What You’ll Want To Know About Instagram

Instagram has become more of a mobile-social platform as of late, as well as a boon to advertisers looking to reach out to its large user base. Now, Simply Measured, taking a look at the Interbrand top 100 list on the site, has managed to come up with a list of findings that many marketers will find useful moving forward, according to Adweek.

The 14 points that the company brings up are as follows…

— During the third quarter of 2012, 54 of the top too brands from Interbrand had Instagram accounts. However, two years later, that number has managed to rise up to 86.

— 73 percent of those 86 brands manage to post at least one photo or video per week. This is a year-over-year rise in the past two years, with the total number going up to 20.

— As far as audiences go, the top 100 brands manage to have more than 10,000 followers, an increase of 34 percent year-over-year, finally getting to 62 companies this year.

— 15 of these brands have more than one million followers. Nike leads the charge with 7.3 million.

— Average engagement rate has risen 415 percent this quarter alone, compared to two years ago. The top brands manage over 18,000 likes and comments, nearly six times the numbers from 2012.

— Those on the Interbrand list manage an average of 216 comments, with 50 percent coming in the first six hours. 75 percent of user comments overall post within the first 48 hours, though comments come approximately after 13 days.

— Highest-performing images and videos get popularity a little later on, with more than 50 percent of comments coming 13 hours or so after the post initially goes up.

— Average captions go about 138 characters, although that has no great effect on engagement rate.

— Mentions go a long way, as posts that use another user’s name or mention gets 56 percent more engagement overall. Only 36 percent of brand posts use at least one mention.

— 88 percent of posts include a hashtag of some sort, however, only 91 percent of posts use seven or less overall.

— Posts that use a single hashtag manage to get 12.6 percent more engagement, probably due to lack of overkill

— Only five percent of Instagram posts use a location, although the ones that do manage to get 79 percent more engagement.

— Our four big media firms from the Interbrand list are still on Instagram, but they manage 62 percent more posts per month compared to others. Approximately 24,000 engagements follow per post, with over 5,000 more likes and comments compared to others.

— Finally, carmakers really thrive on Instagram, with 13 Interbrand top 100 names making the list.

Could these trends pick up in 2015 It’s more than likely.

Toys Getting Upcoming Film Treatments

Toys and board games are equating to surprising box office results when it comes to big-screen films. The Transformers films have been performing notably well over the years, with the most recent entry, Age of Extinction, clearing over a billion dollars worldwide. And this weekend’s debut of Ouija, co-produced by Hasbro, brought in $19 million.

Now, several Hollywood studios are hopping on board for new projects based on toys, as reported by Variety. The following projects are in the works, though no release date has been given for them yet:

Barbie: The popular doll line will soon see a release in film format, in a partnership between Mattel and Sony Pictures. The live-action film will be produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald.

Candy Land: Columbia Pictures and Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production team will bring this board game to life for a film, with Sandler also set to star.

G.I. Joe: A third installment is in the works, following a $132 million debut of G.I. Joe: Retaliation. It will be directed by the same man behind Retaliation, Jon M. Chu, though no cast have been confirmed yet.

He-Man: The muscular intergalactic hero will return in a new production being worked on by producer Joel Silver and Warner Brothers. Hopefully it’ll be better than the hammy 80’s film Masters of the Universe.

Hungry Hungry Hippos: Emmett/Furia Films are producing a feature based on the popular multiplayer effort, where hippos try to eat as many marbles as possible.

Monopoly: Emmett/Furia Films is also hard at work on a Monopoly feature, with Sony and Ridley Scott co-attached. Production could begin next summer.

Monster High: Universal has a live-action film being planned around this popular toy line, featuring several “spooky” girls in their high school years.

Stretch Armstrong: Universal is supposedly working on a big-screen treatment for this stretchy star, with Twilight‘s Taylor Lautner reportedly attached.

It’ll be interesting to see how these films pan out in the years ahead – and if they can even come remotely close to Transformers’ success.

CREATIVE: Disney Villains Count ‘Scars’

The latest Disney hit is on Facebook. On all of Disney’s social channels {link no longer active} yesterday, a video of Disney’s infamous villains appeared with cleverly re-written lyrics to the song ‘Counting Stars’ by OneRepublic. Instead, the villians are counting ‘Scars.’ At the time this article was written, the video received over 2.1 million views with a day, nearly 30,000 shares and over 3,000 comments with largely positive engagement.

It’s fun and timely to showcase such villainry as Halloween approaches. It will be interesting to see what Disney does next to leverage Facebook as a video platform, making the most (fun) out of the auto-play feature as this one has gone over so, so well.

How do Jafar, Cruella, Ursula and so many other Disney villains sound when they sing? Pretty great, actually.


As Facebook’s Mobile Audience Grows, So Does Ad Revenue

Even before Facebook had relaunched the ad platform Atlas, giving advertisers the ability to reach consumers across the web utilizing Facebook’s data for targeting, Facebook’s ad growth wasn’t slowing down. On the contrary, it was expected by analysts to grow by 60 percent over last year’s to reach $3.1 billion.

How did this happen so fast Facebook users are increasingly mobile. According to MediaPost, Facebook’s desktop traffic has been flat while unique visitors on mobile grew by 35 percent. On top of that, Facebook’s click through rates, thanks to their wells of data and targeting, have tripled from .19 percent to .56 percent. In step, the cost-per-click had risen, too, by 30 percent. CPM’s had increased by 80% since the 2nd quarter.

It’s clear that how people are using Facebook is changing and Facebook only stands to benefit in the future. Facebook is still seeing monthly active user growth, gaining new users by 13 percent to a total of 1.34 billion active users globally. It also remains to be seen exactly how Facebook’s in-stream autoplay video ad units will go and how they will continue to monetize Instagram.


YouTube Considers Paid, Ad-Free Subscriptions

by Sahil Patel

YouTube is mulling some type of ad-free subscription service in an attempt to diversify its revenue streams, according to CEO Susan Wojcicki.

The online video site, which is projected to make $1.13 billion in net video ad revenues in the U.S. alone this year, wants to go the way of the media giants — both video and print — that have come before it.

“We’re early in the process, but if you look at media over time, most of them have both ads and subscription services,” said Wojcicki, during an on-stage interview at Recode’s Code/Mobile conference in San Francisco. “YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is great because it has enabled us to scale to a billion users. But there’s going to be a point where people don’t want to see the ads.”

This isn’t the first time YouTube has considered making content available via subscriptions. As recently as last year, the company offered paid-channels from a variety of traditional and native content providers including “Sesame Street” and The Young Turks. That initiative fizzled rather quickly.

Wojcicki did not elaborate on how a new subscription service would function, including what it would mean for content creators generating significant viewership and ad revenue on the site.

Since coming on board as YouTube CEO in February, Wojcicki has made it a priority to serve the needs of the site’s creator community, which has long complained about how difficult it can be to make money on the site. YouTube takes a 45% cut of all ad revenue generated on the site, hamstringing creators who then need to find other ways to monetize their business.

This issue has opened a void that potential YouTube competitors, including Yahoo and Jason Kilar’s Vessel, are looking to fill. These companies are trying to poach some top YouTube talent by offering them multiple monetization options with better revenue-sharing agreements.

Sensing this need to reinvest in its creator community, YouTube has started to offer more revenue-generating options for creators, including a crowdfunding “tip jar.”

The company has also started funding original content, with a focus on developing projects with some of its top starsThis initiative is led by a new “YouTube Originals” team that includes division head Alex Carloss, head of scripted content Tim Shey, head of unscripted content Ivana Kirkbride, and head of comedy Ben Relles.

An ad-free subscription offering would join these efforts in providing YouTube creators with different sources of revenue.

It will be interesting to see how the service functions if and/or when it goes live — especially on mobile, which now accounts for half of YouTube’s viewership, according to Wojcicki.

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.

Veteran Designer Reveals Mobile Strategy

The siren call of the rapidly growing mobile game business is attracting some of the game industry’s best talents. Nothing illustrates this better than the announcement today that a revived Big Huge Games led by veteran designer Brian Reynold is working on DomiNations, a mobile strategy game from the designer of such acclaimed titles as Civilization II, Rise of Nations and Rise of Legends. Reynolds worked for a time as chief game designer at Zynga, where he created social game mechanics for titles like FrontierVille and CityVille 2.

DomiNations is, in Big Huge’s words, “an epic strategic combat game of advancement, exploration and conquest” that’s being developed for phones and tablets under both iOS and Android. The game is free-to-play, and in the beloved style of classic PC strategy games, follows the rise of civilizations through time from Stone Age technology to the Space Age. Players can explore, advance and grow their civilizations while conquering the world through single-player campaign and cooperative gameplay modes. The game will be published by Nexon’s mobile gaming group, Nexon M.

“Brian and the team at Big Huge Games have built a truly epic new game with DomiNations. Strategy game fans and mobile gamers are going to love the innovation, depth, and player choice DomiNations gives each user,” said John Robinson, general manager, Nexon M.

The [a]listdaily spoke with Big Huge Games CEO, co-founder and game designer Brian Reynolds about the game and his foray into mobile games.

Brian Reynolds

[a]listdaily: You have created games on many platforms before this with great success. Why go mobile now for your latest game?

Brian Reynolds: I’ve worked on a lot of different platforms — PC games all the way back through DOS and Windows, console, Facebook, and now mobile. I’m platform agnostic. I see a platform as a new opportunity to make a strategy game that will have familiar elements but will also have new opportunities based on the new kind of platform. Combined with that, mobile seems to be the biggest new growth area, and I’ve always tried to go where the biggest opportunity to have the most number of players is, and that’s how I arrived at doing a mobile strategy game.

[a]listdaily: What’s been the most challenging part of developing strategy games for mobile?

Brian Reynolds: Almost always when I move from platform to platform, the main challenges that get right in your face come down to user interface issues. With mobile, unsurprisingly, that is definitely the most challenging part. If you look back at the games we did in the past, when you had a big old screen and a mouse and keyboard, that’s a very different control scheme for a game than playing on a mobile platform. You’re both looking at a much smaller display area than console and PC games of the past, and part of strategy games are about having lots of little pieces that are moving around. You’ve got to be able to visually distinguish them from each other, and you’ve also got to be able to select them accurately. That creates differences — in some cases it creates challenges and sometimes it creates opportunities.

You almost have to make your interface a lot better and a lot simpler to work well, and sometimes that leads to a surprising level of elegance or innovation that you might not have arrived at if you had a more traditional set of gaming controls. A lot of our thinking has had to relate to how do you get a really cool, fun, beautiful, deep strategy game experience that works really well on both a tablet and a phone. I’m happy with what we’ve come up with.

[a]listdaily: Are you looking for fans of PC strategy games to play DomiNations, or fans of games like Clash of Clans… or both?

Brian Reynolds: Both and all of the above and more as well, of course! The fact we’ve chosen to go back to the Big Huge Games name, we know that some of our fans from the old days will be reminded of the old games they liked. There’s no question that DomiNations is fully a free-to-play mobile strategy game, so we’re very much in that genre with Clash of Clans and Game of War. I think we’re the first to really have a go at a sweep-of-history game in that genre. I think we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that in the game we’ve come up with.

We’ve got the wonders of the world, you move through the ages of history. You start in the Stone age, you move through the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, the Gunpowder Age…we’ve tried to recapture that magical feeling of moving from age to age. Your buildings look different, your opportunities are different, your economy can work in a different way. We’ve tried to capture as many of those things as possible. There’s a mix of the familiar elements, for those who’ve played earlier games I’ve worked on, and there will certainly be familiar touchstones, but we’re not trying to recreate some game we did in the 90’s now. It’s a fully modern aesthetic of free-to-play mobile game design.

[a]listdaily: How does DomiNations monetize? Is the game time-gated?

Brian Reynolds: The main opportunity to spend money is for more time. You can also spend money for bandwidth, to be able to build a few more things at a time. You can unlock everything without paying any money. That makes it an even more challenging strategy game.

[a]listdaily: How did Nexon M become your publisher, and why did you select them?

Brian Reynolds: At the time I was leaving Zynga. I was looking for a way I could combine some of my knowledge from the past of building these historical strategy games with how Zynga had opened my eyes to how many more people played games. Nexon had a lot of free-to-play experience. I knew from being at Zynga you want a publisher that understands data collection and analytics. They had experience in that, and they were looking to make a move into North America and partner with some North American developers. They let us be creative in ways we want to be creative, and at the same time they have this deep wealth of F2P knowledge.

[a]listdaily: Is Big Huge Games handling the marketing for DomiNations, or is that handled by Nexon M?

Brian Reynolds: On all the strategic kinds of things that would normally be called marketing, Nexon is taking the lead and obviously we provide them with art and materials. Where you’re marketing stuff literally inside the game, that’s a Big Huge Games lead. That’s almost part of the game these days. But in terms of user acquisition, that’s on the Nexon side.

Now That Microsoft Has Dropped The Price Of The Xbox One, What’s Next?

Microsoft already has a jump on the holiday season as November rolls around, with such exclusive titles as Forza Horizon 2, Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection under its belt, along with various bundles revolving around hits like Assassin’s Creed Unity and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Now, it may have just sounded its loudest warning call to its competition at Sony to date.

The company confirmed today that it would be launching a special holiday promotion starting on November 2nd and running through January 3rd that will introduce a $50 price drop for all of its Xbox One bundles. That means users can pick up bundles like the general Xbox One system, the Sunset Overdrive bundle and the Assassin’s Creed bundle for $349, while the Advanced Warfare bundle will be $449.

While it sounds like the price drop may be temporary, Microsoft may stick with it permanently if enough units are sold, according to sources.

This is a major strike against Sony, as it marks the first time that the Xbox One will be cheaper than the PlayStation 4 console, which launched at market last year for $399 — $100 more than what the Xbox One initially sold for at the time. Microsoft has since made moves to stay competitive, including removing the necessity of its Kinect device to make the hardware less expensive.

The video below goes into more detail about what value Microsoft is bringing to the holiday season, between key first-party releases, as well as third-party titles.


Google’s AdWords Program Works

In an effort to boost advertising across its services, Google has announced a new option for advertisers to aim at customers that have purchased items through applications.

Run through Google’s mobile ad network, AdMob, companies can target such ads via AdWords to consumers that have made purchases through applications and games offered via the Google Play Store.

This is the latest move for AdWords, following the introduction of a program that would reach out to consumers that purchased a paid application with in-app display options.

“These new settings can help you identify and create a campaign strategy around your most valuable customers,” explained the company.

Companies can explore these targeting options simply by checking the new option that reads “Only show ads to people who purchased an app or made an in-app purchase” under the ad group level in the Interests and Remarketing selection via AdWords.

To utilize this option best, however, Google has offered some practical advice to these companies. “It’s best to use this option in ad groups specifically designed to reach your highest value customers,” the company stated. “While narrowed targeting can help focus your bidding strategy, it can also limit ad impressions. While the volume of customers gained may be lower than you see in other campaigns, you may find the lifetime value (LTV) of these customers to be higher.”

More details have also been provided via a detailed post on the company’s Google Plus page, explaining how it is also available through the AdWords API. Those new to the program can also ask for assistance via the company’s Help Center, both of which are linked through the article.


Calling In Heavy Marketing For ‘Call Of Duty’

Considering that the franchise has earned $10 billion worldwide to date across a number of releases, there’s no question that Call of Duty means big bucks to Activision. And now, according to Adweek, the company is set to launch a huge campaign for the latest chapter in the series, Advanced Warfare, which will launch for various game consoles next week.

Along with TV advertisements, the company will also provide a number of promotional tie-ins with the series. This should be no surprise, as previous games in the past had similar campaigns. And it’s pretty native to Activision, since advertising plays a huge part when it comes to hype.

“It’s been a huge learning experience and very satisfying to be working on a creative product further upstream,” said Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg, speaking about its effects. “In advertising, all you get to do is influence the message and the way a product is positioned and communicated. But as we know from the ad business, a lot of times there isn’t something special or differentiating baked into the product itself. And this is a chance for me to influence that and make sure that the things that we were actually launching were created different before communication ever began.”

Ever since the decision came around to release games in the series on a yearly basis, the three studios involved – Treyarch, Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games – have always pushed for the “bigger and better” approach. This year’s example, Advanced Warfare, could be the biggest yet, not only involving a futuristic storyline that shies away from today’s modern combat, but also the work of Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey, who appears in the game as power-hungry Jonathan Irons.

This obviously isn’t the first time that Hollywood talent has been involved with the series – last year’s entry Ghosts was written by Syriana screenwriter Stephen Gaghan, and 2012’s Black Ops II ad featured a number of stars, including Robert Downey Jr. – but it goes to show just how serious Sledgehammer Games is when it comes to making the content “gel” just right for Call of Duty fans, especially after some felt a little turned off by what last year’s Ghosts had to offer.

When it comes to Spacey’s involvement, Hirshberg stated, “He’s a guy who’s done some really enterprising things in terms of getting involved with different media. Doing a high-quality HBO-style show for Netflix is now a no-brainer; when he did it, it was a huge zag and unheard of.”

Hirshberg believes the partnership with the actor also pays off on both ends. “We put him in front of a new audience who might not be familiar with some of his iconic films in another situation where he’s trailblazing, being an actor on his level, a two-time Oscar winner in a completely new medium,” he says.

Cowen Group analyst Doug Creutz also believes the futuristic theme will play a huge part. “It’s futuristic and there’s a greater emphasis on mobility in the player versus player, and Call of Duty lives and dies on the player versus player,” he says. But the quality of the new title, he adds, might not matter. “It’s hard to get people to come back even if you do a better job this time around. If my friends have moved on to something else, I’m going to play that.”

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare launches on November 4th for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The launch trailer for the game is below.


Mobile Advertising And Commerce Behavior Explained

Believe it or not, gender behavior can actually play a big part in predicting the success of both mobile advertising and commerce behavior, based on studies over at Applovin. The results of this research, which started back in July 2014, were posted this past week on the company’s blog page.

The first part of this report looked at Click Through ratio, which you can see in the chart below. Female Android owners were in the top reported percentile, with over 10 percent of users accessing the ads. Male Android owners were close behind in second place with 9.47 percent, while both male and female iOS device users fell around the six to seven percent ratio. While this is less than a one percent difference, it does show a bit of preference when it comes to female users.

Another chart showing such a difference revolves around conversion rate. With this, female iOS users took the lead with an approximate 2.36 percent, while female Android users were close behind with 1.75 percent. Meanwhile, males once again stayed in a one percent ratio, with 2.03 percent on iOS and 1.45 percent on Android.

But what about the average purchase amount Again, ladies are leading the charge, with the chart below. Female iOS users spend the most with $20.65, while female Android users are close behind with $18.65. Males spend a bit less, with iOS users spending around $15.73, and Android users down even further at $12.28.

Why do Android users have bigger numbers Applovin believes it has to do with the free ad-supported app system on those devices, “so it’s likely users are more conditions to accept ads and are more responsive to them,” according to the post. As a result, more popular apps with ads are utilized, thus the higher rate.

As for the major differences in gender, there are factors that weigh in with behaviors across mobile devices, although a side report from Flurry believes that loyalty and monetization can also play a part. Even though other sources like Business Insider Intelligence and RetailMeNot believe that men are more likely to shop on mobile than women, these charts tell another story.