Instagram’s API Rollout ‘Breaks Down the Barrier to Entry For All Brands’

It’s finally happened. Instagram has officially rolled out its advertising API, making it in leagues with platforms like Facebook and Twitter in terms of its accessibility to marketers. The move has spurred Brand Networks’ CEO Jamie Tedford to say that today is “one of the most anticipated moments in the evolution of advertising.” While that may be a little hyperbolic, there’s a lot to be excited for.

“Instagram’s announcement is huge for their future and monetizing the platform. This will open the platform up to all of the advertisers that have been clamoring to take advantage of this without the large minimum spend requirements,” says Ayzenberg‘s SVP of social and digital media, Rebecca Markarian. “The immediate revenue growth for Instagram will be massive and probably quickly accelerate to the top of the social advertising networks.”

A recent report from eMarketer showed Instagram’s revenue potential from display ads could bring a projected $2.81 billion in profit by 2017, taking 10.6 percent of Facebook’s total ad revenue in that year. With all of this increased interest in Instagram’s display ad capabilities, you may be wondering what exactly the API will allow marketers to do.

“The biggest thing the API rollout brings is accessibility,” says Markarian. No longer will marketers be forced to work with Instagram directly for their digital ad purchases. “Previously it was only an elite few brands that could get in to advertise on Instagram. The past few months that has definitely opened up but this really breaks down the barrier to entry for all brands.”

“Instagram is where our clients see the most engagement already so being able to create ads targeting those groups is the natural next step in our social content strategy and they’ve been wanting this for quite some time.”

While the API will make a huge difference for marketers, there is some trepidation about what this could mean for the user experience.

“The introduction of a lot more advertising, especially ads that seem out of place in the Instagram environment, could irritate users and lead to usage declines,” said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at eMarketer to Digiday.

Markarian hopes that Instagram will have learned from Facebook’s growing pains to prevent this from happening.

“I do hope they are selective with the amount and quality of ads that fill the news feed. It took Facebook some time to right size that and the Instagram crowd will be sensitive to it. If the content in the ads is good and relevant to the user and they don’t clog the feed too much then everyone should happily accept the change.”

Epoxy: Helping Creators, Audiences, And Brands Stick Together is providing YouTubers with tools to help connect to their audience — and stick with them. Every YouTuber with millions of fans started with just a few, and how you scale up the audience is not a cut and dried. It’s an art as well as a science, but one thing is certain — the most successful creators are the ones who connect strongly to the audience, and can keep that connection going. That’s a daunting challenge as the number of fans grows, and the number of messages from multiple social channels becomes enormous. How does a creator cope?’s mission is to provide tools to help creators deal with this array of social media, and to help them move beyond YouTube and into places like Vine, Instagram and Facebook. More than that, can help creators find superfans who influence other fans, and help in more ways to help grow the fan base. Epoxy’s CEO and co-founder, Juan Bruce, spoke with [a]listdaily about Epoxy and previewed some of the topics he’ll discuss at the [a]list Video Summit coming up in August.

Juan Bruce

What is Epoxy, and who is it meant for?

Video creators and new media networks use Epoxy’s software to operate across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and more. Epoxy enables asset creation, publishing, audience engagement and community building on the largest social destinations and video platforms. Epoxy also provides multi-platform data that enables networks to guide their creators, formulate content strategy and structure brand partnerships.

How do Epoxy’s tools help content creators deal with the ever-growing array of social media?

Epoxy’s tools enable the creation of unique social and video assets for each social network. When top creators upload a video they are making an additional five-10 assets to share with fans across platforms. Sometimes a GIF or a Vine will trend faster than the YouTube video it came from. In addition to helping streamline the sharing process, Epoxy provides tools for strategically engaging and building your community across platforms, most importantly offers one unified place to operate across these platforms from.

Can Epoxy help the creators who are just starting out as well as those content creators who have huge audiences? Perhaps most important for beginning creators, can Epoxy help them create that huge audience?

Epoxy is designed to help everyone from the YouTube newbie to the industry-leading giants. For creators with large fanbases, Epoxy provides them the focus they need to prioritize and respond to their most important activity on each social networks. We also bring the most meaningful conversations and comments to light, including the posts that don’t include the creators handle, or a predetermined hashtag. For established creators, keeping up with their communities can be a full time job, and any time that we can help save them is more time they have to keep making great content and growing their businesses.

When first starting out as a content creator, it is essential to reach the largest audience possible. This can prove to be quite daunting, especially when working across several different social media platforms. Epoxy’s tools highlight strategies and best practices for operating and growing communities across these platforms. Our goal is to help meet you where you are, and provide the support you need to make it to the next level.

What’s the biggest challenge facing content creators right now, and the biggest opportunity?

Personally, I think they are one in the same. We are smack dab in the middle of this social media content explosion, and everyday more and more people come on board and try to leave their mark on the revolution. The space is growing exponentially, which makes it easy to get lost in the shuffle, but it also creates a huge opportunity for the creative content makers, thinking outside the box, and going down roads that were previously untraveled.

How do you see brands engaging with content creators over the next year?

Plenty of brands have identified the fact that social media is important to the growth of fan-bases through consistent, thoughtful engagement across platforms. One of the problems to date has been effectively setting brands’ expectations on what the measurable ROI of social media campaigns deliver. As the industry adopts standard video distribution and measurement tools, as they have with Epoxy, it becomes easier for brands to dive in headfirst and experiment with creator-driven branded content video campaigns.

Now, albeit the distribution and measurement of video has vastly improved, there’s still the question of who owns the “final creative cut.” You can have great tools to measure online video branded content, but what you really need are brands who trust creators and give them the freedom to create content in the free-flowing artistic fashion that got them the reputation and loyal fan-bases they have today.

Forward thinking brands will give up more creative freedom to creators than they typically would when spending their marketing budgets on more traditional advertising channels.

Facebook Introduces Live Event Streams

Considering the popularity of live streaming events on the likes of Twitch, Periscope (legal or otherwise) and other channels, it’s no surprise that Facebook wants to get into the swing of things.

Taking a chapter from Instagram and Twitter’s books, the social site has begun testing a new feature that allows users to join in live events from the convenience of their mobile devices, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

With it, users were able to check in on this past weekend’s Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago through Place Tips, a feature that was introduced earlier this year, enabling Facebook users to access friends’ posts and information about their current location. With it, users can check out not only live video content, but also photos and updates from various bands at the event, including the Cold War Kids and Kaskade, among others.

“This Place Tips Lollapalooza experience is just one of the many ways Facebook is trying to help people get the feel of an event when they’re not there,” said a spokeswoman for the popular social site.

This looks to compete with Snapchat’s Our Story service, as well as Twitter’s forthcoming Project Lightning. With these features, users of those sites will be able to expand experiences from events, formatting pictures and videos to single streams, along with other content. It’s obvious that Facebook wants to keep up with this, especially with its growing audience of users.

However, it plans to make Place Tips work a bit differently, as users won’t just be able to see content curated to the event, but also communications from their friends, in case they happen to be tuning in to Lollapalooza or another related event. The site says the festival was just testing ground for Place Tips, and it will continue to explore with new events and other features in the future.

Imgur Adds Advertisers

There are many sites that have gained interest with audiences when it comes to video and pictures – including Instagram and Pinterest – but now there’s a new competitor on the rise, and it seems to be opening its doors to advertisers.

Adweek has reported that Imgur, an alternative site to Pinterest that has managed to gain a large audience of millennials, is working on a new system that would enable advertisers to come on board, and reach out to said audience.

Imgur has previously explained that it was looking to begin offering promoted posts through a series of partners, which it intends to take out of beta later this summer to offer to its mainstream audience. And it’s audience is quite a big one, with over 150 million monthly active users, including a large male component. In fact, 75 percent of this audience consists of males under the age of 35 – an ideal millennial group to attract advertisers.

So how would the program operate to bring advertisers into the mix “We work with the advertiser to develop content that would fit well with the community,” said Steve Patrizi, vice president of marketing and sales for Imgur. “So, users perceive the content coming from brands as something that enhances the experience.”

While there are uphill struggles with integrating such content into its site, Patrizi has explained that it has had a positive effect, with users giving a thumbs-up to such posts in nine out of ten situations.

eBay has played a big part in this advertising, with posts that fit right in with Imgur’s storytelling style, complete with posted GIFs and photo albums that have mostly positive comments.

“We worked with Imgur for several months to research the types of themes and items that were popular on site, and we worked with some Imgurians to source imagery that helped us tell the best stories,” said Johnna Hoff, head of communications for eBay.

Imgur also has a creative team ready to go, which will assist brands with making posts that stand out for its growing audience. “We’re helping brands become citizens of Internet culture, not just a sponsor,” said Michelle Masek, head of communications for Imgur.

One such example of an effective advertising program on Imgur is the Tech Transformations That Happened In Your Lifetime gallery, which shows animated GIF’s on how far technology has come – with a little help from eBay, of course.

“Other companies who want to promote posts on Imgur should take note, THIS is how to do it,” said a commenter on the post.

With such a young male audience (countering Pinterest’s mostly female audience), Imgur definitely has a good opportunity on its hands. “Imgur has the highest composition of millennial males compared to any other mass-reach community,” the site reported.

There are also certain topics that can be utilized with these posts, such as science fiction and video games. “We started tracking the amount of time people are spending on these promoted posts, and it’s 25 seconds a post,” said Patrizi. “That’s getting pretty close to the gold standard of TV advertising.”

Hoff also posted positive results from the beta thus far. “We’ve been extremely encouraged by what we’ve seen in the Imgur promoted posts beta. It’s been a collaborative effort across eBay, Imgur and the Imgur community to understand the imagery and stories that resonate.”




Instagram Cleaning Up In Display Ad Revenue

There’s been some question as to whether Instagram can stay true with its display ad set-up, but there’s no question that the Facebook-owned site will see positive results from it.

A report from Marketing Land indicates that, per results posted by industry analyst eMarketer {link no longer active}, Instagram will make a whopping amount of money from display ads. This year alone, it’s expected to bring in $595 million in ad revenue — and that number will grow even bigger by 2017, when it’s expected to make an incredible $2.81 billion. That’s more than 10.6 percent of Facebook’s complete ad revenue for 2017, according to the site.

As you can see from this chart, Instagram will easily lap over Facebook’s numbers year over year, going more than double over its revenue for display ads by next year, and then doubling again the year after that. This is for paid advertising only, but still very effective in the long run.

What’s more, these numbers will give Instagram the need to overcome both Google and Twitter, two competitors in the display ad field. For this year, Google will continue to have the lead with $1.47 billion, with Instagram just under half that. But as you can see, the next couple of years will really tell a story, as Instagram begins to catch up and, by 2017, rises above Google by a small margin.

If these forecasts stay the course, that would mean huge benefits for Facebook — and a mounting lead in the social media division. “Now that Instagram is opening up, there is a lot of pent-up demand,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst for eMarketer. “The rollout of new features over the next several months means that by the end of 2015, Instagram will have a host of new ad products for advertisers large and small. In particular, Instagram advertisers will be able to use a full slate of Facebook targeting tools, including the popular Custom Audiences feature. That will be a key drawing card.”

It definitely looks like Instagram is going places with its new approach. Let’s see how it fares…

Can’t Buy a Pip-Boy? Print Out Your Own

Back at the Electronic Entertainment Expo a couple of months ago, Bethesda announced its forthcoming blockbuster action/exploration game Fallout 4, set to release on November 10th. With it, it also unveiled a special Pip-Boy collector’s edition coming out with the game, enabling players to create a special wearable device similar to players in the game, turning their smartphone into an interactive game tool.

As expected, pre-orders for this edition of the game sold out quickly. But for those bummed out over not being able to own a real-life version of the Pip-Boy, not to worry — it can now be printed out.

PC World recently posted an article about a Netherlands-based developer named Yvo de Haas who has managed to create a 3D model of Bethesda’s Pip-Boy device, which can be worn just like characters in the game. And, better yet, he’s managed to make the STL files available, so anyone with access to a 3D printer can download the schematics and create one for themselves.

The picture above shows Bethesda’s official model, which will be included in the special edition of the game. As you can see from the photo above, de Haas’ model is pretty accurate, and still comfortably fits both a consumer’s arm and smartphone to create a similar experience.

There are two versions of plans for the device that are available for download, including a phone version (which fits most mobile devices) and the “accurate version,” which is built for the “serious tinkerer” who wants to utilize a much bigger device with the Pip-Boy, such as a Raspberry Pi. “It is as accurate as I can make it, with no sacrifice to fit anything in,” said de Haas in a blog post that explains more about the project.

So those customers that were left out in the cold finding a Pip-Boy edition of Fallout 4, consider your bases covered. The video below shows just how accurate the device is after it’s printed.


Meanwhile, Fallout 4, which should be one of this holiday season’s biggest gaming hits, arrives on November 10th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. The full E3 showcase for the game is below, complete with gameplay.


Riot Games’ Dustin Beck Discusses The Growth Of ‘League Of Legends’

Riot Games is bringing eSports to Madison Square Garden Aug. 22-23 for the League Championship Series North American Championship. It’s here at this fabled sports venue that the top players will punch their ticket for the Worlds in the hopes of making it through the weeks of competition that will end with the grand final in Berlin on Halloween. Dustin Beck, vice president of eSports at Riot Games, talks about the evolving League of Legends eSports game in this exclusive interview.

How important was eSports for League of Legends from the design stage?

The game was established to be a sport. It had a ton of things like strategic gameplay, an infinite mastery curve, required teamwork, and numerous strategies that can be used to win any match. That’s come to life as an eSport better than any of us expected. This game can be around for decades, but going into the first event in Sweden we didn’t know if people would have the appetite to watch people play online.

How have real sports impacted the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS)?

We made a concerted effort to bring storytelling and drama to the production of events. The Olympics gave us ideas on how to tell compelling stories around players because they were able to make a sport like curling seem exciting through promotional videos. We took pages out of multiple sports from European soccer for the promotion/relegation feature to the NFL and NBA with league systems. It’s been cherrypicking the best ideas from all different sports.

How has LCS improved over the years?

A lot of our advancements over the past couple of years has gone into a myriad of things like scheduling, which we made a lot simpler to understand. We bring stats to life, which is both an educational tool and an aspirational tool. We invested in shedding light on the global narrative so that when we get to Mid Season Invitational or Worlds people have a better sense of who the powerhouse teams are and who the superstar players are. We’ve also raised the quality bar on broadcast production by bringing in the best talent we could find from around the world, many coming from traditional sports and entertainment production.

How have you upped the ante for production quality?

In our early eSports days we didn’t know what the best part of the action was going to be. We almost called ESPN and asked them, but we wanted the people producing the content to be gamers. We wanted to have deep appreciation for how the game could be displayed. We were at crossroads, so we scoured the land for people who had production and broadcast expertise that were gamers and would be able to relate to our gamers. It was an arduous process, but we had to build that team of production gurus, and slowly but surely we’ve been able to do that. We’ve been building that ever since.

Can you talk about the new studios you’ve built for LCS?

The new studio in Santa Monica allows the entire team from League ops to web production to work under the same roof. This has opened up synergies and improved the workflow behind-the-scenes and has leveled us up internally. The new studio is a great setting for fans to come to. We now have a permanent home in LA and Berlin. We’ve invested in infrastructure for years to come. Both studios hold 400 people, but they sell out every week and it’s an intimate, energetic vibe. Fans get to watch teams and pro players and they get to interact with Riot. Even as recently as two years ago we didn’t have a live audience. This has added excitement to LCS.

Why did you choose Berlin for your European base?

Berlin is central to where a majority of our players are. It’s a great epicenter and accessible for many parts of Europe. Berlin is a top tourist attraction. It’s a very international city with a lot of other tech companies. Previously we were in Cologne with partner ESL, but now we do everything in-house that we wanted to do.

How have you blended entertainment with gaming at big events like the Finals?

Our big shows have an element of spectacle to them. We need to have a lens of what our players will appreciate. We wouldn’t just throw some musical act onto the stage. Imagine Dragons last year was a great collaborating partner. We were playing League with them. They can relate to the audience. They had more fun watching the gamers play. Finding acts like that is harder, but it transcends the sport and identifies with core gamers.

Can you talk about the new All Star Game at all?

With MSI we wanted a tournament focused on a glimpse of what to expect from Worlds, and a way to stack up regions when pitted against each other. It’s a great celebration of worlds from across the various leagues. The All Star Game has a pretty new, fun, and irreverent tone. It’s designed to be completely focused on the fan experience and what they want to see. We plan on having a new level of interaction to have some decision-making from fans of what that format and tournament will look like. It will remain competitive as it’s always been, but there’s going to be an element of irreverence. We have a unique position where we have the most tech-savvy, engaged fans and we want to take advantage of that. A good analogy would be the NBA All Star Game, where there’s an East vs. West game but also Skills Competition like slam dunks and three-point competition. The All Star Game will take place after the season wraps. It was taking away from what the season is when it was in the middle of it.

How has the Challenger Series evolved?

There’s a lot of work still to be done, but the early returns have been exciting. When teams graduate to LCS they’re much more mature organizations and easier for the league to absorb and in a better structural situation to hit the ground running.

What role do you see the college circuit playing for LCS moving forward?

It’s unclear how competitive the college circuit will get, but so many of our players reside in college or in Masters programs and have a strong network of friends to play with socially. We want to take advantage of that. It can be an exciting form of competition. Collegiate might foster the next teams that could qualify into the Challenger league.

What do you think of two schools now offering scholarships for eSports?

We don’t know if it’s an exception or a trend. We’ll see how it pans out. It’s fun to see League players rewarded.

What are your thoughts on Fantasy eSports and gambling?

It’s interesting to see how much focus has been on the fantasy sites. Fantasy eSports is a fun activity for a lot of people and engages them at a more deep and intimate level. It’s gamifying the game. Sites that you can have that experience and not even have to gamble money adds a more fun experience in a competitive manner.