Facebook Gets Topical With Marketing Data

Finding consumers that are talking about a certain product can be easy at first, but when it comes to finding specific data, it can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. To solve that problem, Facebook has introduced a new data analysis tool that makes it easier for companies and marketers alike to nail down trends in customer word-of-mouth.

The company broke down the program in a blog post today, explaining the importance of learning what matters to a specific audience. “Marketers want to understand what people think about topics related to their business, so they can make their products and marketing more relevant to their customers,” the post reads. “In the past they’ve looked at the things people share online to get an idea of what people care about, but, until now, the information available offered a limited view. To make marketing content more relevant for people and more effective for marketers, we’re introducing topic data to select Facebook partners.”

However, users won’t have to worry about their information being shared, as the website has insisted that personal data will remain private, while details on the topic data is still easy to see.

Facebook explained a number of examples of how topic data can work for some companies:

“A business selling a hair de-frizzing product can see demographics on the people talking about humidity’s effects on their hair to better understand their target audience.”

“A fashion retailer can see the clothing items its target audience is talking about to decide which products to stock.”

“A brand can see how people are talking about their brand or industry to measure brand sentiment.”

While the data can’t be used to target ads directly, they can provide additional guidance for marketers. A partnership with DataSift, a leader in the data industry, will also help so that the data can easily be read into insights.

Nick Nyhan, CEO of WPP’s Data Alliance, stated, “When marketers have a deeper understanding of people and what they are interested in, they can create more relevant experiences for their audiences. We focus on providing WPP’s clients with insights into what people say and think about their brands and products. By looking at topic data, we empower brands to make smarter marketing decisions. And we’ve worked with DataSift for some time — the way they cleverly collect and organize data continues to make it simple for WPP to ingest, connect and leverage it across the agency network.”

Although the program isn’t widely available just yet (only a few partners in DataSift’s program will have access in the U.S. and Europe), Facebook will release it “thoughtfully and deliberately, and look to expand its availability at a later date.”

Could this help marketers nail down more specific ad information on Facebook It looks likely, but until the program goes widespread, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Creating Music Magic With Lights and Gestures

Music simulations are pretty common in today’s world, with plenty of mobile and PC-based programs available to teach the very basics of how a tune is put together. However, the team over at Opho have managed to create a keyboard that makes putting together a tune even simpler – users won’t even need to pound away on keys.

The device, called Keys, enables a connection to either a computer or mobile device, then helps produce tunes using a series of gestures and light-up keys on the boards.

It’s not heavy like most keyboards, as it clocks in at around two pounds and enables easy interaction with whatever device it’s plugged into. It utilizes light-up interaction with the keys through proximity-based gestures, and also provides modular link, so that tunes can be easily customized.

With the coordinating Keys app (available through Apple’s App Store), users can learn to play along with a number of songs, as keys light up when they need to press them. A number of songs and modes are available, providing plenty to do for would-be pianists, whether they’re just getting started or can master Beethoven off the back off their hands.

Speaking with PSFK, Idan Beck, founder and CEO of Opho, explained the simplicity of the device. “We’ve taught thousands of people to successfully play the guitar with gTar. Our customers and our team felt that a keyboard-like device would offer even more accessibility, as well as be more portable and affordable. We designed and developed Keys from the ground up to be a modern take on the musical keyboard, leveraging the platform that we originally built for gTar.”

Best of all, the project won’t cost an arm and a leg like most instruments. Pre-orders for the Keys device are available now, selling for around $88 (down from the usual $99 price tag). In addition, Opho has vowed to donate some of the proceeds to the Immunity Project, a non-profit company devoted to developing a free HIV vaccine.

The video below shows just how easy the keyboard is to use. If Opho can find the right marketing angle, there’s no reason that it can’t be successful in the music/electronics industry – and that’s music to the company’s ears.


PlayStation Debuts Original, Live-Action Series ‘Powers’

By: Jessica Klein

PlayStation’s original series Powers debuted yesterday with its first three episodes, marking the company’s first live-action series.

Powers is now available for people to watch on PS3 and PS4 in addition to PlayStation’s YouTube channel (if you’re just looking for episode one) and website. The first episode runs for one hour and is free for everyone. Seven more will follow the initial three, all of which PlayStation Plus members can watch for free (others have to pay per episode through the PlayStation Store).

Here’s episode one…

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.

Now Hiring The Week: March 11th

[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.

Learn to lead creatively with these tips.

  • Netflix – Director of Marketing, Original Films (Beverly Hills, Calif.)
  • Coca-Cola – Senior Manager, Entertainment Marketing (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • Epic Games – Community Manager (Salt Lake City, Utah)
  • Ayzenberg – Social Media Intern (Pasadena, Calif.)
  • Ayzenberg – VP, Digital (Pasadena, 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.

Influencer Marketing: Where Art And Science Meet

Increasingly brand marketing is turning to influencers to communicate and reinforce brand messages. As social media has expanded, it has transformed the media landscape — and brand marketers have seen the possibilities inherent in this new way of reaching customers. When you see that top YouTubers can attract more than 30 million monthly viewers, that’s an audience worth reaching.

It’s more than just views, though. The role of influencers is deeper than merely showing someone a brand. Properly wielded, influencers are engaging and activating consumers in a way that few passive media impressions ever have. Effective influencer marketing means touching millions of consumers and turning some of them into brand evangelists as well, so the reach and impact can be substantial — and very cost-effective compared to classic marketing campaigns.

This is why Ayzenberg Group held a webinar today on Influence Marketing, bringing Vincent Juarez (principal and media director for Ayzenberg Group) and Chris Younger (principal and director of strategy for Ayzenberg Group) together to share some insights. It’s one thing to know that Influence Marketing is important; it’s quite another to know how to go about executing an influencer marketing campaign for best results.

For one thing, it’s important to recognize the wide variety of social media platforms where influencers wield their power. It’s not just about YouTube — it’s about Twitch, Vine, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and a host of others. “New platforms are evolving with potential influencer activations,” noted Juarez, as he mentioned how platforms are even crossing over into each other.

It’s not easy to pick the right platform, though. “Different types of brands look to different platforms based on their interests,” said Younger. Matching the campaign to the correct platform requires consideration of the intended audience, the demographics, and the creative intent of the campaign. It’s a complex mix, to be sure.

One point that keeps coming up when marketers consider influence marketing is picking the right influencers. Should you try to work with the biggest influencers you can find that have the right audience, or are you better off lining up a number of influencers with smaller audiences “When you think about digital it’s an open landscape, anybody with any kind of interest can communicate,” Juarez said. “If you’re a fan of anything you can probably find an influencer to meet your needs. Everyone has the ability to be an influencer, whether it’s their own circle of friends or a larger group.”

When Ayzenberg Group works to create influencer campaigns, Younger likened it to baseball: You’re building a team and picking the right players for the right spots on the field, and that evolves as the game changes over time. “Discovery is a critical phase, to identify the key influencers is a mix of art and science,” Younger said. It’s a daunting task when you consider that there are over 400,000 influencers out there with a sizable audience, as Juarez noted. “Don’t ignore the obvious,” Juarez cautioned. “YouTube is the second largest search engine. Socialblade is also free. Dedicated platforms like Tubular aggregate 20 different content platforms.” These platforms can help you find influencers.

Juarez advocates a tiered approach, and using influencers from all tiers gets you the best results when it’s executed properly. “An army of lower-tiered influencers can be way more effective than an A-lister,” Juarez said. “Best practice is to use a combination of all tiers.” There’s also a budgetary consideration. “Tier 1 and Tier 2 influencers require substantial budget,” noted Juarez, because “they are approached by so many marketers they need financial incentive. Tier 3 and Tier 4 are more dedicated and will often participate based on their enthusiasm for the brand or product.”

In the end, Younger and Juarez agreed, influencers are human — and thus getting them to work with you is often a matter of negotiation and common interests, as well as their choice. While brand marketers are wary of going off-message with their brand, influencers are equally wary of losing their authenticity — and thus, their audience. That’s why the best results come when influencers are enthusiastic about a brand and a campaign, because that genuine emotion shines through.

“Once you’ve discovered the influencers you want to use, it’s time to figure out what to do with them. The second beat is Creativity,” Younger said. “What are we going to have them do. Is it just automatic. The key is providing a creative brief to influencers, based on listening to communities,” Younger explained.

At the end, the only way you’ll know how well an influencer campaign has performed is if you get the right data. “The last part is reporting and measurement,” Younger noted. “At the end of the day, like all other media vehicels, they have different roles and responsibilities. What kind of measurements can you use to say this is working ”

That’s a problem unless you get the right tools. “There are so many platforms, it’s about finding a partner that has a robust reporting toolset that allows you to aggregate all the metrics into one dashboard,” Juarez said. As for the key performance indicators, Juraez agreed that engagement is the most popular metric these days, but you really should try to do well on a variety of metrics.

Influencer marketing is indeed a combination of art and science, but with plenty of experience and talent, marketers can improve the effectiveness of influencer campaigns. Already, Juraez noted, he’s seen some campaigns have a remarkable return. “We’ve seen campaigns where the results have been eight-fold,” Juarez said. That’s something every marketer would love to achieve.

The Rise Of The Branded Emoji

While Taco Bell has been petitioning the Unicode Consortium to add a taco emoji— albeit is very Taco Bell-looking taco– to the existing emoji system, other brands have been seeking out ways around it, riding on messaging apps’ wild popularity to extend their brand.

Broad City Emoji EmoticonA screenshot of Broad City‘s emoji library.

Mentos got their own emojis, using their colorful rounded product as the base for some fun designs on the Ultratext messaging platform. Last month, both Ikea and Coca-Cola released their own branded emojis, with Ikea’s emojis notably containing a very cute plate of Swedish meatballs.

On Snapchat, General Electric developed a periodic table of elements and now, Comedy Central’s Broad City has a line of emojis using the show’s jokes which can be downloaded as a separate app.

It’s no wonder there’s a ton of brand interest in this space, as long as mobile messaging apps continue to accrue a ton of users. While in total, mobile apps have grown 115 percent , message apps have led much of that growth at 316 percent, surpassing gaming and social networking apps. It is, according to Flurry, the fastest-growing app category, but largely ignored by many brands.

In the US alone, 23 percent of smartphone users use IM services as opposed to SMS, but messaging app use is much more mature in other countries like Spain, Singapore and South Korea, where these apps are the dominant form of communication on mobile.

“The benefit of this type of marketing is that you are not interrupting or seeking to changing consumer behavior, but rather adding content into an existing, frequent behavior. If the content is good, people will use it and engage with it,” said venture captial firm Greycroft Partners’ Ellie Wheeler.

Taco Bell may be waiting with bated breath to see the inclusion of the taco alongside the pizza and hamburger emojis, but for now, some savvy marketers are having no problem finding their way into messaging.

Beyond Ikea’s and Coke’s branded product emojis, it would certainly be interesting to see more character-oriented emoji’s similar to Broad City. What would League of Legends and Marvel emojis look like, for example

And what about Facebook’s growing bevy of chat stickers that are no longer relegated to just the Messenger app, but can be used in conversations on posts in-stream Will opportunities for branded stickers be created there, too

It’s clear that we’re moving away from text-based messaging to a much more enhanced messaging experience, whether it’s emojis, video, photos and more, and any brand who figures out creative opportunities to break into the new ways in which we communicate is ahead of the curve.

Ikea's Swedish meatballs emoji.Ikea’s Swedish meatballs emoji, complete with flag.

Playmobil On Expanding Its TV Series To Netflix In The US

By: Jessica Klein

Playmobil’s kids’ series Super 4 has proven its popularity on linear TV in the UK, Italy, and Latin America across various channels (specific to those areas). Soon, the adventure series starring Playmobil figurines (well, in CGI animated form) will come to the US. This time, instead of showing up on broadcast TV, it will debut on Netflix in April 2015.

Sarah Blair-Miller, who works in marketing for Playmobil USA, caught up with VideoInk to tell us about the decision to put Super 4 on Netflix and give a little more info on the toy company’s digital video strategy.

Super 4 was doing well on TV in other territories. Why choose to move it to Netflix in the US?
This isn’t a move so much as an expansion. The Super 4 series has proven to be extremely successful in Europe, and we’re thrilled to have the series debut as the first Playmobil-inspired entertainment property in the US. Netflix has proven itself to be a strong broadcast provider in the industry, and the flexibility that it offers its viewers made it a perfect partner for the Super 4 series. Parents are constantly on the go and want content for their children to be available when needed. Netflix makes that flexibility possible, allowing families to stream their favorite Playmobil-inspired series whenever they feel the urge or their schedule allows, whether it be at six in the morning or six at night.

What was the inspiration behind Super 4 Was the idea to make an animated video version of Playmobil at all inspired by The Lego Movie (or did Playmobil’s series come out before that in other countries)?

The Super 4 series was developed by Morgen Studios and Method Animation. Together, they came to Playmobil with the idea and passion to develop content based entirely upon the brand’s figures and themes. Naturally, we were both excited and flattered to have been the inspiration for such an exciting kids’ series. This also represents the first time that the Playmobil worlds have come to life and interacted with one another, similar to a child’s play experience where anything is possible–knights can encounter dinosaurs, and fairies and pirates can visit a futuristic tech world.

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 thevideoink.com for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.


Thoughts On Apple Watch As A New Game Platform

With the Apple Watch slated to hit retail next month, many developers are no doubt hard at work on concentrated apps for the wearable device that will make proper use out of it. While most are focusing on experiences that relate to watch-style wear (such as the old-school Dick Tracy-style walkie talkie), some are actually working on games that can use the device in a number of innovative ways.

The Guardian recently posted an article where game developers explained how the Apple Watch can actually be a viable game platform, breaking down a number of ways that its use could innovative, through various experiences – and not just ports of Pac-Man and Tetris.

Obviously, the right approach has to be made, according to Will Luton, designer of the popular Pebble game Pixel Miner. “Integrating heart rate and pedometers obtrusively into game loops or attempting to shrink down smartphone titles onto a smaller device may get some traction early on as players explore the device and its capabilities, but they won’t be sustainable.

“The correct approach is to consider how the device is used and build from there. Smart watches are high frequency, short session devices that have low precision controls. This means that interfaces have to be very simple, such as one touch or menu-based systems. If smartphone games are designed to be played whilst waiting for a coffee, smart watch games should be designed to be played in an elevator ride.”

The article brought up a couple of examples of this, including mini-games from Nintendo’s Wario Ware series, which could be played in spurts with just a few simple motions and gestures, combining together into a larger game experience. There’s no doubt that developers would benefit from this format.

But that’s not all, as new ideas could also be explored. “One thing that game developers like is new modes of interaction and control,” said developer and researcher Michael Cook. “GDC ran their annual alt.ctrl workshop recently that’s all about new ways to interact with games. Apple’s already emphasizing these minimalistic ways of communicating through the watch, like doodling on the screen, tapping another person’s wrist remotely, and so on.

“The small screen and simple interactions also remind me of what Robin Baumgarten is doing in his game design experiments. Baumgarten’s latest creation is Line Wobbler, a game that you played on a single line of flashing lights. Designing games for really small platforms like a single dimension or a screen as small as a watch is a really cool challenge.”

“Persistent” games can also play a big part, allowing users to trade data with one another from a simple pass-by – similar to Nintendo’s StreetPass program for the Nintendo 3DS. “I do actually think there are some great possibilities for ‘persistent games’— games that you are playing all the time, alone or with friends,” says developer Bennett Foddy. “For these games, the watch makes it possible to check in on your progress whenever you have an idle nanosecond, without starting an app or pulling out your phone. These might be games that are played by tapping the phone at certain times, or by being at certain locations: the depth won’t come from the software itself but from the way that it fits in with your everyday life.”

“Developers will have to get better at placing more of the experience in the mind and less of it on screen,” says game developer Moo Yoo, who worked at Moshi Monsters creator Mind Candy until going independent. “I imagine a huge demand for highly interlinked social games and dynamically generated social narratives. You can take the example of a game like FarmVille which gave context and a real-world meaning to gifting a virtual animal. A smartwatch game could be a system of proposals, acceptances, and rejections – either in a dating sim or a game of diplomacy.”

More ideas on what Apple Watch gaming could be like can be found in this article here. It’s obviously got a ways to go, but developers can certainly find a way or two to make them truly innovate – and not just be “gimmicks”, as it were. If the Apple Watch and other wearables gain a large audience as many expect, this could be a significant new source of revenue for game companies who are, er, watching out for new opportunities.

‘Chrono Wars’ Brings Ambitious Gaming to Facebook

Facebook games are quite common these days, with players partaking in everything from Angry Birds to Marvel Heroes, interacting with their friends and followers while fighting for as high a score as they can muster. However, Narvalous wants to change the way players approach Facebook games – and it has an ambitious release that could very well get the job done.

The mobile publisher has announced the release of Chrono Wars: Light of Darkness, a new Facebook game that’s easily one of the most stunning – and ambitious – releases yet for the social site. The game follows the usual massive multiplayer online (MMO) adventure format, as players complete missions in the hopes of fixing the fabric of time, which has been torn apart by heinous forces. The missions will send players through six historical eras, using three different classes – the mage, the berserker, and the knight.

Where Chrono Wars is different from other games is with the use of an unmatched 3D gaming engine. The FancyBeans Fancy 3D engine enables the usage of 3D character models and backgrounds, providing more depth than the usual Facebook offerings available. That said, the game experience is currently limited to PC users only, although Narvalous hopes to make it available to Mac owners soon.

“With Chrono Wars, Narvalous is proud to bring to our avid gamers IMAX-quality 3D graphics and an unprecedented client gameplay experience via a browser interface or a PC launcher,” said Jay Tang, president of Narvalous. “We worked with the developer, FancyBeans, and the global publisher, Gamewave, in four intensive months to adapt the game for the North American market. So far the Closed Beta testing retention rate has risen four times from a month ago. We believe the game is on track to make a big hit in 2015. We welcome other publishers or platforms to contact us for channeling opportunities.”

This could mark a huge upswing in popularity for Facebook games, especially considering the historical twist on the game (with characters like Robin Hood and Jeanne D’Arc involved), and it also looks to provide a good amount of revenue for the company, with various premium content available, including gear and weapons.

The trailer below provides a better glimpse of what Chrono Wars has to offer. Interested players can check it out here.

Harmonix’s Brilliant Marketing Fuels ‘Rock Band 4’

It’s odd to see a game gain so much buzz at a community event without actually physically being at the event. But that’s exactly what happened at the Penny Arcade Expo East get-together in Boston this weekend, as there was one game that was consistently being talked about – Harmonix’s Rock Band 4.

The game, which was announced this past Thursday by the publisher in conjunction with game peripheral maker Mad Catz, is the long-awaited sequel to the popular music/rhythm series, where players can simulate playing along to a number of their favorite songs using a guitar, bass, drum set or microphone, or, in some instances, other music instruments, like Rock Band 3‘s keyboard.

For years, the Rock Band franchise has been dormant, but hints at its revival popped up earlier this year, with the release of new songs for Rock Band 3 and a questionnaire asking fans if they were interested in seeing a sequel.

This is savvy marketing at work, as Harmonix managed to dominate PAX East without physically bringing the game to the show. It did have a booth, of course, and it was selling Rock Band related goods, including a limited edition t-shirt, collectible pin and a Penny Arcade themed guitar peripheral, set to ship alongside the game. But as far as playable content is concerned, the company only had its upcoming Amplitude HD on the show floor, along with a musically powered Oculus Rift demo.

So how did it do it Well, to be honest, Harmonix knew exactly what the fans wanted. Many were clamoring for Rock Band 4 for years now, despite the fact that Electronic Arts and MTV Games were no longer involved with the franchise (probably due to the high costs associated with Harmonix’s innovative The Beatles Rock Band, which required a lot of cash for licensing). So, with the timing just right for the show (its studio is based in Massachusetts), it made the news official, and the event became abuzz with the news of its return.

The return of Rock Band could easily fuel a new lease on life for the music/rhythm genre in the video game industry. At one time, both Rock Band and Activision’s Guitar Hero sold millions of copies, generating tons of interest with party-based players and casual fans alike. However, fans grew a bit tired of the oversaturation of the series, with such bands as Green Day and Van Halen getting separate releases. In addition, lawsuits from bands for bad use of imagery (like using No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani as a playable character) eventually led to both of them fading out.

However, this time around, it appears that Harmonix knows what it’s doing, and will be sticking with a “back to basics” approach for the series, focusing more on the soundtrack – both in the original game and through its coordinating downloadable content – than the fancy features or licensed artists surrounding it. As a result, its core gameplay should be more than enough to bring players back and make it a success again.

For good measure, it could also open the door to a potential return of Activision’s Guitar Hero, which has been long-rumored as well. The company hasn’t officially said anything, but with the Electronic Entertainment Expo happening in just over three months, it’s likely we could see an announcement – and its release could counter Rock Band 4‘s, leaving the music/rhythm part of the gaming world rocking once more.

Whatever the case, it’s good to see Harmonix has the rock party back on track – and its buzz is bigger than ever. As The Cars once sang, “let the good times roll.”