The Next Mobile Game Star? Demi Lovato

There’s big money to be made in the mobile market, especially if a company finds the right tie-in with a big-name celebrity. Glu Mobile, for instance, has been raking in millions of dollars from its promotional tie-in with Kim Kardashian, with her Kim Kardashian: Hollywood game; and it’ll soon be doing so again with singer Katy Perry, who will be getting her own mobile game soon, also through Glu.

Now, add one more sensation to the mobile mix. Billboard recently reported that singer Demi Lovato has signed up with mobile game developer Pocket Gems to star in a new mobile game, one that follows the “choose your own adventure” style of play as users make decisions to create their own music careers.

Set to be released this summer, the yet-unnamed game will run on Pocket Gems’ Episode platform, and will be available for both iOS and Android platforms.

Considering the popularity of Kardashian’s project, as well as the hype building for Perry’s, it should be no surprise that another AAA superstar will soon be joining the mobile world, according to Pocket Gems’ Jameel Khalfan. “If you incorporate an artist with Demi, it becomes more real,” Khalfan tells Billboard. “You get to see things that have helped her along the way. We wanted to come up with a compelling story our users will love. They’re all aware of her story.”

Pocket Gems pays close attention to its userbase, including female players, in terms of what kind of content they’re looking for, and Lovato easily fit this bill, according to Khalfan. Through a discussion with the CAA (Lovato’s agency), they discovered that she was interested in jumping on board the project.

Lovato also has heavy involvement in the game’s development, providing a great deal of authenticity with crafted dialogue, as well as clothes and outfits for her digital avatar. Her dog Buddy will also be featured in the game, as well as a number of her original recordings, which will be involved “in a few different ways,” according to Khalfan.

Considering the imminent success that Hollywood produced, Pocket Gems and Lovato could certainly be onto something.

Finding The Right Influencers Is More Critical Now Than Ever

Social media has brought about a major shift for brands brands with respect to what constitutes truly effective brand messaging. The importance of peer recommendations versus other forms of marketing has risen to historical levels driving influencer marketing as the preferred way to reach young audiences.

In an increasingly fragmented digital world, peer recommendations are now doubling the effectiveness of campaigns and boast a 37 percent retention rate.  It’s easy to see why: consumers, particularly millennials and gen Z, have banner blindness.

For brands, developing a relationship with influencers is critical to brand growth as digital audiences look for authenticity. Put simply, the equation for the level of influence itself is widely acknowledged as:

“Influence = Audience Reach (# of followers) x Brand Affinity (expertise and credibility) x engagement”. 

Given that there are already 400,000+ influencers and growing with millions of followers, brand marketers must find and develop relationships with the right influencers to generate desired social recommendations and amplifications while maintaining brand integrity. As is the case with most areas of marketing, this is not easy to scale nor is it easy to repeat.

For each campaign, influencers must be discovered, cultivated and managed and the results of these influencer marketing campaigns must be analyzed and optimized constantly.

ION, an influencer marketing agency with Ayzenberg has been drawing upon 25 years of brand management brand expertise to create an optimized matching platform for brands and influencers. In applying hundreds of social graph data attributes and 31 dimensions, ION identifies the parallels between a brand’s story and influencers’ audiences. It’s a brand new social science-based approach to influencer marketing that gives brands a long-term and scalable way to activate social content in one platform, the ICN, of Influencer Channel Network.

Unlike working directly with individual creators or MCN’s, an ICN provides custom and comprehensive subscription channels for brands. Brands achieve via ICNs the right mix of content and activations, with unlimited ROI potential.

Brand marketers can now benefit from a business-grade platform to manage their influencer efforts with ION’s proprietary tech stack and managed service.

This sponsored post is produced by Ayzenberg.

Academy Award Filmmaker & Facebook To Keynote [a]list Video Summit

Two new keynote speakers and one new fireside chat have been added to the schedule for [a]list video summit taking place on August 19 at W Hollywood Hotel. We’re excited to welcome Academy Award-Winning filmmaker Morgan Neville, Facebook’s Head of Film and Television, Jonathan Murtaugh and Snapchat-focused network Naritiv’s Co-Founder and CEO Dan Altman.

Keynote Interview

Morgan Neville’s film 20 Feet From Stardom premiered at Sundance 2013 and became an instant hit that won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2014. His latest film, Best of Enemies, premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and will be released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures later his summer. Morgan’s talent for capturing authentic moments has attracted companies like Bose and Microsoft seeking to enhance the relatability of their brands with short behind-the-scenes docs and use case studies.

Currently, he is working with Ayzenberg on a documentary series on Microsoft HoloLens, which may be screened now at HoloLens.com {link no longer active} and on the HoloLens YouTube channel. In this keynote interview, Morgan will discuss branded documentary content and how it differs from traditional documentary films — and how it is the same. In a landscape of ever more abbreviated platforms for communication, marketing docs are unabashedly rich, cinematic and traditionally narrative. Ayzenberg VP and Creative Director Matt Bretz will explore Morgan Neville’s insights into where his work fits into a big brand’s communication portfolio.

New Keynote

As Facebook is emerging as a real force in online video and even tougher contender in the battle for digital ad dollars, we are excited to also announce a new keynote with Jonathan Murtaugh, who leads Facebook’s team that works with entertainment marketers to help them successfully leverage both Facebook and Instagram as marketing platforms. He also is the head of Facebook’s Los Angeles office. Prior to Facebook, Jonathan has also served in a range of marketing and brand development roles in sports and manufactured goods.

Fireside Chat

Naritiv’s Co-Founder and CEO Dan Altman joins the summit for a fireside chat. Naritiv is a startup which is helping shape the way brands utilize Snapchat. The company has raised a total of $1.2 million in seed funding so far from the Disney Accelerator, Greylock Partners, Mucker Capital, and more. This fireside chat will focus on what works for brands on Snapchat and how Naritiv was able to leverage native talent to help Disney’s Pretty Little Liars Snapchat account amass more than one million followers on the platform. The chat will be moderated by Jim Louderback, Brand Strategist and Venture Partner at Social Starts.

 

Nexon M’s Secrets Of Mobile Game Success

Nexon M is the mobile arm of Korean game publisher Nexon, and it’s expanding its mobile game footprint with some topflight titles by proven talent. Big Huge Games’ DomiNations, created by Brian Reynolds and Tim Train, has performed very well since it’s launch two months ago. At E3 Nexon M took the wraps off of Shiver, the new studio co-founded by EA and Zynga veteran John Schappert, who showed off their new real-time mobile strategy game Beasts Vs. Bots.

Beasts vs Bots brings real-time strategy gaming to mobile. It features all of the mechanics you love from full-featured core PC RTS games: base building, strategic combat, individual troop control, and real-time PvP with back-to-back battles,” said John Schappert, CEO and co-founder, Shiver Entertainment. “Gamers have been yearning for real-time battles on mobile and Beasts vs Bots delivers — from innovative touch controls to five-minute battles to an expansive and rewarding base-building experience with your chosen faction.”

The general manager of Nexon M, John Robinson, spoke with [a]listdaily about the company’s view of mobile games and how to market them in a rapidly changing market.

John Robinson

The E3 show is dominated by sequels and remakes, but the games you’re doing all seem to be different from each other and brand-new IPs. Is that a conscious choice for Nexon?

We’ve been really happy our portfolio is original IPs. We like core games a lot, that’s what we play in the studio, that’s what we like at Nexon. It’s what we’re good at helping developers with, so our portfolio is always going to skew more towards those types of games.

It seem like mobile games are transitioning away from being mostly casual games to games that have a deeper appeal with deeper gameplay, while still trying to be accessible to a large number of people. Is that what you are seeing?

I think it’s definitely not mutually exclusive. Like with DomiNations, there’s some core mechanics and some core game play that I don’t think anyone would say is casual. We already have seven million people playing the game, and we’re hoping that will be 50 or 60 million in the next couple of years. One of the things we want to do is make sure these games reach the broadest audience possible.

There are so many mobile games competing for people’s attention these days. What do see as the most important way to break through the clutter and get people to download and play your games?

It’s telling a story. Tim [Train] and John [Schappert] just did a great job with each of their games there [DomiNations and Shiver, respectively]. We don’t think about just putting our games in the App Store and just doing a bunch of user acquisition. It’s the brand, it’s the story, it’s doing something that’s totally different than what other people are doing. We think that helps our games stand out in the market.

One of the things that’s stood out in the PC and console game market in the last few years is the rise of influencers as a key part of the marketing strategy. Are we going to be seeing that with mobile games as well?

Absolutely. For DomiNations we now have someone who has an Instagram account named DomiNations Tom. It was started on the game on day one, just showing his progress in building his own community. We’re starting to see that with a lot of great games, and it’s great to see that with DomiNations. The community itself is building a following.

Building a community for mobile gamers is more difficult than for a PC game, isn’t it? How do you see that evolving?

I think it’s totally evolving. Community as we see it today is mostly YouTube, a little bit on Twitch, on Instagram, Facebook. It’s native to mobile, it’s just where people are spending their time. They’re not necessarily going back to their PC and logging into the forums, but rather behaving as they would normally. DomiNations and the other games are now just a part of that on each of the other channels. The way we think about community is that wherever our fans are is where we want to be. We’re not going to dictate ‘Here’s the forum, here’s where you should go.’  We’re going to find pockets of our fans whether it’s on Reddit, YouTube, or Instagram. We’re going to be there to give them more information on the game and give them a better experience.

It feels like there’s plenty of room for innovation not only in mobile game design but in mobile game monetization. Is that the way you see it?

Our monetization design philosophy is we only focus on retention. Full stop. Because we think that if you build games that people are going to love to play for years to come, our business will do just fine. If you look at some of the games out there that have had the greatest success, like some Nexon games in Korea, or League of Legends, or Hearthstone, I don’t think anyone would say they are heavily monetized or over-monetized. They are building great communities that have a lot of fun. That’s certainly where we take our inspiration.

Inside Mobile Advertising’s Potential

VentureBeat recently posted a report with a flow chart that breaks down how one typical mobile ad event can break down in terms of effectiveness. It starts with how a mobile user first visits a site or opens an app, then goes through a number of steps, including ad exchange, bidding for a real-time auction for ad space, user interaction, and, eventually, moving on to the next thing, although the user remains unaware in terms of just what’s going on with the deliver of said ad. According to the chart, we’re talking multiple transactions that occur within milliseconds.

According to VentureBeat, 2.1 billion mobile users downloaded over 350 billion apps over the last year, spending around 76 percent more time on their device than in previous years. That said, despite all this attention, the industry still isn’t spending enough on ads. Numbers reported by Mary Meeker indicate that they spend around $25 billion — and that just isn’t enough.

This other chart, included in the report, indicates the percent of time spent in media compared to money spent within advertising — and some of the contrast differences are worth nothing. Print has an incredible amount of difference, with only four percent time spent compared to 18 percent spending. Meanwhile, other numbers are just about even, with radio reporting 11 percent across the board, followed by TV with a small difference between 37 percent time spent and 41 percent spending, and Internet only showing a one percent difference.

The real shocker, though, is mobile. 24 percent of overall time is spent on media using mobile devices, yet companies only spend about eight percent of funding on advertisements — and they’re missing out as a result.

“The mobile ad ecosystem is like a giant Plinko game,” said John Koetsier, the author of the report and VB Insight head of research. “Advertisers toss in $100 at the top, and after going through data management platforms, ad agencies, networks, and supply-side platforms, they’re lucky if $60 actually gets spent on true placement of their ads.”

Meanwhile, the supply side of the industry is getting more support, and, as a result, brands may see more confidence with investing in ads. “There are something like 1,000 ad networks, adding to the immense complexity of this space, so the biggest opportunity for vendors is to consolidate the stack — ad network, data, supply aggregation, demand aggregation, attribution, and fraud detection — so that advertisers just have to deal with fewer vendors,” Koetsier said.

VentureBeat has a more extensive report on the project, which can be found here.

Image source

A Peek Into Reuters Live Video Syndication Play With Mirror Image

by Jocelyn Johnson

The business of “live” content on the Internet is no easy task. Despite the hype around Periscope and Meerkat, and now most recently “HuffPost 24”, live viewing digitally has consistently faced challenges to seize the type of sustainable audience supports its logistical overhead.  Not to mention the quite obvious conundrum that Live content can become obsolete and difficult to monetize seconds after it airs.

So, try for a moment to wrap your head around the risk-reward of live video being syndicated across the Internet instantly, to maintain real-time relevance for hundreds of publishers and journalists.

But just when master content syndicator Reuters identified that most news outlets grapple with servicing live breaking news, it decided to develop and roll out “Reuters Live Online,” which became available earlier this spring.

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.

Twitch Increases E3’s Marketing Impact

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, which took place earlier this month in Los Angeles, was a tremendous success for a lot of game companies. However, it was also big for the streaming channel Twitch, which provided a lot of live coverage from the event over its three day span. We previously reported that it drew big numbers, with up to 700,000 to 800,000 concurrent viewers for the pre-show press conferences alone.

However, since then, the company has released more official results from its coverage, per the included infographic below.

According to the data provided, over 21 million unique viewers tuned in to the event in one form or another, with up to 840,000 concurrent viewers at given points in their broadcasts. This is 16 times more than the actual attendees for the E3 event, which reached more than 50,000.

In addition, nearly 12 million hours of content from the show was watched overall, either live or through rebroadcasts. According to Twitch, that’s the amount of time for a person to travel to Pluto and back, an estimated 72 times.

Twitch broadcast 41 hours of live E3 content, including eight press conferences and 85 gaming segments. Out of those segments, 11 were exclusive to Twitch, giving people a reason to tune in. Twitch has turned into an enormous marketing booster for E3 and for the exhibiting companies, amplifying their messages and engaging millions more consumers than previous media coverage of the event.

Partners to the Twitch program around the world also benefitted from E3 coverage. Co-streaming support was at an all-time high during the show, with just over 1,800 unique channels participating with rebroadcasts in German, French and Dutch. They made up 35 percent of total E3 viewership overall, indicating that the show has a popular following overseas, just as much as it does in the U.S. gaming community.

Finally, as a participating partner in Twitch’s coverage, Humble Bundle offered a special “E3 Digital Ticket” program, enabling users to not only watch programming, but also obtain exclusive goodies, including games and other items. The partnership turned out to be a huge success, as more than 174,000 bundles were sold, raising $390,000 for charity.

Even with the competition from YouTube with its recently announced Gaming channel, Twitch had no problem dominating E3. And with other big video game events around the corner — including PAX Prime in August and Gamescom later in the year — there’s no stopping its momentum.

Image source

Nintendo’s ‘Skylanders’ Team-Up Is A Huge Win

Last week’s Electronics Entertainment Expo produced a number of surprises for fans around the industry, including a few from Nintendo, such as the introduction of a new StarFox game. However, what’s even more surprising is how the publisher is collaborating with Activision to produce a special version of Skylanders SuperChargers for Nintendo systems.

The companies announced this past week that the Wii U, Wii and Nintendo 3DS versions of Skylanders will be compatible with two special figures and vehicles straight from Nintendo’s library of characters – Bowser and Donkey Kong. In fact, those who pre-order the game will get both of these characters, along with their respective vehicles, with the Starter Pack of the game when it becomes available on September 20th. (Better still, the Donkey Kong and Bowser figurines can also double as amiibo figurines for other games, like Super Smash Bros. and others.)

This is a huge win for Nintendo, an exclusive that will no doubt make the Nintendo versions of the game more popular than the ones appearing on other platforms.

“Activision Blizzard has always cherished our collaboration with Nintendo, and we are grateful for decades of partnership. Since we made the first toys-to-life game, some of our most dedicated players have been Nintendo fans around the world. Skylanders is delighted to welcome beloved guest stars Donkey Kong and Bowser into its magical world,” said Activision Blizzard chief executive officer Bobby Kotick, speaking with Business Wire.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata also praised the team-up, indicating that this unique approach would make the franchise more appealing on Nintendo platforms – even older ones like the Wii.

Both Donkey Kong and Bowser bring their own signature attacks to the game, such as Donkey Kong calling flinging barrels at foes and pounding the ground with his hands, and Bowser turning into a “mega” version of himself, stomping around and breathing fire. He can also call upon loyal Koopas to do his dirty work for him, or stomp on their backs and create powerful projectiles to hit foes.

It appears that Activision is pledging itself to the Wii U again. The company was stagnant last year, with only a new Skylanders game for the system and no sign of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but this year tells a different story, between this partnership and the forthcoming music sim Guitar Hero Live, which will come to the platform this October. There’s still no word on Call of Duty: Black Ops III, though.

The trailer for SuperChargers is below.

 

Redbox Takes PS4 and Xbox One Titles Nationwide

While attention has focused on new console games in retail stores and as digital downloads, there’s another very important retail channel that’s becoming much more important for console game publishers: the rental kiosks found in so many places across the USA. Redbox, America’s destination for new-release entertainment, has announced plans to expand the availability of new generation games to all kiosks nationwide in 2015. “We believe that now is the time to make new gen content more accessible to mainstream consumers,” said Mark Horak, president of Redbox, “and through our 35,000 kiosk locations, digital network of 90 million touch points, affordable price point and content recommendation engine, we are committed to accelerating the adoption of both new gen hardware and software for the industry.”

“We look forward to partnering with publishers to execute title-specific marketing plans as we expand new gen nationally,” said Bill West, vice president of games at Redbox. “Research tells us that our customers rent titles to help inform game purchase decisions. As our offering expands, we’re helping publishers reach their goals of raising awareness and making trial more convenient and affordable for consumers nationwide.” West spoke exclusively with [a]listdaily about the importance of Redbox to game marketers.

Tell us about Redbox’s latest move and what it does for the newest generation of consoles — what does it mean for marketers?

Redbox entered the game space in 2011, and has since expanded with the last generation, PS3 and Xbox 360. About two years ago we started the entry into new-gen, when Xbox One and PS 4 launched. What we announced last week was that we are expanding our new-gen offering, where we had been at 5,000 kiosks, we are expanding nationwide to all of our kiosks, some 42,000. We think we canb really help the industry with the transition, really drive our mainstream consumers to new-gen, as well as help our consumers who have already transitioned to offer them the convenience of all of our locations and all of these new-gen games that they might want to try before they buy.

What have you learned from the way people rent games, and about the people who rent games from you?

What I can say is we see a very similar demand to what you would see in what people purchase. I think a lot of that goes to our wonderful stat that 73% of our consumers are trying the game before they buy it — they’re trying to gather information on do they like this game, is this a game that I want to invest in You can look at what’s popular in the industry and see that we have similar popular games in our kiosks.

We have more mainstream consumers, we don’t have a majority of hardcore gamers. We have mainstream consumers who want to play more games, who want to try more, and then eventually convert them into purchase.

How many games do you carry, and how quickly do you get new games into your kiosks?

There’s a lot of new-gen console games, and we give our consumers a lot of options. We will carry at any given time about15-20 games. We follow the publisher release schedules, so as publishers are releasing games we’re putting new games into the kiosks. We can have it day and date, whenever they release it to us.

How do you reach consumers, and how many can you touch with your marketing?

We have a great network of consumers. We actually have 40 million emails, a total of 90 million touch points between our emails, our apps, our text club. We have a lot of communication with our consumers so we can see what they want us to carry, what they’re interested in trying.

What kind of marketing opportunities do you offer to publishers?

Having those 90 million touch points, and having the 42,000 kiosks, we get 350 million impressions per week. There’s a lot of opportunity. We’re really looking forward to talking about specific marketing plans with each of our publishing partners so we can help drive that mainstream gamer that is just now starting to come into that new generation, that is obviously key for publishers. We think we can drive that push — yes, you have to spend on purchasing a console, but we give you a lot of opportunities to come to our kiosk, try all these different types of games and play it for the weekend. We’re looking at multiple types of promotions with our publishing partners that we can really encourgae our consumers to rent specific games.

What’s next strategically for Redbox in the rest of this year and beyond?

I want to spend the next twelve months growing the new-gen business on our end, making games a larger percentage of our business, and as we do that we are looking at other strategic opportunities that I can’t talk to, that we can continue to grow the business from a games perspective in the overall Redbox portfolio.

Microsoft Gives Games With Gold A Boost With More Freebies

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since Microsoft initially introduced its Games With Gold program, in which certain game titles are offered free of charge to users who subscribe to Xbox Live Gold. The program has matured quite a bit over the years, offering more blockbuster titles, as well as exclusive first-day releases, such as Pool Nation FX and #IDARB.

Now, the program is expanding even further. According to the Xbox Wire page, starting with next month’s offerings, Xbox Live members will now get double the games on a monthly basis on the Xbox One, instead of just the one default title. Over the past few months, Microsoft has been hinting at such an expansion, offering two titles instead of the usual one, including the likes of the role-playing adventure Massive Chalice and other titles.

The titles will be offered on a monthly basis, but broken out into two-week periods. Up first, free from July 1st to 31st, is the Ubisoft pirating adventure Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Following on July 16th (through August 15th) is the puzzle/platforming adventure So Many Me’s.

The program will also continue on the Xbox 360 with two titles offered every month. July 1-15 will see the availability of PopCap’s puzzle game Plants Vs. Zombies, while the classic sequel Gears of War 3 will be offered from July 16-31.

“It’s been two years and we hope you’ve enjoyed playing all the amazing games as much as we have,” said the company in a statement. “We look forward to many more games to share with the Xbox community.”

Such a move is an effective one by Microsoft, as it not only allows the company to thank its hardcore gaming community, but also bolsters the opportunity to sell more Xbox Live Gold subscriptions. Adding freebie games to a service such as this will certainly serve as a benefit, especially if more AAA-based game titles like Black Flag are involved.

The full details on the Games With Gold program can be found here.