To Auto-Play Or Not To Auto-Play?

With streaming video views picking up steadily between Facebook video and YouTube, along with a number of smaller channels, brands and marketers are taking advantage of the format now more than ever for advertising. The chief advertising method is through auto-play videos – pre-roll videos that play before the user can watch the content they really want. YouTube has used it pervasively since 2009, but advertisers still don’t know whether or not they’re a good idea.

Marketing design engine Crayon recently published a report (via SocialTimes) that examines just how much video is being used by companies. It analyzed numbers based on three different portions of the video market: the top 500, the top 10,000 and the top 50,000 websites, and came up with different results for each.

When it comes to those in the top 50,000, there seem to be slower adoption rates with certain companies. Self-hosted video and other tools are highly used within areas such as software and marketing, healthcare and medical, and non-profit and education enterprises, while retail and restaurant enterprises are on the lower end.

When it comes to auto-play, social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter often utilize the format. However, not all companies are jumping on board, as the chart below shows.

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The numbers don’t lie. About 50 percent of videos posted online use some form of auto-play, while others rely on a click to get started.

Also, the report states that only 21% of companies involved in video use in-house tools, while 70% turn to a third party, such as YouTube, for hosting when it comes to the top 50,000. The numbers change a bit when going into the top 500, with 28% hosting their own video and 53% turning to YouTube. The numbers are most balanced in the 10,000 bracket, with 50% using in-house video, including such areas as restaurant, fashion and casino and gambling enterprises.

Corporate structure plays a big part in the slow adoption rate, according to the report. Those companies in the top 10,000 and 50,000 brackets seem to be the slowest, along with those corporations with a high employee count, in the 51-200 range. The lack of time, resources or opportunity with smaller businesses also play a part in that.

Whether more social sites will adopt certain programs that will make it easier for companies to hop on board has yet to be seen, although Facebook is opening up some new avenues with its video service. We’ll have to check out just what its plans are in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, the full report can be found here.

On the other hand, when U.S. internet users were asked if they like videos that played automatically on Facebook and Instagram, people responded that largely dislike them. Only 15.2% claimed they like the format, while 19.2% didn’t state an opinion. 12.5% of people claimed they never saw the videos.

statista survey

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Newzoo’s Peter Warman On China’s Gaming Market

Last week, Newzoo issued its annual  Top 100 Countries By Game Revenues report, showing that for the first time China has surpassed the U.S. in gaming revenue. Taken all together, Asia Pacific contributed almost half (47.2 %) of the top 100 revenues in 2015, primarily in mobile and PC gaming. Unsurprisingly, China dominates the market with the #1 spot on the Top 100 list.

[a]listdaily speaks to Peter Warman, Co-Founder & CEO of Newzoo, to gain further insight on the report and the fast growing Asian markets.

According the Newzoo report, China took in about $22.2 billion in gaming revenue, which is $4.3 billion increase over last year’s report. How much of a role did lifting console ban play in this growth?

The lifting of the ban did not play a significant role in the year-on-year growth of 23.2% The fact that consoles are now officially available has not changed the situation that tens of millions of modified PCs are in use playing PlayStation and Xbox games that are hacked, localized and offered from websites.

Still, there are enough people that have the budget to spend on console hardware and software so there will be sales. At the same time, the drawback of only being able to play the legit games that are officially allowed by the Chinese government limits the mass potential. The growth is fueled by mobile gaming (+47% y-o-y jump in revenues).

For the first time, we see serious cannibalization of PC/MMO game revenues by mobile. Underlying revenue growth if of course a growing connected population and economic growth. Connectivity now stands at exactly 50 percent of the 1.4 billion population, with gamer numbers exceeding 500 million this year. We do see the growth in revenues slowing down to an average of 16.1% over the years 2014 2018. In 2018, we estimate the market to reach  $32.8 billion and annual growth rates to be around 10 percent

How much of China’s gaming revenue come from mobile games in comparison to consoles?

Mobile revenues take 29.4% of the total Chinese games market this year with $6.5 billion. We expect console game revenues to be slightly higher than $500 million  this year, or rather 2% of the total market.

China managed to push the United States into second place for the first time, despite how U.S. gaming revenues grew $1.4 billion from last year. What does this say about China as a growing market compared to the U.S.?

Well, with a population of 1.4 billion this was bound to happen, so it is definitely not a surprise. And the market is not easy to enter, so average spending in the U.S. will remain to be higher for many years to come ensuring the U.S. will remain the most attractive market for Western publishers for years to come.

Reuters recently published an article about how China’s slowing economic growth. Do you think video game revenues will also see a slowdown in the coming year, or that it will continue to grow substantially?

Does the struggling stock market have an effect on game revenues Indirectly, it may, but certainly not yet. History also shows for Western and Growth countries alike that a weaker economic period only has limited effect on game spending. The theory is that in an economic downturn, people have more time and spend a higher share of a smaller budget on average. In economic good times people have more money to spend. The slowing growth in game revenues is mainly due to slower growth in connected population and saturation of spending in the mature market.

Do you think that China’s stunning growth in gaming revenue will shift greater focus on Asian markets in general?

It already is ongoing. Every global player has an interest in China in some way. It can be as consumer market or as a country that provides new partnerships and investments. From a Newzoo perspective, our partnership with leading Chinese big data company TalkingData is crucial for us to be a true global player. We spoke at their corporate event in Beijing a couple weeks ago that attracted over 2,000 people giving us an unique entry into the market. This is in addition to having data on 800 million iOS and Android smart devices used every month that provides unique insights to Western companies with an interest in the Chinese mobile landscape. I expect there will be a lot more consolidation of Western and Chinese game companies over the coming years.

Besides China and other Top 10 ranking countries like Japan and S. Korea, which do you think are countries to keep a close eye on?

It is definitely Southeast Asia, so Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia. Not only because of their explosive growth in mobile game revenues but also because these countries are proving to be easier to enter for Western games than China. On average half of the top grossing games are Western games in these countries versus 10-20% in China, depending on store. Moreover, many of these countries have a large English speaking share of the population putting less pressure on localization.

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Brands Celebrate #BackToTheFuture

It’s happened. It’s finally October 21, 2015: the “real” date Marty McFly and Doc Brown time-traveled to in Back to the Future II.

back to the future

So maybe there aren’t flying cars yet and maybe video games have become much more tactile than hands-free, but we’ve still come a long way. We can FaceTime each other, fly miniature drones, track our every move and make payments with our phones! To celebrate the future and the legacy and cult status of Back to the Future, brands have been tweeting today in full force. Here are some highlights of what we’ve seen on this unofficial holiday.


Although Lexus tweeted a video of a real hoverboard that uses superconductors a few days ago, the #LexusHover truly took off today. What better way to celebrate Back to the Future than making the future happen


For a marketing push Pepsi had to wait 26 years to do, the Pepsi Perfect was available for today and today only. Word on the street is that the drink has already sold out.


Your car may still have wheels, but JetBlue reminds everyone that we can all still fly.


Flux Capacitors, that all-important tech that allows one to travel to-and-fro in time isn’t required to use an Xbox One. Whew!


Speaking of Flux Capacitors, the 2016 Ford Fiesta now has an optional add-on that “makes time travel possible (if time travel were possible, but it’s not – yet) in a stylish enclosure.”

ford fiesta flux


This one isn’t so surprising, as Nike had announced they would be developing this back in 2014. It wasn’t until today, however, via Michael J. Fox’s Twitter account that we got to seem them in action and learned they would actually be available in 2016.


Do The Not-Wrong Thing

Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.

– Steve Jobs


You don t always have to do the right thing.

As humans, we instinctively know what s wrong. We can see a picture on the wall and know instantly that it’s not level, find a misspelling in a sea of words, and recognize a strategic business move that’s going to burst into flames. These mistakes stick out like a flashing neon sign.

Although we may not have a clue what the right thing to do is, we do know pretty quickly when it’s wrong.

Therefore, as long as we don’t pick the wrong thing, we’d at least be taking a step in the right direction.

Don’t Do The Wrong Thing

While most complex problems can have simple solutions, often those solutions aren’t a one-and-done thing. Unlike a patch in software, sometimes solutions are multi-layered and have many parts.

When I’m faced with complex problems, I brainstorm and lay out all the possible solutions. From simple to multiple-layer solutions, I chart the path of each one so I can test them. What I’m looking for are the solutions that feel wrong. From short-cutting, reducing quality, or short-term thinking, I can see a wrong move a mile away. I don’t need to know what the overall right move is, I just need to trust my instincts and choose what doesn’t feel wrong.

I know that if I choose wisely for each layer of the solution, I’ll eventually end up doing the right thing. Let’s call this the Eventually-Right Process.

The Eventually-Right Leader

This process can be used in everyday business management strategy. The beautiful thing is, it always works. By not doing what s wrong, you can t really go wrong.

As business leaders, we are always under constant pressure to come up with the right solutions. Whether time-sensitive or not, using the Eventually-Right Process gives you the piece of mind that you are on the right path and, ultimately, you will come to the right solution.

For example, I need to hire someone new. I have three candidates: A, B and C. I could just go ahead and hire Candidate A and hope for the best. Or I could use the Eventually-Right Process. It might go like this:

  • Something about Candidate C feels ‘off’, so if I eliminate C.
  • I schedule a second round of interviews with Candidate A and B. Maybe I interview them at the same time to provoke new responses. Either way, I get another chance to find whether Candidate A or B feel wrong.
  • Candidate B does, so I hire A.

Eventually, by eliminating each path that felt wrong, I arrived at the right solution.

Choosing the Not-Wrong Path

I dare you to try the Eventually-Right Process in your next decision, business or otherwise. It may feel deceptively simple not to mention, a little uncertain , however as you see the ROI from you decision-making roll in, I think you’ll understand the value. You’ll begin to feel better about the decisions and make them easier. Good decisions can greatly improve the quality of work and life.

Just remember: the art of doing the right thing is not choosing what’s wrong even if you don t know what s right yet.

You will eventually.

Brands Are Flocking To Instagram This Year

Now that 88.2% of U.S. companies overall use some form of social media platform for advertising, it’s safe to say that the model is a success. Instagram is a huge part of that success, and it is seeing a big boost from its ad programs. As a result, more companies could be hopping on board.

According to a recent eMarketer report, 32.3% of U.S. companies with 100 employees or more will begin using Instagram in some form or another for marketing. That’s an estimate for the end of this year, and it’ll go even further over 2016 and 2017. By next year, the number will increase to 48.8%, and up to 70.7% once 2017 rolls around. That will give Instagram a further edge in surpassing Twitter.

“Now that Instagram is opening up advertising to all businesses, it’s not surprising that marketer usage will grow rapidly,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “Its close ties to Facebook are a key advantage.”

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While Twitter will still continue to see growth when it comes to U.S. companies using the site for marketing, it will have a much lower penetration, by about 1.4% over the next couple of years. The chart below breaks down just how low its effectiveness is compared to the thriving Instagram.

Meanwhile, Facebook will continue to see success within the social arena. By the end of this year, 84.7% of U.S. companies (with 100 employees or more) will be using the site for marketing, and it will see a slight increase over the next couple of years, getting to 85.8% in 2017. That’s not necessarily bad news, since its numbers are still higher than Twitter, and a little ahead Instagram, which Facebook owns.

It just goes to show that Instagram’s advertising model is incredibly effective, and will continue to thrive as the next couple of years go on. Facebook will continue to succeed right alongside it. Meanwhile, Twitter may need to figure out a way to make its advertising more relevant.

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Facebook Gets Top Grades For Ad Effectiveness

With the popularity of social networks like Twitter and Facebook, it should be no surprise that advertisers are getting their money’s worth out of their investments. A new report from eMarketer, titled “Social Advertising Effectiveness Scorecard: Industry Execs Grade the Leading Platforms”, gave these marketers an opportunity to rate the best sites out there to see which made the biggest impact.

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The chart shows all the ratings, with Facebook faring the best out of the “big three” with a B+ rating, followed by Twitter with a B- and Linkedin with a C+. Meanwhile, out of the three emerging social networks, Pinterest fared the best with a B, followed by Instagram with a C+ and Snapchat with a C-.

“The executives we interviewed said one of the key strengths of paid social media advertising is its targeting capabilities,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “Marketers consider Facebook an extremely sophisticated targeted advertising platform, while Pinterest benefits from its strong connections with ecommerce and purchase intent.”

These results were measured across a number of categories, including creative capabilities, ad targeting, measurement and ROI, according to eMarketer. In general, paid social media advertising fared around an average grade of B. It’s sufficient, but there’s need for improvement with better tools to make social media advertising even more effective.

As for ad targeting effectiveness, Facebook fared the best, with an A rating, according to the chart above. Linkedin and Twitter tied for second with a B rating when it came to the “big three.” As for up-and-coming networks, Instagram got the highest rating with a B, followed by Pinterest (C+) and Snapchat (C-).

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Other highlights from the eMarketer report are as follows:

  • LinkedIn’s highest grade came for ad targeting, for which it earned a B; advertisers gave it grades ranging from B- to C in other categories.
  • Twitter performed strongly in creative, ad targeting, measurement and analytics, building brand awareness, engagement and driving actions, all of which earned a B. It scored slightly lower for driving sales and for ROI.
  • Among the “Emerging Three” social ad properties (Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat), Instagram received high grades in creative and building brand awareness and engagement. However, the newness of its ad platform led to lower grades for things like measurement, driving actions and ROI.
  • Executives gave B grades to Pinterest in the majority of categories; only measurement and ad targeting fell into the C range.
  • Snapchat had strong marks for creative capabilities and building brand awareness, but the newness of its ad platform led to grades for the rest of the categories that were among the lowest of the properties studied.

eMarketer also noted that the video ad category played a part in the report. Executives gave an average rating of B+ to both Facebook and YouTube in this regard, based mainly on effectiveness. Twitter also got a decent grade with B-, though some execs questioned if it’s the best format to watch video on.

The full report can be found here, though a corporate subscription to eMarketer is required.

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NPD September 2015: Low Hardware Sales Lifted By Sports Games

With the upcoming holiday seasons marking the second year of the current video game console generation (3rd for Nintendo), companies like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are struggling more than ever to attract buyers. If September is any indication,the fall might be a slow for hardware adoption, but those numbers may be buoyed by strong software sales.

The NPD September 2015 Report (via VentureBeat) shows that hardware sales, which are primarily focused on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, took a slight drop-off, while sports-related games continue to thrive and may continue to sell throughout the holiday shopping season.

Numbers provided by The NPD Group indicate that consumers spent $1.01 billion on new games and hardware in the U.S., which is a 9% decrease from the previous year. While overall numbers are down, games that require special figurines, like Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders Superchargers, fared very well.

The NPD Group also reported that hardware sales were down 27%, dropping to $313.5 million from the previous $431.2 million total. Game sales also dipped a bit, dropping from $480.6 million in the previous year to $465.6 million (a $15 million difference). However, keep in mind that Activision’s Destiny, which released around the same time last year, generated a big interest in upgrading consoles.

Even though these numbers sound like negative, the Group indicates that month-over-month statistics are still positive. The majority of hardware platforms increased their sales from August 2015 to September 2015 when comparing sales on a per week basis, said NPD analyst Liam Callahan. All eighth generation consoles [which includes PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U] experienced double-digit growth when comparing sales on a per-week basis.

Top sellers for September include 2K Sports’ NBA 2K16 and EA Sports’ Madden NFL 16, which both topped the list, with FIFA 16 in fourth place and NHL 16 coming in ninth. Four out of ten most popular games are sports titles, and they should continue selling well over the next few months.

Action games also did very well. Konami’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain came in third, followed by the new Destiny expansion The Taken King in fifth. Disney Infinity 3.0 and Mad Max came in seventh and eighth, respectively.

While most of the list was dominated by Xbox and PlayStation titles, Nintendo made an impression with Super Mario Maker, coming in sixth with well over a million copies sold. It is still one of the company’s biggest offerings for the holiday season.

Finally, Minecraft continues to be a big win for Microsoft, coming in tenth. Although the game has been around for quite some time, the Windows 10 Edition appears to have renewed interest in it.

The sales of games and consoles should pick up over the next few months, especially with heavy hitters like Star Wars: Battlefront and Halo 5: Guardians arriving at retail. Accessory-based games should also be big hits, including interactive toy games like Lego Dimensions along with the newly released music and rhythm games Guitar Hero Live and Rock Band 4.

How EA and Carowinds Teamed Up Over ‘Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare’

The puzzle game, Plants vs Zombies, took the gaming world by storm with its unique blend of humor and challenge, earning it over 30 Game of the Year awards. Its popularity inspired the Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare spin-off – a competitive shooter where two teams (Plants and Zombies) go head-to-head using comedic weapons and outrageous characters. A partnership between Plants vs Zombies and the Carowinds amusement park in North Carolina might seem like an unlikely pairing, but the two have come together to create a 3D “intra-active” Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare experience for families to enjoy.

The exclusive attraction, called the Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare: 3Z Arena, launches Spring 2016, and will feature 3D technology, massive screens, surround sound, and motion-based seats as attendees compete with each other in team-based battle. Furthermore, the attraction is expected to launch at around the same time the Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 video game is, so attendees may continue the action at home.

[a]listdaily speaks to Mike Fehnel, Carowinds General Manager, and Senior Creative Director of the Plants vs. Zombies franchise Jeremy Vanhoozer to discuss how this unique partnership came into being.

What inspired the partnership between Electronic Arts and Carowinds?

MF: There’s been a great deal of innovation in the amusement park business over the past few years, including the introduction of interactive digital dark rides at Cedar Fair (Carowinds’ parent company) parks.  As the line between rides and electronic games continue to blur, tying together compelling gaming franchises like EA’s Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare, with the larger-than-life attractions, like those at Cedar Fair’s parks, begins to makes a lot of sense.

How was Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare selected as the featured game?

MF:  EA and Cedar Fair started talking about a potential collaboration over a year ago.  At the same time, Cedar Fair and a digital attraction partner, Alterface, came up with the idea of a dueling “intra-active” gaming theater, where each side would compete against the other for high scores and bragging rights. Additionally, it was important to Carowinds that they find a brand with a broad demographic appeal and that parents and kids could enjoy together. At that point, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare became an obvious choice!

Is the Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare experience exclusive to Carowinds, or can we expect similar attractions to appear at different theme parks nationally?

MF: EA and Cedar Fair are currently developing two projects, the other one being an attraction based on the Mass Effect franchise at California’s Great America in Silicon Valley. Cedar Fair has theater facilities similar to those being used for these attractions across several of its parks.  So if these projects do as well as we think they will, there is definitely room to expand these concepts to other parks nationally.

How will the interactive attraction grow the Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare brand and audience, and how does it tie into Garden Warfare 2 promotion?

JV: The Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare franchise is all about doing things differently and creating new and unique ways for people to experience our universe. We re incredibly excited to partner with Carowinds on this first ever intra-active attraction. This is a never-before-seen way for people who are both familiar and unfamiliar with the series to enter our crazy world of outrageous characters and over-the-top fun.

This attraction has very deep tie-ins to Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, the next big adventure from the franchise coming this Spring. We worked closely with Carowinds to ensure the 3Z Arena reflected the new state of the world as represented in Garden Warfare 2 for the first time, zombies have taken over and plants are on the attack. All players who participate in the attraction will also join the battle with brand new characters from the game including Super Brainz, a zombie super hero who thinks he s an 80’s action movie star, and Citron, a bounty-hunting orange from the future. From the setting to the characters, you ll really feel like you re stepping into the world of Garden Warfare when you enter the 3Z Arena.

EA has previously announced a partnership with California’s Great America for a Mass Effect attraction. Are there more EA game theme park attractions to come?

JV: There s no additional news there, but we re excited for these upcoming attractions.

Native And Programmatic Advertising Set To Merge

Both native and programmatic advertising tools have been beneficial to marketers and companies alike over the past few years, but what would happen if the two merged into one natural ecosystem We’re about to find out.

According to a report from the Business Insider, a new specification from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB for short) under the name OpenRTB 2.3 makes this possible.

With it, the company hopes to provide the “ability to serve up sponsored content that matches the look and feel of a publisher site in real time through automated processes.”

Additional research from BI Intelligence indicates that this has been coming for some time, with programmatic advertising reaching a “tipping point.” Its stats indicate that programmatic transactions will reach a majority percentage of 52% in non-search digital-ad spend, along with 30.6% of total digital ad-spend going to programmatic real-time bidding, or RTB for short. Meanwhile, 21.7% will go to non-RTB programmatic


As you can see from the chart, the differences between RTB, programmatic and non-programmatic bids are set to go through some changes over the next few years, with a decrease in RTB and a rise in non-programmatic means. So, a fusion between native and programmatic could be likelier than expected.

There are some takeaways from the report, including the following:

  • More companies and marketers are picking up on programmatic ad-buying and selling programs. Over 80% of agencies and brands already purchase display ads programmatically, while an even greater proportion of publishers are pursuing programmatic channels as part of their sales strategies, according to surveys and our own conversations with industry participants, according to Business Insider’s report.
  • Spending on programmatic advertising is growing very fast, at around 20 percent at an annual rate.
  • Real-time bidding has become rampant with companies through programmatic means, with a five year CAGR estimated at 24 percent. RTB revenue will top over $26 billion by year-end 2020, up from $8.7 billion this year. Mobile RTB and video RTB are growing even faster, at roughly 2X the rate of programmatic overall.
  • “Trading desks” are being downsized in favor of programmatic expertise taking over in the natural ecosystem. This may speed growth in programmatic spending among agency clients.
  • Here’s how pricing is breaking down: for premium and guaranteed placements they are on the upswing, while prices continue to plummet for miscellaneous inventory.

The big conclusion from this report indicates that this could open a few doors as far as advertising circles are concerned, even though some companies would have to get used to certain results and methods. This fusion of two different advertising types could introduce some great new ideas for consumers.

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Darude Discusses How Music And Gaming Intertwine On Twitch

Popular Twitch streamer Darude has been using the platform to promote his music and his strategy has been working. Most recently, he was tapped to participate in the creation of the Counter-Strike sound pack. Here he talks about how this came about and about Twitch’s creative community and how it intertwines and overlaps with the gaming community.