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.

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.”

Microsoft Leading Consoles On Free-To-Play Games

In the past, if players were looking for free-to-play games, they’d have to turn to either PC or mobile devices to find them. However, given Microsoft’s recent business decisions, it appears that the company is quite serious about bringing the format to Xbox One – in a number of ways.

A few decisions over the past week have fueled that change in direction, including the announcement of Wargaming’s highly popular World of Tanks for Xbox One (following its massive success on Xbox 360); the multiplayer action game Gigantic, which will be coming from Motiga sometime later this year; the confirmation that Microsoft’s own Fable Legends would be a free-to-play release, structured in a similar manner to Riot Games’ immensely popular League of Legends; and Hi-Rez Studios’ Smite, which has been confirmed to go into early access testing on the Xbox One starting this week.

So what does this mean It means that Microsoft is starting to move forward on the idea of offering free content for Xbox Live regular and Gold members alike, providing a number of alternatives for those who might be too tight on a budget to purchase a $60 title. The company is no stranger to the format, as it’s introduced hit games like Happy Wars and World of Tanks on the Xbox 360, generating huge audiences as a result.

The Xbox One got a free-to-play boost in the past year as well, including titles like Killer Instinct, Project Spark and Warframe (which is also available on PS4) providing a good amount of gameplay with no purchase required. (Microsoft also released the active Xbox Fitness program to Xbox Live Gold members for no charge.)

This new avenue of business could be good for not only players, but developers as well. Expanding highly regarded franchises to a new format can be a tremendous value to publishers, enabling them to bring a similar yet somehow new experience to players, and opening the door to potential business through microtransaction purchases and other features – without gouging them like crazy, as some “freemium” models have been known for in the past.

Microsoft can also benefit from this shift, as it not only brings more of these projects on board its system, but can also advertise them as a key ingredient to the success of Xbox One. While its focus on premium games like Halo 5: Guardians would remain steadfast, the company could easily promote free-to-play releases to its Xbox Live Gold members, thus increasing memberships and benefits to make the service worthwhile. Free weekend events could also be more concurrent, allowing those who don’t yet have Xbox Live Gold the chance to see what it’s like to be a member – and maybe even offer a discounted rate as well, as it did in the past month, lowering its price temporarily to $39.99 for one year.

It’s too soon to tell just how well these titles will do, but if the numbers from Happy Wars, Project Spark and World of Tanks are any indication, they’re bound to be hits – and that’s good news all around, for players, developers, publishers and Microsoft alike.

Zoolander At Paris Fashion Week Is Pure Online Gold

“It’s that damn Hansel! He’s so hot right now!”

Will Ferrell’s iconic line as fashion mogul Mugatu in the 2001 over-the-top comedy film directed by and starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson is feeling especially on-point right now.

Fourteen years later, both Hansel and Zoolander are at it again in today’s understated marketing move of the moment: they appeared together on the Valentino runway at Paris Fashion Week to announce a long-awaited upcoming sequel to Zoolander.

Ad Age has already dubbed it “the smartest and most delightful marketing move since The Simpsons took over 7-Eleven.”

It’s landed them a heap of buzz as the story is trending on Twitter. Paramount, which also tweeted the stunt scored a viral hit which even Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour got in on in a backstage video.

With the sequel being released on February 12 of next year, about 11 months away, it will be interesting to see what other marketing moves the folks at Paramount have up their sleeves.


Marriott’s First Original Film Is Here

Clocking in at 17 minutes, 37 seconds, the first original film from Marriott’s Content Studio, titled Two Bellmen, fits a lot of action into that relatively short period of time. Filmed on location at JW Marriott LA Live, much of the hotel is featured throughout.

The film was released digitally today on twobellmen.com as well as Facebook and YouTube, with the help of the the social team at Ayzenberg. The short is also getting a limited theatrical release and will be available to play in JW Marriott guest rooms.

Two Bellmen combines music, movement, and talent from TV, film, and digital to tell an entertaining story where the brand simply plays a character,” said David Beebe, the film’s executive producer and vice president at Creative and Content Marketing at Marriott International in a press release this morning .

“Marketing as interruption is over, and Two Bellmen propels our strategy of providing entertaining and informative content that adds value and helps build a community of people passionate about travel who ultimately drive commerce for Marriott’s global brands, such as JW Marriott.”

Two Bellmen was created in collaboration with Substance Over Hype and is a part of Marriott Content Studio’s wider collaboration efforts on a branded digital project, a TV series for Renaissance Hotels distributed on AXS TV with AEG, native content on Medium and a Snapchat initiative as well as working with well-known YouTubers.