Barbie Goes Native on YouTube

LeAnne Hackmann, Sr. Director Global Content Strategy & Activation, Mattel and Julia Pistor, Executive Producer, Playground Productions, Mattel, discuss Barbies vlogging debut with Heather Vernon, Director, Client Service, Ayzenberg. The focus of this case-study is on incorporating YouTube prevailing trends to re-imagine Barbie as a vlogger to drive brand awareness and engage our fans in a manner that was native to channel.

“Giving Barbie a voice on YouTube seemed the most authentic thing we had ever done,” said Hackmann. “How do we really deliver the first animated character in this form ” asked Pistor. “It scared us.” Hackmann noted that she runs everything by her 16-year-old daughter to help make sure the Barbie voice is talking about things a teenager would talk about.

“We’ve created what is for us a really new animation model,” said Hackmann. “It’s not scripted a long time in advance. It’s done in real-time as much as possible and mo-capped.” “You get that instant feedback from the audience,” said Pistor. “We can change things in real time, that’s what’s so great about this platform.”

The channel launched three months ago and already has over one million subscribers. “Getting the likes we see is one important KPI for use,” said Pistor. “Engagement is also critical. For us it’s a global brand, so we’re considering how this content resonates with our fans. Last but not least, how are our fans discovering this content It’s a mixture of all of those things we’re looking at, but engagement is really important.”

“We deliver content long form to short form across a variety of platforms,” said Pistor. “It’s really about the right content on the right platform. The vlogger is so appropriate for YouTube, I think that’s where it remains.”

Vernon wanted to know what’s next will we see Skipper or Ken “We’ll see all the sisters,” Hackmann said. Ken may have to wait a while, until they’ve built that asset, Hackmann noted. Other platforms will someday enter in. “Barbie’s really into Vine, Hackmann said. “We’ll see her on Vine someday.”

The Future of the Data-Driven Studio

JC Cangilla from New Form Digital, the online studio joint venture of Discovery, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, speaks with Allison Stern, co-founder of Video Intelligence firm Tubular Labs, about the future of the data-driven digital studio. New Form Digital uses Tubular insights to identify rising star storytellers, create engaging digital scripted content, and successfully grow engaged digital audiences.

Video will be 74 percent of all Internet traffic in a few years, noted Stern, and it’s fragmented across multiple sources. That’s where Tubular comes in, providing data about video data from 30+ platforms. Now, “Anyone is a video creator,” said Stern. “What does that mean for creators ”

There are 2.5 million providers on YouTube, and over 1200 of them have over 1 million subscribers, Stern pointed out. Cangilla described one influencer that New Form Digital, a digital studio, found through use of Tubular’s data. New Form has produced 25 pilots over the last 18 months, and sold 17 of them into series. “We use Tubular to find new talent, and then to cast additional talent on projects,” said Cangilla. “Our business model is funding pilots and then selling them as series.”

The process uses Tubular’s data to help choose talent, but it’s not that simple. “It’s not just taking influencers and putting them into the content they typically create,” said Stern. “It’s giving them the resources to do something even better. It’s an exciting thing you guys are doing.” “Our creative assumptions are that YouTubers, Viners, etc. are the creative talent of the future,” said Cangilla. “And that people will stick around to watch a 15 minute pilot on their page.”

“What do you see moving forward into the future ” asked Stern. “It looks a lot like your slide,”said Cangilla, “Where you have lots and lots of different distributors. We’ve seen a proliferation of platforms that need their House of Cards, and that’s what we’re trying to produce.”

“What are the secrets to success in building a digital studio ” asked Stern. “One is we had done 25 pilots in a year, and the reason is we feel there’s a need for volume,”said Cangilla. “We’re looking to double and triple those numbers. We want to leverage what already exists and then build upon it. The last piece of advice is to start 18 months ago we’re well on pace and it’s a rapidly changing environment.”

Tubular Shows How Testing Performance Increased New Form Digital’s Viewership

A new case study from Tubular shows how using the platform to identify relevant influencers, create a content strategy and test performance, has benefitted New Form Digital (NFD). The study looked at the period of time between October 2014 and July 2015, during which NFD’s shorts increased viewership by 1.65 times on average.

Of note, engagement and reach also increased for the digital studio’s content, by 33 percent and 65 percent respectively. Below is a breakdown of how some of New Form Digital’s channels performed with the assistance of Tubular’s platform.

Take a look at the discussion between Tubular’s Allison Stern and New Form Digital’s JC Cangilla at [a]list Video summit here.


Millennial Viewing Habits Are A ‘Sea Change’

DEFY Media’s Nichole Becker, vice president of research, and Zach Smith, senior vice president of branded content, discuss DEFY Media s 2015 Acumen Report: Constant Content. The report explores the role of social media in content discovery and how thumbstoppers are crucial to getting youths attention, with a deep-dive into the thematic elements that appeal to youth. The phenomenon of YouTube celebrities and their role influencing youths content choices is also explored. The discussion is moderated by Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein.

“There is a lot of aggravation in the industry right now as the TV business is under a lot of pressure. Companies like DEFY are doing some amazing things with programming for a younger demographic.,” said Wallenstein. He asked what DEFY Media was looking to do with this study.

Becker led off with a short video showing millennials talking about how they consume videos these days. “YouTube is like one of the biggest things,” said one teen. “it’s a real sea-change,” Wallenstein said. The facts and figures DEFY found backed this up. “Something that really came out strongly in this study was this notion of offline,” said Becker. “we asked them what they do when they’re offline, and they gave us this blank look. There is no offline. Their whole day is online, their whole night is online. It’s a completely different mindset, and even the notion of a video is completely different. They are defining things completely differently than even a 25-year-old is.”

“Who knows what the real limits are on how much content they are willing and able to watch in a day ” asked Smith. The amount of video is heading over 12 hours per week, on average, for YouTube and social media. “They’re telling us they’re not watching it live, they’re not even DVRing it, they’re going to Netflix or YouTube and binge-watching it,” said Becker.

“What gets those thumbs stopping ” asked Wallenstein. “What made you stop Through discussion, there were a few things,” said Becker. “If a lot of people liked it, it might be good. Or it was sent by someone I liked or someone I respect, like online celebrities. They don’t view them as someone outside, they see them as one of them.” Becker also noted that things that happened to someone they knew or something that could have happened in their life was really important for teens to watch.

Wallenstein noted that a survey they did showed a new breed of celebrities coming up, cannibalizing the existing celebrities. YouTubers are relatable as well as aspirational, Variety’s survey showed. “While there were characteristics that both YouTubers and traditional celeverities shared, the area where YouTubers won out is the notion of relatability,” said Becker. “People trust them. I t really speaks to the influence they have over people, and it’s not to be underestimated.”

“Today audiences are craving relatability and authenticity,” noted Smith. “It’s about being honest and open with your audience. Celebrities might be dealing with those same things, but they aren’t as open about sharing them.”

Creating effective digital content can be a tricky business, but it can be done with the right initiative. To get further insight on it, we sat down with Defy Media s vice president of research, Nichole Becker, right before her panel today at the [a]list daily Video Summit.

What do you think is a key factor when it comes to effectively building digital content for brands?

One of the things that s really important these days is understanding the perspective of youth, and that they are not necessarily seeing a static ad anymore. Video s so important for them. So part of building a brand is really being in that millennial space and making sure your brand is well represented. Not that traditional advertising is not useful, but you really need to have that as a major part of your advertising strategy.

Do you believe it s more personality driven, would you say?

Yes, something we ve been working with is that personalities are so strong with youth and our research shows that they really identify with them, they find them very relatable, and that can really help a brand. It can make a partnership with a YouTuber or one of those similar personalities . It really helps give a face to the brand, relatability, and that s something that a brand can t get from just having a logo or advertisement.

What trends have grown the most with digital content over the past few years Or does it really depend on what s provided in terms of programming?

I really think it depends on what they provide with programming, and what audience they re targeting. At Defy Media, we have different audiences that are served, the only thing that really unifies them is their youth. You have large female segments that are really very interested in how-to videos and the beauty aspects and what s going on in Hollywood with celebrities, clothing all that traditional area. But then you also have, say like, Smosh, or what you could call goofy videos or more of an entertainment thing that appeals to both genders. It really depends on the audience that you re reaching out to, to talk to.

In terms of mobile broadcasting, do you think more people could find the means to create digital content Or do more of the traditional channels we ve come to know apply?

The first thing that comes to mind when you talk about mobile is Vine, and several people have built up their brand and personality through it. But if you look at the content , it s not necessarily where they ve created a skit or doing some sort of how-to. It s more about showing themselves. Something we re exploring with one of our brands, Screen Junkies, is they have a program called Movie Fights, where they have panels that talk about movies. We talk to fans about, Would you like to have that live so that they can participate And the only way that fans said they could do that is if it was on mobile, to have it be where they are, because having to sit down and be scheduled, that really doesn t work for them. So mobile could definitely work as a content creation platform as long as it keeps its mobileness , so to speak. As long as it doesn t become a time slot that people have to be in kind of thing.

YouTube has always been the go-to channel for many creators of content, but Facebook has become quite the competitor as of late. Do you feel it can open similar doors to those that create content, or do you feel that YouTube is still the strongest?

I think YouTube is still the strongest. One thing that s happened with YouTube is that certain brands have created a parent brand like Smosh and created a lot of channels around it that people are exposed to and could go, and those channels could gain an audience. So whatever show is gonna run after, say, Modern Family, it ll get some viewership, because people are watching it. Right now, the way Facebook is set up, it s rather difficult to get that sort of ecosystem going, and people may not be as easily to create that following or success. A lot of YouTubers have these huge followings already on social media. They already, in essence, have their videos there. I think YouTube is still going to be all to them.

Where do you see creative content going over the next few years? More personal talents Trends?

I think we will still see YouTube talent. Our research, from what we ve found, s that with youth, they re identifying with personality, that person who s like they re like me or they say the things that I think . Older people are like, How can you sit and watch a video of somebody playing video games And it s like, it s not about watching video games, it s that person. There s still room for personality where a person can put him or her out there and be palatable to an audience. In terms of what that person creates is secondary, it s really the personality behind it.

Morgan Neville Predicts A VR Gold Rush

Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville is interviewed by Matt Bretz, vice president and creative director, Ayzenberg. In this keynote interview, Neville 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. Where does his work fit into a big brand’s communication portfolio

Bretz led off by explaining he’d like to explore the nature of documentary filmmaking and how it relates to marketing content. What makes a great documentary “Same thing that makes a great film : Story and character,” said Neville. “It’s a completely different process, though — when you make a movie, you write a script and then shoot a movie. When you make a documentary, you shoot a movie and then you write a script.”

“I prefer as an interviewer to ask questions I don’t know the answer to,” Neville said. “I want to learn.” He described more about the process and how you have no real control over it, you need to “throw away the map” and follow where the story takes you. Neville quoted Hitchock: “In movies the director is God; in documentaries the movie is God.”

Neville talked about the importance of following the story and not being afraid to go off on tangents. “To me the key to being a good interviewer is being genuinely curious,” said Neville. “If you’re less worried about where it’s going and just want to have a good conversation, it’s better. Being curious is the number one attribute you need to have to be a documentary filmmaker.”

“How do you get excited about bleach ” Bretz asked, posing a hypothetical case where Clorox wants a documentary making you feel like bleach is part of the family. “I think you can get excited about anything,” said Neville. “There are stories everywhere, it’s just figuring out the angle. As a documentary filmmaker you get a really marvelous sandbox to play in. If I hadn’t done some commercial work I don’t think I would have gotten to do the Keith Richards documentary.”

Bretz noted Microsoft’s use of Neville to make short pieces about HoloLens. “Microsoft is obviously being very careful about how they are rolling this product out to the world, but Morgan is the tip of the spear,” Bretz said. “We came onto HoloLens about 9 months ago, and it was a product that most people in Microsoft knew nothing about,” said Neville. “I spoke with the inventor Alex Kipman and afterwards I said ‘I could do a whole movie on this guy.'”

“The HoloLens story is the story of these brilliant people from the gaming department who came up from under the radar. I found it fascinating,” Neville said. He’s been commissioned by Microsoft to do a long-form documentary about HoloLens as well as all the short pieces he’s creating. More significantly, Microsoft told Neville to tell the story he wanted to tell “with no interference from marketing.”

Neville’s insights into the nature of documentaries and how that connects with brand marketing are fascinating, and of great value to marketers planning content marketing.

Over the years, Morgan Neville has focused on a number of significant artists for his documentaries, including a forthcoming piece that focuses on Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Before his presentation at the [a]list summit today, we managed to sit down with him to discuss virtual reality, as well as the key differences with a branded documentary.

What kind of role will virtual reality play in filmmaking?

One of the problems with virtual reality is that it’s troublesome from a storytelling point, because you have to direct people, whether it’s narrative or documentary. People are going to be telling stories with it, but I don’t think that’s the primary purpose. If you’ve seen the videos, it’s really like, you could be at home and instead of putting Post-Its up or having a TV screen on instead of having your laptop open, instead of a cookbook, all that stuff. With this, you can move it, you can size it, and you can share that information with other people with the devices. So a lot of it is very practical, useful stuff. This is just stage one — I’m interested to see stuff that’s not that far away. We’re going to get to the day when we’re watching an NBA basketball game on this table.

So like a hologram, essentially.

How cool would that be to watch?

Does virtual reality pertain to you as a documentary filmmaker?

I’ve met with companies that are doing it and I think there’s going to be kind of a gold rush of content providers for virtual reality settings. I mean, there are so many different types of devices and formats , platforms coming for virtual reality that I think there’s a dearth of content and technologies. And so, I know because I’ve been hearing about it, filmmakers have been meeting with people doing full virtual reality narrative, constructs, people doing things.

What do you think will be the toughest part to adapting to such technology?

Virtual reality is so difficult because shooting it is one thing, you need the special multi-camera to get that. You can’t edit really in the same way. Typically, in virtual reality, you don’t edit. Maybe you can come up with ways of dissolving occasionally, but it’s essentially kind of an unmediated experience. So, in that way, storytelling is very, very different. And a lot of times now, most of what people are doing with virtual reality narrative is done mainly with CGI. Very little is being done with actual camera work. This is all gonna change very quickly, so it’ll be interesting to see when people start screwing with it, and saying, “Well, yeah, maybe we can do jump cuts and maybe we can do…,” you know, just get more into it. It’s an expensive sandbox right now to play in, and so we’re not quite at the experimental stage, but I think it’s gonna happen very quickly.

Some people may be confused by the term “branded documentary.” Usually they’re used to watching just a regular documentary. How would you define differences between the two?

Branded, it’s all kind of made up. I think the thing as a documentarian is if it’s sponsored by somebody or branded, just kind of up front about that. There are those documentaries that are sponsored at the beginning, but the content of the film has nothing to directly do with that product. And those are great as a documentarian to feel like you can tell a great story that resonates somehow with that product and they get great content for that product and you get the story, so it’s like a win-win of a situation. I’ve seen a lot of documentaries — just at Tribeca this year there were a couple of documentaries that were paid for by corporations — but I think as long as there’s… well, getting funding for documentaries is always difficult, so you’ve got your “brought to you by Ford” or whatever. I think that’s fine, as long as there’s nothing disingenuous about it, it’s a win-win for everybody.

What would you say is the toughest part about being a documentary filmmaker?

Raising money. (laughs) It’s gotten a lot easier and a lot — I mean, documentary used to be a “bad word” and now the way that audiences have completely accepted the documentary — and Netflix is a big part of that — people always say to me now, “I was a fan of documentaries, I just didn’t know where to find them.” And now that people have access to them, they’re realizing, “Oh, these are great stories, they’re telling better stories, more cinematically.” So it’s kind of a great to documentary filmmaking.

Influencers: It’s Not Just A Fandom — It’s A Movement

Over 20,000 young teens, parents in tow, descended on the massive Anaheim Convention center for VidCon and this year. In attendance were also nearly 3,000 industry executives, investors and marketers scrambling to make sense of it all. What are take-aways in terms of where digital video and its new stars and their fans are heading VidCon Industry Track curator Jim Louderback, Ayzenberg and ION principal and director of media Vincent Juarez and Executive Director Jon Roth discuss this, moderated by [a]listdaily s Jay Baage.

VidCon was a huge outpouring of love for the new breed of video stars on YouTube and elsewhere, and this sixth version of VidCon was bigger than ever. “It’s very much of a community thing across the board,” said Louderback. “There was a new track for people who want to become creators, and there were 3,000 people there.”

“It’s not just YouTube any more, there are plenty of new formats,” said Louderback. He referenced Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Periscope, Meerkat all similar to how we thought about formats in the past. “The people whoa re good at one format aren’t necessarily good at another,” Louderback noted. “For a brand it’s important that you work on all these different places.”

“It’s understanding how to better connect, and the old techniques of engaging in a monologue with consumers don’t work any more,” Juarez said. “I’m not saying you throw out old media, but letting clients know there’s a new form of media that needs to be brought in.”

What’s the rationale for all the business deals going on in this space “If you look over the history of mergers and acquisitions, people will buy over build if they don’t have the DNA,” said Roth. “That was Disney’s thinking with the Maker deal.”

“The fans that show up at VidCon are between 13 and 23-years-old,” Louderback said. “The creators are not on a pedestal, they’re friends. The brands that do well bring something to the community they want to be part of it long term.

“Taking a step back from the brand is a risky proposition, but the best way to engage with the audience is to let somebody else do the talking,” said Juarez. “It’s about this new age of marketing where you have to talk a step back and trust things will work out.”

ESports Presents Big Opportunities In Streaming Video

There’s no question that eSports has grown over the past few years — but it’s how it’s grown that’s the fascinating story. And two speakers today at the (a)list daily Video Summit in Hollywood focused on how marketable it’s becoming, especially with various partners and heavy talent on board.

First up was Andy Swanson, vice president of eSports for Twitch, who discussed the big numbers coming out of last week’s International tournament in Seattle, which generated an $18 million prize offering, and generated a live audience of 17,000 people (and even more so online). The winning team, Evil Geniuses, took home $6.6 million, one of the biggest prizes to date.

Swanson then broke down how much eSports is expected to grow over the next few years, with $3 billion in offered prizes by 2020 (up from the $1.1 billion estimate for 2017). These numbers make sense, especially considering that a recent League of Legends tournament managed to gain an audience of 32 million viewers — even higher than most events, like the NHL or NBA playoffs.

eSports breaks down into four categories: competition, entertainment, discovery and community, according to Swanson. It actually dates back to well before the age of the Internet, when pinball competitions and Street Fighter II fights gathered players from around the world to compete.

Audiences are expected to reach record numbers over the next few years as well. 44 million eSports fans are expected by 2017 for both North American and European markets, while the number will be even higher in Asia, to the tune of 76 million. While that seems insurmountable, keep in mind that many tournaments, like the ESPN-broadcasted Heroes of the Dorm and this summer’s EVO 2015 fighting tournament, already have a tremendous following.

There are several tiers to consider with the success of eSports, including a publisher/developer hosted eSports league (with Guild Wars 2 or League of Legends), which are broadcasted live on Twitch. These have been spectacularly popular, with 89 million spectators worldwide and 368 million total views on Twitch last year alone, with a total of 11 billion minutes viewed.

So how do brands get involved Swanson posed that question and explained  that there are several factors. First, there are devoted media groups that follow the pursuit of eSports full time — kind of like an ESPN specific for the league. There’s also a package of various eSports type tournaments to cover, including DOTA 2, League of Legends and others. Premium event integration and sponsorship also play a part, whether it’s with the events themselves or with the teams that play in them, as Evil Geniuses and other players have no problem gaining partners to back them up. Swanson explained that branding opportunities can also play a part through live player registration, as opportunities to take part in events like the Halo World Championship present a chance to promote products even further while bringing in players. In-broadcast integration can also take a part of the action, and partners can host customized tournaments, like Mountain Dew and Lionsgate, with its action-thrilled John Wick. 

Swanson specifically mentioned Duracell, a company that hosted a 26-hour long Madden football tournament to tie in with its 26-hour battery product at the time.

To conclude his part of the presentation, Swanson stated that viewership for eSports has grown stronger than ever over the past few years — and it’ll keep getting better.

ArenaNet's Steve FowlerArenaNet’s Steve Fowler

Steve Fowler, head of global marketing for ArenaNet, followed, explaining the differences in eSports and talking about the power of the Guild War 2 tournaments, including one that recently took place at the Gamescom event in Cologne, Germany. He talked about the passion of players, and how their increased practice with the player vs. player (PvP) mode can help add more dollars to revenue. General play time for these players can range around 722 minutes, but with PvP integration, it grows even higher to 840 minutes.

Fowler then went into the drama that comes with competition, and how a player, Lord Helseth, drummed up intensity with a forthcoming contest by proclaiming a victory ahead of time. His team ended up being third, so after the event, he challenged another player, NoS, to an arm wrestling contest, only to have his arm broken as a result. The community also reacted quite well to non-gaming competition, as one player accidentally fell asleep with his stream still going — a humorous situation that the community was quick to jump in on.

The panel then concluded with a quick community discussion, and how some eSports players are so devoted to their job, they live in “gaming houses” where managers rent the space, enabling them to practice up for forthcoming events.

Yep, eSports are definitely on the up-and-up.

How Multi-Platform Video Strategies Are Changing

The world s biggest publishers are now getting onboard with Facebook Instant Video, Snapchat and other platforms offering them to publish natively, in mobile apps and outside of walled gardens. How do you navigate this integrated video landscape to reach new viewers who will engage with your brand on the platform of their choice The panel includes Juan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of Epoxy; Rebecca Markarian, SVP digital and social media, Ayzenberg; and Frank Sinton, CEO of Beachfront Media, moderated by Jocelyn Johnson, founder of VideoInk.

Johnson led off by asking some key questions. “How do you get your content out there where you can get the analytics What do you want your world to look like in terms of higher engagement with your audience ”

“It’s about what type of content we can produce for which audience, and where that audience lives,” said Markarian.”It’s very much about the people you’re trying to reach, then the platform, then the content.”

“Your audience has decided where they want to go,” said Bruce. “That’s defining where you have to be. The viewer’s going to decide where they’re going to be, and you have to decide whether you’re going to be there or not. Brands have to act like native digital creators and participate where their audience is.”

“Is it better to migrate to different platforms, or choose one and go deep “, Johnson asked. “I think it wasn’t a question of migration, users were already there,” said Bruce. “It was just a question of whether you want to engage. That conversation is already there, are you using the right tactics to connect with them.”

“Audiences can shift quickly to some platform that’s the hot new thing,” noted Sinton. “You really want to go where the audience is, but you need to have a multi-pronged strategy where you have your own platform as well. You have to treat each platform as if it can be shut down tomorrow. You have to be in multiple places.” “Give them what they want, right where they’re at,” Markarian added.

Johnson noted that some surveys showed only about 20% of YouTube subscribers were active, and asked if the panelists agreed with those numbers. “We can tell on the app side some people will get 70% of their viewers to download an app, and some will get 5%,” said Sinton. “You can tell who really has superfans. The important thing is not to just focus on that top-tier creator, but look at who gets the monthly views. Look at the segments and see who the best mid-tier creators are.”

“Can livestreaming finally take off with Periscope and Meerkat, and should brands focus on that ,” Johnson asked. “I would argue it’s already taken off because of Twitch,” said Bruce. “It’s the following and the social mechanic. I’m not going to make any bets on Periscope and Meerkat, but I think livestreaming is definitely here to stay one way or another. There’s a lot of interesting opportunities going on.”

“I would totally agree with that,” said Markarian. “The content is going to get better, and the creators are getting a lot better, and they’re bringing audiences to it. Livestreaming will be the new normal eventually.”

“I’ts going to be here to stay,” said Sinton. “My prediction is iOS 10 will have it built in.”

Brand Partners Launch ‘Angry Birds’ To Greatness

Video marketing is booming. Get the insights and knowledge you need to succeed at [a]list Video Summit Aug. 19. Get tix:

Since its release earlier this month, Angry Birds 2 has managed to be a big success for Rovio, achieving over 20 million downloads in its first week. However, when it comes to its overall success, the publisher of the popular mobile brand believes there’s more to the picture.

VentureBeat recently spoke with chief commercial officer for Rovio, Alex Lambeek, about how this “second phase” of the Angry Birds franchise will go, as well as where it’s success could come from. Believe it or not, brand partners could actually play a big part.

That shouldn’t be a big surprise, as Angry Birds partnerships have a big chance of payoff, including a recent team-up with the folks at Lego and a movie due for release next year.

Of course, the games are important, too, as Lambeek explained that Angry Birds 2 is precisely the title that Rovio wanted to make when the whole thing began. “This is the game we would have wanted to create already five years ago,” he said. “This is what our vision about the game and the characters has always been like. At that time, it just wasn’t technically possible to create something like this. Nor had we enough resources back then.”

Making such a title wasn’t always an easy process, either but it was certainly a creative one. We were experimenting for a while [with] what we could do visually with the current mobile hardware, how we could improve environment and characters, but still stick to the 2D world of the original games and Toons, Lambeek stated. From a gameplay and user experience perspective, we are fans of simplicity and wanted to innovate within the frames of the very first game. Once we made those breakthroughs, we just had to make the game

But, of course, crossing over with brand partners became a fundamental part of the business, including team-ups with Star Wars and Transformers franchises, amongst others. We have managed to keep the brand fresh with diversification of game titles with very recognizable identities [Angry Birds Star Wars, Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Transformers, Angry Birds Go!, Angry Birds Epic], said Lambeek. We have also created two spin-offs: Bad Piggies and Angry Birds Stella with unique demographics. By creating these thematic updates and spin-offs, we focus on different demos. Taking AB into new genres of games and that is what inspires us and drives innovation in the company.

Not only does finding appeal with certain brands pay off, but also catering to what other countries look for in terms of mobile demand. We maintain the momentum by partnering with like-minded companies that know the markets very well, Lambeek said. One-third of our downloads come from the China market Kunlun [our success in China] truly depends on understanding consumers and working with partners like Kunlun Alibaba and Karatopia, who truly know the market for CP, media, and games.

So with partnerships with Lego, Sony and other companies, where will the true focus lie with Angry Birds from here Pleasing our fans and developing a brand that people love and trust is our core priority, said Lambeek. And we will not venture into any area where that core will be compromised.

Angry Birds 2 is available for download now.

Naritiv On How Brands Are Evolving Their Social Media Strategies

The social revolution has hit marketing hard, and brands have been strong supporters of social media from early on. The relationship between brands and social media continues to evolve, and the increasing array of social media choices make it even more challenging for brands to find the best way to engage across different channels. There are plenty of different strategies being used, and clearly some brands are doing a better job than others at engaging with consumers through social media. But what strategies are best How can a brand get help

Naritiv co-founder and CEO Dan Altmann, formerly in integrated marketing at IAC and Warner Brothers, took some time to speak with [a]listdaily prior to the upcoming [a]list Video Summit where his topic will be How Brands Can Shine on Snapchat.

Dan Altmann

How are brands changing the way they use social media?

For us we see Snapchat as this really important tool for telling a story, whether it’s a campaign-based story or it’s an overall brand story. We see Snapchat as a great way to tell a story throughout a week, or throughout a month, or throughout a year. That applies to each one of the platforms that we look at for social media. Instagram is its own story, it’s less content but tailored content and prettier content. Twitter is this constant stream of updates… each is really a component of a bigger story and being able to use them helps brands get a story across in a more effective way if they do it right.

Are brands making better use of social media than they have in the past?

I think brands are getter smarter about it. I think they see brands like Red Bull that have done a great job of telling their brand story, and they want to be smarter about it and not have everything be tied to a transaction, understand that there’s a dialog and an activity that you can create their that you couldn’t do in the past. I think they are catching up, and hopefully companies like ours can help them get better at it.

What can a brand expect to gain from social media now?

It’s a number of things. There are definitely opportunities for direct commerce. Snapchat is a great place to get someone to watch something immediately because it goes away in 24 hours. If you want to drive immediacy and excitement around a movie coming out or a sale that’s going on, it’s a great place to do that. In the longer term it’s more about how do you create a conversation with fans and with customers that goes beyond just doing a commercial. With Snapchat it’s an ability to have a conversation with a younger audience and build a brand over time. Big companies that are jumping on these platforms are looking at it in a longer term connectivity way versus ‘how can I get on and sell product.’ It’s really ‘how can I get on be a brand that a younger generation cares about and thinks is cool in five years.’ It’s a longer term strategy but it’s an important one to have.

What’s next for social media and brands in the future?

We’re really excited about what can happen on mobile-first platforms, that were only ever built to be on a phone. That’s why we’re focused on Snapchat. Livestreaming is also really exciting – it has a lot of immediacy. It’ll be interesting to see if it creates a critical mass there. Some of the biggest stars don’t draw more than five thousand people to a livestream. It’s a really exciting area that we’ll be keeping our eye on.