CBS Pushing All-Access Subscription Service

A while back, we reported that CBS would be launching its own on-demand subscription service for its programming. Now, it appears to be putting its money where its mouth is, preparing for a huge marketing push for the forthcoming service.

The channel will ask consumers to pay $5.99 a month to gain access to instant programming from CBS, including current hits like The Big Bang Theory and NCIS, as well as classic series like Star Trek and Cheers, according to Variety. The real marketing push for the service will come the week after Thanksgiving, when the channel will run TV promotions for the service.

“December is a key month for our push,” said Marc DeBevoise, executive vice president, entertainment, sports and news, at CBS Interactive, in an interview. “It’s the time when the network has ended the first half of the season and goes into repeats and Christmas specials for a few weeks, then comes back in early January. It’s a unique time period and we are going to present something that’s very timely around catching up on the first half of the season.”

This won’t mark the first time that an on-demand service has run promotions on television. Netflix has introduced a savvy campaign focusing on such original programming as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black; Amazon has a few ads running for its political comedy Alpha House, and even YouTube is getting in on the action, calling attention to such original programs as SciShow and Video Game High School.

With its ads, CBS looks to aim more towards “influencers” that will bring a bigger audience to the service. “It’s a broad campaign with very specific targeting inside of it,” said an executive. “You pick the right way to convert users to what we think is a product for ‘super-fans,’ or a premium product for people who really want CBS.”

On-demand is definitely picking up in numbers, with a 30 percent overall growth in revenue for the year – and it’s likely to expand even further in 2015, as HBO Go will enter the battle with its own on-demand services, marking the first time that users can catch its original programs without a subscription to the cable channel.

Surprisingly enough, on-demand services have also managed to top rentals. A report from 24WAList indicates that streaming services for the year have managed to total over $1.03 billion, a 26 percent increase from the previous year, while rental services have dropped 18 percent to $793 million. That’s still a hefty market, but quite a shift in popularity.

It’ll be interesting to see how much more on-demand services grow by this time next year…and, for that matter, if CBS can play a successful part in it, despite being a network channel first.

SoundCloud Signs On With Warner Music

The battle of the music services may just be heating up. Hot on the heels of the forthcoming launch of YouTube’s new music services, SoundCloud has announced that it has signed a licensing deal with Warner Music Group. This could give the start-up a much-needed boost onto the social music scene, according to VentureBeat.

Using an ad-supported platform for users to stream music across, the deal enables WMG to receive a small payment for each time one of its songs is used with the service. In addition, it will also play a part in SoundCloud’s upcoming subscription channels, per a report from the New York Times. The deal covers a number of artists, including Bruno Mars, Kylie Minogue and the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin, among thousands of others.

SoundCloud said on the deal, “The landmark partnership will create new commercial and promotional possibilities for WMG’s roster of established and emerging recording artists as well as songwriters signed to WMG’s music publishing arm, Warner/Chappell Music. Further, the deal includes innovative licensing terms that will provide WMG and its artists greater ability to manage the availability of content, while providing a path towards delivering additional revenue from user-generated mixes and mash-ups of WMG music.”

“SoundCloud is a platform built on music innovation and it has a rare ability to drive music discovery while enhancing the connection and collaboration between an artist and their following,” Robert Wiesenthal, the Warner Music Group’s chief operating officer, stated. “Our deal will foster that relationship, while providing a powerful range of income opportunities for WMG’s artists and songwriters.”

Such a deal could help push SoundCloud in the right direction. It’s certainly paid off for Warner, as it’s invested a three-to-five percent stake in the upstart company, although other financial dividends in the deal weren’t revealed just yet.

This marks yet another stake in the forthcoming streaming music war, between YouTube, the popular Spotify service, and Pandora, among others. However, with Warner’s official backing, things have gotten quite interesting, and 2015 could be even bigger with the signing of other companies to services.

Shazam Goes To The Movies

When you think of Shazam, you usually associate the app with the nifty utility of being able to identify whatever song is playing at the bar. Lately, Shazam has been making the moves into video after its recent hire of former Hulu executive Patricia Parra. First it was TV, as Shazam went after making advertising pacts with A&E, AMC and more. Now, Shazam is looking to the movies.

Partering with National CineMedia, Shazam will be able to have users of their app access content which will go along with the pre-show reel, beginning with AEG Live.

“We’re thrilled to add cinema to our growing list of audio-recognition capabilities including music, television, advertising and radio, and we look forward to introducing even more innovations to Shazam at the movies,” Shazam chief product officer Daniel Danker said to Variety.

It will be interesting to see how brands might use this integration to make their movie ads more interactive as people sit idly in their chairs as they wait for their movie to begin.

[a]listdaily’s #MustReads: November 7th

We sort through quite a bit of the fluff out there on the Internet on a daily basis and we’ve found what we think are the most crucial  and interesting news items from all over. We’re talking no stone left unturned. So, consider this your new one-stop-shop to being your most informed self as you prepare to head into your next work week.

Have something else to share Feel free to comment with your contribution below.

Meet The Network of Guys Making Thousands of Dollars Tweeting As “Common White Girls”: BuzzFeed gets to the fine details of what groundwork was laid in place to ensure that now infamous viral marketing moment #AlexFromTarget could happen.

Mark Zuckerberg Holds His First-Ever Public Q&A on Facebook: Mark addresses such topics as Facebook’s organic reach, what The Social Network got wrong and why he wears the same t-shirt every day.

How eSports Influenced Activision’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare: The latest from the popular franchise looked to eSports pros for cues on how to better the game.  Michael Condrey, co-founder of Sledgehammer Games dishes on how this influenced game mechanics and Call of Duty’s entrance into the eSports sphere with the Call of Duty Championship.

Why Silicon Valley Doesn’t Care About Android: Why Silicon Valley isn’t so hot on that other big OS. (Hint: it boils down to monetization.)

Physical Video Games Let You Make One Move A Day: While Ishac Bertran’s Slow Games could easily be objects of art, they will try your patience, memory and your observation abilities to create a whole new kind of gaming experience.

Why BuzzFeed Doesn’t Do Clickbait: BuzzFeed attempts to extricate itself from that little portmanteau it has become synonymous with… clickbait.

It’s All Mobile With Robert Brill and Brian Foster: Part of our new series featuring the people behind Ayzenberg, we talk to the dynamic duo behind influencer platform ION to talk in-depth about influencer marketing and why “mobile” isn’t even worth mentioning anymore.

The Chinese Games Market: An in-depth analysis of the huge (and growing) Chinese games market and what challenges it will face.

Twitter Was Right– It’s Not The Next Facebook: Turns out, Twitter is the next Twitter.

Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem: The New York Times addresses the chasm between the young and old in Silicon Valley and why the next cool app might pale next to the app that really matters.

SuperData Report: De-Risking Game Development: SuperData does more than just look at sales numbers. This time, they look at how the digital distribution is changing the gaming industry, and fast.

How Brands Can Help Save Journalism (It’s Not With Content Marketing): Contently’s Shane Snow says that “the Journalism business is an old man on life support” and that can hardly be argued. Snow makes a passionate case for “lateral thinking”– what it is and why it needs to be applied to the Journalism (with a capital ‘J’) industry.

How Modern Marketplaces Like Uber and Airbnb Build Trust to Achieve Liquidity: An interesting analysis of what makes these sharing economy marketplaces tick and what makes them so darn effective.

Media and Tech Brands Rule YouTube: Media and tech seem to the be the first to realize YouTube’s major potential for branded content. Everyone else is playing a game of catch-up.

Should You Listen to Your Users Or Your Data : Data can tell you one story, but without real human feedback, you stand to miss some important points. Here’s what you might miss if you acquiesce to one side too much.

Mobile Is Eating The World: Benedict Evans of Andreesen Horowitz shares his presentation from the WSJD conference that every marketer should see.

How To Take Advantage Of The Top Two Motivations For Using Apps: Loneliness And Boredom: Important advice to take note of when considering your next branded app.

Snapchat Reaches Out to Potential Partners: Next on Snapchat’s monetization docket is its strategic partnerships with media companies to deliver information to Gen Z’s platform of choice.

Tencent Owns 3 Of The World’s 5 Biggest Social Networks: A visual presentation of exactly how many users Tencent commands and where they fit in to the social networking landscape.

Connecting the Mobile Game Marketing Dots: [a]listdaily talks to Christian Calderon, head of marketing at Dots to see what strategies lie behind the wildly popular mobile game.

Also, if you’re not signed up for our next [a]list summit on Dec. 3rd, you’ll want to reserve your spot now. Spots are filling up and we’re focusing on the 5 biggest pain points for brand marketers as they address mobile with full force this year. Get all the details at alistsummit.com.

 

The Wall Street Journal Goes Interactive Via New TouchCast Video Series

By Sahil Patel

The Wall Street Journal is launching a new interactive video series powered by technology from TouchCast.

Called WSJ: Interactive, the series will give viewers a complete look at a particular news story every day. Thanks to TouchCast’s interactive video features, users will be able to click on and engage with multiple types of media content, including relevant videos, articles, photos, and polls, posted on the screen by WSJ.

For an idea of how it will work, here’s the initial episode of WSJ: Interactive, which is hosted by WSJ anchor and reporter Sara Murray.

Take A Look

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.

CREATIVE: Tim & Eric Live That Totinos Life

Tim & Eric are absolute professionals when it comes to masterful mimicry of late-night infomercial type ads, infusing the low budget sleaze with their heightened brand of weird. It’s why we love them. So it makes sense that the duo has worked on real ads for real companies; most notably, their recent masterpiece with Jeff Goldblum for GE.

You’ll need to prepare yourself for their newest collaboration with bite-sized frozen pizza connoiseurs Totinos, however, as you enter the nightmarishly funny world of pizza freaks. Totinos has also launched a fake lifestyle site complete with phony products and Buzzfeed-esque articles like “16 Signs You Are A Pizza” and how to create a “Pizza roll Finger Cozy.” The pizza makers clearly know their audience’s humor preferences.

SuperData Report: De-Risking Game Development

SuperData is a research firm for the games industry that’s doing more than just looking at sales numbers. The game industry has been evolving rapidly in the last few years, with new business models emerging in a virtual Cambrian Explosion of forms, building on the revolutions wrought by digital distribution and the rise of smartphones and tablets as the leading gaming platform.

All of this rapid change has been difficult for game companies to manage, and SuperData took a detailed look at the UK game development community in order to see how various companies are coping with the evolution of the games industry.

The introduction to the study noted this: “It is tempting to think that the emergence of new technologies and platforms has rendered useless all wisdom regarding markets and industries. Yet, in spite of the spectacular ascension of mobile games as a key entertainment market, valued at $21 billion in 2014E worldwide, many of the same principles apply. For instance, the increasingly crowded mobile and social games markets now demand a strong and properly-funded marketing strategy, much like the traditional retail-based games business. Similarly, audiences have come to expect more sophisticated game play even from relatively simple games. In total, this amounts to an increase in development costs and, consequently, risk.”

SuperData’s study found four key areas for game developers that together comprise the company’s business model. The four areas are customers, partners, platforms, and revenue models.

While the most well-known game companies are the ones that create games to sell to consumers (either directly or through distribution partners), many smaller developers subsist partially or wholly through developing games for hire. Large game publishers don’t necessarily have all the staff they need to create every game, so some projects are given to small developers. In the past this was the classic way development studios got started — a few people would break away from a big publisher, form a studio, and get contracts to (usually) create ports of a game from one platform to another. Eventually, having proven themselves over time, such a studio might be hired to produce an original title under contract. Some of the best studios eventually became publishers themselves, or more often were purchased by large publishers.

SuperData found that for the studios they spoke to, 36 percent had consumers as their main customer, 27 percent sold to businesses primarily, and 37 percent said both were an equal part of their business. Diversifying your revenue streams is a good way to reduce risk, though the danger is that the company may lose focus and be less effective at either or both types of business as a result.

Now, though, the model can be different. The advent of digital distribution means developers can market games directly to consumers without the need for a sales force or the capital to build inventory. Still, there’s plenty of risk in that undertaking.

Partners are a key strategic consideration, SuperData notes, and one that’s important in reducing risk. Building strong relationships with other businesses is crucial to success, and to reducing risk. Not surprisingly, studios focused on partners that provide access to markets as being very important to them. This might be platform holders (as in working with Steam or Apple’s App Store) or it might be publishers. In some cases it’s licensing partners or even media partners, as some studios have found that including media partners in sports games is a great way to help promote the games.

The platform mix is one area that’s changing rapidly for game studios. The massive growth of tablets, and the device’s suitability for games, is no doubt responsible for the 136 percent growth of that platform in the past two year’s for the survey respondents. Social grew 67 percent, which may surprise some given the drubbing social games have taken in the media (and some high-profile declines like Zynga). Yet social platforms like Facebook are still a good business, and a relatively easy platform to work with (as well as having low technical requirements). Mobile has gained 50 percent, and PC digital 46 percent, while browser-based games have grown 22 percent. Digital console games are flat, while boxed digital games have dropped 8 percent as a target platform, and PC boxed games have dropped 2 percent.

The revenue model, or monetization, is “where the game industry has really innovated over the last few years,” SuperData’s study proclaims. Indeed, the diversity in exactly how games make money these days is vast and often bewildering. Most firms are not relying on any single on revenue stream in particular, SuperData found. Quartic Llama, an independent developer, mentioned that in order “to reduce the risk, we operate using a number of models depending on the game.” While this approach is not appropriate for everyone, SuperData points out, “it highlights the adaptability required in an unpredictable marketplace.”

Interestingly, the most popular way to generate revenue among the UK companies surveyed is by selling boxed games. As the study notes, “Despite the emphasis in industry publications on the shift to digital, selling units is still the backbone of game revenue in the UK, in combination with selling downloadable content. This is, however, changing, with an AAA console studio positing that ‘the market is moving away from high price point console titles.'” As you might expect, the study found that for most independent developers the goal is to get out of the work-for-hire cycle and create their own original titles.

Summary

SuperData noted in its summation that “The advent of digital distribution channels is changing the gaming industry. Specifically, it is changing how UK games companies’ define and operationalize business models. Indeed, 63 percent of our respondents changed their business models in response to the changing landscape — a shift in power structure, a massive increase in competition and a decoupling of content from physical information carriers resulting in more possibilities to generate income and longer product life-cycles. The overall trend we are seeing is a greater emphasis on business model configurations that attempt to de-risk a company’s actions and outputs.”

It’s important to realize that there is no one correct answer for all companies. Different businesses have different strengths and weaknesses, and the essence of a good strategy is taking advantage of your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses. There are many more choices available to developers these days in all areas, from customers to partners, from platforms to revenue generation. That’s both good and bad, as it means the chance of finding a successful strategy is greater, but it’s also far more difficult because so many more variables are involved.

It’s important for game developers to stay on top of changes in the business and continually gather information — and that’s part of the reason that companies like SuperData, and for that matter [a]listdaily, are in this business.

Mobile Game Marketing Trends For 2015

Mobile games have really come a long way over the past year, with immense growth in new markets like Asia and Latin America, as well as better inclusion of native advertising so that it doesn’t get in the way of the experience. So, how can it improve from here in terms of marketing trends Applift has a few ideas…

The website posted a list of eight different trends that companies should consider following when it comes to its mobile game releases, in an effort to keep the market on the up-and-up. They are condensed below, but you can check out the site to see full descriptions.

Improved focus on video:

Video previews have become an integral part of the iOS 8 App Store, and TV and YouTube continue to be on the rise as well, in addition to mobile video advertising. As such, video eCPMs have picked up immensely, with eight times the growth of general banner ads.

Better social integration:

Social features should get better and better with 2015’s games, with King’s Candy Crush Saga being a leading example in terms of asking friends for assistance. With better ones set to be implemented, a virality-based ecosystem will give gamers more control based on their choices, and also improve both supply and ROI for potential advertisers.

Western publishers can see more global growth:

With the increase in global game markets, more publishers will work with their local firms to create a better outreach in said markets. One recent example is PlayPhone teaming up with a Saudi Arabian firm to bring its games to a Middle Eastern audience.

Ads moving away from traditional dynamics:

More natural and native advertising will take shape in the coming year, meaning less obtrusive ads when it comes to games themselves (including those pesky search ads). In addition, new formats could pave the way to benefit players, including paying them for watching ads and rating them to filter out more of what they want.

Chart position could be tougher to tackle:

With the addition of “top” charts on popular sites like Facebook and Google, landing in a top position will take more effort – which means more work from the likes of advertisers to do better.

Increased monetization:

Tablet shipments may have lowered, but phablets (smaller tablets) continue to grow in the market. It provides a big enough screen for companies to still utilize advertising, while CPMs continue to be on the rise, with more ad monetization revenue as a result.

Better control over ads:

Giving users control over the ads they open – and perhaps even providing rewards for doing so – would provide a better benefit rather than ones that pop up automatically and “get in the way,” so to speak. Personalizing a user’s experience could go a much better way in terms of involving them.

Microtargeting:

With growth in technology, marketers can develop better habits in seeing what users want from their games. As a result, better social media advertising campaigns can be made, and ad networks can be utilized for the better. It’s up to marketers to find the right way to do this.

Behind Microsoft’s New ‘Halo’ Championship Series

There’s no better time to be a fan of the Halo first-person shooter series. With The Master chief Collection making its debut on Xbox One next week, and the all-new Halo 5: Guardians debuting next year, the series’ popularity will no doubt be at an all-time high — which is all the more reason to give it a primary focus in eSports.

The Halo Championship Series will serve as a partnership between 343 Industries (developer of the franchise’s latest entries), Microsoft, Twitch, the ESL and other smaller entities. With it, the goal is to boost the series’ community, while also adding tournament-enabled opportunities for players to prove what they have.

The inaugural season for the Championship Series will kick off with the debut of Master Chief Collection, and run through March 2015. However, Microsoft and 343 don’t expect it to be up to full speed until Guardians makes its debut in fall 2015, according to Polygon.

Primary focus for the HCS league will be on Halo 2: Anniversary, one of the highlighted inclusions for Master Chief Collection, as well as other variable multiplayer components. Media director Che Chou explained what the primary focus will be with the group. “We looked at a lot of different ways to handle Halo eSports,” Chou explains.

“It’s never been particularly organized, there’s no great structure,” Chou said. “Every league has different standards. We wanted to create a centralized system. We look at what Valve and Riot are doing at the forefront of eSports, and also admire that they’re flexible and always changing.”

For now, precise details on tournament play within the Series hasn’t been broken down yet, but Microsoft intends to reveal more details once Master Chief Collection debuts as both a retail release and Xbox Live download next week. However, it has been confirmed that the Series will, in fact, be open to all qualifying players, across desegregated brackets — so both males and females will be able to take part.

However, Choi stated that “a gender-specific league is not what Halo is about.”

“There’s nothing in the handbook, but we would prefer competitions be non-segregated, inclusive and open to the age of majority,” added 343i Community Director Andy Dudynsky. “We certainly imagine both genders will be competing on an even playing field.”

Move over, DOTA 2 and League of Legends, you may have some competition yet . . .

Google Talks About Mobile Search Challenges

Mobile search plays a big part in today’s industry, and context is a vital part of it. eMarketer recently had a chance to speak with Jason Spero, vice president of performance media at Google, about just how much it weighs on the company, with the challenges that come from it.

The first thing Spero addressed is just how much mobile search has changed in the industry overall. “In the last 12 to 18 months, we’ve gotten smarter about the consumer,” he explained. “Before even talking about search, you have to talk about mobile behavior. Search isn’t just happening in your living room, your office or in the coffee shop. We’re connected when we’re in the mall, when we’re commuting or walking down the street looking for something, and that changes consumer behavior.

Jason Spero

“We spend a lot of time trying to understand, and frankly are still trying to understand, the changing consumer behavior and how we see that through the search lens. The first step is knowing the consumer is always connected. Location and context play a massive role in what creative they’re going to respond to, what types of problems they’re trying to solve and what types of things marketers need to think about when they engage them,” he continued.

Spero also explained how typed-in searches are far easier to perform than voice-activated ones, thanks to an easier input mechanism, although the company is making a big investment in making it easier to comprehend on mobile devices down the road.

“Right now most of our energy is going into understanding context and how we can serve better ads with context,” said Spero. “We have to get smarter about context, formats and about what touchscreens mean — that’s where the lion’s share of our energy is. Currently, Google Now is an add-on to search. It’s not something that has had a material impact that I’ve seen on search behavior. It’s highly complementary, and I expect that that’s where it will end up.”

As far as the biggest driving point of mobile search, Spero summed it up easily. “For all the voice search and fancy stuff that we can do with location targeting, and all the progress we’ve made with cross-device, the biggest driver of mobile search is customers getting smarter about the user experience. Marketers have largely been slow to understand what consumers want when they’re on these devices. However, we’re seeing a lot of good work going on now. It’s not necessarily sexy to talk about mobile websites and building great experiences, but that’s the biggest catalyst, and that’s where we’re putting a lot of our time,” he concluded.