Facebook Video Reaches 3 Billion Daily Views

While Facebook Video may not be the first source that people think of when it comes to uploading and sharing clips with the community (that’s usually YouTube), there’s no question that it’s becoming a contender for the market.

TechCrunch has reported that Facebook’s Q4 earnings report indicates that there are three billion videos viewed on the social site on a daily basis, with daily active users rounding to 890 million viewers. That basically equates to each person watching three videos per day.

Facebook also indicated that out of all of those who visit the site, an estimated 50 percent watch at least one video a day – not too shabby considering its daily numbers. Out of all the devices in which people watched these videos, 65 percent of them were accounted for on mobile.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quick to point out how much usage has changed for the site over the last decade, evolving from just text to “primarily photos with some text and video,” even though the social aspect remains completely intact. In addition two billion photos are shared on a daily basis across the site, which is one billion less than videos, but still a staggering number when it comes to user uploads and sharing.

“One of the big trends will be the growth of video content to our service,” said Zuckerberg, which is likely to continue expanding over the next few years with more features. The rise of video not only presents a new kind of community to the site, but also advertising possibilities with many companies that want to get the word out in different ways, aside from just static ads.

“It’s exciting that we’ve gotten to three billion video views per day because it shows that consumers like video,” said COO Sheryl Sandberg about the statistic. “That gives us an opportunity to grow our video advertising. What really matters is that consumers are using videos on Facebook,” she added. Without that aspect, “video ads would be very jarring.”

But the company won’t go overboard on the idea of premium video content. “I don’t think it matters what that content is,” Sandberg added. “We have an NFL test right now but we are already seeing explosive growth without it. We haven’t figured out what the mix needs to be.”

YouTube hasn’t responded to the stats, but it has enough healthy business that shouldn’t affect its grip on the video market – not yet, anyway.

Image source

Apple Watch’s Chances for Success

Apple ended 2014 with a bang as its iPhone 6 line-up delivered record revenues of $74.6 billion in sales. Apple isn’t slowing down for 2015, however, as CEO Tim Cook has revealed that the previously announced Apple Watch will ship sometime in April. The month was revealed during the company’s quarterly earnings report earlier this week, with Cook saying that development for the device is “right on schedule.”

“My expectations are very high on (Apple Watch),” said Cook during the call. “I’m using it every day and love it and can’t live without it.”

The device boasts a number of features, including health sensors, notifications, messaging, and tops that off with a decent battery life (up to 19 hours for “mixed use” or 2.5 hours for “active use”) and accessibility to different apps. The base model is set to sell for $349, while more deluxe models, like the Sports edition, will sell for a higher price (as yet unknown, though the gold version could retail for over a thousand dollars, according to rumors).

Now that we know when the device is arriving, the next important question is this: How well with the Apple Watch sell Its functionality will be much more limited than the iPhone or iPad, due to its smaller display and lessened battery life, and there are other issues that could come into question.

Business Insider brought up a few of these concerns, with the biggest question being, “How the heck does Apple plan on selling this thing ” After all, more people prefer the usability of a larger device than one that’s on their wrist, although it is likely to have some appeal to fans of wearable tech.

There are other factors to consider, according to the article. The first is being able to try on the Apple Watch first to see if it even provides a snug-enough fit, without being uncomfortable. There’s also a question of seeing which Apple Watch variations are available, and which one may be right for a user’s needs, whether they’re actively into fitness or simply looking for something that ties in with iCloud functionality. Apple has already shown a wide variety of bands, though, so it would seem that there’s a band to suit nearly everyone. As well, the Apple Watch will come in two sizes, something that will no doubt appeal to people who want a smaller device on their wrist.

Lasting appeal is also a question, according to the article. “We already know the build quality and design aesthetic of the Apple Watch are high-quality; we just don’t know if the entire experience will be worth buying into, especially since it costs at least $350, it requires an iPhone to work, and battery life is apparently not so great,” the article reads. “With each customer trying on at least one watch and testing out its various features and functions, maybe some apps that could influence their buying decision, wait times for this first-generation product could increase exponentially.”

There’s also the question of what kind of improvements the next model of Apple Watch could bring, just as Apple’s proven with its previous iPhone and iPad devices. The second time around, the company could have a model that utilizes improved battery life, a larger face, and more accessibility to apps and features – even games. Will customers prefer to wait for improved future versions If the Apple Watch is (at least partly) a fashion item, and the higher-end versions owe their greater cost to fashion rather than improved tech, will buyers be annoyed if their $1,000 gold Apple Watch is outmoded in a year Or will Apple offer someway to upgrade for earlier buyers

There should be enough Apple fans eager to be the first ones to sport a new Apple device that initial sales of the Apple Watch will be good. We still don’t really know the full feature set of the Apple Watch, nor what apps will be available. The iPhone and the iPad had plenty of skeptics when they first shipped, and both devices had weaknesses and drawbacks that weren’t fully addressed for a year or more after the initial launch. Yet sales were strong in both cases, and got even stronger as time went on (though the iPad seems to have hit a plateau now, and it remains to be seen if Apple can breathe new life into its sales). The Apple Watch may well follow the same trajectory as the iPhone, with fair initial sales that grow stronger over time as new functionality emerges, and especially as the number of third-party apps grows.

We’ll see how it all goes down when the Apple Watch debuts this April.

‘Madden’ Bowl Kicks Off Super Bowl XLIX

Electronic Arts, now officially the top publisher in the world, is celebrating another successful year of Madden. The video game giant has partnered with the NFL for the first time to bring Madden Bowl XXI to fans in Scottsdale and around the globe (through Twitch). Randy Chase, senior director of North American Marketing at EA Sports, talks about the new four-man Ultimate Team tournament that officially kicks off Super Bowl XLIX in this exclusive interview.

Randy Chase, senior director of North American Marketing at EA SportsRandy Chase, Senior Director of North American Marketing at EA Sports

What’s new with Madden Bowl XXI?

The format will be different this year. We’re hosting a 4-player tournament featuring Colin Kaepernick, Patrick Peterson, Alfred Morris and defending champion, LeSean McCoy. Each player will be designing his own custom Madden Ultimate Team for the competition. It levels the playing field.

Why only four players this year?

Having to play online games takes a bit longer and it’s easier to do with less guys.

Where will the event be held?

We’re partnering with the NFL for the first time and the venue is in the Scottsdale entertainment district at Bottled Blonde & Livewire. It’s a block party, so there will also be a street component to the event. There will be three stages, including one in the street, a Pepsi Stage and one in Livewire.

Will fans be able to view the outside stage?

The entire party is invite only. The street will be closed off and once you’re in the party, the street serves as the party itself. We’re also doing the Gamer Bowl. Chevy and Xbox are bringing winners from an online Madden tournament that ran throughout the year. Twitch will be livestreaming that one-on-one match earlier on Thursday.

How do you pick the contestants?

We’re looking for guys who play the game a lot. We’ve had guys reach out to us who want to play in the tournament. If we were filling more slots, we wouldn’t have a problem broadening the tournament. 

What has working with the NFL opened up compared to the past few years where Madden Bowl was part of the Bud Light Hotel?

Working with NFL is great because they do these types of things all the time. We can leverage their knowledge of doing events like this. We worked with them in the past on the Madden Pigskin Pro Am, so we know what they can do when they put on an event. We’re also going to livestream Madden Bowl because we want to bring something like this to the fans. We’re working with Twitch. The NFL will produce the stream, which will livestream on Xbox Live, EA’s Twitch channel and Android and iOS on the Twitch app. The NFL is going to produce the event on site and handle the livestream.

How is Pepsi being integrated into this event?

After the first round there will be a Pepsi Half-Time Show featuring singers Nico & Vinz.

What will the post-championship concert be?

Nelly and Florida Georgia Line are the musical performers, and there will be a DJing and a feature performance by Lil Jon. We leaned toward a variety of music with this year’s show. We put together something that pays tribute to EA’s mantra of putting gamers first. Our fans enjoy lots of different genres of music.

What does Ultimate Team open up for the competition this year?

We’re going to have some talent from different sports networks that will talk about how they put together their teams. In the past they just chose a team they liked to play with. Now these players have to bring a different level of strategy: what type of style of play do they run It brings new level of strategy and thinking to how they construct their team.They’ll give us their Ultimate Team in advance and then we’ll talk to them on site about their picks. The thought process going into it was that you can’t pick the hot team you play with online. You need to marry your stick skills with the ability to build a great team.

Why do you think Madden Ultimate Team is so popular with gamers?

It’s Fantasy Football in video game form because you need to put together the best team possible. There’s a lot of strategy in it on both offense and defense. It’s a lot different than opening up the box and playing with your team.

Who will the emcees be?

We’ll have Michelle Beadle from ESPN returning and Kevin Hart — who’s the face of Madden creative and a big fan of the brand and a great personality – will be offering commentary during the tournament. We’ll also have some analyst type talent to work with during the tournament.

How long with the video game portion of the night last?

The livestream will be 60 to 90 minutes long. The Madden Bowl starts at 8:30pm MT and it’ll wrap around 10 or 10:30pm, depending on how long the games take.

How popular is the Madden Bowl for NFL players?

We always have a great number of players and we can’t get every single player in. We get a lot of interest from current players, as well as past players. It’s always been a hot ticket.

The Madden Super Bowl XLIX simulation has the Patriots beating the Seahawks 28-24. How accurate is this?

Lifetime the Madden engine is 8-3. The engine will take into consideration everything from the probabilities of onside kicks to situations like the fake field goal. The chances are slim in the game to pull these off, just like they are in the NFL. It’s all in the engine and all the plays are in the playbooks.

Qantas Flies The Digital Skies With Gear VR Partnership

In an age of ever-increasing in-flight entertainment options, Qantas is looking to soar above its competitors with a little help from Samsung’s Gear VR headset.

The headsets, touted as “an industry first” by Qantas marketing executive Olivia Wirth, will be rolled out on a three-month trial at Qantas-operated lounges in Sydney and Melbourne in February. Headsets for first-class passengers on select long-haul Airbus A380 flights are expected to premiere in March.

Qantas’ usage of Gear VR tech, planned to begin with previews of Qantas-served destinations and their new First Lounge at LAX, opens up a world of possibilities seemingly as endless as virtual reality’s promises.

Passengers nervous about their flight could immerse themselves in a grounded virtual environment; others could play games, watch original interactive programming, or even experience their flight from the pilot’s point of view. The Sundance Film Festival is currently engaging in a large-scale embrace of virtual reality, while Oculus is promoting the medium as the future of storytelling.

Content partnerships with brands — like American Airlines’ in-flight programming deal with NBC Universal — will doubtlessly follow, making Qantas’ move a golden opportunity for both bored passengers and enterprising marketers looking to take advantage of entertainment and technology’s latest leap forward.

Electronic Arts Becomes World’s #1 Console Game Publisher

Electronic Arts turned in a great performance for the last quarter of 2014 (its FY Q3), beating analyst expectations with a record-breaking $1.428 billion in non-GAAP net revenue ($1.126 billion by GAAP), with income of $388 million non-GAAP ($142 million GAAP), with free cash flow of $682 million. The company now has nearly $3 billion in cash on hand, and its stock is up over 13 percent today. The company raised its guidance for the full year as well. You just don’t see quarters much better than that in the game business.

This is really the point that EA has been trying to reach for several years, transforming its business into a much more digitally focused one. The success has been elusive in the past, but it’s now undeniable: EA is deriving more than half of its revenue from digital sales. “The trailing 12-month digital net revenue was also a record, up 17 percent to $2.18 billion. This is the first time digital sales have generated more than half our revenue in a 12-month period,” said CFO Blake Jorgenson.

The digital revenue is a mix of DLC, subscriptions, mobile games, and digital full game sales, all of which are strong across the board. “Extra content and freemium contributed $314 million, up 47 percent over the prior year, with Ultimate Team continuing its strong performance across our FIFA, Madden NFL and NHL franchises, up 82 percent year-over-year in total,” Jorgenson noted. “FIFA Online 3 in Korea continues to grow year-over-year and the early indications from our partner in China, Tencent, are that it is already performing extremely well.”

The big hit for EA last quarter was Dragon Age: Inquisition, which was “by far the most successful launch in Bioware’s history,” noted Jorgenson. As usual, FIFA 15 and Madden NFL 15 were strong sellers. CEO Andrew Wilson noted proudly that EA finished the calendar year as the world’s leading console games publisher. That’s a great spot to be in, but as mobile games are now the largest segment of the games business, it’s less impressive than it might once have been.

The mobile game front is an interesting area for Electronic Arts. The company has seen success in the past with The Simpsons: Tapped Out, but the last quarter its strong points were driven by the success of SimCity BuildIt, Madden NFL Mobile and FIFA 15 Ultimate Team Mobile. “Leveraging proven IP like this reduces the cost of player acquisition and drives the long-term profitability of our mobile business,” said Jorgenson. “SimCity BuildIt has proven to be a highly engaging title that has been a top-10 grossing one on iPhones in 85 countries and on iPad in more than 100.”

So it looks like EA has learned how to capitalize on its brands to create solid performance on mobile titles, ones that not only generate good revenues on their own but also serve to promote other titles as well as engage fans of various EA brands. Still, the part that EA still hasn’t been able to do on a regular basis is introduce new IP on mobile and generate a significant hit with long-term potential. Activision’s got Hearthstone to point to (though that looks to be generating more on PC than on mobile, it’s still a solid mobile title). Can EA, Activision, and other traditional electronic game publishers ever become top competitors in mobile games with new IPs That will be an interesting area to keep an eye on for the long term, as the larger part of the industry’s revenue continues to shift to mobile.

Tucked away in the presentation was the fact that marketing is contributing to EA’s strong performance — but not in the usual way. EA has been cutting back on its usual marketing spend, leveraging its growing direct engagement with its players to drive sales instead. Thus, the company saw its gross margins increase (on a non-GAAP basis) to 72.8 percent , up from last year’s 68.1 percent . Of course, much of that is due to higher-margin digital sales taking a larger share of overall revenue, but EA did not its decreased marketing spend.

EA’s COO, Peter Moore, noted that EA’s “ability to track our consumers on a day-to-day basis rather than simply launch with big TV campaigns, which may have been what we’ve done many years ago,” was an important factor in the margin increases. “You are seeing the resulting efficiencies as a result in our marketing spend as a percentage in that revenue and that will continue,” Moore said.

It’s an interesting dynamic to watch, as EA and other traditional game publishers pull back from the big TV ad campaigns that they used to fund, while mobile publishers like King, Supercell, and Machine Zone are spending heavily on TV advertising to bring people to mobile games. But it makes sense, and it points out in a very concrete way the difference in the audiences of the mobile-centric publishers and the traditional publishers.

Other interesting points to watch from the presentation included the fact that EA Access, the subscription program on the Xbox One that EA hopes to grow into “the Netflix of games” was performing well, and execs seemed bullish on its future. Battlefield Premium also did well, and the whole category of subs was up over 52 percent for EA on the year. Overseas, the FIFA Online game appeared to be doing well, and the partnership with Tencent looks to be paying off. Don’t be surprised to see other EA titles going a similar route as the company figures out how to extract revenue from one of the world’s largest game markets.

One more thing of interest: Blake Jorgenson sounded a cautionary note about using NPD data to figure out how well EA is doing in a quarter. “You guys have heard me say this before, but I’ll say it again, and that is, be really careful using NPD data, it’s becoming less and less valuable, as more and more of the business is going digital,” Jorgenson warned. “And there is obviously not a digital comparison to it. But both in volume and in pricing, it can be sometimes a very large distraction, and then when you add in that there is no international piece to it. It really underestimates the strength of our business, I think as you can see in this quarter.”

The future looks bright for EA once again, with a new Star Wars film hitting theaters soon to (hopefully) boost Star Wars: The Old Republic and the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront game. Battlefield Hardline looks like a strong performer, and EA’s got a good lineup of mobile titles ahead, including Need for Speed BuildIt. EA Sports has its two stars, FIFA and Madden, which should continue to be strong and give the company the chance to make its other sports titles into similar star performers.

The long-term question for EA is how the company manages as online and mobile games continue to do better, and free-to-play games come to represent more of the market. EA’s placing some bets in those areas, but the company has to keep evolving as market conditions change and competition heats up even further.

CREATIVE: Scripted Series Comes To Snapchat Courtesy Of AT&T

As Snapchat has made pains to convert themselves in the mindset of marketers from being a social network to being more of a media platform, brands are already eager to take part in what this means for mobile content.

SnapperHero will consist of 12 episodes bringing in YouTuber celebrities like Freddie Wong and Harley Morenstein, and of course, the original Snapchat celebrity, Shonduras. The series is being sponsored by AT&T who is paying the content makers in order to get the show out to Snapchat users.

Lately, Snapchat has made a lot of changes in order to entice brands and attract advertisers to tap into the app that is so popular among the young. From Sponsored Stories to its latest ‘Discover’ feature, Snapchat is looking to monetize in ways that seem unconventional when comparing it to other social platforms. The cost of reaching out to Snapchat’s audience may be high, but they’ll willing to bet brands will think it’s worth the $750,000 price tag.


Apple Sales Soar, Dominates Smartphones

Apple’s earnings report yesterday wasn’t just the best ever for Apple; the company had the most profitable quarter ever recorded for any public company, ever, with profits of $18 billion on revenues of $74.6 billion. While the competition from Android may be mounting, there’s no question that Apple’s dominance over the mobile market continues to have a steady grip. The company beat its estimates handily, showing earnings of $3.06 per share versus estimates of $2.68 per share from analysts.

The numbers are a massive increase from the same quarter in the previous year, with iPhone sales up 46 percent versus the same quarter in 2014. The news wasn’t so good for iPad sales, with a drop of 17.7 percent over the previous year, which still meant the company sold 21.4 million iPads in the quarter.

Tim Cook reported during the earnings call that this quarter represented the highest number of new iPhone users and the highest switch rate from an Android phone to an iPhone. One thing is abundantly clear: The move to a larger screen size helped sales.

Both smartphones and tablets in the Apple fold helped these sales, but the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models easily led the charge, with a high demand for each device. This is especially true in China, where Apple easily dominated the market with sales, according to research film Canalys. This is a staggering piece of information, especially considering that the phones sell for a higher price than in other markets.

“While Chinese smartphone vendors are quickly gaining ground internationally, Apple has turned the tables on them in their home market,” said Canalys in its report. “The company is finally riding the large screen and LTE trends in China, which have been vital to its success, along with a well-timed launch and a clampdown on grey exports of its products out of Hong Kong. The top four vendors in Q4 in China by units shipped were Apple, Xiaomi, Samsung and Huawei, respectively.”

So what does this mean It should mean a strong year for Apple in 2015, with the company’s Beats music-streaming service possibly being integrated into a new version of iTunes, as well as new pieces of tech that could be announced within the next few months. Let’s not forget the technological push that many app developers are making for the devices as well. Rumors are swirling of a new, larger iPad being introduced this year, and it’s clear that Apple has some work to do to put iPad sales on a growth path once again. Tim Cook confirmed that the Apple Watch will ship in April, and with the solid sales of iPhones backing it up, the device should do well from the start.

It’s going to be quite a good year for Apple, even with Android knocking at the door. Apple has the momentum now, and can it be sustained in the face of new Android smartphones The battle will be interesting to watch.

How Facebook Is Ushering In The Post-Click Era

Facebook is beginning to make some moves that could very well shift digital media past the post-click era, into something that utilizes the company’s new conversion lift measurement system.

Per a recent announcement, the new system would allow more advertisers to put aside current ad measurement systems in favor of “conversion lift,” which has only been available to a select few as of this point. However, anyone with a Facebook account team will now be able to use the program, according to Digiday.

Facebook believes that ad measurement systems these days can be flawed, since they account for ads only receive credit for clicks, rather than showing how a certain ad attributes to a campaign and the effectiveness of sales. With conversion lift, testing can be utilized to see how ads can play an effect on an ad.

“Building on existing Facebook measurement offerings, conversion lift allows advertisers to accurately determine the additional business driven by Facebook ads and make future marketing decisions based on this information,” said the company in its recent statement.

Consumers often have an effect on ads they view on the site, according to Facebook, although they aren’t always clicked on – thus leading to possible inaccurate results when it comes to the effectiveness of a campaign. The site believes that these ads should be given credit for awareness, increasing the overall value to marketers and allowing media sellers to increase their CPM’s accordingly.

Land of Nod, a furniture retailer, was one of the companies that began using the program back in August 2014, and reported that the results were immense, with its ads showing 20 times more improvement than originally expected.

“We saw that the mobile impact of our ads was higher than we anticipated,” said Joe Orlando, marketing director for the company. As a result, it expects to increase its Facebook ad spending by ten percent over the next few months.

Still, not everyone is on board, as some wonder if Facebook’s new program can make a difference. “Facebook obviously has an advantage here with their reach, audience data and Datalogix partnership, so it’s self-serving to that extent,” said Eric Franchi, co-founder for ad tech company Undertone. “But any effort to help property value the impact of display advertising is positive for the industry and publishers. Facebook’s size and clout helps give them as good a shot at shifting the conversation as anyone.”

The big thing to get over may be trying to get new clients on board with the program. “The methodology is as sound as Facebook says,” said Jeanne Bright, vice president and director for digital agency DigitasLBi. “But it does require a full buy-in to the tech requirements, which can be quite overwhelming. Facebook alone will not have the clout to change the industry by itself, although it’s going down the right path.”

For now, it’s just a matter of time to see just how effective “conversion lift” can be. But there’s no question that some companies might just be willing to take the gamble.

20 Percent Of Gamers Are Mobile-Only

We all know that mobile games can be quite addictive over periods of time, including popular titles like Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans. However, according to a report from the NPD Group, their growth may be much larger than anyone – analysts or consumers alike – could have predicted.

The report indicates that mobile gamers have increased their time spent playing mobile games over the past two years, playing across such devices as tablets and smartphones. The company notes that the time spent playing in a typical day has managed to rise a whopping 57 percent to over two hours per day over the past year, versus one hour and 20 minutes from 2012.

Some of this is due to the growth of the tablet market in general, with the introduction of new devices from Samsung and Apple. The appeal of the games themselves remains a huge draw, though.

The report also shows that tablet gamers aren’t just the only ones most likely to play games (due to their large displays), but also more likely to pay for games and spend more money than those using smaller devices like smartphones.

“Continued mobile growth will stem from existing customers paying more to play, especially in the free-to-play portion of the market,” said Liam Callahan, industry analyst for the NPD Group. “A positive sign of consumer behavior trending this way is the fact that more than twice the number of app gamers reported making an in-game purchase than they did when we conducted this study two years ago.”

Other numbers from the report indicated some interesting trends as well:

  • The average number of playing sessions are at their highest between the ages of six to 44. However, the average number of minutes per session peaks in the tween years, followed by the teenage and early adult years.
  • Kids ages two to 12 are actually spending the largest amount of time on devices for gaming versus other activities. They play more games (average of five) and pay for more games (average of three) compared to other audiences. The 25 to 44 age group comes in second when it comes to in-game purchases.

“There’s no denying the important role kids play in driving revenue,” said Callahan. “But it’s the adult gamers who are spending more than kids and teens. This group also tends to be the decision-makers for their young children’s gaming experiences, making them a prime target for developers and marketers alike.”

  • In addition, the report finds that one in five players are exclusively mobile-based gamers, regardless of which devices they use. Meanwhile, the remaining four in five spend more of their time playing on mobile than they do other devices, including gaming consoles and PC.
  • That’s not to say these have been abandoned, though. Console and computer gamers are playing just as much as they were the year before, with a number of new titles available.

Indeed, gaming continues to thrive in the mobile market, despite rising customer acquisition costs for publishers. It’s likely we’ll see some truly impressive mobile efforts in the months ahead – and, as expected, people will keep paying them.

NPD said the data was derived from an online survey in late November/early December 2014 of over 5500 people of all ages, with adults being asked to act as a surrogate for children under the age of 18 in answering the questions.

Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, And More Are Now Hiring For January 28th

[a]listdaily is 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.

Interviewing for your next gig Consider these handy tips to knock your interview out of the park.

  • Warner Bros. – Vice President, International Marketing (Burbank, Calif.)
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment – Director, Marketing (Culver City, Calif.)
  • 21st Century Fox – Director, Marketing (Los Angeles, Calif.)
  • Machinima – Vice President, Marketing (Los Angeles, Calif.)

For last week’s [a]list jobs postings, click here. Have a position you’d like to place with us Email us at pr@ayzenberg.com.