Sega: Goodbye Console, Hello Mobile

Sega’s had its ups-and-downs with console games in recent years, but there’s no denying the company has been performing well on mobile devices. The result seems to be Sega’s focusing even more resources on the fast-growing mobile market and reducing its efforts on the console front. It’s even possible the company could exit the console market altogether at some future point, which says something about the overall direction of the industry when such an iconic console game company is shifting strongly towards mobile.

According to GamesIndustry International, Sega has already announced ten mobile game launches for the first half of 2015 alone, and has benefited from big-time sales of mobile-based titles in Japan, including hit games like Chain Chronicle and Puyo Puyo Quest, both of which have earned over 500 million yen ($4.1 million) each.

Out of the mobile games it released last year, only a handful came across as “failures”, earning less than 30 million yen a month. That isn’t stopping the company’s Japanese division from cleaning up on cash, though, with the remaining 13 games making an estimated $15 million in profit on a monthly basis. That adds up to $180 million for the year.

The company has 20 games in development in all, including five internal titles, 10 co-partnered by studios within Sega Networks, and five co-developed and published with third-parties. And, as you might guess, most of them are set to release on mobile. Sega has been working hard to bolster its mobile team line-up, acquiring the likes of Space Ape and Demiruge Studios, among other smaller teams.

Sonic the Hedgehog may not be flourishing on consoles, but on mobile, he’s a hit, as Sonic Dash has surpassed nearly 100 million downloads worldwide. That’s a far greater success than the Sonic Boom titles, and the biggest hit for the hedgehog to date – which could indicate that future releases will, again, be only released for mobile.

The company hasn’t officially abandoned the console front yet, as it’s planning to release Tembo the Badass Elephant, a side-scrolling platform developed by Pokemon creators Game Freak, sometime this spring. However, it’s probably likely that its releases for consoles will dwindle down in favor of more affordable mobile fare – if not altogether.

It’s interesting to contemplate Sega’s journey from top console game manufacturer, competing head to head with Nintendo, to exiting the hardware business altogether in favor of focusing purely on software — and now shifting from console games to mobile games. With Nintendo’s announcement that it will now be developing mobile games, one wonders if the same evolution may lie in Nintendo’s future as well.

Counting Down YouTube’s Top DIY’ers

DIY YouTubers are fun ones to watch. After all, a lot of things can fall under the DIY umbrella, and the more variety, the more opportunities for brands. From life hacking to turning food into something way too cute to eat and finding out what As Seen On TV products actually work, it’s all there.

Advertising In 2020

What will the future of advertising hold in 5 years’ time We asked around Ayzenberg and got some pretty intriguing insights (and some perhaps a little scary). Here’s our best guesses at what 2020 might look like so that you may prepare carefully.

On Native Advertising

“In 5 years I think we’ll see today’s trend of native advertising in a more mature form. Branded content will integrate into the content we consume on a daily basis so we’ll see further moves away from the traditional TV spots and see more focus on storytelling that feels organic to what you’re already doing in the moment and it will all be social-forward. Ads will be designed purposefully to get people talking and sharing. Creative that doesn’t do that will have faded away almost entirely.” – Rebecca Markarian, VP Social and Digital 

“The :30 spot and standard messaging will still be pervasive; after all, 2020 is only 5 years away. Even if the $79 billon broadcast ad industry takes a significant hit, digital has a $30 billion delta (and growth will most likely be at the expense of other vehicles such as print, radio, out of home). With that said, as digital and mobile ad platforms mature, the type of content will evolve to adapt to include an intelligent native, video-narrative approach. The product story-based approach doesn’t necessarily need to be a full-scale, long-form narrative (especially since this could be counter to the ever-growing ADD-like consumption habits). It could be short-form, sequential entertainment pieces shown based on tracking exposure across multiple video ecosystems. The sequential narrative also doesn’t have to be linear. The best use would be to include interactive hooks, dynamic branching path creative that personalizes user experience based on individual interaction.” – Vincent Juarez, Principal, Media Director

“Moment- based advertising will inspire marketers to identify the time and place closest to a consumer’s choice to make a purchase – and be there with the right story to engage them. Mixed reality technology will create the opportunity for algorithmically personalized and opt-in advertising that shows consumers what they want at just the moment when they want it – and without cluttering our real world with millions of advertisements we could care less about.” – Matt Bretz, VP, Creative Director

On Technology

“By 2020, the leading edge of the mixed reality holographic technology will have offered brands the opportunity to bypass screens and connect with consumers directly in the real world at the moment when purchase intent is highest. If you are driving by Taco Bell and you are a fan, you’ll see a Taco Bell story play out on the dashboard in front of you, enticing you to turn in for a special offer. When you finally lay down in your hotel at the end of a long day’s work on the road, your favorite movie and game studios will offer you their latest content one spoken word or gesture away. If you love Marc Jacobs, when someone walks by you wearing him, he’ll join you for a sec and invite you to shop what they were wearing.” – Matt Bretz

“The connected device definition will evolve/expand beyond mobile and wearables as we know it to encompass everything from car dashboards, heads-up displays, key fobs to everyday items like apparel and household products. Imagine ad-supported in-car GPS that serves HUD ads based on location, clothing with “connected tags” that provide detergent or proximity based dry-cleaner offers, connected spice racks that provide sponsored recipes that cross-sell complimentary products to enhance the culinary experience, wearable tech that provides hydration and nutrition recommendations based on the intensity of an individual’s workout. Regardless of the device, this is as much about how hyper-targeting, moment-based, media messaging will encompass location but expand to personalized situational-based engagement.” – Vincent Juarez

On Leveraging Influence

“Influencer marketing will be at an all-time high. Marketers will recognize this and go beyond the AAA talent to engage influencers at all levels. More and more, specialist agencies will emerge to help marketers engage. Influencer outreach will encompass everything from premium, highly-produced video but could also revert back to individualized text and image-based communications that are native to key social platforms. The key is that anyone with a social media account and any type of following or sphere of influence could be a candidate for an influencer activation.” – Vincent Juarez

On Digital Media

“Cord cutting, internet based-tv and connected device usage will be at an all-time high. The elimination of traditional touch-points will be counteracted by the ability for every connected device to act as an advanced (sight/sound/motion) or basic level (text) engagement point.” – Vincent Juarez

“The ‘straight to digital’ trend will go from today’s popularity of digitally-released series (House of Cards, Bosch, Transparent, etc.) to movies. We’ve seen it be successful in instances like The Interview but in 5 years it will be more the norm as people will choose to watch movies more at home and splurge bigger on the big blockbusters.” – Rebecca Markarian

On Being “Mobile-First”

“We’ll stop saying ‘mobile-first’ because it will just be that way. Everything will be optimized to consume how and where you want without issue. On the social network front, Facebook and Twitter will continue to be important but become increasingly a ‘newsfeed’ and networks where you can more carefully curate the content you see and share – like Instagram, Snapchat, WeChat, and Pinterest – will continue to grow at a faster rate.  Successful social brands will diversify into the niche networks with content strategies that are similarly diversified.” – Rebecca Markarian

On Engaging With Gen Z

“Generation Z are said to be the most focused on helping others and the world so I think we’ll also see brands continue to lean into social responsibility and giving back and tie that heavily into their promotion. At the end of the day, I think we’ll see a much higher level of creative storytelling and much less of the direct sell in advertising.” – Rebecca Markarian

On Big Data

“This might not be the case by 2020 but advertising in the future will be a brand data land grab starting from the day you are born. Think of it as programmatic Gattaca. That ‘social’ platform your parents started talking about you the day they brought you home from the hospital, that ‘pacifier’ companion device. Maybe its called a ‘PCD’ by Google that you were handed at 6 months old which will track every bio metric action like a brand Fitbit: programmed images, custom served stories, interactions and gestures. Your identity and brands you interact with are already being seeded before you can read. By 4, you will have already settled on your favorite toothpaste for the rest of your life, by 13 you will believe you know the make, model and color of the first car you will buy, and at 16 you will already have an opinion on what country you will want to visit and what airline and hotel you want to stay at. All those day-to-day purchase decisions will be served up in the data strings like predicting the weather. Sure, the brand message might be off a few degrees from time to time but the ‘Mega Doppler Brand Radar 10,000’ will always be on.” – Chris Younger, Principal, Director of Strategy

“The tech may not be as invasive as the clichéd sci-fi embedded skin-chip but it could definitely be more intelligent to combine a hub connected device with user demographic, psychographic and social data. At the retail level, a hub device can interface with intelligent connected displays to provide recommendations or engage with short-form product based narrative.” – Vincent Juarez

 

Why Nintendo Going Mobile Isn’t A Slam-Dunk

The surprise announcement by Nintendo that it will enter the mobile game market has generated an amazing amount of comments and column inches. Certainly investors have reacted with glee, driving up Nintendo’s share prices by 50 percent in the past two days, giddy with the idea that Nintendo is finally entering the largest, fastest-growing segment of the game industry.

The responses to the deal have been, in some cases, well over-the-top. “This is huge news that could change what the future of the industry looks like,” gushed Jeff Grubb of VentureBeat, in an article titled “Nintendo on mobile ‘is an earthquake that will change the entire games industry‘.” In that article, Grubb quotes analyst Dr. Serkan Toto. “I really think there is gaming before and after March 17, 2015. This is probably the biggest news in gaming in recent years. Nintendo doing mobile apps is an earthquake that will change the entire games industry, globally.”

It’s time for a little calm thinking about the future. While there’s certainly cause for optimism in this development, it’s far too soon to decide what effect this will have on both DeNA and Nintendo, let alone the whole game industry. Reality has set in even for investors, with Nintendo’s share price falling over 11 percent today as the euphoria of the deal fades and people start to think about what it really means.

First, let’s look at the details that have been announced so far about how Nintendo and DeNA are proceeding with this deal. One major question has been how involved Nintendo would be with the actual game design, and Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata clarified that in an interview: “Development of smart device games will be mainly done by Nintendo,” Iwata said. Nintendo will use DeNA’s expertise in handling network issues at a large scale, and all the service operations that go with that, along with developing a social network. That all seems eminently sensible, playing to the strengths of both companies.

Still, this is not a slam-dunk. Mobile games have some fundamental differences from console games, not the least of which are the interface issues. Now, Nintendo does have some experience with touch screens dating back to the Nintendo DS, up through the 3DS and the Wii U. But the touch screens on mobile devices are far more capable and flexible than the stylus-driven screens Nintendo is mostly used to. Games on these devices all had a full complement of buttons and joysticks and triggers to use, and those were the primary controls used in almost all games. So Nintendo’s got some serious learning to do here, starting many years behind other companies in the industry.

The play patterns on mobile devices tend to be very different than typical console games, too. Smartphone games tend to be shorter play sessions that are easily interruptible, while many of Nintendo’s classic games require intense concentration and timing for extended periods. Not an insoluble problem, but not trivial, either. Yes, DeNA has the experience to help with all of these issues, but announcing a deal and then having teams actually form and work together productively are two completely different things.

Monetization is a more difficult thing to deal with for Nintendo. Ideally, the best monetization in games comes when it’s integrated into the design from the beginning. Nintendo’s introduced a few free-to-play games like Steeldiver and Pokemon Shuffle — but the games have not been well-received. DeNA has plenty of experience with monetization, but some of those mechanics (like the now-banned kompu gacha) are not ones Nintendo fans will be happy about.

Fortunately, Nintendo is well aware of the monetization issue, as Iwata made clear in a Time magazine interview. “I understand that, unlike the package model for dedicated game systems, the free-to-start type of business model is more widely adopted for games on smart devices, and the free-to-start model will naturally be an option for us to consider,” Iwata said. “On the other hand, even in the world of smart device apps, the business model continues to change. Accordingly, for each title, we will discuss with DeNA and decide the most appropriate payment method. So, specifically to your question, both can be options, and if a new Nintendo-like invention comes of it, then all the better.”

Ultimately, the core problem that Nintendo and DeNA have to solve is that their games have very different audiences. Nintendo’s got a great fan base for their games, and they are mostly hardcore gamers who appreciate the craftsmanship, deeply involving gameplay, and delightful characters — most of those gamers, these days, with nostalgia from growing up with Nintendo characters. DeNA and other mobile game companies have created huge audiences from non-traditional gamers who enjoy casual diversions on their phones. These two audiences don’t have much crossover, at least not in huge numbers.

Look at the top-grossing games on mobile, like Clash of Clans, Game of War, Candy Crush Saga — these are not game genres that Nintendo is particularly skilled in. Or look even further at top mobile games, at endless runners, match-3 games, social casino games, card battling games — none of those genres are really in Nintendo’s top franchises of all time. Just adding Nintendo characters to a clone of an existing game isn’t going to set the world on fire.

So either Nintendo has to figure out a way to get a massive mobile audience enjoying a different type of game than they currently do, or try to get their current fan base to enjoy a different type of game than they currently do. Or, somehow, create a new type of game that’s attractive to both audiences. And don’t forget the vast gulf in monetization: Nintendo fans are used to paying a fixed price up front and then getting everything for free, while mobile players are used to paying nothing up front and being able to pay for free as long as they want, with an option to pay something for an added item or function. Convincing either of those groups to enjoy a different way to pay is not easy at all.

Yes, perhaps Nintendo can come up with a new way to monetize games, as Iwata hinted at, some sort of hybrid that will satisfy both audiences. And certainly you should never underestimate Nintendo’s ability to come up with clever game designs, so perhaps they can develop new genres or hybrid genres that can make both audiences happy. But neither one of these things is easy, nor a sure thing.

Perhaps Nintendo could be nicely profitable if its mobile games really didn’t make much money, but served mostly as a marketing tool to get people interested in Nintendo premium products. That might boost sales of Nintendo hardware and premium games, but it’s certainly not something that would make DeNA happy. DeNA is looking for the Nintendo IP to provide a big audience boost and a big boost in revenue, too. They don’t need audience-building loss leaders; DeNA is looking to earn more revenue from titles, as well as expanding its audience.

Iwata made the following statement to Time magazine about revenue: “On the other hand, Nintendo does not intend to choose payment methods that may hurt Nintendo’s brand image or our IP, which parents feel comfortable letting their children play with. Also, it’s even more important for us to consider how we can get as many people around the world as possible to play Nintendo smart device apps, rather than to consider which payment system will earn the most money.” That’s not exactly music to DeNA’s ears, but the opportunity to cross-promote a huge Nintendo-attracted audience to DeNA’s other games will no doubt help console them.

Some games seem more likely to be adaptable than others to mobile: Animal Crossing, for instance, or Pokemon, rather than Super Mario World. But we won’t be seeing ports of existing games, Iwata has assured us. The games that come from this alliance will be brand new. That’s ultimately got more promise than rehashing old titles, but how well it will actually work is an open question. It’s perfectly possible to aim at combining two huge, different audiences with some sort of cross-over product, and miss both of those audiences.

For any long-time gamer, the phrase “Play Nintendo games on mobile” has a definite appeal. Whether the reality is as appealing as the daydream is something that we’ll have to wait to find out. It’s a difficult task to make the most of this deal, but from the statements Nintendo has made so far they are pondering the right issues. Even with the best of intent, success is not assured. It seems highly unlikely that Nintendo will suddenly convert hundreds of millions of people completely unfamiliar with console games into dedicated Nintendo-style gamers. Mobile games have been developing on their own, and evolving in interesting and unexpected ways. Nintendo’s got to innovate to succeed here, not just look to the past — but that’s something they’ve already acknowledged. Still, we know not all of Nintendo’s innovations succeed. The Wii was a huge hit, but the Wii U (with arguably even more innovations than the Wii) has not been a hit.

The success of Nintendo and DeNA is something that would help the rest of the mobile game industry, bringing in new mobile players and perhaps creating even more engagement with mobile games. Everyone should hope for their success — but not be blinded by that hope to the very real challenges the two companies face in the years ahead.

Zach Lipovsky On Why Video Games Are Perfect For Digital Entertainment

Hollywood director Zach Lipovsky (Leprechaun: Origins) got his first big break on Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett’s reality TV show, On the Set. More recently, he helmed WWE Films’ Leprechaun: Origins. Now he hopes he’s laid the groundwork for a new linear franchise based on Capcom’s Dead Rising zombie games. Dead Rising: Watchtower will debut on Sony’s Crackle.com on March 27. The feature film is the first offering from Legendary Pictures’ Legendary Digital Media division. Lipovsky explains why digital is the perfect platform for turning video games into linear entertainment in this exclusive interview.

Director, Zach LipovskyDirector, Zach Lipovsky

Do you see room for a sequel to Dead Rising: Watchtower?

Legendary is known for doing big feature films, but this is the first project through their digital and television division. The idea for this would be to see if there’s an audience for it. If everyone really likes it then it could become a longer form television property, rather than just feature films. It’d be cool even if it’s something like a 10-part True Detective-style show, but with combo weapons and killing zombies. Then there’s the longer-form narratives that are really taking off online and binge watching could work really well with Dead Rising because each season could be a different city or a different outbreak. They could really explore all these different chunks of the story in the same way that the games do, which would be very cool.

Were you thinking about this bigger landscape as collaborating on this original story?

Definitely, because we’re already coming into the franchise world, so the structure of having something that is a story that’s part of a much bigger world is already there because that’s what they’ve been doing with the games. All the way through developing the story that was in our minds. We didn’t let that get ahead of ourselves. We still just think about making this as best as we can, but the ambition of everyone involved was that there’s much more of the story to tell.

We’ve seen the Mortal Kombat TV series back in the day. Do you think that the serialized medium is better for video games than feature film?

The Mortal Kombat Legacy series did really well, and that was one of the first high-quality long-form online web series that took the game universe and really brought it to life and did really well. They got almost 100 million views out of it and that form fits the video game world a lot better because you’re online and you can go right to the audience that’s already consuming it. That means that you can make it exactly for them, rather than trying to do a much broader thing which has to be watered down. And because you’re online there are less restrictions and you can be true to the material. That’s really what the fan base wants.

How are you offering the game online?

People consume content really differently online. Some people want to watch a really long-form thing, while others want to watch something cut up into little bits. We’ve structured this as a feature length film, but it can also be consumed in smaller ten minute chunks. We’ve designed it so it works either way narratively. At this point, you have to let the audience choose how they want to watch it rather than making that choice for them.

Did you look at the success of Halo: Nightfall and Mortal Kombat Legacy for the smaller installments?

Yeah, it’s a lot more flexible and it just takes a little bit more work when you’re writing the story to make sure that it’s still digestible as a whole piece and individually, but we came up with a really cool dynamic that works really well so that it can be consumed either way.

From The Walking Dead and iZombie to Z Nation, why are zombies so popular on TV and everywhere?

Making this film I discovered that basically every person on the planet wants to be a zombie. As soon as I started making this film, every person I know wanted to come on set and be a zombie extra. There’s something about the fact that they are very close to being human that people love. They’re basically a person, but they’re not. And the fact that they’re so close to who we are somehow connects with the audience in a really strong way, whether they’re fast zombies or slow zombies.

If Watchtower works digitally, what opportunities do you see for other game publishers online?

The obstacle with game companies is more about showing them that we can make stuff that’s really good. In the past, a lot of the video game content has not been exceptional and it’s ruined the brand. Meanwhile, the game industry is making ten times as much money making as the film industry so they don’t have a lot of incentive to hand over their properties to the film industry. The first step is just showing them that people who love games and get the properties can make stuff that’s really good, and then they’re going to start opening up the properties that they have. Otherwise, there’s no incentive for them.

“Meanwhile, the game industry is making ten times as much money making as the film industry so they don’t have a lot of incentive to hand over their properties to the film industry.”

Did you take into consideration at all the viewers who haven’t played the games?

Yeah, we tested the film as we were editing it with both people who really knew the world and people who didn’t know it at all. The film basically explains some of the newer content like Zombrex and that in this world outbreaks have been going on for a long time and everyone knows what zombies are. It runs through what protocols are followed when there’s an outbreak and the rules of Dead Rising.

If Dead Rising becomes a 10-episode series, do you think there could be some type of video game tie-in?

That would be ideal and there have been some attempts in the past. It’s just the complications of trying to coordinate the people in the film world and the people in the game world. Getting all the ducks in the row to make the film is incredibly challenging and not necessarily that easy to time exactly when it’s going to happen, especially when you’re trying to sync it with a huge game franchise that’s being built at the same time.

When you talk to Hollywood executives do they view video games as an art form today?

Yeah, it’s still emerging. A few years ago it was all about getting every comic book on the planet and before that it was getting every 80s TV show. I think people would love to get their hands on some of the bigger video games, but a lot of them aren’t available. The video game world doesn’t really need the film industry. They are doing just fine on their own. It’s up to the film industry to prove themselves to the video game industry, whereas the film industry is used to just walking in and having everyone fall over themselves to hand over a property.

“The video game world doesn’t really need the film industry. They are doing just fine on their own. It’s up to the film industry to prove themselves to the video game industry, whereas the film industry is used to just walking in and having everyone fall over themselves to hand over a property.”

Hollywood made a lot of bad comic book movies in the 80s and 90s before Marvel and DC got things right. Do you think all the bad video game movies we’ve seen will pave the way for good video game movies in the future?

Yes, the people who were making the bad comic book movies didn’t grow up with comic books. They were just film executives that were trying to make a quick buck. But now we are seeing all the people running Marvel grew up with Marvel. They grew up with that content and want to bring it to life as they were thinking about everything they loved about it when they were a kid. That’s now what you’re seeing in the video game world, people who grew up with video games are now in power in Hollywood so hopefully you’ll see the same kind of shift in quality.

Tastemade Sees Success with Branded Originals, Plans to Do More

by: Sahil Patel

For brands still on the fence about sponsoring or creating branded content with YouTube creators and networks, Tastemade, a network devoted to food and travel content, has some data for you: Sponsored content produced by Tastemade nabs higher brand recall, brand affinity, purchase intent, and “positive brand perception” when compared to 30-second pre-rolls and regular TV spots.

The data comes from Nielsen, which was commissioned by Tastemade to measure the effectiveness of its sponsored content versus that of the more traditional forms of video advertising. In the study, 800 people were asked to watch two of Tastemade’s branded original series, a broadcast sitcom with a full commercial load, and online short-form content with 30-second pre-rolls interspersed throughout. They were surveyed twice, both prior to and after the viewing session.

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.

Mobile Advertising Exceeds Other Channels In Revenue

Mobile advertising has certainly come a long way over the past few years – and it looks like it’s paying off more than other types of campaigns.

A report from Mobile Marketing Magazine indicated that, according to findings from the Mobile Marketing Association and findings from its Smart Mobile Cross Marketing Effectiveness study, the optimal spend for mobile advertising has seen a double-digit percent increase in the total campaign spend. This is far more than what most marketers were expecting, showing the true effectiveness of the format.

“The market has acknowledged there is a deep chasm between what brands are currently spending on mobile and consumer behavior, but now there is real, indisputable proof on the value of mobile to a brand’s business goals,” said MMA CEO, Greg Stuart. “I believe mobile presents the greatest transformation of marketing in our generation. With empirical data, SMoX now demonstrates the competitive opportunity for those marketers who figure out how to leverage the power of mobile effectively and optimize their spending with the most impactful allocations in their marketing mix, finally keeping pace with consumers.”

As a result, the MMA feels that marketers should increase their overall campaign ROI with a boost in mobile spend, while keeping budget at about the same level.

The report analyzed a number of effective mobile advertising programs, including Coca-Cola’s Gold Peak Tea Campaign, which showed a 25 percent mobile charge in terms of top-of-mind awareness, as well as 9 percent of “home brewed taste” image conversions, and 6 percent in sales, with five percent of the campaign budget.

Another program, WalMart’s Back To School Campaign, also showed healthy numbers, with a larger number of mobile interactions over broadcast and cable TV advertisements. A total of 14 percent of change in overall shipping intent was reported from the mobile format alone.

“It’s clear that mobile is becoming an increasingly critical part of the marketing mix,” said Wanda Young, VP of Media and Digital Marketing, Walmart. “It’s not only driving brand and campaign awareness, but also in-store foot traffic.”

MasterCard’s Travel Card campaign was also noted, with increase in mobile display and video interaction. “SMoX represents a real breakthrough in the mobile marketing industry,” said Adam Broitman, VP of Global Digital Marketing, MasterCard. “It’s the first thorough and comprehensive industry study that proves the true value of mobile.”

More notes on the campaign, including the effectiveness on AT&T’s Moto X campaign and general coverage of methodology, can be found here.

Image source

Beachfront Media Influences Influencers With Custom Apps

As we’ve noted in the past, YouTube stars are capable of making a great deal of money on the service, generating millions of dollars in revenue based upon their own created content. However, one young user thinks that more could be done if users create their own video apps.

As reported by VentureBeat, a company has hired 18-year old Jake Flositz to spread the word to other creators in terms of making content for their own specialty applications. He works for Beachfront Media, which is trying to build an “off-YouTube” solution for those that want to keep an established audience, but perhaps not deal with the site’s certain restrictions – such as the hoops put up with sponsored videos.

Beachfront is capable of putting together apps that customize specifically for its partners, allowing users to create original videos that distribute directly to their fans. It’s already attracted a few talents, such as Call of Duty player EliteShot and Minecraft creator Gizzy Gazza.

The app can be used for non-gaming content as well, but Beachfront wants to reach out more to that market for the time being, thus bringing Flositz on board. He’s noted that the program is “going very well,” speaking with GamesBeat, and his involvement is helping the team cater the program more towards the right audience.

The real factor is how Flositz plays along with those who are interested in the program, providing a gamer perspective that most video companies just aren’t able to match. “From some of the clients I’ve talked to, I’ve definitely heard that they’ve been approached by other app companies,” he said. “But they feel like, with Beachfront, they’re more connected with me. I have their personal Skypes. We chat all the time and make sure everything is perfect. I’m basically just a chatbox away. You chat or call, and I’m instantly there. It’s very easy with Beachfront, compared to other app companies, from what I’ve heard.”

Building trust with such a gamer perspective allows partners to hop on easier than with other partnerships, since they feel like they relate in terms of content and business terms. “They really like that,” said Flositz. “I’m also a gamer, and that seals the deal for them. They know that I know what they want and what they need to bring their community together through the app.”

Money isn’t the only thing being looked at with the deal, as many users also seek a better way to connect with its community and growing base of fans. “Currently, YouTube comments are really spammy,” said Flositz. “It’s hard to reach your fans there. Our app, I think, is the best way to reach fans. Twitter is maybe the next best, but there are so many people using Twitter all the time and trying to ping you all the time. It’s hard to respond. In our app, we have a separate comment system. It’s really easy to connect with your fans.”

Added Beachfront chief executive officer Frank Sinton, “YouTubers don’t want to take a lot of time away from creating their own content. When they think about an app, they think it’s a lot of work. But in reality, I’m pretty much the account manager. I’ll completely create the app and be there pretty much 24/7 helping them perfect the app. If they don’t like anything about the app, I’ll change it. It’s a seamless process. I create the app, launch it, stream it, host it. They don’t have to do anything. They just connect with their fans through the app.”

It’s vital to keep these users happy as well. “We’re not charging [creators to build their apps],” said Sinton. “We’re going to earn revenue through advertising. We’re also looking at subscription as a potential way to monetize. Our strategy really revolves around not just advertising but also additional things that gamers can do for their fans to further engage. We’re playing around with different models right now.”

And with EliteShot and others already showing success, Beachfront has more to build on from here. “We are starting to get a network effect,” said Sinton. “Where we’ll launch one app for someone, they’ll tell their friends, and then they say, ‘Hey, I want one, too.’ We’re trying to do it in a smart way with the advertising, where we’re not inundating the top fans of these gamers with commercials. Our end goal is to create a large network of apps that we operate that gamers enjoy.”

With their unique approach, and the savvy Flositz on board, it’s upward and onward from here for Beachfront.

Marketing Pros Point Out The Best Conversion Optimization Tools

Conversion optimization is quite a term — and also an effective tool when it comes to utilizing them to improve business.

VentureBeat recently posted an article where a number of marketing professionals provided insight in terms of the effectiveness of conversion optimization. A new study by the site indicated that, of the 36 different conversion optimization tools looked at, only two managed to come up short when it came to generating substantial return on investment. That means 34 successful tools at hand.

In addition, only five percent of those surveyed (out of nearly 3,000) indicated that ROI was not generated, showing an average of 223.7 percent overall. 173 of those surveyed stated that returns reached as high as over 1,000 percent — a mighty increase, indeed.

Conversation rate optimization allows marketers to improve on certain actions within their campaign, be it with interaction with an app or online. As a result, a lot of companies are spending money on these tools, nearly up to $2,000 on a monthly basis.

The chart above shows just how much companies spend on certain tools, and while those in the under $100 bracket lead the charge, there are still a substantial amount spending much more — and those numbers could rise higher within the next few years.

Report author Stewart Rogers noted, “If you can double your conversion rate, you halve your customer acquisition cost. If each customer has a lifetime value of $1,000, and doubling your conversion rate leads to an additional 200 customers per year, the return on investment of your CRO tool is a whopping $200,000 return from a $6,000 spend.”

Out of all the optimization tools out there, Rogers believes that Google Analytics is the most successful, and noted that 73 percent of the marketers surveyed use it consistently.

‘GA is ridiculously popular. It is free, powerful, and gives you almost instant feedback on how changes to your website affect key metrics,” Rogers said. “The issue with GA is that it only reports conversion indicators and data — it doesn’t help you make the changes, serve different versions of web pages to different audiences, test email subject lines, or work out the best combination of messaging and graphics on a landing page.”

According to the chart above, however, Adobe’s Omniture provides the best ability to change certain aspects of a marketing program.

But the real question comes down to what tools work best for marketers and companies, in which Rogers provided some advice. “Optimizely continues to shine for A/B split testing,” Rogers said. “If you’re a small business and can stay within its free tier, it makes complete sense to stick with Optimizely as the product of choice, using GA and other measurement tools like Crazy Egg to see the results. But once you go above the free tier fresh hold, it can get expensive. Of all the tools analyzed and studied, Visual Website Optimizer stands out as a real contender, and it also offers a more comprehensive multivariate testing capability.”

Rogers also selected “best bets” across five different categories, split according to the size of business. A/B split testing leads the charge, followed by multivariate testing; heatmapping; website, funnel and mobile analytics; and user feedback, expert panels, concept testing and surveys.

As for the widespread use of CRO-based tools, Rogers noted, “The simple answer is that CRO is, in reality, the business of creating return for free. Other than the cost of the tool, CRO is about taking existing traffic and improving conversions from it, rather than buying more traffic through advertising. It is much cheaper to optimize 2,000 visits per day and increase the conversion percentage from 10 percent to 20 percent than it is to buy an extra 2,000 visits.”

The report can be downloaded here for $99.