Amazon, Netflix Post Full-Page Ads

Sometimes, to get the message across, you need a big ad to get the attention of potential customers. And that’s exactly what both Amazon and Netflix recently did in The New York Times.

Re/code recently reported that the streaming channels took out full-page ads in The New York Times this past Saturday to promote their original programming. Amazon went all out to promote its forthcoming Mozart In the Jungle comedy series (which debuts today), while Netflix detailed its recently debuted historical action/adventure series Marco Polo.

The placement of the ads is obviously intentional, as both channels are reaching out to potential audiences for the holiday season – especially with many people on vacation, looking to “binge watch” something while on the holiday break through New Years.

Both shows have rather large budgets behind them, and both networks are looking to make them big hits to accumulate a large audience – which isn’t easy, considering neither of them have a big critical push. Although Marco Polo utilizes several positive quotes, some consider it a less-than-stellar effort, with The New York Times calling it “a disappointment” and the Times considering it “a sprawling mess.”

That’s not to say that critics have all the say in the matter, though. Marco Polo has been generating big attention since its premiere earlier this month, while Mozart In the Jungle‘s pilot episode did garner a 4.4 out of 5 rating from users who watched it.

In addition to promoting key programs, both ads also serve as a strong lead-in for both networks heading into 2015, as they’ll be offering a slew of new programming. Amazon will no doubt lean on popular shows like Alpha House as well as new shows, while Netflix relies on the third and final season of House of Cards, which debuts this February, along with more original programming, including the premiere of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2 over the summer.

Facebook Debuts App Discovery Page

When it comes to discovering new applications on mobile devices, it can be a jungle out there for most consumers, as both Apple and Google Play don’t provide any sort of “discovering” tool that makes it easy to find new apps, outside of a few highlighted ones from specific publishers. However, Facebook has taken a step towards allowing users to find new apps with ease.

On the company’s app, there’s a new bookmark on the mobile navigation menu labeled “Find Apps,” according to TechCrunch. With it, users can find a plethora of app install ads and engagement ads, enabling them to install new programs with a few simple clicks.

Facebook confirmed the feature, stating, “We’re always looking for ways to help people discover apps that are relevant for them, as well as opportunities for advertisers to reach these people, so we’re exploring a few new places to surface apps we think people will be interested in.”

The Find Apps feed works very similarly to the News Feed, with various games and other programs detailed, featuring descriptions, images and the necessary “Install Now” button.

Facebook based these ads on specific audiences for advertisers, as well as a News Feed-styled algorithm for ranking. With it, it charges the same amount to advertisers for them, including same cost per click (CPC), cost per install (CPI) or optimized cost per one thousand impressions (oCPM), with no additional charges beyond that.

It’s an optional tab, one that those who use AdBlock or a similar service don’t have to put up with. However, it’s a tool that could help those discover the next big program or game – and sometimes at no cost, as some of them are introduced as free-to-play releases.

Considering that Facebook made a huge profit from mobile ads this past year (to the tune of nearly $2 billion), it’s no surprise that it would introduce a service like this. Now it’s just a matter of time before it sees how successful it is – and how much its avidly social user base interacts with it.

2015 Game Industry Wish List

We have no illusions that anyone in the game industry is waiting for our suggestions, or anyone else’s, on what to do in the new year. By and large the executives at game companies are pretty sharp, savvy about the industry, and good at creating effective strategies — or else they wouldn’t have gotten to the position they hold, or stayed there overly long. Still, sometimes it’s difficult to get a good perspective on your own company and its products when you’re inside of it, and for that matter it’s difficult to admit that you were wrong about something and a new strategy needs to be adopted.

What follows are some positive suggestions and possible strategies to follow, rather than criticism of past mistakes. It’s usually pretty clear to everyone when major mistakes were made, as companies become unprofitable and stay that way if corrections aren’t made.

Console Makers
Thanks for making new hardware that that brings us some great games. Keep up the good work — constant platform updates that add new features are appreciated. Microsoft in particular has been very regular about new updates, and Sony and Nintendo would do well to emulate them. Your efforts to improve the value of your consoles by bundling software are appreciated, and we wish for that trend to continue in 2015. Be aggressive at reducing prices — console games have more competition than ever, and the high price of the hardware is the biggest single barrier to widespread adoption. Microsoft showed this very clearly — lower the price of the hardware, and sales soar.

Nintendo, we wish for more in 2015 — more great games, more innovation, and more success. Don’t hesitate to improve the Wii U however you can, and reduce the price as much as you can. You’ve had some great software titles for the Wii U, but we want more, and we want them more often. If you think a brand new console is the answer to your sluggish sales, fine — but make it a great one when you do that, and make damn sure that at least one of your core franchises like Mario or Zelda is ready to ship with it at launch.

Amazon, we wish for you to keep trying hard with the Fire TV. The software lineup is growing, and so are the features. We hope for a spec bump at least this year so you can have even better games. Google and Apple, we wish you guys would get busy with your consoles. Apple, we’re all waiting for the Apple TV we know you can produce, with a kick-ass processor, an app store, and a controller — the game publishers would be all over that, and you’ll sell millions. Google, now’s your chance while Apple is dawdling — get those Android TVs out there and spend some money to get some great games.

Game Publishers
Let’s face it, it hasn’t been a great year for big game publishers, with a long list of AAA games that shipped weeks or even months before they were really ready. We wish that you will take this lesson to heart for 2015 and beyond — we’ll forget about games being late, but it’s a long time before we forget about games that are broken or just plain bad. Electronic Arts was wise to move out Battlefield Hardline if they felt it wasn’t ready, even though that must have hurt the quarterly results. We think you’ll find that publishers will be rewarded by gamers for games that are rock-solid at launch.

While we’re talking about pleasing your audience, we wish that publishers would put more emphasis on community. Community is like dynamite — used wisely, it can change the course of mighty rivers, but if you fool around with it you can blow yourself up. Too many publishers don’t seem to invest enough in engaging with customers, especially mobile publishers. Your audience is your business, and constant communication will pay off for you in the long run.

When it comes to designing new games, we wish that you’d remember this: The biggest risk is not to take any risks. Don’t expect that successful franchise to post bigger numbers every year, now that many of the top titles are on a yearly cycle. Some of the very best-selling franchises, like Call of Duty, are posting lower numbers every year. That’s not from lack of effort on Activision’s part — the company has thrown its best development resources at the task, and massive amounts of marketing dollars. But there’s only so many new $60 titles in a series that players can absorb, and that game last year you put so much time and effort into is powerful competition for the latest version.

So we wish for more innovation from game publishers, especially the big ones. Sure, mitigate your risks however you can — we suggest creating smaller, digital-only version of innovative new IP that you can sell for a lower price point and produce in a fraction of the time of your blockbusters. Test out the concepts, and then go big if the audience loves it. But however you do it, take more shots at new ideas.

Indie Game Developers
We wish for you to be successful in creating new games and making a living in 2015. But we really wish you’d remember this advice: If you haven’t thought about how you’re going to create an audience for your game, don’t even start coding. Your game design and your business strategy and your marketing strategy and your market assessment should all be part of your preparation… and don’t put your resources into a game if you don’t think it will be worth the effort. Get some expert advice in areas you aren’t sure of, and think about partnerships to cover your weak spots.

We wish you success in this ever-more-challenging game industry. Really, we wish you’ll show those games designers that they aren’t the only ones who can be creative. If you’re still using a playbook of marketing tactics from a few years ago, you’re probably not being as effective as possible. Every product needs its own special marketing push, so we wish for you to show us some stunning ideas in marketing for 2015.

While you’re busy creating marketing pieces, we wish you’ll take a little extra time and care to do it with class. Avoid sexism, booth babes, blood and guns, and generally trying to appeal to teen age boys. Thankfully, most of the industry left that behind a long time ago — but there are still a few throwbacks, even today, with some offensive ads coming from major companies that should know better. If you don’t have a diverse enough marketing team, try showing your marketing ideas to a diverse group of people before you throw that ad up on TV or YouTube. Bafflement may be a reaction you can live with, but disgust is something you should strive to avoid. We wish you will appeal to our highest qualities, not our lowest ones.

‘SMITE’ Ready To Take eSports By Storm

With its very first SMITE World Championship set to take place Jan. 9-11, 2015 at the Atlanta Cobb Energy Center, Hi-Rez Studios will make history. With a prize purse of over $2.13 million (and counting, thanks to crowd sourcing), the Finals will officially be the third biggest eSports event (according to prize money) in history — behind only Valve’s The International 2014 and 2013, and ahead of Riot Games’ League of Legends Championship 2014. That’s pretty impressive, given that the Hi-Rez MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) just launched this year.

The SMITE World Championship will feature eight of the top teams from across five global regions in the biggest eSports event ever held in Atlanta, or on the East Coast of the United States. Todd Harris, co-founder and COO of Hi-Rez Studios, explains what’s in store for SMITE across PC and Xbox One in this exclusive interview.

Todd Harris, Hi-Rez Studios

How have you tested the eSports waters for SMITE prior to this world championship?

We started running weekend tournaments without prize funding in 2013 while SMITE was still in beta to see what type of appetite there’d be for players with eSports. The first crowd-funded tournament was at the game’s official launch in March 2014. We started with a $100,000 prize pool and we sold an exclusive Poseidon in-game skin with proceeds going to that pool. We more than doubled the prizing for that event, which proved to us that crowd sourcing would work well for this game.

When did you start the crowd sourcing for the world championship?

In the fall we had a 21-week tournament called the Odyssey. For every 200 gems that were spent on these special in-game items, we put a dollar into the prize pool. We started with $600,000 that Hi-Rez funded and our internal goal was to try to get it to $1 million. The dev team put out more content and the community responded, and it’s driven the total to over $2 million and counting. This year is our first tournament on a global scale. We’re amazed that the prize pool has reached the level that it has, and it’s still going up.

How have eSports events produced by Valve, Riot Games and Blizzard Entertainment impacted what you’re doing?

We were inspired by Valve working with its community to crowd source The International prize pool. Our implementation is different, but seeing their example of selling virtual items and having that fund the prize pool was instrumental for us. We’ve done this crowd sourcing with charity drives over the summer for a July 4 American Red Cross drive that raised over $60,000, and we have another one going on for the holidays for the American Red Cross that has raised over $90,000 and runs from Nov. 28 — Jan. 14. There’s a set of exclusive items that can be obtained through a holiday-themed chest and for every 400 gems spent on a chest a dollar is donated to the American Red Cross.

How have your tournaments grown this year?

Our audience needs to build over time. Our launch tournament was held in Atlanta’s Center Stage Arena, which held 1,000 people live. We’re sticking with Atlanta for our events because we’re based there and it has the world’s biggest airport. Our world championship Jan. 9-11 will take place at the Cobb Energy Center, which has a 3,000 person capacity. If you watched The Walking Dead Season 1, it’s the building that served as the CDC headquarters that was blown up. Our event will be in the main theater in that arena. And over those same dates in a ballroom, we’re hosting the first hands-on of SMITE on Xbox One, which is still in pre-alpha now. We expect the event will sell out and we anticipate — based on prior livestreams — that over the course of three days 800,000 will watch on Twitch.

What differentiates SMITE from other MOBAs?

The biggest differences between SMITE and MOBAs like League of Legends and Dota 2 is that you’re directly controlling your character with a mouse and keyboard from a 3D up-close and personal action combat perspective. That’s why it’ll translate to console because of the 3D action perspective, verses the over-the-top click-through navigation. I also believe that gamers like the mythology theme, where they choose to play as a god or goddess like Thor, Odin, Loki, and Zeus, as well as many new gods and goddesses from Mayan, Chinese and other.

How has Hi-Rez built up SMITE from a marketing perspective?

From the very start, we embraced new media and that has helped accelerate and amplify positive word of mouth. Our Facebook page has over 1 million fans and we have over 500,000 Twitter followers. We started streaming from the studio on Twitch very early. I believe we were the first studio to have our own studio channel. We actually broadcast SMITE 24/7. We do a tremendous amount of streaming of eSports and other content like a Patch Note Reveal Show and all types of live action skits. On a monthly basis we have over 1 million hours viewed regularly on Twitch, and have for some time.

What types of sponsors have you been able to attract for the world championship?

Curse is the title sponsor. Their Curse Voice Communication is used by our players and is powering the tournament. It’s also integrated into the game so any players can use it. Alienware and Logitech have been consistent sponsors and supporters of our tournaments since early beta. We’re seeing a lot of interest from more mainstream companies. The $2 million prize pool is attracting people’s attention, but I believe seeing the production value of the world championship will help legitimize SMITE in the eSports landscape.

How have you increased the production value over the past year?

We learned a lot over the last two years. The early online tournaments we held were shoutcasted by a guy in his own bedroom with an unmade bed in the back of the shot. A lot of the focus this year has been on finding partners and growing our internal capabilities around producing a broadcast quality event with eSports administration and rules enforcement. It requires a big investment to do it right, but we believe in this.

What role will eSports play for SMITE moving forward?

ESports is not a money maker. It’s a marketing and community expense. You need to take it on faith and/or passion that it’s an investment worth making. Hi-Rez has always made online competitive multiplayer games. ESports is consistent with our brand. At the end of the day, it’s hard to quantify a return on the expense you take. We associate eSports with a longer engagement for the community. Analyst reports indicate that eSports enthusiasts tend to spend more money in the game, as well. We haven’t done any surveys of our community yet to confirm if that’s the case.

What role do you see consoles playing with eSports beyond Activision’s Call of Duty?

We’re at a turning point with next gen consoles and eSports, where brands beyond Call of Duty can thrive. For a number of reasons, consoles are more receptive to free-to-play so you can have a larger audience. The console platforms have better spectating and broadcasting and streaming capabilities built-in. The opportunity for us is the fact that MOBA is the most popular eSports category in the world, but the other large MOBAs aren’t playable on console. It’s a unique and obvious opportunity for us to go after this console audience. According to recent SuperData, more than 50 percent of League of Legends players also play Call of Duty, so if a MOBA game can be played on console, there’s a new eSports opportunity there.

Will gamers be able to play SMITE across platforms?

We’re not supporting cross-platform play. Even though the core gameplay is the same, the controls are quite different across PC and Xbox One. Some characters will be controlled a bit differently. We do think there can be a healthy tournament scene on Xbox One. We see it as a parallel stream of tournaments. We do plan on hosting those, but we’re much earlier on with Xbox One development.

Would the plan be to have both PC and Xbox One tournaments together in the future?

In our ideal world, it’d be one event with multiple platforms present.

When will SMITE be available on Xbox One?

We will make it generally available in calendar year 2015, exactly when will depend on the beta process. The core gameplay translates quite well, we’re spending more development time to make sure the user interface works because there’s lots of tiny text that won’t fit with the console version. We also need to optimize the controls to make them smooth.

Apple Sings A New Tune With iTunes Tumblr

Apple Inc., recently in the news for its hiring of social guru Musa Tariq and job posting for a Los Angeles-based head of social media, is making rounds again with the launch of an official Tumblr blog for iTunes.

The blog, a colorful showcase of content relevant to Apple’s flagship music-listening and purchasing program, represents another marked departure for a tech company that had famously eschewed social media during the reign of long-time CEO Steve Jobs. Tumblr users are treated to an ultra-customized interface befitting Apple’s trademark style, and can reblog the various GIFs, images, and videos shared on the page to their own accounts.

Though analysts aren’t sure just how far Apple’s brand-new embrace of social will go, it’s obvious that they’re taking a different tack to popular services like Facebook and Tumblr after years spent either avoiding them or staying silent on their official accounts. An official iTunes Instagram account, Tim Cook’s new-found love of Twitter, and Apple’s usage of Tumblr to promote the iPhone 5c would seem to mean iPhone fans shouldn’t be surprised if their favorite manufacturer starts tweeting for itself any time soon.

2014 Game Industry In Review

It’s the traditional time to look back over the year and identify the major trends that shaped the gaming industry in 2014. Those trends will continue to have a strong impact on the game industry of 2015 and beyond, as growth and change continue strongly.

The growth of gaming continues
Mobile gaming continued to grow, as did gaming around the world. Free-to-play games took more share in online gaming, and digital sales continued their inexorable rise over physical retail sales of games. China’s growth in gaming continued strongly, as it becomes the second largest market for mobile games after Japan, and strong Western games like League of Legends, Call of Duty Online and FIFA Online look poised to grab a significant market presence.

The biggest traditional game publishers like Activision, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and TakeTwo all posted good numbers this year, with solid profits and respectable growth. The hottest mobile games were getting bigger than ever in 2014, with top performers like Supercell’s Clash of Clans exceeding $1 billion in revenue.

Meanwhile, the online PC game business showed strong growth as well, with free-to-play games like League of Legends, World of Tanks, DotA 2, and Hearthstone posting strong numbers. Even the venerable World of Warcraft with the almost-vanished subscription model showed strong growth at the close of the year, as the new Warlords of Draenor expansion proved popular enough to create a large surge in new subscribers.

Console gaming stays strong
This was the first year of the true new generation of consoles with the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One defining a new level of power and performance for consoles. Both new consoles outsold their predecessors in the first year of sales, yet AAA software sales didn’t keep pace. It looks like this generation of consoles will not exceed the total installed base of last generation, but

The Wii U is just not in the same category, as Nintendo forges its own path — the Wii U held to a clear third place finish in the total installed base of new consoles from the three major manufacturers, despite having a year’s head start. Nintendo returned to profitability last quarter, but overall the company has yet to establish a clear path to solid profits and growth.

The Continuing Rise of eSports
The phenomenon of eSports has become a major force in gaming, and that was amply demonstrated in 2014. We saw an amazing prize pool of over $10 million for DotA 2‘s The International torunbament, putting it in a class with traditional professional sports like the PGA Tour. Professional eSports arenas are under construction, and viewership is on the rise worldwide for eSports. Newzoo projects continued growth in eSports fans, with 205 million current fans with a growth rate of over 20 percent annually for the next few years. Some 1.2 billion people will be aware of eSports by 2017 — that’s a cultural force to be reckoned with.

Yet there are cautionary notes that not all eSports may be rising forever. The League of Legends World Championships this year attracted some 15 percent fewer viewers than last year (27 million compared to 34 million), though those viewers spent more time watching (and the event attracted 40,000 fans in person). Still, we’re seeing promising signs that eSports enthusiasm is spreading to new games — Smite has gathered more than a $2 million prize pool {link no longer active} for its upcoming world championships in January, for instance. And new entrants like Vainglory are attempting to create an eSports audience on mobile platforms as well.

Indie power grows
While it’s certainly tough to be an indie developer — and make a living at it — 2014 saw the influence of indie developers expand. Both Sony and Microsoft have taken great pains to feature indie developers and their titles at multiple venues. It’s clear that indie games are important to the new consoles, particularly as they can fill the gaps between major AAA releases. Indies are also making waves on mobile and on places like Kongregate, where it’s possible for a small development group to make a decent living with the right games.

It’s truly a golden age for small developers, at least in terms of being able to bring your product to market without a lot of capital. Finding an audience, and making money from them, is another problem entirely, and one that’s seen many companies step into the role of independent publishers for mobile games in order to help make that happen. Big companies see value in indies as a way to try out interesting and offbeat ideas without risking that big-company capital. If an indie finds a big audience, there will be companies coming around with a buyout offer. The payoff can be enormous, as the $2.5 billion acquisition of Mojang by Microsoft amply demonstrated.

Mobile games exert more influence
Mobile games have not only become the biggest segment of the gaming market, they are increasingly influencing the design and monetization of all areas of the game market. It’s easy to see how mobile games are changing the way companies approach the market, and changing customer perceptions of what games are or can be. This influence will continue and strengthen as the growth of mobile continues to outpace all other ares of the game industry in 2015.

The size and scope of the gaming market increases
Gaming is becoming a part of mainstream culture, not just something that teenage boys do. Witness the major brands like Coca-Cola and American Express pouring money into eSports, or massive television ad campaigns for mobile games like Candy Crush Saga and Game of War: Fire Age. The worldwide audience of people who played games this last year is estimated at 1.5 billion people, and that’s still growing.

That growth and change has not been without its problems, though. The GamerGate social media storm that arose this year, ostensibly about game journalism, exposed a nasty undercurrent of misogyny and hatred among a small group of gamers, some of whom sent appalling threats to a number of women in the game industry. Fortunately the industry rallied against such behavior, but it’s clear that as the gaming market expands to include billions of people, not all of them will be good citizens. Hopefully next year will see growth in the industry on an ethical, emotional, and social level as well as financial and demographic growth.

Inside The 2014 ‘YouTube Rewind’ With Portal A’s Kai Hasson

It’s no surprise that YouTube plays a huge role in the explosion of almost any meme or trend (that’s at least video-based) on the web — being the largest open video platform on the planet guarantees that.

In recent years, to celebrate what people have celebrated on YouTube during a particular year, YouTube has released a “Rewind” video, featuring some of the biggest stars and topics on the platform. For four years, this video has been organized and produced by California-based production company Portal A.

The 2014 video {link no longer active}, which has collected more than 68.1 million views to date, was directed by Portal A co-founder and creative director Kai Hasson (pictured below), who took some time to dish on how the entire project came together.

Read more…

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.

Global Digital Ad Spend Shifts To Mobile

Global digital ad spending is certainly picking up all around, but there’s an interesting little trend breaking out that shows that mobile could be seeing a bigger focus in the years ahead.

A report from eMarketer shows that, over the next year, advertisers will spend a whopping $64.3 billion on mobile advertising, a 60 percent increase over this year. However, that number’s going to get even bigger over the next few years, as it will reach $159 billion by 2018 — which accumulates to 63 percent of overall global digital ad spending.

Using a special tool on its website, users can view ad spending across 22 countries, selecting across categories (including total media and digital ad spending) and years. With it, eMarketer reports that global digital ad spend will reach an incredible $171 billion next year, a 17 percent increase over this year’s numbers.

eMarketer also feels that mobile advertising will be one of the key factors in growth on the market, according to ClickZ. This is especially true in overseas markets, particularly China and the United Kingdom. Mobile ad spending in the U.S. will increase by 50 percent from the previous year, to an estimated $28.2 billion, which makes up approximately 44 percent of global mobile ad spending. Meanwhile, the other countries will account for 19 percent and seven percent, respectively, in global mobile ad spending. By 2018, those numbers will grow, accounting for 66 percent of worldwide mobile ad spend for those two areas alone.

Japan and Germany are close behind in fourth and fifth place, and users can calculate those numbers using the tool as well. Although smaller in number than other countries, you can see they’ll contribute quite a bit, with approximately $9.61 billion and $6.67 billion, respectively, over the next year. Certainly nothing to scoff at in terms of advertising dollars, we’re sure.

Social Media Trends Through The Holidays

When it comes to marketers that use social media to their advantage, it’s hard to tell which site is faring better – Facebook or Twitter. However, a new report from eMarketer could both be benefitting from a busy holiday season.

For instance, a study by BDO USA indicated that, two years ago, 51 percent of retailers allocated some form of budget to Twitter, compared to the nearly 99 percent on Facebook. However, two years later, only 27 percent of respondents have chosen Twitter’s services, compared to 76 percent using Facebook. But both sites faced some sort of drop.

However, the report also shows that users that did use Twitter to get their holiday shopping festivus in gear actually did so over the entire holiday season, compared to just doing their shopping across Thanksgiving weekend and, more specifically, Black Friday. Although sales for the shopping day were a little lower this year, many companies have benefitted from overall record sales through the season, including Wal-Mart.

Despite the slight drop in interest, many companies were eager to try both sites’ purchasing services, with “buy” buttons activated next to particular products. With their success, conversation rates will pick up, and a return of investment on social media networks could be greatly appreciated.

A report from StatSocial indicated that there were 3.5 million tweets and 838 million impressions on Twitter for Black Friday alone, a new record for a sales season. In addition, 59 percent of comments were made by women, talking about clothing and other items that were available for purchase. As a result, the site managed to win the top social brand for the selling day, even with the majority of companies turning to Facebook. That’s certainly good news, despite the drop in marketing interests.

It’s hard to tell whether both companies will show similar success next year, especially with changing trends and sites like Instagram and Pinterest picking up speed. One thing’s for sure – that won’t stop the people from shopping like crazy over the weekend event.

Image source

Social Networks Shopping For Shoppers

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with others and get the message across on what you’re working on, whether you’re trying your luck cooking a new dish or simply gushing about what television show or movie you’re currently watching. However, they also want to take the shopping experience to the next level, as both Twitter and Facebook have been working on ways to enable posters to purchase products directly through their sites.

The only question now is if the practice will become more effective. A new article from Marketing Land indicates that it’s still a work-in-progress, although the potential market is definitely there. Data from the U.S. Census shows that this past year has managed to wrangle $293 billion in sales.

Twitter got its start last year with a tie-in program with American Express, having users make their purchases featuring the hashtag #BuyXboxController. It worked pretty well, although it had its problems in terms of people responding to tweets before the purchase could be completed with an American Express card. As a result, it never took off like Twitter expected.

However, some users managed to thrive by trying such a program. Innovative recording artist Amanda Palmer managed to sell 100 copies of her latest book, The Art of Asking, through a Twitter campaign, with people picking up on it with the promise of receiving a limited edition draft page, signed by Palmer. She tweeted, “100 books sold in 20 minutes using Twitter! One small step for an artist, one giant step for artistkind. I hope this tool helps many people.”

Launching an effective program, according to Twitter head of commerce Nathan Hubbard, requires “interest graph, geo data and contextual data,” in an effort to serve people who become interested in purchasing something through the site.

Twitter president of global revenue Adam Bain added to the matter as well, speaking at the Web Summit in Dublin last month. “People are tweeting about products and services, but there’s a big distance between that and actually making a purchase,” he explained. “American Express and Amazon have already brought e-commerce closer to tweets. We saw this as a great organic experience, and we decided to shrink that experience. If you’re tweeting about a product or service, a button shows up and you can one-click to buy.

“We’re experimenting with different products and price points, and most importantly what emotions do you need to find to generate a sale. What we do is monetize emotions.”

Facebook, meanwhile, has more of an uphill struggle. Some retailers opened and closed site-specific stores within just a year’s time, indicating they weren’t accessing enough ROI and creating an ideal shopping destination for users. “It was basically just another place to shop for all the stuff already available on the retailer websites,” explained digital strategist Wade Gerten, who became familiar with the situation attempting to launch a store on the site. “I give so-called F-commerce an ‘F’.”

However, Facebook isn’t giving up. “We are very clear,” said head of eCommerce Nicolas Franchet. “It’s a small test, limited to the test, and our job is to continue testing.

“We don’t want to complicate the picture for them,” he continued. “The ‘buy’ button gives them a glimpse of where we may be going in the future – but maybe not.”

There is room for success in social media, particularly with sites like Instagram and Pinterest offering glimpses of items that can be purchased with the click of a button. Curalate CEO Apu Gupta indicated that certain brands are using these services to great success, with 60 to 70 percent click-through rates.

“Gumroad allows you to have a shopping card anywhere,” explained Gupta. “Somebody can take products from a brand, put it onto a blog and affiliate link there and actually clear the transaction remotely. So you are going to see a broader distribution of places in which transactions can happen. That’s going to include social but I think it’s going to favor certain social networks over others.”

More details on the report – and possible trends leading into next year – can be found here.