Mobile Ad Money Shifting Next Year

We’re seeing a dynamic shift of advertising spending, with more and more companies turning away from other formats and instead focusing more on mobile for better engagement with customers, according to eMarketer. However, when it comes to where all those dollars will be removed from to fund this mobile front, there are various places, per numbers reported in a July 2014 study by Advertiser Perceptions.

The main source, it seems, will come from print advertising, as 40 percent of advertising directors will take funds out of that to pick up its mobile ad spending over the next year. 34 percent of those polled intend to take funds out of its TV advertising, a smaller number than the 38 percent reporting that overall expansion of budgets would be the source.

Other sources for funds include digital display advertising (32 percent), search advertising (10 percent), digital video advertising (nine percent), owned social media (eight percent) and paid social media (also eight percent).

With the expansion set to continue over the next few years, it’s likely these trends will continue to rise. eMarketer reports that US advertisers will pick up its spending on mobile ads by 78 percent, with a total of nearly $19 billion. It’ll grow even further into the next year, with a 50 percent growth rate to $28.48 billion. But, again, that’s nothing compared to where spending will be by 2018, which is expected to rise 20 percent to reach a whopping $58.78 billion.

Advertiser Perceptions also reported that smartphones were better than tablets when it came to delivering ad results, including impressions and return on investment. In nearly every category, smartphones outperformed tablets on every level, including audience (smartphones’ 38 percent to tablets’ 13 percent), results (36 percent to 22 percent) and targeting (36 percent to 12 percent, nearly three times worth). Only in areas like engagement (27 percent to 36 percent), platform for advertising (tied at 25 percent apiece), brand safety (18 percent to 20 percent) and user experience (17 percent to 49 percent) did tablets fare better. The chart is below, and also highlights how some advertisers believe they are the same, particularly with audience.

 

Subaru’s Memory Lane Ad Pokes Fun

It’s not often you see a commercial that actually signifies a deeper meaning – as well as a playful little jab to the very company that produced it. However, that’s exactly what you get out of the new Subaru ad, produced by Carmichael Lynch.

In the ad, a pair of parents is driving on the road to Woodstock, with their daughter and hippie-based grandmother in the back seat. The trip is an interesting one, complete with stories about skinny dipping that are stopped short, as well as appreciation for air. However, it’s the end that’s interesting, as both the kid and the grandmother end up hugging a tree, while the parents look on in terms of both appreciation and slight confusion. They eventually join in, only for the grandmother to realize that it may not be the right tree.

The point of the commercial is that 97 percent of Subaru models produced in the previous ten years remain on the road, although the commercial itself effectively shows appreciation – and pokes fun – at the manufacturer’s usual stereotypes.

The ad has drawn quite a bit of attention since its debut on YouTube, as well as its fair share of humorous comments, mainly due to the inclusion of a hippie theme. “I like the idea of cool old people rather than just the Fox News watching scared old people who are afraid of their own shadow,” writes one viewer.

Another stated, “Whole family actually hugging a tree…for the love of God make it stop. Liberal Marxist whack jobs have thrown this country into a tail spin!”

The Carmichael Lynch agency almost didn’t go through with the ad, but eventually changed its mind. “Generational ads are really hard to do, and even tougher to do well,” Carmichael Lynch chief creative officer Dave Damman said to Adweek. “Add to that the huge challenge of cashing in some of the ‘tree hugger’ brand equity and spending it on the Summer of Love, 1969 mind-set, and it almost becomes something that if not done exactly right, you’d surely want to avoid. But it’s a genuine, compelling story, and because of this brand and what it stands for, it makes complete sense that the car they own is a Subaru.

“Much like the importance of the 1969 music festival, it’s a territory we felt can only be visited once, so it had to be the right story, and the right emotional fit. It’s rare that in one spot you can have nostalgia, heartfelt generational connections, and everyday ‘That’s my life’ humor. Identifying with the adventurous free spirit not only inspired the concept, but helped a great deal in bringing it to life. Lance Acord, the director, had an immediate connection—he proudly claimed that the grandma character was just like his own mother, and himself as the dad,” Damman added.

Meanwhile, creative director Randy Hughes explained, “Hugging the tree was something we felt we could laugh at and love at the same time.”

Watch the ad below and see for yourself.

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Stephen Colbert Tackles GamerGate Head-On

GamerGate has been making the rounds on social media for a couple of months now, eventually starting as an argument on ethics in gaming journalism but eventually shifting to an all-out war on female gamers, developers and producers. Now, Stephen Colbert has finally tackled the topic head-on, as last night’s Colbert Report had an opening segment talking about GamerGate.

Colbert first addressed the situation by poking fun at gamers, but got right down to business when he invited feminist blogger Anita Sarkeesian on the show to explain her side of things. Sarkeesian has been a huge target in the GamerGate controversy, to the point that she had to cancel an appearance in Utah due to a bomb threat.

Sarkeesian didn’t waste time addressing the problems with GamerGate. “I think women are perceived as being threatened because we are asking for games to be more inclusive,” she said. “We’re asking for games to acknowledge that we exist and that we love games.”

Recently reported numbers show that women playing games are on the rise, taking over both PC and mobile gaming mediums with larger audience numbers – just as equal as males.

When asked to define GamerGate, Sarkeesian explained that it is “men going after women in really hostile and aggressive ways,” and “terrorizing women for being involved in (the video game) industry.”

But Sarkeesian made her strongest point when Colbert explained that feminism shouldn’t scare off men from saving damsels in distress, simply stating, “Maybe the princess shouldn’t be a damsel and she could save herself.”

The full interview is below.

 

Here’s hoping the whole GamerGate controversy – and the hateful ones that support it – goes away sooner rather than later.

 

Reddit Introduces Kickstarter-Style Crowdfunding

With Kickstarter and Indiegogo still raking in the money from crowdfunded projects, it shouldn’t be a surprise that other crowd-funding sites would appear to get in on the action. However, in an unlikely move, Reddit has thrown its hat into the ring with the introduction of its new Redditmade service, according to Quibb.

With the service, users are able to sell whatever merchandise they see fit to the masses, using a storefront along the same lines as the Zazzle store. While it could be an effective tool for selling, some believe it could also be a place where less-than-favorable merchandise shows up.

Reddit explained in an announcement that it “is a new place to turn the best designs and products by the community into reality.”

“Redditmade gives you the flexibility to create almost anything you want, easily raise money, and support causes you care about. It’s also a great way for others to find awesome new products they’ll love and support other redditors while knowing their information and money will always be secure,” the announcement continues.

Some of the products are actually produced by Reddit itself, including a new Reddit Secret Santa Sticker Pack that’s available for purchase (part of a $50 million investment for professional designs). The general shop, though, is open game to sellers, offering everything from the “Ebola Soup” shirt seen above (which can also be “A Bowl of Soup” for those not favoring such a controversial issue) to a “You Broke Reddit” shirt, complete with the company’s mascot on the front.

However, the service has gotten off to a very slow start, as most of Redditmade’s products show no signs of backing, probably due to most of them having a mature theme. It’s hard to say if the service will be a payoff for Reddit, or something that will eventually fade away in favor of more community-based features for the site.

One thing’s for sure — the “Ebola Soup” shirt probably won’t catch on anytime soon.

How Interstitial Advertising Clicks With Brains

Global mobile ad spending is expected to reach an all-time high next year, capping nearly $45 billion, according to numbers from eMarketer. You’re not the only one to see that’s a lot higher than usual, and most of that increase comes in the form of new advertising that manages to organically blend in with content on pages, utilizing whatever technological advances can be supplied — including larger device screens, according to Adweek.

Interstitials could play the largest part in this new ad approach, mainly due to the fact that they’ve been successful thus far this year, with a “logical break point” for users to interact with, according to Google’s Jonathan Alferness. These ads managed to gain a better rate of engagement, with users looking at them for a greater period of time. Interstitials alone have managed to jump a whopping 43 percent between the first two quarters of this year, per AppFlood.

So what makes them tick Well, it’s a way these ads connect with the brains of users, utilizing a slick form of psychology. Interstitials have a way of connecting with users similar to ads from the older days of television, with something that feels more like an additional treat for viewers, rather than something to simply ignore or skip past.

Jane E. Raymond, professor off experimental consumer psychology at the University of Wales in Bangor, explained that “we actually process information in gulps. The brain goes out, grabs a bit of information, digests it, then grabs another bit.”

In addition, a study published in Psychology Today showed that, in a research project involving 300 students age 8 to 20, the general focus only spans about three minutes at a time. These students managed to look for various means of distraction, or something that would get their attention in that time frame. The introduction of an interstitial offers a form of interaction, if only temporary, and certainly something more well-meaning than a typically flat message.

An “isolation effect” can also play a huge part with interstitials, as people tend to recall things that stand out on their own end, even if they’re unexpected.

When it comes to how an interstitial can be effective, Madelijn Strick, a psychology researcher from the Netherlands, explained that two things are needed to make something like that work: a message that comes across the right way, usually with a sense of humor, and a delivery system, such as the Interscroller interstitial, that feels more natural and non-obtrusive.

Don’t be surprised to see more and more interstitials introduced in the market by this time next year.

Mobile Users Prefer Ad-Based Apps

The Digital Advertising Alliance, or the DAA, has released a survey asking adult mobile users about their preference for ad-supported or fremium models and to gauge interest in tools for control over what ads are served.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents preferred free apps that were supported by ads as opposed to paying up front for an app that did not have ads. When users were asked if they would download their free apps again if they were required to pay for them, only 8 percent responded that they would.

When it comes to having a modicum of control over what ads are seen, Americans were largely interested in having ads served to them that were geared to their interests and 71 percent of survey respondents overall said they would love to have some tools to give them transparency about these ads in regards to relevancy and the collection of data.

This openess to ads and preference for ad-supported apps would seem to only increase if app users had access themselves to which ads they were shown. It makes sense that a tool that would allow for such transparency would be preferrable to users over fears about big data.

The DAA has said that they are planning to launch “AppChoices” which will provide users with control over mobile advertising.

“[AppChoices will be] a downloadable tool that allows users to manage their relevant advertising preferences in mobile apps. The tool is built on the same robust principles that support DAA’s groundbreaking Web-based program, and provides functionality similar to that of the DAA Icon experience which is served globally at a rate of a trillion times per month” said a resprentative of the DAA to MarketingLand.

 

Ayzenberg Group Bolsters Brand Leadership Team

Ayzenberg Group has made two senior-level additions to the agency’s creative and account management departments, further bolstering the agency’s in-house capabilities. Former BLT executive Matt Rice has joined Ayzenberg as Vice President of Creative Operations alongside Justin Kirby, who will be taking on his new role as Account Director. Their experience and expertise will be especially valuable in helping fuel the ongoing growth and expanding capabilities at the award-winning agency. The hires signify Ayzenberg’s ever-deepening belief in creating memorable imagery to support a visual narrative.

“A picture being worth 1,000 words is the essential reality which has now been amplified through social media…more visually oriented work leads to a more successful communication,” stated Eric Ayzenberg, CEO and Chief Creative Office, Ayzenberg Group.

Rice brings his 20-plus years of expertise and insight to the development and management of creative campaigns within the agency. He will work closely with the agency’s Principal and Creative Director, Stu Pope. Rice has deep roots in brand development for film, and television properties in addition to founding the video game business at BLT & Associates, where he oversaw award-winning work and consistently grew the agency’s revenue Y-o-Y. Additional past experience includes marketing management positions at Warner Brothers Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“We are very excited to have Matt join the creative leadership of our agency,” said Stu Pope, Principal and Creative Director, Ayzenberg Group.  “His unique creative sensibilities and strong strategic insights will serve to broaden our client base in video games while deepening our commitment to telling our clients’ brand stories in different ways, at different times, in diverse places that organically resonate with their audiences.”

Kirby joins Ayzenberg as Account Director for the agency’s entertainment and video game clients in the Pacific Northwest, operating out of Seattle. As Account Director, Kirby will be in charge of managing the agency’s existing video game clients and growing its video game business development overall. Like Rice, Kirby has deep roots in the video game industry, serving as the Group Marketing Communications Manager for Microsoft’s Xbox video game division for over a decade and spending two years as a Marketing Manager for Vivendi Entertainment.

“The addition of Matt and Justin emphasize our commitment to brand and client management and we look forward to working closely with these very talented individuals I have admired for many years who have collaborated on the identities of such brands as Gears of War, Halo, and, Mass Effect and individually on Star Trek, Dragon Age, Fable, The Dark knight, Forza and many more.” said Chris Younger, Principal, and oversees  Strategy, Sales and Client Services at Ayzenberg Group.

 

Now On Tumblr, Autoplay Video Ads By Hulu, Universal, And More

by Jessica Klein

In the wake of Tumblr’s recent announcement that its video player “finally works,” the company has also decided to leverage its new features by offering them up to advertisers.

Multiple brands, including JC Penney, Hulu, Universal, Lexus, The CW, and Unilever’s Axe, are participating in the launch, running autoplay ads on the social-blogging platform beginning Tuesday, October 28.

All ads will play automatically without sound, but they’ll appear in-stream for users on laptops and mobile devices. On desktop, users will also have the option to “pop out” the video on the side and watch as they surf their Tumblr feed.

These sponsored video ads are still in a beta stage for Tumblr, with plans to open them up to all advertisers in mid-November.

Tumblr hasn’t disclosed pricing for the ads, but said it’s charging on a cost-per-view basis. Here, the company defines a view as a video that’s played and has been “in view” for at least two seconds, which are in line with industry standards for video viewability.

Tumblr is obviously not the first social network to launch an autoplay ad option for advertisers. Facebook embarked on its video business with the same approach, and has been able to attract plenty of advertisers to distribute shareable content on its network.

And like Facebook, Tumblr has been trying to convince media and entertainment companies to buy ads on its platform. An autoplay ad option could go a long way in helping Tumblr meet its $100 million revenue target for 2015, which parent company Yahoo projected during its most recent earnings call.

One thing potentially in Tumblr’s favor: video is popular among its users, with video posts growing twice as fast as photo posts. (That said, we have no idea how many of the platform’s 420 million monthly uniques actually watch that content.)

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.

This Week’s [a]list Jobs – October 29

[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:

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

Electronic Arts Powers Ahead

The times are finally changing for Electronic Arts, after years of less-than-stellar returns. The transition of the company to embracing the new digital realities of the game industry has been a rough one, but things are finally looking pretty good for Electonic Arts, as the latest earnings report demonstrates amply. The company may well pass up arch-rival Activision in total revenue this year, which would certainly be the occasion for some high-fives among the executive team.

The numbers EA posted were impressive in many ways: The company’s net (non-GAAP) revenue of $1.22 billion beat the previous guidance of $1.14 billion, and earnings per share (EPS) of $0.73 was above the guidance of $0.50. Operating cash flow was also up by $189 million, and the company has now stacked up an impressive $2.39 billion in cash, and 67 percent of this cash and short-term investment balance is held onshore. That’s a pretty good war chest for funding strategic moves, whether that’s new game development, acquisitions, or marketing expenditures.

CEO Andrew Wilson noted some usage stats during the call. EA had 155 million monthly active users for mobile games during the quarter. “Mobile generated $115 million for the quarter, up 11 percent over the prior year,” noted CFO Blake Jorgenson. “$105 million, or 91 percent, of this was from digital extra content and advertising. This was up 35 perfect versus the prior year and continues to more than offset the decline in the premium business.”

Essentially, EA is going all-in on free-to-play in the mobile space, and the strategy is working. The company is doing very well with its sports titles on mobile, too, and it looks like those titles are helping to drive console game sales as well. Wilson noted that Madden games played are up 48 percent year-over-year, with 89 million games played this year. There are 50 percent more players online in FIFA 15, and the aggregate Ultimate Team player base increased by over 40 percent. EA Sports mobile game audiences are up over 250 percent from last year.

EA may not have a chart-topping mobile title like Clash of Clans, but it’s doing quite well overall with its mobile games. It does lead you to wonder if the company will be looking to create more original (or licensed) mobile games to try and garner some of the juicy revenue available at the the top of the top-grossing charts. It’s worth remembering that EA has the Star Wars license, and it’s easy to imagine some Star Wars mobile games that could do very well indeed if the movie does well.

Overall, despite the weakness of console game sales in general, EA has been doing well there. Wilson noted that gamers spent1.9 billion hours of playing EA games during the quarter — or, if you look at it another way, the company is making less than a dollar for every hour of fun. That’s a pretty good deal for gamers, though no doubt EA would like to boost that ratio a bit.

“EA’s non-GAAP net revenue was $1.22 billion, which was 17 percent higher than the prior year’s results and 7 percent above our guidance,” said Jorgenson. “The excellent performance was led by FIFA 15, Madden 15, and The Sims 4. ” EA announced that Battlefield Hardline is now set to launch on March 17, 2015 in North America, and that Star Wars Battlefront is headed for the holidays in 2015. Both of those titles are expected to do very well.

Moving on to other areas, the emergence of China as a huge and growing market for games has been hard for Western companies to take advantage of, in part due to the restrictions of the Chinese government that preclude non-Chinese companies from doing business easily without a local partner. EA is making progress in generating significant revenue from Asia, but there’s a lot of market potential the company is not yet realizing. FIFA Online 3 is one of the top games in revenue for Korea, so that’s a positive step.

Still, the truth is that EA needs to get substantially stronger than it is in the world’s largest game market. — China. On Asia, we don’t break out our revenues. It is obviously the smallest part of our international business,” said Jorgenson. That’s got to be a major area of concern for EA going forward, especially as Chinese companies are using their market growth to power acquisitions of Western game companies.

Meanwhile, the company continues its transition to becoming a more digital company than a physical one; on a GAAP basis the company’s digital revenue last quarter exceeded its physical revenue. “Full game PC and console downloads generated $94 million, up 71 percent over the prior year,” said Jorgenson. “Although the percentage varied considerably by title, platform, and geography, the trend towards full game downloads continues. Subscriptions, advertising, and other digital revenue contributed $91 million, up 47 percent over the same period last year.”

One way that EA is performing well is by improving its gross margins. In part, this is due to the higher-margin digital revenue taking an increasing share of the business, but Jorgenson also pointed out how reductions in marketing expenses have contributed to this. “Our non-GAAP gross margin for the quarter was 66.1 percent, an increase from last year’s 61.7 percent and better than our guidance of 65.5 percent. The increase over the prior year was primarily due to growth in our digital business, both full game downloads and extra content, and by The Sims 4 launch,” noted Jorgenson. “Our lower operating expenses compared to guidance were largely driven by quarterly phasing of key expenses in marketing and contracted services, combined with continued cost discipline. We expect some of these marketing and services costs to be incurred in future quarters.”

Activision will be delivering its earnings report on November 4, and it will be interesting to see how these two companies compare in their handling of the game industry transitions — and how successfully they are doing so.