Retail Apps Popular, But Not For Purchases

Mobile apps made by retailers are great to have on hand when users are seeking information and checking up other details that could lead to a purchase. However, when it comes to actually buying something, there’s a different story at play.

A new report from a March 2014 polling by Forrester Consulting (commissioned by Tapjoy) shows that more than one-third of US smartphone users like using a retail app on a weekly basis. However, according to a June 2014 poll by 451 Research, they’re not being used for purchases.

With the study, it’s been learned that only one-quarter of these phone users actually make a purchase through these retail applications.

Furthermore, the weight of those not interested in buying items through the apps compared to those who are is much greater. 54 percent of those polled have no interest in making purchases that way, while one-fifth believe that there is some interest.

However, keep in mind that not all applications available provide the option of an online purchase. A March 2014 report by L2 Think Thank indicates that only 16 percent of the applications studied — amongst US retail and consumer brands — provide the option to make a purchase.

Another study by the e-tailing group looked at mobile features within these retail apps for further details. 31 percent offer some form of iPhone application, while 25 percent offer both an application for Android and iPad. Meanwhile, 14 percent utilize other resources, and 6 percent aim for the BlackBerry audience.

Security could have something to do with these findings, with recent data leaks by Target and Home Depot over the past few months that have left people wondering just what aspects of purchases are safe. That could lead them to making purchases in stores instead, even if they’re still using the same credit card information they could have over the app.

Again, not every retailer is grasping the process of utilizing in-app purchases for goods, even though some, like Best Buy, provide a local pick-up option out of convenience, rather than home delivery.

What do you think Would you make a purchase through an application if you had the chance, or stick with a good old-fashioned in-store purchase

Source: eMarketer

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A Slew Of Parodies Delight YouTube’s iPhone Fever

There are a few adages about the Internet that continue to ring true. If you’re wondering whether or not something exists, it probably does, at least online, and secondly, if __________ exists then there is also probably a parody. The same of course is true of the iPhone. If you haven’t already seen Zappo’s clever mobile-ready pants video, you need to.

Below are some of the highlights of all the Apple parodies out there on YouTube that continue to give some perspective on iPhone fever in the wake of the media blitz.


Source: TechCrunch

Zynga Shuffles Management Team

There’s a lot of shuffling going on over at Zynga, the publishers of such popular mobile efforts as Farmville 2: Country Escape and the recently launched Looney Tunes Dash.

Both senior vice president of games Tim LeTourneau and Steve Parkis have departed the company, after working on a number of Zynga’s Ville games over the past few years. This follows other recent departures from the company, including Social Slots chief Maytal Olsha, who left last month.

This is part of the changing landscape of the company, particularly with Alex Garden being recruited as president and seeking out certain roles to fill within it, such as visuals, narrative, community and game making.

With that, the company has shuffled around some old faces and hired a few new ones to keep management flowing. Jamie Davies, who served as a key leader on Farmville and Country Escape, has now expanded her role as the new vice president of games.

Meanwhile, Tony Leech, who directed and helped produce a number of movies over the last decade (including the animated Hoodwinked films), has been hired as creative director.

Jim Pearson has also jumped on board as a new art director for the Ville franchise, bringing his experience as an art director and production designer for Toy Story 2, as well as a sketch artist on Finding Nemo. His resume also includes Ironworks/Gazillion, Playdom, Kabam and Disney Interactive.

Two of the new hires come from entertainment start-up company Red Robot Labs, and Zynga has brought in the company’s co-founder, Pete Hawley, as general manager and vice president of creative, as well as senior director of network content John Davison.

The last two hires make it a well-rounded team overall, between Julian Widdows and Catherine Silvestre, both of whom will serve as general managers for the NaturalMotion engine. Both bring varied experience to their roles, including Widdows’ work at Codemasters Racing and Silvestre’s work at Warner Bros. and Glu Mobile.

Clearly, Zynga is intending to create a broad range of products, and is staffing up with talent to enable that vision. We certainly wish the new faces joining up the best of luck!

Source: VentureBeat

GX3 Convention Celebrates LGBT Gaming Community

There are various types of gamers out there, from hardcore Destiny players to casual Tetris fans. There’s also a large group of gamers that are either gay or lesbian, and the yearly Gaymer convention recognizes these folks, looking to celebrate the LGBT lifestyle within the gaming community.

It’s not always easy though, as GaymerX creator Matt Conn reflected. “It was really tough growing up as both geek and gay,” he said. “I remember growing up, being super geeky, and I had to leave schools because I was so bullied and it was just really bad. And that was when I was like 9 or 10. So when I came to terms with my sexuality, I was so afraid: My life was already kinda not great, if I have to deal with being gay on top of that, I feel like I’m condemning myself to a life of shittiness.”

Through communities like and Reddit’s r/gaymers, Conn noticed an outpouring for a convention of its own, thus his creating of GaymerX. The convention, since renamed GX: Everyone Games – is about inclusiveness in general, and not specifically about revolving LGBT issues. In other words, everyone is invited to come and play, even though it focuses primarily on a unique kind of community.

There’s a need for certain communities to feel safer,” said Mattie Brice, a game developer, media critic and former GaymerX panelist. “To feel explicitly welcome. And I think a lot of people don’t realize what is needed for people to feel welcome.

“There’s a lot of things baked into gamer culture that make it unwelcome for certain kinds of people, and because that’s what ‘gamer’ is, our mainstream conferences don’t address those types of qualities, traditions, and attitudes,” Brice said. “GaymerX does.”

For the next show in the convention series, GX3, Conn took to Kickstarter in an effort to raise funds for it. The community donated in droves, driving past the initial $80,000 goal and clearing nearly $90,000 in its final hours yesterday. This isn’t the first time that the convention has turned to Kickstarter for support, but this is easily its strongest yet.

As far as why the show exists, Conn kept it simple in terms of explanation. “The reason why GX exists is that a lot of people don’t feel safe,” Conn said. “Whether it be at other conventions, or online, or within the gaming community in general.” He compared recent incidents surrounding Zoe Quinn and Anita Sarkeesian, as well as certain security policies regarding the highly popular PAX events.

“Even if you completely disagree with everything someone says, they’re still human,” Conn said, “and these people treat them as if they’re not human. They set up these organized campaigns to discredit them or harass them—it’s just cruel, and I don’t get it. This isn’t slavery. We’re not talking about embezzling millions of dollars. We’re not killing people. This is videogames. We all have that commonality. I don’t understand why people can’t just treat people with respect.”

To learn more about GaymerX, check out the video above, or check out the KickStarter page.

Source: Wired

GamesBeat 2014: The View From EA And Nexon

The GamesBeat show in San Francisco brought together some of the key executives and thought leaders in the industry, with a series of sessions that explored the intersections of art, science, and business in the gaming industry. The [a]listdaily was there, and here’s some of the highlights if you missed it.

Dean Takahashi lead writer for GamesBeat, led off with some thoughts on the game industry, noting that while investments in gaming companies exceeded half a billion dollars in the last year, exits (when companies were sold or acquired) were valued at several times that — which means there’s not enough being invested in games.

Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson sat down with Magid and Associates head Mike Vorhaus to talk about Wilson’s first year at the helm of EA. Wilson noted three key things in his agenda for EA: “Establish the player-first culture back in the company,” said Wilson, was his first goal. Shepherding EA through its continuing transition to a digital company was his second goal. “Third was no more silos,” said Wilson. “We have to work together as one team.”

Andrew Wilson, EA CEO

This is not something that will happen right away, but Wilson feels progress is being made. “Three years in this industry is like a full epoch,” Wilson said. “I would never profess to know what’s going to happen beyond three years with any certainty.” Despite that statement, Wilson did make one prediction: “In three years we will be almost entirely a digital company.”

Vorhaus asked Wilson about creating quality and value, and Wilson had an interesting reply. “Quality is a weird thing,” said Wilson. “As gamemakers we create fun, it’s the emotional value calculation of enjoyment over time. We think about it in two vectors: Innovation, doing something completely new or doing something old in a completely new way. The second thing is polish. The absence of defects that would detract from the experience. When you look at Metacritic, the top games get both those things right.”

Wilson gave examples of how EA has instituted that policy. “We moved Battlefield Hardline because we thought there was more innovation possible,” Wilson noted, referring to the game’s move into 2015. “When we moved Dragon Age: Inquisition, we thought we needed more time to get rid of the bugs. Two decisions, both around the idea of quality.”

The question of value is a very important one for Wilson. “How much more value do you want to give players ,” Wilson asked rhetorically. “You want to give as much value as you can while still maintaining a profitable company. Russell Simmons once told me ‘humans have an inherent need to steal.’ What he was really saying was that human beings have an inherent need to get value. When they give you $20 for something, they do so expecting that what you’re going to give them is going to be worth more than that $20. Otherwise they keep the $20 in their pocket. That’s how we should be thinking about games, whether it’s a premium business model or a subscription business model or a free-to-play business model, every time someone gives you money — whatever amount that might be — always get to a point where they feel like what they get in return is greater than what they put in. When you get that, you satisfy people’s inherent need to steal on a daily basis.”

Owen Mahoney, the relatively new CEO of Korean company Nexon, was interviewed next. Nexon is an interesting company, having been founded in South Korea, gone public in Tokyo, Japan, and now having hired a Western executive as its CEO. Nexon’s success is undeniable as the inventor of the free-to-play business model and creator of many extremely successful MMORPGs. Nexon today does $1.6 billion in revenue with 35 percent operating revenues, and generates $400 million in free cash flow every year, Mahoney noted.

Owen Mahoney, Nexon CEO

“Free to play is actually a very robust business model,” Mahoney pointed out, contrary to what some critics have said. “It’s hard to believe that when you look at Western companies that started on Facebook,” Mahoney acknowledged with a grin.

Nexon has many partners in various areas, and continues to engage in new partnerships and funding new ventures. “We’ve been approached by a lot of people who think the games are going to free-to-play,” explained Mahoney. “But it’s very hard to do, the way it’s done in Asia. They look at us because we’ve been doing it longer than anybody.”

Mahoney gave some insight into what Nexon looks for in a game. “We think the game industry lives or dies by the fun factor in the game,” Mahoney said. If you graph out ‘fun’ on one axis and ‘innovative’ on the other axis, “We want to be in the upper right hand corner, so we look for people like that. We haven’t made any major acquisitions lately, but we’ve done a lot of development agreements.” This includes agreements with people like Gears of War designer Cliff Blezsinski and veteran designer Brian Reynolds.

With Nexon’s relatively long history in the games business (dating back into the 1990’s), Mahoney offers some perspective. He wasn’t particularly pleased by what was happening in the industry the last few years. “From 2009 to a period six months ago, our industry got taken over by the business of games,” Mahoney said. “Not the business of game making or what games are fun. People were talking about MAU growth or monetization at company X. Those topics are interesting, but they are derivative of game quality.” Mahoney is much happier seeing that the emphasis has been changing more to finding or creating games that are fun, rather than squeezing out more revenue from games by using analytic techniques.

When asked about acquisitions like Mojang orTwitch, Mahoney urged caution. “I used to run M&A at EA,” Mahoney noted. “The problem is when you buy a game company, it hasn’t ended, it’s just started. You have to think long and hard about what’s going to happen afterwards. Rollups in the game industry don’t really work.” This sense of caution informs Nexon’s strategy about where and how to invest. “My sense is we’re careful, we have $2 billion in cash, but we think long and hard about how the companies are going to fit together,” Mahoney said.

Mobile Video For Brand And Entertainment Marketers

The smartphone represents freedom, evolution and opportunity. For consumers this device is the freedom to go anywhere and consume content everywhere. With faster data speeds and more robust tech packed into smaller spaces people are watching increasing amounts of video across their favorite sites. For the media business the mobile device becomes a way to generate more demand for great content, and it also represents a competitive threat to the entrenched media companies like the Big TV ecosystem. The mobile device is an opportunity for anyone to become their own media company, to create their own unique voice and to become a celebrated voice to within their community. For marketers too the smartphone is an opportunity to compete with Big TV for the viewing time of interesting and smartly crafted content. Instead of being the intrusive, interruptive and confined content people are forced to watch marketers create the content smartphone users want to watch.

Creators are monitoring the world in real time and creating relevant connections to their audience. These influencers shoot video on their smartphone, edit in-app, and post to their audience. Consumers have the insatiable demand for content as they have the ability to watch video while they wait in line, sit on a phone call and commute.

Mobile video consumption is fueled by young people. People aged 50-64 watch only 19 minutes of video per day, while people 18-34 watch 35 minutes of video per day, and people 35-49 watch 26 minutes per day. It is clear that children, those under 18, are heavy consumers of online video as properties like Netflix, Amazon and YouTube have substantial children’s content available. Combined with a flood of influencers who speak to children’s interests and speak to their point of view it is clear that mobile viewing is a trend that is picking up steam across age groups, but that will blossom as children of the native mobile generation age up. Key points around authenticity, transparency and interactivity will all evolve as today’s children grow into adults.

According to Business Insider, next year almost half of all video ad views will be served to mobile devices; smartphones and tablets.

Short content is key. According to Netflix 90 percent of their mobile viewing happens in increments of 10 minutes or less. According to FreeWheel 60 percent of mobile video ads are served to videos less than 20 minutes long.

As the entire digital ecosystem evolves into a mobile ecosystem, content becomes shorter. Influencer creators become more important as they maintain deep and authentic connections to their audiences and branded integrations more prevalent as marketers partner with influencers to reach audiences.

As such, marketers act more like media companies by creating their own high quality content and cultivating owned audiences, rather than renting them from media companies. Marketers also own more direct influencer relationships rather than renting them from agents.

More native ad units proliferate as banners are proven to be blunt force and largely ineffective tools to engage audiences. However, banners become valuable to activate on sophisticated geo-location data from companies like Foursquare, Twitter and others. Application of this tech involves ad-serving based on where the phone’s owner has physically been recently, where they go a lot, or the place they currently are in. Content stream ad units become part of the viewing experiences. Users will scroll through content, see ads, and continue scrolling through their curated content.

The sum of these changes show that marketing in mobile platforms becomes like a hybrid of public relations and media. Marketers will continue to seek control of their marketing investment, but they will partner with influencers to reach their audiences. Paid media becomes less about intrusion and more about participation. PR, publicity and social media work in tandem to become part of the users’ experience in authentic and transparent ways.

Key to marketers’ success will be enabling consumers to consume and re-tell the marketer’s story through the user’s own viewpoint, experiences and voice. The mobile device provides more opportunities for marketers to be part of the consumer’s endless stream of content consumption. As marketers we must do this by creating great content, working with great content creators, or helping to facilitate the content journey.

Tumblr Is the Wealthiest Social Platform

Retailers should ignore Tumblr at their own peril as Tumblr has released data with insights into where they stand when it comes to the pockets of their users. Tumblr stands above Twitter, Pinterest and far above Facebook with the median household income of its users coming in at $80,075. For comparison, Facebook clocks in at just $70,124.

More than that, with the extra disposable income lining the pockets of the average Tumblr user, a referral from Tumblr means much more in terms of value. Average referral revenue from Tumblr is $2.57 on a tablet and 67 cents on a smartphone versus Facebook’s $1.55 referral visits on tablets and 42 cents on smartphones as measured by Adobe’s Mobile Benchmark report.

Although Tumblr is no Pinterest when it comes to obvious appeal to retailers, over half of Tumblr users have bought something that they saw on the platform and a whopping 90 percent admit to being “inspired to buy something.”

Tumblr’s global head of brand partnerships, Lee Brown, says that Tumblr users are highly engaged return visitors, too.

“Not only do our users have the greatest spending power, but they also spend the most time on our platform. They are both engaged and active, taking that next crucial step to buy what they discover on Tumblr (and then post about it). The customer journey begins on Tumblr with prepurchase aspiration and ends on Tumblr for postpurchase celebration, making Tumblr the ultimate destination for shopping,” said Brown.


Source: AdWeek

Double Fine Ready To Try Publishing

Sometimes, a partnership between a game developer and a publisher doesn’t quite come to fruition as some people believe. Many developers that have teamed up with a “big” publisher have seen small dividends as a result, or sometimes even gotten to the point that it had to shut down because the project was too big for its own good (like with Factor 5 and its doomed Lair PlayStation 3 game).

That may be part of the reason why Double Fine has opted to launch a new publishing arm to its company. The long-time developer, responsible for such games as Broken Age, Psychonauts and the forthcoming Costume Quest 2, is giving game publishing a shot under the name Double Fine Presents, even though that wasn’t really a part of the company’s original vision.

Most of the growth into a publishing company came from the company’s various team ups with other developers, shared booths at game conventions and the special “Game Jam” events that have drawn in hundreds of gamers, according to senior publishing manager Greg Rice. “The cool thing about Double Fine Presents is it doesn’t stem from any financial reason,” he said. “Having other people around is stimulating for our dev team, so it really stemmed from a desire to keep working with other developers, and we decided to formalize it a bit.”

Along with publishing its own wares, Double Fine Presents will also help out other independent developers with a variety of services, including feedback on game design, help with public relations, marketing, distribution and more. It can also lend its expertise on Kickstarter campaigns, since Broken Age stemmed from a highly popular one.

“It’s a totally piecemeal thing,” Rice said. “That’s the hard thing with a lot of publisher relationships — they’re offering you a set package. For us, I feel like it’s more about identifying games and teams that we’re excited about and working with them to figure out how we can be helpful based on the things we’ve done, the things we have expertise in, and the things they need.”

The company has already published a handful of games, including Escape Goat 2, Mountain and Gang Beasts, and intends to reach out to release several more, helping “indies” out in the process. “They were like, we don’t want to be a publisher. We want to help you with what you need, and we want to assist with the people we have,” says Ian Stoker, the creator of Escape Goat 2. “We were finishing the game and they offered a really good deal. They helped us with visibility, and we could leave at any time.”

With a 10 percent cut of a game’s earnings, Double Fine Presents hopes to be fair to publishers, as that’s a far lesser cut than the 60-70 percent most take in the industry. “Hopefully it’ll just mean more and more people start doing these kinds of things and helping each other out,” Rice says. “Ultimately, we want the power in the hands of developers so they can make the games they want to make.”

Source: Polygon

Music Apps Grabbing More Time

Spotify, Pandora, Rdio and Beats Music remain great to-go sources to listening to your favorite tunes on the go, but when it comes to earning profits, some wonder if the sites will have a long life ahead. After all, Spotify hasn’t really posted a profit in some time, and Pandora’s wavers from month-to-month.

However, there’s potential for huge growth, according to numbers provided by Localytics. Between the period of August 2013 and this month, the average time spent with music applications has increased dramatically, by 79 percent. That makes music apps the leader of the pack, especially compared to Health and Fitness (with 51 percent) and Social Networking (44.9 percent). Sitting at the bottom of the chart was News, with only a 14 percent increase.

This is mainly due to the increase in total music revenue generated via streaming, with apps everywhere attempting to include digital downloads from iTunes and other services.

As far as the time that apps are used, music also leads, with an estimated 8.9 minutes per session listened to, and applications being launched around 16.3 times per months. That brings a total of 145 minutes, which is ahead of other categories, including social networking, which sits at 63 minutes per month.

This overall growth not only means good news for such sites as Pandora and Spotify, but also the industry in general. That’s not to say artists will be rolling in the dough individually, but interest continues to grow in music apps and that has to be good for the industry. The difficult issue is still how musicians get fairly compensated for all of this time spent with their music, as many have publicly compained about getting very little in return for allowing their music to be streamed.

What do you think Will Spotify and Pandora lead the charge in a better audience for streaming music services, or do you think users will stick to “bigger boys” like iTunes and Amazon for its downloading services

Source: Pando

Maker Studios’ Branded Series Pairs Chocolate with YouTubers

A new branded series from Maker Studios features several major YouTubers, a variety of romantic scenarios, and Lindt chocolate’s “Hello” collection.

“It Started with Hello” premieres Thursday, September 18 on Maker’s fashion and beauty network, The Platform, with an episode in which office mates meet to the tune of Lindt Hello Crunchy Nougat. Each episode will showcase a different chocolate in the line along with a different potentially romantic encounter.

Maker talent featured in the series includes Lindsey StirlingChester See,Tessa Violet, and Amy Pham. YouTubers Mike Tompkins and Rusty Clanton also star in “It Started with Hello,” (series trailer below).

The series will release four episodes in total, the last of which comes out on October 9. If viewers want more, they will be able to interact with the series via a dedicated hashtag (#ItStartedWithHELLO).Ashley Tisdale produced the first episode with her company, Blondie Girl Productions. Remaining episodes will roll out on a weekly basis.