Facebook Messenger Could Soon Outpace Its Main App

The popularity of Facebook Messenger on mobile devices is through the roof – and it could soon very well eclipse the social site that launched it.

Variety reports that the social site is now enabling users in various countries to sign up for Messenger without first setting up an account on the main Facebook site. This includes consumers in the United States, as well as Canada, Peru and Venezuela. As a result, this could help Messenger eventually gain even more users than those on the main Facebook app itself.

Even though sign-up doesn’t require a Facebook account in these countries (needing only a name and a working phone number), it still encourages users to use their Facebook account for Messenger, as indicated by this blog post. With this, users will have better ways to find contacts, as well as access Messenger features on desktop and laptop devices, without having a secondary user list.

Messaging has really gone to great strides, following Facebook’s $19 billion investment in messaging service WhatsApp last year, which led to the launch of the Messenger app just last year.

Since its launch, Messenger has spread like wildfire, breaking away from the main Facebook application and becoming the most popular free app on Google Play. It’s also quite popular in the App Store as well, with continuous top ten placement. With over 700 million users and counting on a monthly basis (according to numbers provided by CEO Mark Zuckerberg), it’s easy to see why.

Messenger still has a catch-up game ahead of it when it comes to Facebook’s main audience. That site still has 1.4 billion active users on a monthly basis, just half of where Messenger sites. However, it’s shown quite a bit of growth, going from 500 million users in November to 600 million this past March. At that pace, it could catch up to Facebook by sometime next year – and with this new sign-up feature, maybe even quicker.

For Facebook, it seems that the message is certainly clear.

Viewers Are Watching Longer Content on Smaller Screens

By Jessica Klein

All around the world, people are increasingly tailoring their viewing experiences to fit their lives—as opposed to the other way around—using mobile devices to watch while they’re on the move and frequently opting for personalized, recommended content.

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.


GameStop Sees a ‘Tidal Wave’ for Next-Gen

One of the main reasons behind the massive effort put into the E3 show by publishers and manufacturers is to boost excitement for fall product releases, both among consumers and among retailers. The largest market share in the USA for retail video games sales belongs to GameStop, so it’s not surprising that GameStop executives were at E3 holding meetings and getting their impressions on what will be important for the crucial holiday selling season.

While it would be easier if new product releases were spaced out evenly during the calendar, the reality is that entertainment software sales hit their highest point during the fourth quarter, as do game console and accessory sales. Marketers are doing their best to stand out in the crowded holiday season, and efforts are retail stores are a critical part of this battle. Bob Puzon, senior vice president for merchandising for GameStop, sat down with [a]listdaily to talk about the holiday market for games and how GameStop works with marketers.

There are plenty of major releases coming out this fall. Is it a difficult juggling act to deal with the demands of so many publishers for so many titles?

It is the chess game of where do we fit all these games and all these IPs. The real truth is for us to try to continue to be a specialty retailer, we want to make sure everybody has some kind of exposure in our stores. We’re trying to figure out now, will you have marketing exposure, will we have associates that will be standing behind and educating them on some of these smaller niche titles that we know absolutely make a difference at GameStop The rest is trying to figure out if you have an IP that has franchise following, does it always need the most exposure in the store because someone’s going to come in and ask for it?

That’s one of the things publishers ask — can I get four facings, can I get eight facings — the answer is we’d love to give it to you, but the holiday is going to be so packed we’d like to get all these things out there. What we won’t do is hide some of the videogames. We’re going to make sure that some of these have different exposure than they’ve ever had. We’re going to have “The Best Games of E3” that we’ll be starting next week. We typically do that, that’s one where what we know about we’ve already got planned, locked and loaded. With some of the surprises, the good news is back at home we have some of our GameStop Online community sending updates out to the stores.

It’s a very crowded market for the fall, with many big releases. How does GameStop deal with this huge array of new titles coming to the stores?

One think I think we’ve done well is to stay true to our core as a specialty retailer. We try to carry every single title that there is out there. If an indie’s going to create a disc, we want to make sure that disc has exposure. We have guard rails for each one of these guys, too. Some of the biggest of the big come out in November, but I’ll focus on November when the time is right. What I’ve got to do is get through these titles that truly make sense for us right now. We’re going to have some wonderful summer launches, we’re going to get through our typical Madden and FIFA launches, and I want to make sure that our folks are educated and they can talk about these games to the consumers.

Right now we’re trying to feed them through the fire hose, and we want them to do is understand each one of the games as they release. It’s the Jedi mind trick of telling these guys let’s talk about what’s happening next week — let’s talk about Batman, the season pass that’s attached with that and the content that’s there, and then what do you roll over as they come in. ‘What’s your next reservation ‘ That’s what we start talking about the day that they’re in our stores. These guys love to come in for our launch events. They’re there at 6 p.m., what’s our opportunity to run through GSTV, our GameStop Television, and what’s the opportunity for our associates to talk about the next title they should reserve.

One thing we’ve heard complaints about is the vast array of retailer-specific content, where consumers have been unable to get all the different items they wanted for a game because some things were only available at one retailer. People were even putting together spreadsheets to try and sort through what content they could get at which retailer. Have you been getting this pushback, and how are you dealing with it?

That’s a great question, because that was a tipping point for us and it was a learning experience. We were also on the receiving end, where I’d go ‘well, Wal-Mart’s getting X, Best Buy’s getting X, Target’s getting X… and this is what I’m getting.’ We’re just confusing the consumer. In most cases the publisher has helped narrow this for us. We may get an exclusive character, an exclusive vehicle or car. But if you lay them all out most of them have become more consistent.

What’s always happened, when I was the guy that won it was nice to be on the winning side. But then I was the guy that said ‘Geez, I asked for that but I’m looking at my competitor who may have something more valuable.’ The good news is we’re taking a stronger approach with the developer and the publisher to say ‘Help guide us.” Because what we don’t want to do is take a game and upset the consumer. We hear the same thing: ‘You know what you’ve done to me Because I have to get the DLC from three other places to truly make this a game.’ They’ve helped narrow that for us this year.

The new consoles have been doing well in terms of sales so far, but what do you think we’re going to see for hardware sales this holiday season?

I think we still have a lot of upside with the installed base of folks that are playing Xbox 360 and PS3. It’s going to be up to the retailer to truly educate them, number one, and number two, they’re playing in our wheelhouse with the trade options and opportunities that we’re going to have to offer throughout the summer and holiday. We think that’s going to be another tidal wave of people that are jumping to the next gen. We’re going to let them make the decision on Xbox One or PS4, we’re going to offer trade opportunities for both. We think that we’ll have some very compelling values to take some of that old product that you have or some of the old hardware, and trade it in to upgrade.

When you move beyond the hardcore gamers to the family purchases of consoles, there’s going to be a broad array of choices this fall. Families may only budget for one piece of hardware, if any, for the holidays, and they will be confronted with Android TV consoles, Steam Machines, last-gen consoles, and tablets, as well as the latest consoles, with a wide variety of price points. Isn’t this a really difficult choice facing consumers this fall?

I agree. To your point, the conversation we continue to have with Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, is the broad consumer becomes a very large part of our shopping base for the holiday. How do you make sure that you convey value People are going to be loyal to their pockets. How do you continue to plus up The good thing is our associates ask what you’re currently playing and what your future needs are, and in most cases we can help qualify a customer on what will work best for them. I’ll tell you what, Microsoft and Sony have been very competitive, I’m sure you’ve seen the battles back and forth.

I think this holiday is truly going to be an extremely strong holiday for the hardware, because a lot of folks sat back to see where the price is going to land and then what makes more sense for them. I think there are still folks sitting back going ‘Who’s going to win this console cycle, and where should I make my bets ‘

How Brands Are Tapping Into The Power Of The GIF

Vine and Instagram videos are certainly popular, but one format that’s seen quite a boost on both Twitter and Facebook is the GIF, or the Graphic Interchange Format. With this, users are able to loop small pieces of video together in a consistently running loop.

It’s a unique format, and sets up clever responses in the social media world. However, it appears that it could also be a new venue for companies to take advantage of, provided they have the right approach to making a GIF work.

Adweek recently reported that a lot more companies are taking advantage of such a format, attracting new consumers with fun, short video clips that entice them to try out their products.

For instance, with DiGornio Pizza’s clip above, a “pizza-utopia” is created, with continuously zooming pictures of the company’s pepperoni pizza product. It’s certainly bound to make a few people hungry.

“We are starting to see this behavior where people are using content and culture to communicate – they’re not just using words anymore,” said Adam Leibsohn, chief operating officer for Giphy. “When they’re doing that, there’s an opportunity for that culture to come from a brand.”

Both Giphy and Tumblr have begun pushing branded content via marketers through GIF-related posts, while agencies are working on creating better production studios and possibilities for advertisements in house.

Paramount Pictures is another company taking advantage of GIF’s, working with Giphy to create promotional clips based on its forthcoming Terminator Genisys film. This is the second time that it’s worked on the media front for advertising for the film, following a fun tie-in with YouTube’s studio in Los Angeles. The video clip can be found below.

“In terms of the animated GIF, we pay close attention to what content works on which platforms, so it’s not as simple as throwing a 30 or 15 second spot up or even a quick video edit,” said Megan Wahtera, senior vice president of interactive marketing for Paramount.

Through The Studio at Giphy — a specialized team that puts together GIFs and other video projects for clients — more companies have begun picking up, utilizing the format more for social media purposes. “We’re building really basic elements of communication,” said Leibsohn. “It’s like an alphabet — if you have all the letters, you can make all the words.”

More GIF business is pouring in as well. “We’ve got projects that are breaking almost every week at this point,” Leibsohn continued. “We had to actually expand the studio, staff up and make the process faster to be able to produce more content.

Examples of these GIFs can be found here.

Could Twitter Be A New Shopping Portal?

People like using Twitter because it’s a good social experience, and it continues to be so, even with some of the changes made to the site to help cater more to new visitors and possible sponsors alike. Now, the company’s pushing its social page even further with the announcement of new pages and collections, which could open the door to shopping opportunities for users.

Adweek recently posted a story on the new features, which tie in with a new discovery tool that enables users to check out content that’s not only relevant to their needs, but also timely based on popularity. They will be tied in with places and products, and users will not only be able to view images, but also video and descriptions based on these items. Users can also check out prices for the items before they make a final purchase.

Twitter recently posted an official blog about the feature, with Amaryllis Fox (@amaryllisfox) breaking down just what can be expected:

“The first experience we’re testing is a new way to surface and organize relevant Tweets about products and places on dedicated pages. These pages will feature images and video about the product alongside information such as a description, price and an option to buy, book or visit the website for more information.

Take for example, the book The Martian by @andyweirdautor. We’ll show you images and a description right above the Tweets that are most timely and relevant to you. These may be Tweets from accounts you follow, relevant news updates, or popular content about the book.”

Brands and influencers will be behind the content, and such partners as @gameofthrones (the hit HBO Show) and @theEllenShow (featuring host Ellen Degeneres) will help with curating the project, in terms of demonstrating just how effective Collections can be.

It’s too soon to tell if the project will take off, but it does open up new possibilities for the social site – provided they’re done the right way, of course.

More information on these services can be found here.

Rovio On Mobile User Acquisition

Rovio has become a big company over the past few years with its immensely popular Angry Birds line of games. However, there are certain challenges that come with that brand, as indicated by our earlier interview. One of those challenges involves advertising other games that have nothing to do with Angry Birds – independent games that require a different form of advertising.

This challenge has fallen into the lap of new VP of user acquisition and engagement, Eric Seufert. With such an oversaturated marketplace (1.4 million apps and counting), there’s certainly a lot to overcome.

Seufert recently had a chance to sit down with Chartboost to talk about strategy behind advertising these games, and here are some of the highlights:

First, he talked about how user acquisition plays a big part in mobile again. “In my opinion, the app economy is the most competitive marketplace that’s ever existed. The barrier to enter into that marketplace is extremely low. And because the potential rewards for being a popular app are high, people are spending lots and lots of money to market their app. For example, Supercell reportedly spent something like $440 million last year on marketing. Not all of that was on performance UA, but a huge chunk of it was.”

He continued, “There’s also a lot of science behind this now, and there’s no opportunity to get your app seen unless you market your app intelligently. Now you have these awesome analytic frameworks that allow you to capture data and target your user very precisely. You’d be remiss in not spending money on marketing when you know that you have the analytics support to know how your game can be profitable.

From there, Seufert talked about how smaller developers can take advantage of the App Store. “I think it’s more of a mentality,” he said. “I hear people say, ‘I don’t have a marketing budget,’ but that to me is insane because developing a premium app requires gathering data before you actually launch it. I think it’s wrong-headed to think about UA money as ‘marketing budget’ – especially for a soft launch. That’s what’s needed to develop your app. It’s got to be a basic step in your development budget forecast. But then I think people say, ‘Well, I don’t know how much to spend’ or ‘I’ll just put the app out.’

“App stores are not designed to spread people’s attention equally around every single app that’s submitted. They’re designed to be winner-takes-all,” he continued. “So when apps from small or new developers rely on all organic or non-advertising driven downloads, (they’re ignoring) the fundamental structure of app stores.”

And apparently, companies don’t need mega-bucks to put together an advertising budget – just something modest. “I think you can do it on $5,000 to $10,000 – it doesn’t have to be $100,000,” said Seufert. “You can gather a decent amount of data for $5,000, especially if you have a sense of the core demographic that you should be targeting. And when you think about the overall development budget of the game, to not gather critical feedback about how the players use your app is silly. This isn’t just for the sake of trying to figure out what the LTV is, this is for seeing how the first-time user experience looks and for seeing where the choke points are.”

Finally, Seufert touched on the future of mobile gaming. “Well, for one, mobile games are definitely getting more beautiful. All the people that worked on the huge AAA games for console are now being exposed to mobile games, so we’re just seeing really, really cool games come out on mobile that rival the graphical fidelity of console games.

“In general, mobile games are getting a lot more connected and definitely more social. It’s exciting to see this social phenomenon that people experience on console when they play multiplayer Xbox or have friends over to play video games happening on mobile. As people become more social in their mobile game play, developers will make more engaging experiences — allowing them to earn more money and build even bigger games.”

The full interview can be found here.

‘Guitar Hero Live’ Introduces ‘Guitar Hero TV’

One of this past week’s highlights at the Electronic Entertainment Expo was Activision’s Guitar Hero Live, the latest entry in the music/rhythm series. Attendees and journalists alike got their opportunity to go hands-on with the new guitar being designed for the game, as well as the many songs that will be included with it, including Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Higher Ground” and Kongos’ “Come With Me Now,” among dozens of others.

But there’s a unique social aspect that will play a key part in the game’s advertising once it gets closer to its fall release – Guitar Hero TV. Initially announced with the game back in April, GHTV, one of the game’s two primary modes, enables players to compete with one another through live competition, while at the same time discovering new songs through a variety of channels – a “try before you buy” approach that lets players go hands-on with tunes before making choices on which ones they want to buy.

With that, consumers are provided a choice. There’s an option to buy songs via real money, a strategy similar to previously released games in the series. However, there’s also an “on-demand” service. As players strum through Guitar Hero Live, they’ll earn credits that can be turned around for songs to request on-the-fly to play along with friends, in case they don’t feel like owning it permanently.

The service will feature “hundreds” of songs, as promised by the company, with more continuously being added to Guitar Hero‘s store following the game’s initial release.

“It looks like a really slick channel guide that you would see on TV, with ‘what’s coming up next’ rows,” said CEO Eric Hirshberg, speaking with Mashable during the game’s announcement. “You’re gonna be able to click on that, join a show in progress, join a song in progress, play it instantly. And then play that stream, ongoing, for as long as you like. And then if you don’t like something, you can switch to a different channel.”

He continued, “The shows are all genre-centric, so there could be a show called ‘Current Pop Hits’, there could be a show called ‘Best Guitar Songs of All Time’, there could be a ‘Best From Coachella’ mash-up.”

This presents a number of opportunities, particularly with certain record companies to step in and contribute concert footage and shows from established and up-and-coming artists to what the developers call premium content. Premium content is earned through completing in-game challenges. Popular rock band Avenged Sevenfold has already signed on, providing bonus premium content free of charge to those that pre-order the game.

Other companies could step up as well with “sponsored” content, although Activision hasn’t confirmed this feature just yet. The possibility is certainly there, though, especially considering that the publisher just announced a deal where users could get an exclusive Destiny quest by purchasing specially marked Red Bull products.

So what does this mean for Guitar Hero fans Honestly, it seems like the best of both worlds. On the one hand, players can compete with one another in real time on the channel, competing for top performance score. On the other, the always-on network with continually updated songs is a great way to see what jams fit players best, whether it’s something from Green Day or from more contemporary artists like The Avett Brothers.

We’ll see how this social angle plays out when Guitar Hero Live rocks the masses on October 20th for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Wii U, as well as select mobile platforms. The debut trailer is below.


Lionsgate Hires Seth Laderman To Run Its Comic-Con Streaming Video Service

by Sahil Patel

Seth Laderman has been chosen by Lionsgate and Comic-Con International, the producer behind San Diego Comic-Con, to run a subscription video streaming service the two companies plan to launch in early 2016.

As executive vice president and general manager of the previously announced service, Laderman will be responsible for acquiring programming, including original short-form content created exclusively for the service, and relevant films and TV series from Lionsgate and other studios that cater to the various interests of the broad Comic-Con community. (The service, which is targeting a Q1 2016 launch, will also offer exclusive archived footage from the past 45 years of Comic-Con.)

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.

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2K Games ‘Battleborn’ Marketing: Going Big

The array of games on display at E3 was vast, and there are many games worthy of focusing on. One interesting new IP was Battleborn, showcased by TakeTwo’s 2K Games studio with a significant floor presence. The game, created by Gearbox Software, is a first-person shooter with a vibe reminiscent of Team Fortress 2, in a cel-shaded style that’s colorful and appealing. This was one of the games at E3 that’s not a sequel, and it’s going to have to battle for attention and sales in a crowded field. Just how Battleborn is waging the fight offers some interesting tips for marketers.

Battleborn statues at E3

The marketing efforts for Battleborn were substantial at the show, pointing towards what will probably be a strong campaign for the fall (the game’s release is only listed as “Winter.”) The massive statues in the front of the booth were a major attractor for the crowds, drawing a steady stream of attendees posing in front to have their pictures taken. This is a common technique (last year, 2K did the same thing with Evolve) and an effective one, creating a draw from quite a distance across the hall even in an expo floor crowded with bright colors and signs. The biggest problem would be finding an effective use for these statues when they aren’t at shows – hopefully the company has a huge lobby or common room somewhere.

The company describes Battleborn as “a first-person-shooter with a deep roster of 25 playable heroes. Every hero has their own personality and comes equipped with their own unique weapons and powers. Through Battleborn’s accelerated character growth system, players will fully experience each hero’s leveling progression in a single story mission or multiplayer match.” This is a key differentiator that the company will no doubt continue to highlight in its marketing efforts. This progression system brings in an RPG element where players can level up to improve their augments, skills, and non-game-play things like ranks, titles, and badges. These are, effectively, marketing tools incorporated into the game design to encourage social sharing. This shows the importance of integrating marketing thinking into the game design process, because it will make marketing the game that much more effective later on.

Battleborn on display

Battleborn offers multiple different modes to broaden its appeal, from a story mode that can be played solo or with friends, to teams of players cooperating against waves of AI-controlled minions, to (of course) team vs. team deathmatches. This array of play options will help attract a variety of players, and no one can say for sure in advance which play mode will be most popular. When you’ve got all the pieces in place, why not offer more play modes The additional time and effort in development may offer a big benefit once the game is launched.


The marketing efforts shown at E3 center around the characters, who are plentiful (there are 25 so far), colorful, and clearly designed with an eye towards marketability. 2K Games produced a booklet they gave away at E3 showcasing some of the characters with colorful artwork and some descriptions. This shows that the lessons of games like League of Legends are being well learned by other companies. Colorful characters that have outsize personas and a distinctive look and attitude help pique player interest and drive people to look at the game. In the best case scenario, such characters become self-sustaining marketing efforts. Look, for example, at the large numbers of cosplayers who dress as various League of Legends characters. They are, in effect, walking billboards at many large consumer shows. No doubt 2K Games would love to see this happen with Battleborn.

Battleborn is coming out for Xbox One, PS4, and PC in the winter for $59.99. This may be something of a handicap for a multiplayer online game in this age of free-to-play games, but Battleborn’s quality and wealth of play modes should easily justify the purchase. While there will be plenty of competition, the game was fast, fluid, and fun, and it should easily hold its own. Doubtless there will be strong marketing support from 2K Games, and from the looks of the crowds lining up to play the game at E3 there should be plenty of eager fans ready to join this fight.