[a]listdaily is the only source of editorial entirely focused on entertainment marketing news. Ayzenberg, one of the largest independent advertising agencies on the West Coast, first launched [a]listdaily as a newsletter and online forum for game industry professionals in 2009. It has since evolved into a daily dose of insightful original features, industry news, and spotlights on outstanding creative efforts across the spectrum of advertising, marketing and social media.

Pocket Gems Talks ‘Demi Lovato: Path To Fame’

Another celebrity-based mobile game is here from Pocket Gems. This time, Demi Lovato, singer, actress and The X Factor judge, gets the treatment with on storytelling platform Episode, with Demi Lovato: Path To Fame. Released today, we got to talk to Jameel Khalfan, who oversees IP partnerships at Pocket Gems, about how involved the star was in the creation of the game and plans to engage players in-game.

Obviously games like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood have produced big numbers on the mobile front. What makes a game like Demi Lovato: Path To Fame stand out from the pack?  

With all the momentum behind Hollywood games recently, it will soon be the norm for popular celebrities to have a game. To stand out in that crowd, we think you need make something deeply entertaining that’s also very relevant to the celebrity or IP.
Demi’s app will stand out because of its strong focus on story and how authentic it is to Demi. She was deeply involved in the development process from the very beginning.

How closely did Demi work with Pocket Gems and Episode on the game Did she make suggestions for particular art styles or song inclusions?

Everything you see in this app has Demi’s fingerprints on it. Demi was involved in the app’s creation, from the concept to the final product. She guided us on things like what they story premise should be, how the dialogue should feel, what the outfits should look like and what songs should be featured.

What do you think it is about this type of game that “hooks” players Is it the connection with the star involved, or just living the lifestyle that’s offered?

If you look at the modern relationship between celebrities and fans, it’s all about deeper connections. Fans want to know what their favorite celebrities are doing all the time through platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Mobile apps are a natural extension of that. With Demi’s app, her fans will get the experience of going on tour with Demi and hanging out with her, with the opportunity to make choices along the way that makes each fan’s experience unique. That’s a powerful thing.

What kind of sacrifices do players have to face in order to move ahead with their career Does this lead to additional story paths?

Throughout the game, the player is offered a multitude of choices where there’s no clear right answer. Should you jam with musicians on a tour bus or attend a glitzy hotel party Do you care more about having lots of fans or being true to your music All these choices have different story paths that will affect the player experience.

Casual Connect: The Challenges Ahead For VR

The Casual Connect conference has multiple tracks, all packed with information — and today’s sessions on virtual reality (VR) gave some insight from the leaders in VR as to where the field is going and what challenges it faces along the way.

Google’s chief game designer is Noah Falstein, a veteran designer with an amazing background in games beginning with arcade games at Williams through many years of game design at Lucasfilm Games (later LucasArts), and many years consulting on games for a variety of clients. Now,as Google’s chief game designer, Falstein is helping many people at Google move forward on things like Google Cardboard (the world’s leading VR platform right now) and Project Tango, which is a smartphone that can bring your environment directly into 3D and connect with VR.

“What we’re trying to do with VR is let you see inside someone else’s head,” Falstein said. Google is making good progress at getting the technology out there for designers to experiment with; about 3000 Tango development systems out there, although Falstein noted “it’s more of an AR unit but it can do VR with a headset.” On the VR side, there are 1 million Google Cardboard copies and over 1 million downloads of Google Cardboard installed on smartphones, and it’s now available for iOS. “Google Cardboard is now the biggest installed base of VR systems out there,” Falstein noted. “VR is a big step forward. It’s ready for prime time. Over 1 million is a blue Great Lake, but not necessarily an ocean. Can oceanhood be far behind?”

Falstein gave a talk on VR design principles, noting a number of things that designers have been agreeing on about VR as many hundreds of design projects are under way. Issues like viewing angles may vary from one set of VR hardware to another, but in general it’s pretty clear that you should keep interesting stuff in front of the viewer and not to far off to the side.

Design for VR is complicated, though, since so many things game designers or media designers are used to need to be re-examined. Depth cues and physical cues are critical, since getting even one of them wrong can reduce a VR user’s sense of immersion; get too many wrong and you risk causing motion sickness. Falstein had some suggestions for VR designers: “Put the UI into the 3D world — it’s the easiest solution but not the most satisfactory,” he said. Designers will continue to look for better answers.

“There are quite a few things developers have learned,” Falstein said. “I love the fact we’re all going out and sharing it with each other. There’s a lot of excitement with these new frontiers. It’s on a level with film and photography so we need to work together on this.” He closed out his talk by recommending that designers keep it simple, and be willing to experiment — there is so much left to discover.

The Future of VR
This panel discussion brought together for the first time a group of some of the leading companies in VR to talk about the future of the technology. The panel included (in the photo, from left to right) Aaron Davies, head of partner relations at Oculus VR; Carl Callewaert, Americas director and global leader of evangelism for Unity; Ray Davis, the general manager of Unreal Engine 4 for Epic Games; Google’s chief game designer Noah Falstein, with M2 Research’s Wanda Meloni as the moderator.

Meloni asked about the key obstacles to the future of VR for developers, and the panel had some interesting points to make. Davis noted that “just getting your hands on stuff has been difficult” but that phase is pretty much over as hardware is getting out to thousands of developers. “It’s a blessing and a curse,” Davis said about VR. “With game development we were getting close to figuring it all out, and for me personally it was getting a bit dull because there wasn’t the same challenge. So VR has been really invigorating for me.” Still, despite the excitement, there are problems aplenty to solve. “Control of the camera in games is a very important thing, and now that’s gone,” Davis pointed out as one example.

“This is more fundamental a shift than previous ones like going from 2D to 3D,” Falstein said. “It’s very challenging and very exciting at the same time.” Callewaert agreed, noting that “We are all immigrants to this territory. In ten years there will be natives, people who have grown up in VR” and then the products they develop will be much more sophisticated.

Patience is indicated before anyone gets too excited about VR. “I think expecations are dramatically higher than what the market can deliver,” Davies cautioned. There’s plenty of technological advancements we still need to see. “The evolution goes from true opaque VR to pass-through experiences (AR/VR) and eventually get to AR, the golden goal,” Davies said. Falstein agreed there’s much more left to do. “It feels clear we are moving towards a world where we can mix in graphics with the real world and not see the seams,” he said.

Meloni asked the panel for some words of wisdom for VR developers, and they obliged. “A lot of your assumptions are just different with VR,” said Falstein. “It requires a lot of experimentation, you have to be humble, you have to fail. It’s true in game design but it’s really true with this.”

“Failure is part of it,” Callewaert said. “If you don’t embrace failure, you won’t get there.” And Epic’s Ray Davis said, “Go in with open eyes. Take a step back and think of novel approaches.”

The future for VR is exciting, but it’s going to take time to build into a substantive market — and we don’t yet know what the shape of that market will be, or when it will arrive.

Tubular: ‘Today We’re Completely Cross-Platform’

Allison Stern, co-founder and VP of Marketing at Tubular, will be doing a fireside chat with JC Cangilla of New Form Digital, at [a]list Mobile + Social Video summit next week on August 19. We got some insights from Allison beforehand about what how things at Tubular have changed, what trends she’s seeing in the space and what some brands are doing with the data that they provide.

Tubular has been around for over 3 years now, and now we’re well into what is being called a “video boom.” How has the company changed and adapted to keep up with it all?

When we founded Tubular in 2012, 80 percent of video views online were on YouTube. Today we live in a cross-platform video world. Tubular originally shed insight into YouTube video and audiences, today we’re completely cross-platform. We track over 1 billion videos across YouTube, Facebook, Vine, and 25 other platforms. It’s our mission to track all video content and audiences to generate actionable intelligence for our enterprise customers to help them refine their content and distribution strategy, find and partner with influencers, and optimize their promotion budgets. Over 3 years, a lot has changed. We started as two people in a Starbucks, and now we’re 50 people, we have a patented technology, and we work with 100 enterprise customers including Comedy Central, Mattel, GE, Pepsi, Time Inc., Conde Nast, and HGTV.

In what ways are you seeing your customers utilize the platform?

Our customers use Tubular to grow larger, more engaged video audiences. They use Tubular to understand their audience and content trends, create content that resonates, publish to the right platforms at the right time, and optimize influencer marketing and paid promotion. For example, HGTV used Tubular to select DIY as a trending topic with their millennial fans, and launched youtube.com/hgtvhandmade. They used Tubular to select content topics and select the right DIY influencers to work with. With Tubular data, they were able to grow their audience mostly organically from 0 to 125,000 subscribers in a year.

What trends are you seeing in digital video and where do you see things going in the future?

We see online video growing at an exponentially high rate. The number of viewers, time spent, ad dollars, production budgets, and new players and platforms are ALL increasing rapidly. In fact, by 2017, 74 percent of all Internet traffic will be digital video. And with this rapid growth, comes a gap in data and insight. While traditional players provide TV viewing data, no one is filling the data gap for online video intelligence and that’s where Tubular comes in. Democratization of video content creation is an especially interesting trend. Not only is there video platform proliferation, there’s creator proliferation. There’s 2.5 million publishers on YouTube with at least one thousand subscribers, and 1,268 of those publishers have at least 1 million subscribers. We live in an age where anyone can be a media company, and what does that mean for traditional media companies and brands Every video platform is different and requires a different strategy to succeed. If you’re interested to read Tubular’s advice, you can find it in our cross-platform video white paper.

“We live in an age where anyone can be a media company, and what does that mean for traditional media companies and brands ” In your mind, how can a brand get the most out of the platform creator?

Tubular empowers brands to succeed at video marketing by boosting their audience, content, and ecosystem intelligence. Specifically, brands use Tubular to track official and UGC brand video content across 30+ platforms; identify video trends and uncover content creation opportunities; identify and partner with aligned influencers and fans; architect a cross-platform video distribution strategy; and execute and optimize paid media promotion to the right audience. Ultimately, Tubular video intelligence gives brands the insights they need to maximize reach and engagement. Tubular works with Pepsi, Mattel, Warner Bros., GE, Activision, and so many of the world’s top brands and media companies. If you’re interested to get a small taste of Tubular’s data, please explore our free Creator Profiles.

What are brands doing right in terms of video In what areas are you seeing room for improvement?

There are 20,000 brand channels on YouTube. 132 of them have 1 million+ subscribers. Excluding media brands, LEGO is the #1 brand in online video. In July it had 94 million cross-platform video views. The secret to success for brands is for them to think like creators – it’s about building and connecting with an audience. If you’re a brand, think about creating a cohesive content strategy, uploading consistently, partnering with influencers, and engaging with fans.

Hitting Hot Button Topics At The [a]list Mobile + Social Video Summit

by Todd Longwell

Call it foresight, luck or a combination both.

Earlier this year, when Jay Baage secured Jonathan Murtaugh, Facebook’s U.S. head of industry for film and television, to be a keynote speaker at the [a]list Mobile + Social Video Summit, scheduled for Aug. 19 at the W Hollywood Hotel, it was already clear that the social network was shaping up to be a serious challenger to YouTube as the dominant online video platform.

But Baage – executive director of the Ayzenberg Group, the ad agency behind the summit and the insider news and insights web site [a]listdaily – couldn’t have anticipated that the buzz surrounding Facebook’s video moves would be building to a crescendo on the eve of the event, with mid-roll ads ramping up,celebrity live-streams debuting and VidCon co-founder Hank Green stoking the fires of controversy with a blog post claiming that Facebook’s skyrocketing stats (including a self-reported 4 billion daily video views) are “based on cheating, lies, and theft.”

The controversy will likely inspire some tough, uncomfortable questions for Murtaugh, who also works with Facebook-owned Instagram. But, for the [a]list summit, it’s all good.

“What I really try to make happen at these events is to have different opinions and topics to talk about, so you’re not just going down the line on a panel and everyone is going, ‘Yeah, I agree on that,’” Baage told VideoInk. “When we have some hot topics to talk about, it makes for an interesting discussion, and it also creates a good position for [a]list Daily, where we’re trying to help marketers by guiding them through what’s happening in the space.”

Immersed in Immersive Video

The [a]list summit will also be hitting the industry’s other hottest of hot button topics, virtual reality and augmented reality (where virtual reality elements superimposed upon the real world), with a keynote interview with Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (“20 Feet from Stardom”), who is currently working with Ayzenberg on a documentary series on Microsoft HoloLens.

Baage said that VR and AR are “a big topic we could have a whole conference on. Before it was more a prototype. Now you see some of the biggest tech players in the world making moves in this area, with Microsoft and HoloLens, Facebook and Oculus, and Google and Glass, which I guess is still alive and they’re going to launch a new version of it.”

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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Casual Connect: Eisner On Getting The Content Right, Amazon Talks Monetization

Casual Connect has a solid lineup of content this year, and the opening morning proved that amply. Amazon’s Chris Dury opened up the event by talking about some of the keys ways games can improve monetization in the current crowded environment. The storied Michael Eisner (former CEO of ABC, Paramount, and Disney) gave the keynote speech and then answered questions from former EA CEO John Riccitiello, providing great insight (and humor) from his many decades in the media business.

Eisner: ‘Creativity Doesn’t Have to be Expensive’
Veteran entertainment executive John Riccitiello (current Unity CEO and ex EA CEO) introduced Michael Eisner the storied media CEO who took Disney from a $1 billion value in 1984 to $100 billion when he left in 2005. Now Eisner owns and runs Tornante, a diversified media company whose biggest acquisition was baseball card company Topps, which is now becoming a digital card company.

Eisner gave a keynote speech that was, by turns, insightful, inspiring, and funny. “Casual Connect is a celebration of all that has changed in entertainment media,” Eisner said. “But a lot has not changed. I want to discuss what has changed and what has not. The key to success is embracing the new and remaining steadfast to key principles.” Eisner described the storyline of media from, as he put it, Gutenberg to Zuckerberg. The underlying message is to illustrate what is timeless – the importance of content. “If you can get the content right, each new distribution medium will only help,” Eisner pointed out. “Whether it’s a 25 mm screen on a watch, or a 25 inch screen, or a 25 foot screen, it’s all still entertainment and requires story and plot and character.” That was from a talk Eisner gave back in 1985, and it’s still true today.

“Great entertainment requires a large infusion of creativity,” Eisner pointed out, “But creativity doesn’t have to be expensive. A lot of people think that entertainment will improve by merely shoveling more money at it.” By way of illustration, Eisner talking about Raiders of the Lost Ark (made under his watch as CEO of Paramount). Every other studio had rejected that script because they thought it would be too expensive to shoot. But Eisner loved the script, and talked with Spielberg to convince him to bring the movie in on a modest budget. As a way of showing how that worked, Eisner showed the famous scene from the movie where Indy shoots a swordsman rather than engaging in the long battle the script called for – which would have required another day to shoot, and more expense. Harrison Ford was feeling unwell and didn’t want to extend his shooting day, and suggested this to Spielberg – who loved the result, and kept it in, creating movie history and saving money at the same time.

Riccitiello said to Eisner “You have been involved in greenlighting billions of dollars in content. What were you looking for What allowed you to know good from bad ” Eisner’s quick reply: “I have no idea. It doesn’t work that way.” He elaborated that you just have to go with your instinct on what’s a great idea, noting that even if you do a great idea poorly you can probably still get by, and if you do an extraordinary job you can make cultural history. On the other hand, even if you do an exceptional job with a bad idea you’ll probably just get by. “Why waste your time Do a great idea,” said Eisner.

Amazon’s Monetization Advice: Games as a Service is the Best Way to Think About Free-to-Play
Amazon’s director of game services Chris Dury spoke about how to monetize your game with cloud, community, and commerce. “A few years ago it was as simple as creating a good game and putting it in the app store,” Dury noted. “Now even paid acquisition isn’t enough – we have to look for ways to find paid users. But there’s still a lot of opportunity. On any given day a game can rocket to the top of the charts. Agar.io got in the top ten in a few days, and is still in the top 20.” He pointed out that top developers are innovating on new ways to grow revenue, and he proceeded to give some specifics for the audience.

Dury advised developers to remember that games as a service is the best way to think about free-to-play games. In his mind, that means continuously improved games with no set destination, so the game is never done. Keep users engaged on an ongoing basis with fresh and relevant content, Dury suggested. He noted some figures from a recent game’s first two weeks, where 18 percent of the value (from paying players) comes in the first day… but 82 percent happens in the next several days, so retained users are critical to the overall revenue of the game. Update often, Dury advsied, and as an example he noted Team Fortress 2, which was first released in 2007 but still has 50,000 average concurrent users. Why Dury feels it’s because they are working hard to keep the game fresh, noting that this year from Jan 15 to July 15 there were 29 updates and 377 changes, for an average of 2 changes per day. “Keep people engaged with fresh content,” Dury advised.

Community is also important, Dury said. “You might not have the staffing to do regular content updates, but everybody has access to the tools to build community,” he noted. “PewDiePie generated 27 million views for Flappy Bird with one video. Endless content generated by your community is brilliant – look at Minecraft or Trivia Crack.”

Finally, Dury advised developers to think about the physical goods. “Disney, Activision, Rovio all sell branded merchandise,” Dury said. “We’re starting to see casual games do this too, some generating more revenue than from the apps.” You can reach your biggest fans in the game with branded merchandise, and you can reach fans at the moment when they are most deeply engaged to click on an ad and get to the Amazon product listing. This not only creates a deeper connection with the players, it promotes your game offline, Dury said. The combination is an excellent way to increase monetization.

Digital Collectible Card Games Bring Major Cash

A new report from SuperData Research indicates that collectible card games are doing more than just entertaining the masses – they’re making huge money.

Titled Digital Collectible Card Games Market 2015, the report indicates that digital CCGs (as they’re called) will earn an all-time high of $1.3 billion in 2015.

The report is the first of its kind since the release of Hearthstone: Heroes of WarCraft in March 2014 and shows how Blizzard’s (NASDAQ: ATVI) game has transformed the landscape after earning more last year than its three closest competitors combined. In April 2015, the game’s revenue and overall player base jumped after it became available on smartphones in addition to tablets and PCs. The game currently makes around $20 million every month with an active audience of 8 million PC players and 9 million mobile players.

“In the same way that World of WarCraft became the dominant MMO when it was launched, Hearthstone is now the digital card game to beat. Blizzard made a game that is more accessible than long-running CCGs like Magic: The Gathering without sacrificing deep and engaging game play for hardcore fans,” SuperData CEO Joost van Dreunen said. “Publishers like EA (NASDAQ: EA) and Bethesda are developing new CCGs as a direct result of Hearthstone’s success, and Wizards of the Coast (NASDAQ: HAS) revamped its Magic video game series as well.”

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Smartphone games on track to become the top-grossing digital CCGs, earning $532 million in 2016E. Smartphone players spend less than their PC and tablet-using counterparts but are the fastest-growing digital CCG audience.
  • Fans of collectible card games on PC are very loyal. As CCGs on PC tend to be more complex than those on mobile, players spend 11 percent more money and keep playing the same game for longer than mobile players.
  • Nearly half of digital card gamers (46 percent) play on more than one major platform. Multi-platform CCG players most commonly play on either a PC or tablet at home and use a smartphone while on the go.
  • The digital CCG adult audience is 80 percent male and average player age is 31. Digital CCGs are one of the most male-dominated video game genres.


While global digital CCG revenue will grow by 5 percent by 2018, overall growth numbers are being held back by the shrinking market for digital card games on Facebook. In addition, several older smartphone-based CCGs have peaked, and their falling revenue is counteracting growing revenue from a new wave of digital CCGs.

“Previously, smartphones were the realm of relatively simple card games like Rage of Bahamut and Marvel: War of Heroes. Highly-complex digital CCGs modeled after tabletop games tended to exclusively target PC and tablet players,” van Dreunen said. “The success of Hearthstone on smartphones shows that the most dedicated CCG players want to play their games on the go too. As digital card gamers grow to expect seamless play across devices, publishers will need to rethink their game designs to account for players’ diverse tastes and different play habits across PCs, smartphones and tablets.”

The full report can be found here.

Ad-Blocking Shifts To Mobile

Video marketing is booming. Get the insights and knowledge you need to succeed at [a]list Video Summit Aug. 19. Get tix: http://alist.ly/1EVLyyz 

While ad spending as a whole is on the rise, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every user will see what the ads in general have to offer. In fact, some have even gone as far as purchasing ad-blocking software — and it’s a number that’s on the rise.

The New York Times reports that many consumers have no trouble downloading the plug-in that enables the blocking of online advertising from their devices. A report put together by Adobe and PageFair suggests that the consequences could be dire for certain companies. The pair estimates that ad-blocking will lead to almost $22 billion in lost advertising revenue for this year alone. Out of those sites most affected by the software, gaming, social network and other tech-enabled pages seem to lead the charge.

It’s scary news for certain companies that look to online advertising to advertise its products, as customers can now avoid them altogether, instead of simply scrolling past them. “What’s causing grave concern for broadcasters and advertisers is video advertising, which is some of their most valuable content, is starting to be blocked,” said Campbell Foster, director of product marketing at Adobe. “That’s a really scary prospect.”

As you can see from the chart above, usage of ad-blocking software has risen dramatically over the years. Almost 200 million people worldwide now use it on a regular basis, with 45 million of them in the United States (15 percent of them in New York and California) and a bigger majority in Europe, around 77 million. Poland is a pretty big part of the picture as well, factoring for nearly a third of the general audience in that country.

One of the bigger companies thriving from ad-block software is Cologne-based Eyeo, which estimates approximately 60 million active users worldwide. That said, the company has provided a way for some advertisers to bypass the blocking software and still advertise to users — for a small price, of course.

Ben Williams, a spokesman for Eyeo, sees no problem with this way of business, stating that the company only permits “acceptable ads” to be viewed, and only ten percent of companies as a whole are allowed to do this. “We’re the only ad-blocker to provide this service,” he stated.

What’s more alarming is that ad-blocking isn’t just for desktop devices — it’s also being used on mobile. Smartphones and tablets alike have more Internet usage than ever before, pushing companies to advertise more to them than by traditional means.

Thus far, mobile ad-blocking isn’t too big of a thing, as both Adobe and PageFair note that it’s being used minimally at best. However, more and more developers are getting on board with creating plug-ins for said devices, with a big “shift to mobile,” according to Sean Blanchfield, chief executive for PageFair. “It will unleash a huge growth spike in people using ad-blockers.”