Facebook Has Its First Game In ‘Doodle Draw’

Doodle Draw

We’ve talked previously about Facebook’s interest in launching playable games on its popular Messenger app, although no timetable was given when it came to when they would actually arrive. However, it appears that the revolution is starting sooner rather than later — with Doodle Draw Game leading the charge.

TechCrunch has reported that the first game for Facebook Messenger has arrived, the aforementioned Doodle {link no longer active}. The game works like the classic Pictionary (or the more popular mobile game Draw Something), where users can doodle pictures while chatting with others in the service. The app is available in the overflow menu, although the general Messenger app must first be downloaded either on Google Play or the App Store.

Previously, Facebook was only interested in content creation tools or meme generators in its Messenger app, so users could send more personalized messages to one another. However, with the introduction of this game, a whole new avenue could open up for similar apps — although it doesn’t appear Facebook wants to go too overboard on games just yet.

It provides the company the opportunity to compete with other chat services that launched games with their apps, including Viber, WeChat and Line, though its effectiveness has yet to be gauged, since Doodle did just launch. However, considering that millions of people use Messenger on a daily basis, it shouldn’t take long for virtual drawings to start making the rounds.

One thing to watch out for is an overabundance in spam messages, which some games on Facebook have been prone to. “But done wrong, these games could spawn Messenger spam the same way Facebook desktop games polluted the News Feed,” said TechCrunch reporter Josh Constine. “Companies like Zynga developed exploitative game mechanics where you earned in-game rewards for inviting friends and pestering them to play with requests and News Feed posts. It got so bad that Facebook almost entirely shut off these viral channels to avoid ruining the feed for everyone, and social game companies were hit hard by their diminished ability to recruit new users.”

We’ll see just how far Doodle goes with it success — and how carefully Facebook can gauge it.

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There’s A New YouTube Beauty Queen, Plus 11 Other Stats You Didn’t Know

by Jessica Klein

Pixability has released its 2015 “Beauty on YouTube“ report, which shows just how vast this genre is on the world’s biggest video site — 45.3 billion views and 123 million subscribers strong. Meanwhile, ad spend on online video in the US is growing, according to eMarketer, and is set to reach $7.77 billion by the end of this year.

Just how much of the advertising dollar pie might beauty videos make up (don’t ignore the pun) Fixability’s report offered some insight into the YouTube category’s influx of money and who might be driving it, showing ultimately that brands are getting more involved in the content — and for some good reasons.

Beauty on YouTube 2015


How many beauty brands are getting exposure on YouTube?

According to Pixability, 215 beauty brands showed up in makeup, hair care, skincare, nail art, and other similar content on YouTube in April 2015. The content that they’re in has received more than 586,812,159 likes and has been tweeted out well over 23 million times.

Keep reading…

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.

Plantronics: Launching Headsets With eSports

The audio environment is critically important for games, movies, music, and communications, yet all too often we make do with poor quality headsets or speakers. One company that’s been at the forefront of audio for decades is Plantronics, which has made headsets for pilots and astronauts, call centers and now gamers. The Plantronics name represents quality, and it’s something you see on the heads of professional eSports players. The company has been making headsets for gamers under the RIG name, and the latest models coming out for the RIG series are a breakthrough in several important areas.

The RIG 500 Series PC gaming headsets are engineered specifically for the intensity of eSports, according to the company, and it shows. The headsets feature interchangeable components so the RIG 500 series can be configured for fit, style, and the performance you need for your particular environment. The RIG 500 Series system includes components such as vented-air and sound-isolating ear cups, several colors of headbands, mobile stereo cables, a digital USB adapter with Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound, and 24-bit audio support. RIG 500 Series headsets will be available worldwide beginning in August 2015.

“Plantronics worked closely with competitive gamers to develop the RIG 500 Series of PC gaming headsets, and like any precision equipment designed for competition, details matter,” said Jack Reynolds, Director, Gaming Products, Plantronics. “The RIG 500 Series is a unique family of e-sports audio gear that can give an edge to pros and hopefuls through its ultra-light comfort and reliability, which is essential for long hours of dedicated practice, and our signature Plantronics audio, which is tuned especially for immersive gaming and clear communication.”

The RIG 500 Series will be available this fall at Plantronics.com and major retailers in several editions:

  • RIG 500 – Stereo gaming headset with flip-to-mute mic boom — $59 USD (MSRP)
  • RIG 500HD – Surround sound USB gaming headset — $79 USD (MSRP)
  • RIG 500E – E-sports edition surround sound gaming headset with two sets of ear cups (vented and isolating), detachable boom mic, USB adapter and analog stereo cables — $149 USD (MSRP)
  • Plantronics Gaming will be at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Booth 4500 in the West Hall, from June 16-18 showcasing the new RIG 500 Series headsets

The product manager for the RIG 500 series, Matthew Villarreal, along with product marketing manager Jenny Scothorn spoke with [a]listdaily about the headsets and the some of the design and marketing thinking that went into this product line.

Tell us about the thinking that went into the creation of this new RIG product line — what are the key goals you had for these headsets?

Scothorn: What’s really cool about the RIG 500 series are the three key pieces that we wanted this product to be able to do. We wanted to be able to upgrade, we wanted to be able to personalize, and we wanted to be able to adapt.

Villarreal: At lot of other products out there are just something they pulled off the shelf — maybe they changed the frame a little bit, or added a more competitive mike, or slapped a logo on it. This headset we really wanted to build from the ground up, and in order to do that you had to look at everything as an individual component. This headset is 100 percent modular, from the headset frame to the headset sling to the earcups to the mike.

Adapt, upgrade, and personalize. Adapt in the sense that you have multiple different environments. The other part is upgrade — that gamer who wants to buy an entry level headset because they’re not sure of how much of a PC gamer they want to be. What’s great about this is that we have an entry level headset that will just feature the isolating earcups. If you feel you want to upgrade to 7.1 surround sound, you can just buy the adapter online. The last pillar is personalization, and you’re going to be able to select different frames.

How does the personalization help Plantronics in working with publishers?

Scothorn: Think about how it is for us. If we have a new relationship with a game partner or a publisher, we can create other branded pieces whether it’s a headband frame or a headband sling. These are 40mm drivers, maybe we come up with a different size or a different shape earcup. There’s potential to upgrade for us as well.

Villarreal: Because everything is 100 percent modular, if they’re just looking to design a new headband we’ll go ahead and do that. That’s the thing I find a little bit restrictive with the speaker tags I’ve seen out there in the market. We’ll be able to work with a publishing company and say, “Your colors are blue and white… where do you want them ” We’re really excited about that.

How important is the retail environment for selling headsets? This seems like the kind of product where you really want to hear it and feel it, if you can, before you buy it.

Scothorn: We are on display at 80 percent of Best Buys with the Gamecom 7988 headset there. Retailers have seen success in the mobile section with headphones where you try and buy. We’re seeing a lot more retailers wanting to have that destination. That just really helps solidify the sales, being able to see the materials and try the fit. Merchandising plans aren’t final, but we are working with the big retail chains. It’s extremely important to us.

How important is your partnership with ESL, the eSports league, in marketing the RIG 500 series?

Villarreal: Our ESL partnership is a great thing, and we;re hoping we can really leverage that. There’ll be a mention of RIG online, gamers will give us their reviews and really let us know how the sets are performing.

Scothorn: The products are all endorsed by ESL, the RIG 500E has the ESL branding on there. Inside the box is a little bit of information on getting started with online tournaments with ESL. If you haven’t done that and you want to, you can start off small and build from there.



‘Cut The Rope’ Goes Hollywood With ‘Om Nom The Movie’

Blockade Entertainment is bringing the protagonist from ZeptoLab’s bestselling Cut the Rope mobile game to the big screen. Om Nom, the lovable green monster that has already leapt from the mobile screen to short films, will now be in a computer-generated feature film that will open in theaters in late 2016 or early 2017.

Brad FoxhovenBrad Foxhoven

“The film acts as an origin story for Om Nom, and his introduction into Evan’s world,” said Brad Foxhoven, producer of the movie and CEO of Blockade. “He is the result of an experiment gone wrong, but in a good way. Originally created with ill intentions, Om Nom is a hurricane of inquisitiveness and mischief, but ultimately only means well. It is those who created him who mean otherwise.”

The film focuses on the story of 13-year-old Evan, a boy whose impulsiveness leads him to open a secret package containing a living scientific experiment – with mischievous intentions. Known only as Om Nom, this adorable creature has an insatiable appetite for everything sugary. Now free to roam, Om Nom begins to wreak havoc upon this formerly quiet town, and Evan, with his little sister Jordan in tow, must follow him on an epic adventure while avoiding a host of government agents, shady characters and other unique creatures — all of whom are looking to capture Om Nom for themselves. Along the way, Evan and Om Nom will discover the importance of trust and patience, and how life’s accidents can sometimes lead to incredible discoveries and unforgettable moments.

Originally launched in 2010, Cut the Rope games have been downloaded more than 700 million times by users around the world, in addition to winning several industry awards including Best Handheld Game and the Apple Design Award. The franchise has expanded into multiple merchandise categories and spawned a series of online short-form animated stories that have logged over 600 million views to-date on YouTube and in-game video player. With his popularity around the world and across all age groups, Om Nom, the star of Cut the Rope, has become one of mobile gaming’s most recognizable characters.

ZeptoLab CEO Misha Lyalin said Cut the Rope actually grew out of the concept of ZeptoLab’s first iOS game, Parachute Ninja.

“We had ropes in Parachute Ninja, so we developed the rope engine, and spent a lot of time tweaking the way the ropes look and behave,” said Lyalin. “Though excited about the design, our friends and family were initially confused by the controls. We came to the conclusion that it wasn’t casual enough, so we dropped the rope and replaced it with a parachute. Parachute Ninja was released in February 2010, and was a success, reaching the Top 10 on the iTunes chart.”

Om Nom is the fourth video game adaptation for Blockade, which released Heavenly Sword on Blu-ray and DVD last year and is developing CGI theatrical releases based on Sucker Punch’s Sly Cooper and Insomniac Games’ Ratchet & Clank. Om Nom will be the second game to make the leap from mobile devices to the silver screen, following the flight of Angry Birds, which Sony Pictures will release in 2016. Like Angry Birds, Foxhoven said Om Nom will be a stereoscopic 3D movie release.

Om Nom The Movie

“Great characters and stories can come from anywhere — either from an original idea, or inspired by various source materials such as a comic book or video game,” said Foxhoven. “Angry Birds has great, iconic characters that fans already know well. If the film can build upon that with a compelling story, it will certainly help us with those distributors who may wonder if a mobile game franchise can make the leap to the big screen.”

Lyalin said Rovio is doing a great job with their brand, and it also has had a positive impact on his company’s business since more and more people learn about how great mobile games have become.

“While Angry Birds has seen much success, we’ve also seen our own success with Cut the Rope and ZeptoLab isn’t mimicking what they do,” said Lyalin. “We’d much rather spend our time expanding the Cut the Rope brand and working steadily on new game titles for our biggest fans. Our goal is to create great quality games and provide our fans with the updates and merchandise that they want. Of course, we want our business to be successful — and we feel we have already achieved a great measure of success — but we won’t attain that by monitoring and copying Rovio’s tactics.”

Foxhoven said much like they did with Insomniac on Ratchet & Clank, and currently with Sucker Punch on Sly Cooper, Blockade values the insight and guidance of the game developer.

“This is their creation, and their input is vital to us making the film authentic to the core concept,” said Foxhoven. “Much like those games, there is a massive amount of creative material already available to us. From stories created for their online webisodes, to the artwork and character designs for all of the major characters in the world. In essence, we have guideposts to how to treat the franchise in its transition into a CG film.”

Foxhoven said Blockade used elements from the game for the movie. The assets that were the most useful have been the character designs, sample animation movement in 2D, and various audio clips to gauge how Om Nom acts, talks, and lives.

“Om Nom is the cornerstone of the Cut the Rope series and his story is inseparable from the gameplay,” commented ZeptoLab creative director Semyon Voinov. “Of course, it’s not always possible to include a full plot and character development in a mobile puzzle game, which is why we created the Om Nom Stories YouTube series. These have been so successful that a full-length animated movie was a logical continuation, and also a great opportunity to tell Om Nom’s story to as many people as possible.”

The film will be produced by Foxhoven and vice president of development David Wohl, with Zeptolab’s CTO Efim Voinov and Voinov serving as executive producers.

The Cut the Rope franchise includes Cut the Rope, Cut the Rope: Experiments, Cut the Rope: Time Travel and Cut the Rope 2.  Zeptolab has also released Pudding Monsters and King of Thieves.


The Evolution Of Mass Marketing At Variety’s Tune In! TV Summit

At Variety’s sold out Tune In! TV Summit in Beverly Hills, TV executives shared the stage with some new media company representatives from the likes of Facebook and Twitter to talk about what is still great about the medium.

“We have started to think of TV as an art form and not a platform. We should look at impact and not viewers and impressions,” said Kern Schireson, EVP, Data Strategy & Consumer Intelligence at Viacom.

“We don’t want to lose the power of TV, for us as storytellers and for our advertisers, which is not just about scale, but about creating culturally impactful  moments of time.”

Brian Robbins, Founder and CEO, Awesomeness TV, gave his colleagues in the TV industry a quick reality check on a panel titled “State of the Multiplatform Television Industry” where he represented the voice of millennial audience:

“I haven’t watched linear television for so long, but I happened to do it last night. I realized how long it’s been, because when a commercial came on and interrupted the show I was surprised. What a horrible user experience!”

To that point, the business model in television is still heavily based on selling 30-second commercial spots in and around linear programming on broadcast as well as cable television shows. Why? Because it still works.

Even digital-savvy advertisers from mobile game companies like Supercell and King are shelling out big bucks for traditional TV commercials in the U.S. because it is an effective way for them to reach the masses they need to bring in new players to their games.

Even with technology like DVRs allowing viewers to opt out of commercials and subscription services such as Netflix making binge-watching possible without commercials, the 30-second spot will probably be around for a while longer.

The new way is to think about it, though, is not as the holy grail of marketing, but rather as the megaphone through which you bring the audience to digital platforms.

“I see Twitter as the world’s largest couch. We create that sense of community and water-cooler effect around TV shows,” said Andrew Adashek, Head of Television for Twitter.

“Television companies want to know where the show goes after that short moment of time on-air. If we just all collectively agree on how to measure that off-air engagement and we would unlock a whole new universe for storytelling.”

[a]listdaily is a media partner for Tune In! To read more Tweets from the event, check out #TVSUMMIT tweets.

TV Still Has A Place In Advertising

Even though the likes of Netflix, Hulu and even Twitch are breathing down its neck when it comes to getting more advertising opportunities, the television industry is still strong when it comes to effectiveness in advertising.

A recent study conducted by Turner Broadcasting and Horizon Media, through marketing-analytics company MarketShare, recently analyzed various marketing optimizations used by major advertisers over the past five years, spanning from 2009 to 2014. From that, it believes that TV advertising effectiveness has remained steady, despite growing competition, according to Adweek.

In addition, TV has managed to outperform both digital and offline channels when it comes to key performance metrics, such as sales and new accounts. In addition, networks’ premium digital video managed to deliver higher than average returns when compared with short-form video content from non-premium channels.

Other findings are as follows:

  • MarketShare analyzed advertising performance across industry and media outlets like television, online display, paid search, print and radio advertising and found that TV has the highest efficiency at achieving key performance indicators, or KPIs, like sales and new accounts. When comparing performance at similar spending levels, TV averaged four times the sales lift of digital.
  • TV has maintained its effectiveness at driving advertiser KPIs over the last five years. In a study using data from a luxury automaker, TV was the only medium to maintain its effectiveness (a 1.5 percent decrease in five years) while the other advertising media—both online and offline—declined more than 10 percent.
  • TV marketers can optimize their spend by leveraging data sources, including high-frequency consumer interactions like website visits and inbound calls, to improve TV advertising performance.
  • Premium online video from broadcast and cable networks out-performs video content from other publishers.

“We really wanted to do the study to better understand how TV’s effectiveness – not average rating, but effectiveness – at driving key KPIS for advertisers has changed over time,” said Howard Shimmel, chief research officer for Turner Broadcasting. He added that when Turner sees reports with advertisers moving “big-budget shares out of television, we think that might be driven by the assumption that TV’s effectiveness is being diminished.”

Eric Blankfein, chief of Horizon Media’s Where Group, added that when clients seek to migrate their budgets to video, “because of that lack of consistent measurement, we’re not sure how effective those dollars are performing in the digital space. So, it was very important from our perspective to start to quantify business performance relative to TV advertising.”

“TV is the giant megaphone,” according to Isaac Weber, vice president of strategy at MarketShare. “When you want to get a message out, that’s still really the most powerful means to do it. The way that people view and consume television has changed…but I think the question is less about what has changed with television and more about what are some of the underlying issues with some of these other vehicles.”

Shimmel added, “We’re not say that digital is bad, but digital just can’t make up the reach that TV delivers. And digital, used in a way that’s complementary to TV, is a more effective strategy.”

More details about the report can be found here.

Machinima Launches Mobile App For Video Creators

Giving video creators the opportunity to not only share their work but promote it based on their terms is an ideal business practice. Victorious introduced such a program last month, with Bing Chen explaining how it fulfills the desire to let users remain in control of their own digital business. Now, Machinima wants to give this program a shot, with Victorious along for the ride.

VentureBeat recently reported that the pop culture network has recently launched a new mobile app that will enable its video creators to share their apps through its massive audience. Dubbed a service that will connect “many to many,” it enables broadcasters to reach out to the network’s 170 million monthly viewers, with an outreach via direct channels.

With this platform, which is powered by Victorious, creators can now connect with fans even better than before, through exclusive content and interactive community social features put together by them.

Chad Gutstein, chief executive for Machinima, stated that the company’s audience is very engaged, especially when it comes to being social, driven by video content and “mobile first,” indicating that new apps introduced by the company have no problem being accepted.

Through the app, users can shop through a variety of content from Machinima and its talent network. Sam Rogoway, the CEO and co-founder for Victorious, added positive vibes from the app, as it can deliver interactive programming to a zealous fan base. However, it also enables Machinima’s top creators to form a better bond with fans, and get better relation when it comes to content that caters to them.

On top of that, the timing of the announcement couldn’t be better. Machinima is moving full steam ahead into the Electronic Entertainment Expo next week, and it’s also set to launch two new series very soon, based on popular DC Comics/Warner Bros. properties – Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles.

Indeed, it’s something that fans will want to keep an eye on.

Mobile Advertising Increasing In Engagement And Customers

With all of the changes in advertising these days — especially on the digital end — some companies are struggling to keep up. Still, that isn’t stopping some companies from experimenting with ideas, and flourishing as a result.

VentureBeat recently reported some interesting statistics surrounding mobile advertising, including increases through both engagement and customer base with certain companies.

For example, Disney has managed to find a perfect balance between targeting and creative with positive results. It managed to achieve seven times the average video ad engagement rate using smart audience targeting and utilizing its creative expertise. Video ads have picked up for Disney as well, showing an increase of five times the engagement of traditional static banner ads.

It’s not the only one benefitting, either. A national consumer goods company managed to team up with Kroger to achieve a 3.7 times increase in the number of consumers visiting its site to purchase products. This comes from a geotargeted mobile advertising campaign that focused on a number of factors, such as device data, location history and offline purchase data.

The mobile ad ecosystem can be hard to jump into, especially with companies getting their feet wet for the first time. But it’s all broken down into a helpful 11-step chart, which executes in milliseconds between ad networks, exchanges, demand-side platforms, supply-side platforms and data management platforms.

With the above chart you can see how every step is broken down, from when a user initially opens an app to when ad networks bid on space for their promotion to be seen to when the user initially continues on, unaware of all the transactions that took place in the cycle.

It’s also about finding the timing of certain advertisements to work to a company’s advantage. VentureBeat explained that Adidas missed a key opportunity last year during the World Cup. Even though two teams in the tournament (Germany and Argentina) managed to showcase the brand by wearing its gear, it failed to sell a special commemorative jersey that was offered at the conclusion of the World Cup, mainly because enough word-of-mouth didn’t spread about its availability.

This year, however, the company knew better. After Thomas Muller (of the German squad) scored a goal, Adidas offered his jersey seconds later. As a result, it saw a much bigger audience, to the tune of a massive 6.6 percent clickthrough rate on its home page.

VentureBeat has a full report available here that explains how brands and mobile advertising can win. It’s a bit costly ($499), but provides insight that could help companies get comfortable in the mobile market.

Explaining The Popularity Of Streaming Entertainment

Lately, music streaming services have been taking off. Even though Jay-Z’s Tidal brand struggles to find an audiences, others like Spotify and Pandora continue to do well — and with Apple getting involved with its own music brand, it isn’t likely to slow down any time soon, if at all.

So what is it about the streaming music that’s so popular Felix Richter, media relations manager for Statista, recently broke down some new findings that indicate just why everyone’s hopping onboard the stream train.

“Besides vinyl, which continues to do well in a niche of its own, streaming is the only segment of the music market that is not shrinking right now,” he explained. “in fact, worldwide streaming revenues increased by almost 40 percent last year as the same number of subscribers grew from 28 million in 2013 to 41 million by the end of last year.

“According to IFP, ad-supported and subscription-based streaming accounted for 32 percent of digital music revenue in 2014, up from just nine percent in 2008”

He also addressed Apple’s recent introduction of its forthcoming Music service, which will launch later this month. “The decision to join the subscription-streaming market is probably less about getting a piece of the $2 to $3 billion streaming market and more about tying customers to its own devices,” he said. “If streaming is what people want and Apple can deliver a compelling service that works seamlessly across all of its devices, it might help Apple not only to protect its core hardware business, but to grow it.”

The chart above, supplied by Statista, shows just how much streaming has grown. Even though permanent downloads have shrunken in percentage over the years (from 63 percent to 52 percent), the pie is much bigger, going from $4 billion to $6.9 billion in the same time frame. In addition, subscription streaming has seen tremendous growth, from six percent to 23 percent, and ad-supported streaming is on the rise as well.

One thing’s for sure — with Apple in the picture, music streaming is going to get way more interesting. Let’s see how many consumers hop on board.