can’t easily or accurately measure the customer purchase funnel across browsers and devices or into the offline world,” said Johnson.


GameStop’s Secret Weapon: Kongregate CEO Emily Greer

GameStop has been an interesting company to follow over the past few years. As the foremost retailer for console games, the company has been dealing with the difficult situation of seeing the revenues for the entire physical retail games business decline since the high point of 2008. Many observers could see that digital distribution would become increasingly important, leaving many to wonder if GameStop would become the next Blockbuster, a retail chain that focused on selling videos in boxes until the pressure of digitally delivered video caused it to go bankrupt.

Yet GameStop has continued to confound the critics with a number of moves designed to rescue it from Blockbuster’s fate. While industry retail revenues declined, GameStop continued to pick up market share, alleviating some of the downward pressure. While mobile games, social games and free-to-play games boomed and caused more worries about the future of the video game business, GameStop worked harder on its relationships with publishers. The company also invested in a number of new businesses, including digital distribution, streaming games, buying and selling smartphones and tablets, and new specialized retail chains, as well as worldwide expansion and boosting its PowerUp Rewards memberships. Not all of these efforts have been successful, but GameStop is gaining an ever-increasing share of its revenue from these new business areas, enough that key analysts rate the shares a Buy.

One of the best-performing ventures for GameStop has been its acquisition of Kongregate in 2010. Kongregate began as a web site hosting Flash games, created by siblings Emily and Jim Greer in 2006. Kongregate began publishing mobile games last year, along with announcing a $10 million fund devoted to mobile gaming. The company, now headed by Emily Greer as CEO, has been experiencing strong growth, and the [a]listdaily sat down with CEO Emily Greer recently to discuss what Kongregate has been doing.

Kongregate been doing well over the last year. . .

123 percent year-over-year growth!

OK, I think we can call that pretty good! Tell us about Kongregate’s move into mobile publishing.

It’s been really exciting getting into publishing, it’s something that we identified that we felt there was a need for in the market. There were a lot of developers out there who were hitting a wall in the mobile arena because of all the advantages incumbents have. It’s gone a lot better than we expected, we’ve really been able to make a big difference in the business of a bunch of companies, including games that had already been released.

Little Alchemist is a great example. They released last August, I think, and it was a really good game with good metrics, but they couldn’t scale it. We took it over in January in about six months the daily revenue increased 10x. That was a combination of advice on game design and really being able to put the marketing behind it, as well as getting it some additional Apple features. It’s really fun to take a two-person team that had a good game that they weren’t able to really get in front of people, and turn that around. They’re rapidly increasing their company, it’s now five people. I love reporting that to GameStop, but I also really, really love writing big checks to people who are living hand to mouth.

The rest of our business is still growing too. Everybody’s saying web is fine but mobile is everything, but you see in the reports of PC sales starting to uptick and PC games and eSports like League of Legends, that was really premature. We see that in our business. Even with all the growth on mobile, we’ve grown our web platform both in traffic and in revenue in the last year, and we’ve seen an upswing in advertising revenue as well with the new console cycle. It’s a fun time when all three parts of your business are growing. With cross-platform publishing I feel we’ve hit a vein of something that is really needed in the industry. With changes of distribution into extremely crowded marketplaces like Android and iPhone, even Steam opening up, there’s just more and more need for developers to get professional support on everything from free-to-play monetization and analytics to marketing and game features. It’s great when you find something where you really feel like you’re making a difference and making the industry more functional.

You’re growing the web business and the mobile business. Are you seeing more titles that are cross-platform, not just between Android and iOS but between mobile and the web?

We are, but that’s partly because that’s our focus. What we are seeing is that Unity is winning in terms of development; most of the games coming to us are in Unity. Partly because as Android has grown in importance it’s one of the best options for cross-platform, and as soon as you’re using Unity the web version is relatively trivial. We lead with web for many reasons. We’ve got this great platform to put a lot of users into the game. We’ve got our Kong Plus beta program that lets games expand slowly and test with a lot of our best users. There’s a lot of advantages to testing and optimizing on web. The biggest is one is that we’re controlling the traffic into the games. It’s a consistent source of traffic and we have hundreds of benchmarks as to how games perform on Kongregate. Other people are using Australian and Canadian test markets and buying traffic, and you’re at the mercy of what you’re getting from the network that week and who you’re bidding against. There’s a lot of variables.

What we’re seeing for our games that are successful is that it’s a very clear three-legged stool of iOS, Android, and Web. Depending on the game, one or the other is stronger, but they’re all good legs of the stool.

Now the issues of going cross-platform are business ones rather than technical, right?

One big difference is that, for people other than on Kongregate, when you’re taking a game cross-platform there’s less of an advantage because you need to buy traffic. When you put it on Facebook it’s essentially no different a situation than on iOS or Android, where you’re paying for ads to bring users in, and the platform is taking thirty percent. Whereas with us on Kongregate you’re not paying for the traffic, so that makes a huge difference in advertising. You get that organically.

What we find is that the stats are really, really comparable between web and mobile. The lifetime values (LTVs) of players are very similar between web and mobile. Some of the retention metrics are a little bit different; the first day retention is a little bit lower on web, but the long-term retention is a little bit higher.

Clearly Kongregate has a large audience where you can find players for new games, but how do you reach new players?

We’re doing very heavy amounts of marketing. Not every game is going to have the LTVs to support significant amounts of paid marketing, but for those games that do we are investing heavily in marketing. This is one of the big things we are able to do for developers. I mentioned Little Alchemist, and that’s a game where we’ve been able to spend heavily on paid marketing. That, of course, helps drive organic traffic. As well, we’ve been able to secure Apple and Google features. I think fifteen out of sixteen games on those platforms. That’s not something that we promise developers, but both Google and Apple appreciate the fact that we’re coming in with a portfolio of games that are high quality.

How many mobile games are you publishing, and what types are you looking for?

We are literally looking at hundreds and hundreds of titles per month. We’re publishing at a regular cadence — at least one game is going out per month. We’re trying to reach out across a broad set of genres and types of games. We’ve got several cards, RPG type games, we also have match 3 games, endless runners, rogue like games, and more experimental types like Endless Boss Fight. The heart of Kongregate web has been this endless diversity of games. Anything you see on our home page is going to be of good quality, that’s what we’re trying to represent and effectively representing for games in the mobile marketplace as well.

Top Five Emerging Consumer Brand Channels On YouTube

By Jessica Klein

Brands have been jumping on the online video bandwagon in increasing numbers, and to their significant benefit. As more consumers turn to the internet to get their video fix, the more they’re likely to watch compelling content therein, regardless of whether its branded.

The following five brands have figured this out, releasing content that’s entertaining in its own right and engages consumers in ways different from your average TV commercials. With the popularity of online video, brands that are doing it right have given their products storylines, allowing viewers to engage in ways that feel more personal and emotional than a simple plea to “buy this product.”

As Mike Henry, CEO and founder of Outrigger Media, points out, “These consumer brands are embracing content best practices on YouTube – from bespoke creative, to collaborative efforts with YouTubers – and likely supplementing those efforts with targeted media campaigns on YouTube. Being successful on YouTube involves a careful balance of content, creative, and audience data.”

From Bushmills to Bose, these brands stood out as the top five blossoming talent on YouTube, according to data from Outrigger Media’s Emerging Talent Tracker tool.

5. BushmillsGlobal

  • SlateScore: 441
  • Total Subs: 1,170
  • Monthly Views: 1,108,320

Bushmills, handcrafted in a Northern Ireland whiskey distillery, goes the way of many liquor brands in showcasing their product via video–by featuring people drinking and having fun while listening to live music. The Bushmills Live series on the brand’s channel focuses on eight bands gathering in the Bushmills distillery to celebrate music and drink whiskey, complete with interviews like the one you can watch below:

4. CVS Health

  • SlateScore: 499
  • Total Subs: 10,383
  • Monthly Views: 1,110,630

CVS posts videos meant to move viewers by adding distinctly human touches, like showing the efforts of “everyday people” to end cigarette addictions and putting faces to the company’s pharmacists. The channel’s anti-smoking campaign, along with its other videos, shows a clear trend of personalizing the CVS brand.

3. Bose

  • SlateScore: 511
  • Total Subs: 16,935
  • Monthly Views: 2,914,230

Taking the line of “you’re unique, thus our product is meant for you,” Bose’s YouTube channel is actually mostly useful, including many tutorials and product updates. Lots of “SoundTouch Tech Tips” videos sit comfortably beside, say, advertisements featuring celebrities and young adults partying on this brand’s digital video home.

2. CleanandClearUS

  • SlateScore: 539
  • Total Subs: 12,499
  • Monthly Views: 1,977,750

Celebrating women, Clean and Clear’s channel on YouTube seeks to spread the message of body positivity in the face of detrimental norms like obsessive photoshopping and too-thin models. The following video is part of the brand’s “See the Real Me” campaign, which encourages (female) viewers to have confidence in the beauty of (what popular media suggests are) their “imperfections.”

1. Under Armour

  • SlateScore: 584
  • Total Subs: 59,040
  • Monthly Views: 4,864,380

From a series that features quarterback Cam Newton to some traditional commercial footage, Under Armour has created a highly entertaining channel online. The brand’s content targets men and women, serious athletes and those who simply understand that exercise is good for the body and soul. Its currently featured video, for example, showcases Under Armour attire, Giselle Bundchen, and a powerful statement.

YouTube data provided by Outrigger Media’s OpenSlate platform and Emerging Talent Tracker, which ranks rising YouTube channels by a measure of influence.

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.

Data-Driven Content Creation Is Fueling Mobile Success

Data-driven content creation is what is fueling the success of mobile-first online destinations such as Buzzfeed, Atlantic Media’s Quartz and USA Today’s For the Win.

While often dismissed by legacy publishers as cheap click-bait, these publishers have taken a very different approach from their older colleagues.

The biggest difference today is that data-driven content creation must be optimized for mobile consumption because most engagement on social media these days happens on smartphones, phablets and tablets.

“It’s logical that most social engagement is done on a mobile device, because it’s the device that you always have with you,” says Rebecca Markarian, VP, Social Media at Ayzenberg.
“While most of the deeper engagement happens in the down moments between meetings, before class starts, when you are waiting for the bus but you’ll also see lighter, quicker engagement during busier times of day such as RT’s, likes and reblogs.”

It’s just this kind of focus on the context of how, when and why the content is being consumed as well as why it’s being shared and by whom. This is at the core of data-driven content creation.

To extract this kind of data, content creators need to work closely with engineers and data analysts in a way that legacy publishers never have attempted or even want to, because it means that the user is in charge and the role of the publisher as the tastemaker is diminished.

“BuzzFeed has technology at its core. Its 100+ person tech team has created world-class systems for analytics, advertising, and content management. Engineers are 1st class citizens. Everything is built for mobile devices from the outset. Internet native formats like lists, tweets, pins, animated GIF’s, etc. are treated as equals to older formats like photos, videos, and long form essays. BuzzFeed takes the internet and computer science seriously,” wrote Chris Dixson, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, on his blog around the time it was announced that the firm has invested $50 million in BuzzFeed earlier this year.

This new data-driven approach to content creation is not without its critics, but, if done right, it has nothing to do with “tricking” the user into consuming content or advertising.

Mobile-first publishing often means creating “snack-sized” content optimized for consumption where session times are shorter. That means, for example, creating Vine and animated GIF length videos and articles are between 300 and 400 words long.

However, search-engines and platforms such as Facebook are not yet tuned in with this form of publishing.

Digiday recently highlighted that Facebook will measure click-bait by “how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook,” according to a blog post about the change. That is, if a Facebook user clicks on an article shared in his news feed and spends only seconds reading that article, then Facebook will deem it click-bait.

“If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable,” Facebook’s blog post says. “If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted.”

These practice stands to hurt publishers that produce short but non-click-bait stories who strongly feel like time spent is hardly the only indicator of “quality,” as the average time spent per visit on Facebook is less than half as long on mobile (5 minutes) than on desktop (13.2 minutes), according to ComScore.

While the debate about what is “quality” content across platforms will likely continue for as long as new disruptive technologies will be introduced, there is one metric that no one can argue with and that is conversions. For publishers, that could mean micro-transactions for unlocking content and in-app purchases. For advertisers it means being able to better target advertising towards users with purchase intent and turns them into paying customers.

“As consumers and sites improve at purchasing with mobile and big players like iPhone announce more initiatives like recently announced Apple Pay, there will be increasing focus on conversion metrics as well.  Optimizing every experience to make purchasing over mobile quick and easy will be critical to keeping consumer business,” says Rebecca Markarian, VP of Social Media at Ayzenberg.

Mobile is now the lea