Global Ad Spending To Reach $540 Billion

Global ad spending is increasing — and it appears digital ad spending is at the forefront.

AdAge has reported that marketers will spend $540 billion globally on advertising this year, which is a 4.6 percent increase from the amount spent last year, according to a research report by media-agency Carat.

Even without tent-pole media events to hype products — including ones surrounding the popular Winter Olympics, FIFA World Cup and mid-term elections in the United States — the growth continues to spread like wildfire. Not only that, but it’s expected to rise even higher next year, by an estimated 5 percent.

“Carat’s latest advertising forecast gives us increased optimism for the outlook for global advertising spending,” Jerry Buhlmann, CEO of Carat’s parent company Dentsu Aegis Network, said in a statement. “With harder times behind us, negative growth markets are pleasingly now a minority, and collectively we can look ahead to 2016 with positive growth predicted for all key markets.”

As you can see by the chart above, key markets have shown impressive spurts in spending. Along with North America, Western Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America, among others, showed a healthy increase, with even bigger numbers estimated for next year.

Digital media is the key component here, with companies intending to push its global spending by 15.7 percent this year, over last year. Meanwhile, traditional advertising, like with television, has shown a decrease, even though it still goes strong in some markets.

The chart above indicates just how much growth is expected with each group, and, as you can see, magazines and newspapers are looking at a tremendous drop-off, while television has only a slow and steady decline. Meanwhile, digital is healthier than ever, and a 13.8 percent boost is expected for next year as well.

The report also indicates a 50 percent increase in global mobile-ad spending — not a surprise considering the surging mobile market — and a 22 percent increase in global online video budgets, both of which are helping digital see a surge in spending. Still, some companies are skeptical due to where the ROI will end up. “Much of the early investment in mobile advertising has been amongst pure-play, app economy brands and business for whom there is an easily demonstrable ROI for investing in mobile,” the report said.

Regardless, it looks like ad spending is growing overall, despite the lag in some sectors. More details on the report can be found here.

Nintendo’s ‘Splatoon’ Aims To Change Shooters

Ask people what kind of shooters they’re playing in video games these days, and they’re likely to rattle off a high-quality – yet mature-rated – title like Call of Duty or Halo, franchises that have managed to sell millions of copies around the world, and should continue to flourish with new entries set for release later this year. But what if a company introduced a game with hardcore shooting controls, but with a theme that would make it enjoyable for players of all ages

That’s exactly what Nintendo will be doing with Splatoon when it releases for the Wii U this May. This third-person action game takes all the familiar components from a competitive shooter, but replaces the hardcore weaponry and explosions with paint. Lots and lots of paint. In fact, it’s easy to say that it’s the video game equivalent of a paintball war, but with a twist.

The goal in Splatoon is to cover as much terrain with paint as possible within the enclosed map. This includes shooting walls, floors and other spaces, before the enemy can cover up the area with their paint. However, there’s an advantage to having more paint around, as players can transform temporarily into squids, moving at a faster pace across a map and also refilling their paint gun at the same time.

Along with shooting the terrain, players can also shoot at their adversaries, “taking them out” and forcing them to regenerate back at their home base. So, to some extent, there are some hardcore shooting elements at play in Splatoon, but instead of over-the-top carnage, players see explosions of paint. In addition, other elements from shooters are featured here, such as super-powered bazookas that can cover a greater area with a single shot, and bombs that act as grenades, splattering paint across a limited area – and, again, “taking out” enemies in the way.

Ever since its introduction during Nintendo’s E3-oriented Nintendo Direct special last year, Splatoon has been building buzz. But when the game made its playable debut at PAX East in Boston earlier this month , people started to take notice. Nintendo set up an eight-person competitive booth – with teams of four taking on one another. Players waited in line for hours on end to get in on the action, and experience this weird yet magical little title that Nintendo is producing. The video below shows just how popular the game was at the event.

The game will have full online support, along with local multiplayer options for those who prefer a “couch” session with their friends. There will be a number of maps available, and players will be able to “level up” accordingly, even earning access to bigger and better weapons, including a giant paint roller that can mow down anything in its path.

However, it’s the unique non-violent approach that should make Splatoon stand out, as both kids and veteran shooter fans should have no problem getting into the competitive spirit of the game, but splatting paint instead of blood everywhere. That should no doubt please parents, while, at the same time, bringing hardcore Nintendo fans in droves to check the game out as well.

Nintendo’s marketing move at PAX East showed an awareness of Splatoon‘s potential, and how the game benefits from hands-on experience and the enjoyment of the spectators. Perhaps Nintendo will continue to put effort into marketing this title, yet another one that could help move Wii U consoles into the market.

It’ll be messy, but Splatoon definitely looks like a game changer for the shooter genre . . . and Nintendo, for that matter.

 

ION Introduces The ICN, A Full-Service Platform For Influencer Campaigns

Today, ION, the influencer agency within Ayzenberg, has launched a new core offering called the ICN, or Influencer Channel Network. The platform leverages the influencer of over 400k creators across channels that together generate billions of views and command millions of subscribers to create unique brand content.

The platform has been in the works for the past 3 years, executing hundreds of influencer campaigns that have delivered up to 8x earned media ROI.

“Our vision right from the beginning was to work with creators and brands to create an environment of innovation and respect while allowing both sides to accelerate each others’ brands without losing their authentic, native voices,” said Eric Ayzenberg, Chief Creative Officer of Ayzenberg and ION.

A major feature of the platform that discovers and connects marketers with all tiers of influencers is the full-service management aspect, with the backing of full reporting and a media delivery guarantee as well as guiding brand strategy and creative.

“Outside of brand lift, we were astonished by the media value opportunity during every campaign, especially with clients who allowed us to integrate it with Ayzenberg’s 360-degree approach. In the next 4 months, we will unveil our new 2.0 front-end design and will start showing more of a behind-the-curtain view of our ICN platform.”

Principals at Ayzenberg, Chris Younger and Vincent Juarez, will be revealing for the first time some of the methods behind the new ICN platform in a webinar on April 21st. For more information and to request an invite, fill out our form.

 

F8: How To Reach 1.4 Billion Consumers

Facebook’s F8 2015 developer conference opens tomorrow at San Francisco’s Fort Mason, and the two day event promises to be an important one for publishers and developers. It’s the first time the conference is spread over two days, but Facebook has a lot going on. In fact, Facebook’s importance to the game industry, mobile developers, advertisers and marketers is at a high point, and this conference is going to provide insight into where Facebook goes from here — and that will be important to know.

Facebook’s impact on the game industry in particular is greater than ever, although its history is not a straight line path. As Facebook grew explosively some years ago, part of what propelled it (and was propelled by it) were games, and the social gaming craze that led to to the growth of companies like Zynga and Kabam. As Facebook’s growth slowed, and the platform clamped down on the easy viral marketing that games utilized so well, the social gaming craze died down. Game companies looked to the rapid growth of mobile gaming as the next big platform, and attention shifted away from Facebook.

That was only the beginning of the story, though, as Facebook went public and began to shift resources into mobile and advertising. Now, Facebook has become the hot way for mobile game companies to gain users, with classic user acquisition tools becoming more expensive. Companies that continue to release Facebook games along with mobile games have done very well — King Digital credits much of its success with Candy Crush Saga to the fact that the game is available on both Facebook and mobile platforms, for instance.

Growth for Facebook’s user base has been slow in the last few years, though, compared to the meteoric rise of earlier days — not suprising when you consider the service now has 1.4 billion users. The company’s got a strategy for growth, though, and one of the key topics for this developer conference is how that will occur. There’s also the looming impact of virtual reality and how Facebook’s Oculus division will take advantage of this technology, and what it will mean to Facebook and many others.

The show will kick off with a keynote address by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, where he will no doubt review some of the opportunities ahead for Facebook, the challenges the company faces, and its strategy for the year ahead. There may even be some surprises in the wings, as rumors heat up about Facebook hosting news sites’ content, according to The New York Times.

“Things have been fairly easy sailing at Facebook: user growth had been on the up and up and in-stream ads have generated 93 percent of their revenue. As the world’s biggest social network, they now face a couple of issues,” said [a]listdaily‘s Lauren Arevalo. “The first being stagnating user growth (one of first topics being tackled at F8 is ‘Building for the Next Billion’) and the second is how to address their waning appeal to younger users. In order to address this ‘coolness’ problem, Facebook had made some key purchases that are coming to the fore as the platforms of-the-moment (Instagram) and of the future (Oculus).”

“These of course will be a key focus in F8’s proceedings, but I’m also looking forward to how Facebook looks to monetize its hugely valuable user base from here on out,” Arevalo continued. “Some messaging opportunities for brands have appeared to be in the wings for some time, mobile payments is overall a really hot subject right now, and the fact that Facebook has been vocal about getting more serious as a platisher lately has major implications for native advertising. If Facebook can get some or all of these things right (and Piper Jaffray has increased the company’s target price ahead of tomorrow in a strong vote of confidence), marketers will be more than happy continue to make Facebook a chief component of their campaigns.”

“We have seen Facebook take off as the first real rival to YouTube in the Online Video space, now accounting for 60 percent of all global video shares, we’ll see expand significantly in the video space,” said [a]listdaily‘s Joakim Baage. “They are now rumored to be working with video publishers like Vice and Vox to produce short-form branded video under the name “Anthology.”

“It’ll be interesting to see how they approach video with the developers as part of their overall push into multiple apps such as Messager and buying popular apps like Instagram and Whatsapp. Furthermore, we didn’t see much from VR-company Oculus at GDC, which probably means that there will be some kind of announcement at F8 after Facebook bought the company last year,” continued Baage. “All these developments should be top-of-mind for any digital marketers knowing how effective Facebook’s different advertising programs are, especially for (mobile) game developers and with the amount of data Facebook has of its users, I think that Facebook is quickly becoming the most important platform for marketing all together.”

The [a]listdaily caught up with Dan Morris, Facebook’s Director of Game Partnerships, to ask him about the F8 Developer Conference.

What’s the relevance of F8 to game developers?

F8 is where a range of new products and features will be unveiled, a number of which will play a beneficial role in helping game developers solve some of their hardest problems. Facebook is well-positioned to make a positive impact across the games ecosystem, and F8 is where we will provide first looks at some of this potential impact.

If people can’t get to the F8 conference, is there any way to get some of the information being presented?

All of F8’s sessions will be streamed for free at fbf8.com

What’s the importance of F8 to marketers, both for games and for brands in general?

Game developers increasingly tell us that Facebook’s marketing solutions are the best available, and F8 is an ideal opportunity to learn how to advertise effectively using our tools.

Rovio Aims To Fly High In 2015

At one point a few years ago, Rovio was the hottest company on the planet, thanks to its best-selling Angry Birds franchise that was seemingly everywhere. Between licensing, business deals and various releases in the bird-flinging series, Rovio saw a huge profit for the past few years. 2014, however, told a different story.

A report from Time showed that the publisher had a drop in revenue last year, down to $158.3 million ($169 million), with profits dropping to $10 million ($10.6 million). In addition, licensed merchandise sales also plummeted, dropping from $73.1 million ($75.7 million) to $41.4 million ($44 million) in just a year’s time.

Even with new releases from the company, including Angry Birds Transformers, it was clear that the franchise was losing steam, with the industry-wide move to free-to-play games leaving the original premium model of Angry Birds behind. Rovio made changes to the game, added more sequels and free-to-play versions, as well as reorganizing the company.

Now, according to Fast Company, the company’s new CEO, Pekka Rantala, has a plan to bring the company back to high profits. After spending 17 years at Nokia (where he was VP for marketing the company’s gaming handheld N-gage), Rantala brings heavy experience to the role. He has a big task ahead of him as the mobile game market continues to evolve rapidly.

When asked if Angry Birds was a fading fad, he answered, “I understand the question. I definitely get it,” says Rantala. “But last year our Angry Birds games had more than half a billion downloads, so I think that’s just one data point to show that Angry Birds is not a fad.” In addition, he was quick to point out Angry Birds‘ popularity on social media, including a YouTube channel with 1.6 billion views and 27.5 million followers on Facebook. The chart below highlights these numbers.

So how does Rantala think the company will bounce back With a forthcoming big-screen adventure due next year. That may seems like a ways off, but Rantala says it ties in with the company’s return to form. “We envision ourselves as an entertainment company with mobile games at its heart,” he said, pointing out the fans behind the franchise. “We get tons of mail from our fans from all parts of the world. Many of them write their ideas about what we should be building, what kind of new levels our games should have—and we actually do take those ideas into account. When Angry Birds turned five years old in December, we launched 30 new levels in our game and all of them were based on drawings coming from our fans.”

As for the movie, “some years ago Rovio was approached by many studios who wanted to buy the rights to make a movie,” he said. “I am really proud that the company made a very bold decision not to sell the rights but instead to make the movie by themselves.

“It’s a huge investment for a company of our size. Some people might think we are crazy, but we are very excited, and we are very confident that this is the right move because when we decided to make it we decided to make it right.”

The company will continue releasing new games in the meantime, such as the free-to-play Stella Pop, a variation of the hit series Bust-a-Move, but formatted for the Angry Birds universe. Still, all eyes are on the franchise’s big-screen debut next year. “The business peaked very much during 2013,” Rantala says. “And now it’s normalized and the movie will create the next boost for the business.”

The only question now is how well it’ll fare until the movie releases.

More quotes from Rantala, including his vision of how to turn Rovio into a “Disney for the digital age,” can be found here.

VIDEO: Marketing The Next Big Party Game

[a]listdaily caught up with CEO of Chains Awesome Games JS Otis about how they want to position Knight Squad as the next big “party game,” along with how listening to community feedback has helped improve development of their new title.

 

Avoid ‘Content Blindness’ As Native Ads Take Off

Many marketers are looking to native advertising to keep consumers interested and engaged, as classic banner ads and other familiar forms are losing their impact. Content marketing has its own issues, as some fear “content blindess” may dull the impact of native ads. During the recent 4A Conference the term was a hot topic for discussion, and was brought up during a panel.

AdAge reports that a number of high-profile players took part in the panel, discussing the problems that can come with native advertising, and what happens when some companies go too far, thus running a danger of dulling the impact of the marketing campaign.

“There’s banner blindness. Over time, we’ll start to see more and more content blindness,” said Elena Sukacheva, managing director of global content solutions group for The Economist Group. “We’ll see more and more marketers releasing control of the messaging.”

This control became a hot topic with the participants of the panel, who also chimed in with their thoughts. Production of native advertising is certainly on an upswing, but it helps to keep control of such campaigns.

Jimmy Maymann, CEO of the Huffington Post, said that digital publishing nets a third of its revenue from in-house content marketing teams, but also noted that the usage of native content allows publishers and brands conventional messaging opportunities.

That leaves room for more digital ads, although, again, there’s a question in regards to overuse. “Marketers really miss the mark when they communicate to an audience,” Ms. Sukacheva added.

Economist’s study showed that 93 percent of marketers surveyed reported connecting content with products and services. Furthermore, 75 percent of said content should frequently mention products. The majority of the audience, however, claimed they tune out from content that sounds too much like a sales pitch. Instead, they wanted content that had a utility or was related to insights or ideas.

So there is room for improvement in the market, and Jason Hill, global director of media and content strategy for GE, noted that cooperation between marketers, publishers and agencies is vital when it comes to shaping together better content. “People still love a great story, well-told,” he noted. “I think great stories can be told in native. I think it’s also easy to do a lot of crap in native.”

Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk On Con TV And The Distributor’s Growing OTT Plans

by: Sahil Patel

Everybody from HBO to AwesomenessTV is going over-the-top. The appeal is easy to understand: As viewers of all ages increasingly demand more control over when and how they can watch their favorite video content, the content owners have to adapt lest they lose the viewers to somebody else.

What’s interesting about the growing OTT craze, though, is who’s getting involved as much as why. It’s not just the major traditional and digital media brands.

Take, for example, Cinedigm, an independent distributor that controls more than — titles. With that kind of library, it makes sense for Cinedigm to launch over-the-top channels like Docurama, which focuses on documentary films and TV series, and Con TV, which focuses on geek and nerd culture.

With Con TV launching just a few weeks ago, we spoke with Cinedigm’s chairman and CEO, Chris McGurk, on the channel launch, its partnership with Comic-Con producer Wizard World, and how Cinedigm is approaching its expanding OTT business.

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.

 

Twitch Continues To Expand Services And Reach

Twitch, the live streaming channel that continues to make waves heading into the thick of 2015, continues to expand in a number of ways – and that’s good news for both its user base and its owner Amazon.

The streaming channel has just announced that it will stream the Ultra Music Festival, a popular gathering of electronic music artists, when it kicks off from March 27 to the 29th. “Powered” by a partnership with 7UP, the festival will feature a hundred different artists taking the stage, including favorites like Royksopp and Knife Party.

“We are always pushing the envelope, working with the most innovative companies to stay ahead of the curve and offer our fans as much value as possible,” said Adam Russakoff, executive producer/director of business affairs/talent buyer for Ultra Music Festival and Ultra Worldwide. “We don’t tolerate mediocrity and our switch to Twitch is yet another step in the continuum.”

This continues the company’s delve into music support for streamers, as it previously announced that it acquired a library featuring several artists, which its users could utilize during streams.

However, that’s not all. Per Digiday, Discovery has announced that it will launch a new gaming-focused media property called Super Panic Frenzy on the streaming channel, along with YouTube. Obviously, Twitch will have the better part of the deal, thanks to an improved live streaming experience. “Our view on Twitch is it’s terribly exciting,” said Colin Decker, general manager of Discovery Digital Networks. “We’re always interested in increasing audience share anywhere we think there’s opportunity, so it’s natural we’d push heavily into a space like Twitch with our personalities, who are passionate about gaming.”

Perhaps it’s the interaction angle, as Discovery admitted with one of the show’s hosts. “Phil DeFranco’s fans love nothing more than to be able to continue their relationship with Phil DeFranco and play along with him live,” said Decker. “He’s a longtime pro and very accomplished about steering the audience through an experience with the games in a really fun, irreverent way.” (The trailer for the show is below.)

“One of the more interesting things about Twitch is, in an era where we’re talking about more and more video on demand, there is still a very compelling argument for linear video or appointment viewing,” said Decker. “At the end of the day, nothing beats great content at a great time of day when you can tune in and feel like you’re being part of something.”

With these recent business moves – and continued support for games like Clash of Clans and League of Legends among others — there’s no questioning the site’s impressive popularity. Earlier this year, we reported that Twitch doubled its monthly viewers to 100 million, along with other impressive stats. eMarketer also had its own numbers to report, indicating that there’s a huge outreach in male streamers, although female ones are certainly on the rise as well.

Indeed, when it comes to Twitch, the show is going on – and it’s got quite an audience with it.

 

Disney Games Clean Up On Mobile

Disney has largely shifted away from producing games for consoles and PCs in-house, preferring to license out titles like Star Wars Battlefront to Electronic Arts. The main effort in-house for Disney Interactive is Disney Infinity, which is seeing some good profits while supporting many of the company’s movies and long-time brands. However, Disney’s gaming strength really lies on mobile platforms, as VentureBeat has reported strong numbers for the company’s releases for iOS and Android.

With such titles as Where’s My Water, Star Wars: Commander and Marvel Avengers Alliance leading the charge, the company is seeing a huge turn-around on the mobile front.

VentureBeat sat down with Disney Mobile Games general manager Chris Heatherly regarding the turnaround in the division’s popularity. “We’re the no. 8 most downloaded publisher in the world on mobile,” said Heatherly. “We have about a million downloads a day and about 70 million monthly users in our network.”

The company boasted these numbers during the Game Developers Conference earlier this month, marking the first time it made full use of the show to talk about its success. “We’ve been sending people to GDC for years to do business development meetings and stuff,” he explained. “But we’ve never gotten up and really told our story.”

What sets Disney’s mobile approach apart from others “I think what Disney brings to the games business is this idea of storytelling. One of the thing we constantly – I don’t want to say struggle with, but one of the things we constantly push for is quality and storytelling and not just taking our characters and putting them in a game and calling it done, but telling an authentic Disney-quality story with heart.”

The company did have its hardships, laying off more than 700 people from its company last year. However, it’s providing a bigger outreach, according to Heatherly. “We’re broadening what we’re doing externally,” he stated. “We’re going to probably do about 15-to-20 titles across our brands a year. It’s not going to be a huge slate. We want to focus on quality.”

A third of these titles will be licensed to outside studios. This is a familiar practice, as Disney proved when it signed a deal with Electronic Arts to produce particular Star Wars games, including the forthcoming Battlefront, which will debut at the Star Wars Celebration next month. “When we talk about licensing, we have some pretty specific criteria,” said Heathery. “It’s not just about minimum guarantees and things like that. What we’re looking for is top-quality developers, first and foremost, folks who have network reach that we don’t. A good example of that is (mobile game company) Line.”

Line has been a proven success for Disney’s mobile games, particularly with the Disney Tsum Tsum puzzle release. “It’s done $300 million in revenue, and it couldn’t have done that without Line’s social network,” explained Heatherly. “That’s a great partnership for us because we’re able to reach into their social network with our IP.”

With the 70 million downloads, the company is in a “good starting place,” according to Heatherly. “We want to grow it. We think it’s a very strong position. We think there’s a lot of opportunity to grow beyond where we are today.”

More details on Disney’s mobile success can be found here.