ESL Is Launching A 24/7 ESports Channel Next Month

Considering how The CW, ESPN and TBS have been working to bring more eSports events to television, it was only a matter of time before a company came up with creating an eSports-devoted channel, which is exactly what ESL is doing.

The company, which has specialized on online programming for years, will launch a 24/7 eSports channel next month. Titled eSports TV, the channel will make its debut on MTG’s Viasat platforms in the Nordic and Baltic countries this May, but it won’t stop there. ESL is working to bring the channel to other distributors and platforms in other regions of the world, according to GamesIndustry International.

The focus of the channel will be on core competitions and tournaments, as eSports TV is set to offer more than 2,000 live hours of content. “ESports TV will add to ESL’s current audience of over 100 million digital viewers,” said the company in a statement. “The launch of eSports TV and its distribution on new channels will tap into the audience of more than two billion gamers and 250 million eSports fans that the industry will have by the end of the year.

This will not affect current partnerships that the company has with others, including Twitch, Azubu, Hitbox and Yahoo, as ESL will continue to support their eSports endeavours.

“We have always dreamt of making eSports the world’s most popular sport, and it’s the opportunities like this one that bring us one step closer to making that dream come true,” said ESL’s managing director, Ralf Reichert. “Bringing new and existing content to more screens worldwide is key to further accelerating the growth and popularity of eSports, and we’re on a mission to reach every gamer in the world.”

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Mobile Market Numbers Show Growth, Surprises

The mobile market (games and other apps) continues to be strong, but the latest data from research firm Sensor Tower shows some surprises are under way. There are big things ahead in mobile, and marketers need to be on top of these trends.

First, the overall picture is that combined worldwide App Store and Google Play downloads grew 8.2 percent in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015. That represents a total of 17.2 billion app downloads, with 6.1 billion in the App Store (a 13 percent growth) versus 11.1 billion in Google Play (a 6.7 percent growth). This gets even more interesting when you drill down and start looking at which apps were dominant.

Facebook is clearly a winner on mobile, as figures indicate. The top apps by download for the first quarter were WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Facebook itself while Instagram (also owned by Facebook) made it into fifth place. Facebook’s strategy of having multiple apps with a different focus is clearly working out well for the company, with four out of the top five apps worldwide.

As you would expect, games continue to be a powerful force among mobile apps. Eight of the top 20 apps worldwide were games, although that number drops to five when just talking about U.S. Supercell’s Clash Royale‘s enormously successful launch, appearing at the #9 position worldwide in terms of downloads. The game is on track to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 billion this year, putting it near the very top of the charts for mobile game revenues. The game was the fastest game ever to reach #1 in revenues, showing that Supercell has a very deep understanding of what makes a game popular. Top iOS Publishers Worldwide

Speaking of extremely popular brands and developers, King Digital’s Candy Crush Jelly Saga rang in at #7 in worldwide downloads for iOS and Android combined, continuing on the success of Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga.

Looking at the top publishers by downloads worldwide, in iOS Tencent (the world’s largest game publisher) took the number one slot, followed by Google and Facebook—which is impressive when you consider how Google and Facebook have no presence in China. Almost half of the publishers in the top 20 by download were game publishers, notably Ketchapp at #5 and Electronic Arts at #6.

The story on Google Play is different, because there are many Android app stores in China that aren’t covered by this data, and Google Play doesn’t currently operate in China. Game publishers represent nine out of the top 20 publishers on Google Play.Top Google Play Publishers Worldwide

What Lies Ahead For Mobile Games

Some major developments in the mobile space may be harbingers of change, especially for games. The first big thing to be aware of is Apple’s potential for slowing smartphone sales this year, and an overall cooling of the smartphone market.

According to research firm Gartner Group, global smartphone shipments will reach 1.5 billion units this year, about 7 percent above last year’s units. For mobile phones in general, Gartner expects sales to average about 1.8 percent growth through 2018. “The double-digit growth era for global smartphone markets has come to an end,” said Gartner Group’s research director Ranjit Atwal. Moreover, the situation looks worse in key markets like China and North America, where Gartner predicts even slower growth, with China up only 0.7 percent and North America up 0.4 percent. In other words, both of those two huge markets will be buying about the same number of smartphones as they did last year.

What’s going on? Several factors are coming together. For one thing, as smartphones reach an ever great percentage of the total population, you’d expect growth to slow down. The remaining percentage of the population will be harder to reach with a smartphone, often because they are unlikely buyers to begin with (too young, too old, too poor). For another, the huge innovations in smartphones are slowing down, and we’re seeing more incremental changes such as faster processors, slightly better cameras and the like. Generally speaking, smartphones are fast enough for most uses and cameras are really quite good for most purposes. Furthermore, screens have reached about the maximum reasonable size for a phone. So with the pace of upgrades slowing, it’s harder for phone makers to create the desire for a new phone.

The consequence of a slowing market is that app makers will have an even harder time generating huge audiences. Getting people to download and use a new app is hard enough, and if there are fewer new phones entering the market, it will get even harder. More pressure will be put on marketing to make that happen.

Another trend that bears watching is the increasing presence of big brands moving into mobile gaming. Nintendo has finally shipped its first mobile product, Miitomo, and it’s doing pretty good so far, generating over $40,000 per day. It’s too soon to tell how this will hold up over time, but the app is off to a good start. When Nintendo gets around to putting out mobile games using brands like Mario and Link, we should expect to see even bigger numbers. However, moves like these will make it even harder for mobile game developers that don’t have a powerful brand name or enormous marketing budget to find an audience.

Overall, the mobile game market will continue to grow this year, and we’re starting to see major brands extending their power with mobile apps. However, the business isn’t getting any easier for marketers, as slowing smartphone growth removes one of the great positive factors behind the growth of mobile games over the past few years. The easy paths to growth are becoming harder, yet the right games with the right marketing can still generate amazing amounts of money. The top slots are not all locked up by the big publishers, so new titles still have a chance to break through. There’s plenty of room to improve overall metrics of games with better game design, as the average revenue per paying user achieved in Japan are still about five times the best we usually see in North America and Europe.

How HBO’s Promotional Campaigns Won Over Social Media

The Game of Thrones season 6 premiere was a fantastic success, setting a new record with 10.7 million viewers tuning in Sunday night, when counting the encore and streaming broadcasts. But reaching that kind of success with episodes that air once a week has been a monumental project in building a brand—one that almost rivals the pursuit for the Iron Throne itself—especially at a time when binge watching through streaming services is more common than ever. However, HBO’s approach toward creating an effective social media campaign has paid off immensely, and the numbers speak for themselves.

Social media data reported by Spredfast (via Adweek) shows 829,000 Twitter mentions using the terms “HBO,” “Game of Thrones” (or #GOT), “HBO Go” and “HBO Now” from Friday through Sunday. The #GOT hashtag was used 602,000 times, although some of the HBO comments (which earned 248,000 mentions) may have been negative, since the streaming app malfunctioned during the broadcast, as it has been known to do during season premieres.

Talkwalker dove even deeper into the numbers, and reported that the show generated over 1.5 million social posts over the week leading up to the premiere, with nearly 200,000 interactions happening during the one-hour program. What were people mainly talking about? Jon Snow, of course. Mentions of him rose 205 percent, while other popular characters followed. Daenerys Targaryen rose 180.2 percent, and Melisandre became the new trending topic at the episode’s conclusion.

Interactions weren’t limited to the episode, according to Talkwalker. The music streaming service Spotify managed to generate a ton of conversation with its Game of Thrones integration, dubbed #SpotifyGameOfThrones, which determined which character each user was most similar to based on their playlists. This is in addition to a different promotion from last week, where HBO invited artists to recreate pivotal scenes from the show to promote its sixth season.

In addition to being an excellent show, the Game of Throne‘s social media success owes a lot to HBO’s multichannel strategy. The show can be viewed online, through the HBO Go or HBO Now apps, or through plain old cable television. Creating awareness for the show meant creating a lot of buzz. Part of the reason so many people knew the phrase, “Winter is coming,” before the show even premiered is because it was commonly seen on show posters and advertisements.

Other promotional efforts included how HBO hired celebrity chef, Tom Colicchio, to create a Game of Thrones-themed menu that was served from branded food trucks in New York and Los Angeles. Customers were encouraged to share their meals via social media, and the campaign gained 120 million impressions. These and other campaigns helped form the foundation for a loyal fan base that HBO has worked to stay engaged with, even during the gaps between seasons. HBO even invited fans to participate in a social media comedy roast of the show’s most hated character, Joffrey, by posting “roasts” on Twitter.

From Westeros To Silicon Valley

With Game of Thrones now in its sixth season, some attention should be given to how HBO is promoting younger shows like Silicon Valley, which is radically different in both tone and content. The comedy, which premiered its third season on Sunday, is about a group of people who found a startup in Silicon Valley and discover that “the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success.”

HBO took a decidedly different approach toward engaging an audience for the tech-themed show, which has included a Q&A livestream between the show’s stars and the community via Twitch to promote its second season. The stream also had them playing video games, in addition to debuting clips from the upcoming season, and showing the pilot episode.

Sabrina Caluori, HBO vice president of digital and social media, commented in a press release that, “There is an authentic connection between Silicon Valley and the Twitch audience, and this unique event is a great way to build upon that. Twitch offers a unique opportunity to provide exclusive content and a highly social experience to this influential community.”

HBO decided to take things a few steps further last year with the launch of the official Pied Piper website, which offers fake products and services from the fictional company featured in the show. The campaign has since been supported with fake company posters, job opening ads, and other faux content for fans to engage with.

Google is even allowing fake news reports, based on the events from the show (like an unexpected CEO change at Pied Piper), to show up when the terms “Silicon Valley” or “HBO Silicon Valley” are input into the search bar. However, it should be noted that this isn’t being done as a promotional partnership. Instead, Silicon Valley‘s content is being published through a new tool called Posts, which debuted in January and is a platform that Google is still experimenting with. So, leave it to a show about a tech firm to take advantage of the latest online developments and features.

When all taken together, HBO’s strategy to engage with audiences in bold ways remains a solid one, and helps the channel maintain success at a time when cord cutting and binge watching is on the rise.


‘Deadpool’ Crashes iTunes’ Movie Section

When it released earlier this year, Deadpool had some fantastic promotion, which included humorous trailers that made the action-packed film look like a love story and theater standees that allowed patrons to sit on the lap of the movie’s main character. Now, Apple is getting in on the action, just in time for the hit film’s digital release.

Deadpool is available now on digital video, and fans will have a chance to take Marvel’s “merc with a mouth” (played by Ryan Reynolds) home. To help celebrate the release, Apple has plastered the hero in a number of promo tiles for other 20th Century Fox releases like Taken and The Wolverine.


They’re quite humorous, and the poses tie-in with the respective films in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, as expected from the character’s sense of humor. The image above, where Deadpool is carrying a large bomb, pays homage to the scene from the classic 1966 film Batman: The Movie, where Adam West’s character was stuck trying to get rid of a similarly ridiculous bomb before it exploded. Other examples include holding up the stereo from Say Anything, carrying around a decapitated arm in 127 Hours, and trying to feed a xenomorph from Alien Deadpool’s favorite dish—the chimichanga.

It’s a brilliant promotion by 20th Century Fox and Apple, and one that’s certainly bound to get the attention of fans while drawing attention to classic films. Deadpool saw tremendous success with a $58 million production budget (and more for marketing) by bringing in over $760 million worldwide, and gained critical acclaim despite its R-rating and adult-oriented nature. 20th Century Fox recently confirmed that Reynolds and director Tim Miller would return for a sequel that’s expected to release sometime in 2017.

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For a limited time, fans can revel in how Deadpool is promoting Liam Neeson’s Taken with a water pistol while downloading or streaming the movie. Those that want to pick up the physical edition can do so when it hits retail on May 10.

Here’s Where Audiences Are Watching Online Video

With online video on the rise, companies are seeing a lot more “cord cutters,” as consumers opt out of cable services in favor of streaming options such as Netflix and Hulu. Think With Google recently posted a report that takes a closer look at online video options and just how effective they’re becoming with audiences.

The first part of the report explained how consumers may be watching less television, but overall video consumption remains as high as ever. It noted that by 2025, half of viewers under the age of 32 won’t have any sort of subscription to a pay-TV service, and will view video online instead. In fact, six out of ten people currently prefer to watch their content through online video platforms instead of live television.

As far as where they’re going online for content, YouTube remains a big destination. During an average month, approximately eight out of ten viewers between the ages of 18-49 tune in to YouTube. That same age group spent more time on YouTube last year, leading to a 74 percent viewership increase over 2014, while (at the same time) conventional television dropped four percent.

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Think With Google also broke down viewership across different screens, indicating that YouTube wasn’t just watched on computer monitors–in fact, mobile viewing has been on the rise as of late. It has managed to reach more 18-49-year-olds than any broadcast or cable television network.

Millennials also make up a big part of this viewing audience, with two-thirds of those with YouTube accounts watching premium online video across various devices, including smartphones and tablets. But mobile doesn’t deserve all the attention, since viewership has spiked across the board, and more people are watching YouTube on their televisions than ever. The number has doubled year-over-year, based on data gathered by the company in Q4 2015.

Conventional television continues to drop as online video finds more of an audience, with YouTube is at the center of much of it. As such, Google continues to work with the preferences of an online viewing audience, even going as far as introducing a new six-second bumper ad system for brands to work with.

Zach Lupei, product manager for video ads over at Google, explained how these new ads will be effective and keep viewers tuned in. “Bumper ads are ideal for driving incremental reach and frequency, especially on mobile, where ‘snackable videos’ perform well. Given the succinct nature of the format, we’ve seen Bumper ads work best when combined with a TrueView or Google Preferred campaign. In early tests, Bumpers drove strong lift in upper funnel metrics like recall, awareness and consideration. We also see that Bumpers work well to drive incremental reach and frequency when paired with a TrueView campaign.

“We like to think of Bumper ads as little haikus of video ads–and we’re excited to see what the creative community will do with them,” he explained.

A sample was also provided, featuring performance artist Ed Sheeran’s latest single, “Lay It All On Me.”

Half Of Mobile Users Never Paid A Cent On Gaming

A new study from Fluent (via Social Times) shows that mobile gaming is still as popular as it’s ever been, except when it comes to consumers making purchases with them.

The customer acquisition platform reported that results from the survey show that, out of the more than 1,000 gamers surveyed, about 77 percent play mobile games multiple times per week, while 46 percent partake in some form of gaming on a daily basis. Fluent also pointed out that nearly half (49 percent) of those polled play mobile games more than they did a year ago, while 24 percent actually play them less.


Mobile games remain quite addictive, as 21 percent of those polled said they’re hooked on mobile games, while 35 percent have admitted they played these games during an “inappropriate time,” like when they were at work.

However, a growing audience doesn’t mean everyone is paying for their mobile experiences. According to the report, 50 percent of respondents indicated they never paid a cent towards a gaming application, while 38 percent have spent money to upgrade to an ad-free experience. Meanwhile, 30 percent said they paid to get extra features or levels in a game, while 29 percent paid for some form of premium currency or accessories commonly offered in free-to-play titles.

Broken down even further, 38 percent of respondents said they made at least one in-app purchase through their smartphones, while a nearly equal 37 percent indicated that they’ve never made a purchase.

Jordan Cohen, CMO of Fluent, made further comments on the report, explaining the following:

“Mobile gaming has experienced explosive growth, and it is now a $29 billion industry. We have witnessed this first hand at Fluent, with a rapidly growing roster of app publisher clients that are using our platform to promote their apps and drive installs via cost-per-install ad campaigns (i.e., they only pay when a consumer who sees their ad actually downloads their app(s)).

“The most interesting finding, to me at least, has been how mainstream mobile gaming has become, with nearly one-half of all consumers saying they play games on their smartphones or tablets on a daily basis. It is also incredible to see that smartphones are far and away the dominant devices for gaming and have completely upended the gaming industry, with 42 percent saying they most frequently play games on their smartphones, compared to just 13 percent who say gaming consoles.

“For marketers of gaming apps, the most interesting stats will probably be around the percentage of mobile gamers who are willing to spend money on their apps. Even with an abundance of free games available for download, 50 percent of consumers say they have spent money to purchase a mobile game, and large numbers are willing to pay to unlock features or levels in mobile games (30 percent) or for digital currency and premium in-app accessories (29 percent).”

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Wearable Tech Is The Next Big Thing For Baseball

Next time you head out to the ballpark and bust out the binoculars to get a better view of the ballplayers, you’ll be seeing more than intricate pine tar art, packs of sunflower seeds, and cans of Skoal affixed to players’ bats and bodies.

Major League Baseball approved two wearable technology devices prior to the start of the season that can be used during games—the Motus Baseball Sleeve, which measures stress on elbows, and the Zephyr Bioharness, which monitors heart and breathing rates.

And there could be more tech coming off the bench in the form of a smart bat in the near future.

Zepp Labs, a sports tech company reinventing the way athletes and coaches capture and analyze performance data to measure and track different facets of their swings, has introduced a smart bat that examines impact speed, angle, swing duration, and more. It’s a big win for sports science in search of providing a blueprint for a successful swing.

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Commissioner Rob Manfred previously told [a]listdaily that adopting technology is paramount to growing the game. MLB and Apple also partnered to provide every team with iPad Pros this season. Using available data in a proliferated sabermetrics world is a natural extension.

The global market for wearable fitness technology is estimated to reach $12 billion by 2022. In a market dominated by Fitbit, Nike FuelBand and Apple Watch, the likes of Under Armour and Gatorade are using the trending connected fitness platform to target athletes.

Zepp has zeroed in on the best player in the game in Mike Trout, a lifetime .303 hitter who’s still trying to fine-tune his swing to further torment pitchers. The Angels superstar embraced the next generation of sporting equipment during spring training when he used a smart bat to track consistency and perfect his MVP form.

“Introducing a smart bat is a big moment for the game … I’m always looking to improve my swing and have consistency throughout the season,” said Trout, a four-time All Star centerfielder. “When I was growing up I tried to develop my hitting style watching video of Derek Jeter. But I was just swinging. I didn’t know if I was doing something right or wrong. But now, using Zepp, young players are going to be able to accelerate their learning so much faster.”


By viewing, comparing and analyzing swings, Zepp’s hardware, software, and cloud-based data platform has the makings of being a slump-busting antidote. The San Francisco-based startup is currently working with the Angels, Padres, Diamondbacks and Rays. Their players and coaches use the removable sensor device during batting practice and in the cage. A smartphone app retrieves the data and allows them to decipher the proprietary data.

Jason Fass, chairman of the board at Zepp Labs, and formerly the company’s CEO, told [a]listdaily that a lot of the ballplayers they work with—Giancarlo Stanton, David Ortiz, Josh Donaldson, Jose Altuve and Hunter Pence are among them—use Zepp as a “check-in.”

“Maybe they’re in a slump, or not playing as consistently as they want to and not hitting the ball as cleanly as they want,” said Fass. “When they put the sensor on, they get a better understanding of what’s different. That’s huge for them. What they love most is how easy it is to use and retrieve the data.”

Fass said that although baseball (and youth athletes) are a big chunk of their business, they also use the technology to track swings for golf, tennis, croquet and badminton. “It’s all about data, and people getting better,” he said. “Rather than just throw a bunch of data at you, it’s actionable. You know what to do with it. We tell you how to use it, and we give you the content and the tools. … Because we’ve done so well, equipment makers are now looking to Zepp to put this sensor technology in their equipment.”

This spring, Zepp partnered with Old Hickory, Trout’s preferred bat since high school and now his bat maker, to install the chip on his MT27 model. The metric-measuring device has a 3D Swing Analyzer inside the bat to capture the data Trout needs in order to gain a competitive edge on gameday. It will be commercially available this summer.

Pat Nicholson, vice president of marketing for Zepp, said there are more announcements with original equipment manufacturers to be made. He believes smart bats are the future, and next big thing in baseball. But when will it actually be used in a game?


“We were the first company in this space, and have been pushing for it a long time. We developed a product that works at the highest level of the game. We have been working with MLB for the last two years, and we’re the only company in this category to have an exclusive with the MLBPA,” Nicholson said. “They’ve approved swing analyzers for batting practice, so we think this is a huge step forward for the league. We can’t predict the future, or control the timeline, but we envision an inevitable future of swing metrics being woven into broadcasts. That’s the path we’re on.”

Nicholson noted that you can begin to see the pieces falling into place as they continue to drive the category forward, as evidenced with their partnership with Perfect Game, a worldwide amateur baseball scouting service. He said implementing Zepp into events like the Home Run Derby are great entry points before they experience a breakthrough and become a part of the fabric of the game and fan experience.

Wearables potentially offer new ways to change the way players train. How teams use the information, and assure privacy, remains to be seen. In the Moneyball age of analytics, it seems like only a matter of time before the game-use approval comes out of the woodwork.

For a sport washing its hands of the steroid era, it should be a much welcomed and embraced innovation.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan.


‘Clash Of Kings’ Ad Campaign Surrounds ‘Game Of Thrones’ Hype

Mobile game, Clash of Kings, although not officially related to George R. R. Martin’s novel of the same name, is nonetheless riding the Game of Thrones premiere hype today. Elex Tech has created an ad campaign strategically timed with the season 6 premiere of HBO’s viral television sensation, which was broadcasted in the UK by Sky Atlantic. It started with a television ad to promote Clash of Kings, which aired during the Game of Thrones broadcast, but the marketing campaign doesn’t end there.

Promotions will continue through Game of Thrones fan sites in the hours and days following the TV spot, using hype from the show’s season 6 premiere to attract new game downloads and purchases. The results are then monitored in real-time to gauge new user acquisition along with in-game behaviors.

Clash of Kings is a real-time fantasy strategy war game for mobile devices, but it can also be played on Facebook. Named Facebook’s Game of the Year in 2015, Elex’s pocket-sized battle for kingdom domination shares similar themes to Game of Thrones, making the season premier hype a prime location to attract new fans. It is also considered a mid-core title for its required time investment and strategy. The game placed number twelve on NewZoo’s chart for top iOS games in March 2016 by downloads and revenue.

Game of Thrones was created with viral content in mind, with HBO creating a social media strategy a year-and-a-half prior to the show’s premiere, and even turning to fans for casting suggestions. The show was the most-talked about television program on Facebook in 2015, and attracted 20.2 million viewers per episode in 2015 on all platforms in the U.S.

While Game of Thrones fans digest what they’ve seen on the season 6 premiere, Elex is digesting the response from their Clash of Kings TV spot. The game already boasts over 10 million registered users, so now it’s up to the publisher to evaluate how many in-game purchases are being made as a result of the campaign.

Facebook Live Video May Be The Future Of Ads

Facebook Live launched initially in August of 2015 as a way for celebrities to broadcast video to their fans via Facebook pages. Early this year, the tool became available on Facebook’s mobile app. Now, Live Video is replacing the Messenger icon in the Facebook app on both iOS and Android.

Facebook is already getting some major market share with Live Video. Take a look at the numbers: Twitter launched its Periscope live video app nine months before Facebook did on mobile, and Twitter’s installed base is just a small fraction of Facebook’s (305 million monthly active users (MAU) compared to 1.44 billion MAU).

Why should Facebook be engaged in this effort? “People now expect communication that’s immediate, expressive and immersive,” said Paul Peterman, head of industry, global marketing solutions, Facebook & Instagram, speaking the [a]list summit. He went on to note that 1.4 billion people are using messaging apps, and over two billion will by 2018. Six of the 10 most used apps globally are messaging apps. “From a brand perspective, we have to live up to the expectation that there is immediate communication and what is that value that we can bring,” Peterman added.

Facebook Live Video is a logical place for advertising, and if Facebook can create a regular, large, dedicated audience for video, advertisers will stand up and take notice.

“Mobile isn’t just an emerging video platform, mobile is the video platform,” Peterman said. He pointed out a 616 percent growth in mobile videos from 2012 to 2015, and that almost half (45 percent) of global video views are now on mobile devices. Facebook sees eight billion daily video views and 100 million hours of video viewed daily, but those were on the News Feed which can be scrolled past easily. What if Facebook video was more like TV? Now you’re talking some real advertising potential.

How Facebook Is Driving Live Video

Facebook is paying some large publishers (like Vox Media) to create live video broadcasts for Facebook, which is one way to jumpstart the growth of Facebook Live Video. Participants include The New York Times, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, and others, according to Re/code. Tastemade, the video network focused on food and travel content, is providing 100 live, exclusive videos per month.

Now that Facebook has opened up its News Feed to publishers, we can expect similar open arms for video content as well. “Facebook Live is an extremely sticky way to broadcast live video,” Peterman noted. “We’re early days, but we’re very excited about it.”

The Advertising Future for Facebook Live Video

The important part for both Facebook and publishers is the prospect not only of increased audience, but of deriving revenue from that audience—through advertising. Publishers can’t wait for this to happen, though Facebook is proceeding cautiously for now. “It’s tough for us to be patient because in the end all of these [broadcast windows] need dedicated resources,” said Mark Lopez, executive vice president of Univision Digital, speaking to Re/code. “If we use resources for Facebook Live that means those resources are not working on something else. So for us it’s pretty urgent that we can find paths to monetization.”

The consensus among publishers is that they expect Facebook to use interstitial ads rather than a pre-roll. That wouldn’t seem logical for short videos, but it makes perfect sense for a longer video—which is the bulk of what is being planned here.

Interactive Video Ads

Vast possibilities lie ahead for Facebook Live Video and advertising, and Facebook isn’t rushing ahead just yet. But other companies are moving forward, testing the waters—like Innovid, which is trying out online rollover ads with Facebook and Instagram.

Early tests have had some good results, like the campaign British tea and coffee brand Taylors of Harrogate ran last December. The 30-second spot featured a button in the corner of the screen, and if you pointed the mouse at it you’d have the chance to take quizzes, sign up for emails or buy products. The test showed that the format brought a 35 percent engagement rate with 4,400 likes, more than 250 comments and 400 shares.

“This is the first step in transforming social viewers into active participants,” said Tal Chalozin, Innovid’s co-founder and chief technology officer. “Facebook was a natural stepping stone for us because they’ve done an amazing job building a sophisticated ad platform that is continually reinventing itself. We are currently exploring other social platforms to see where interactive video experiences might also integrate well.”

Facebook is firmly committed to making video a key part of its experience, and it’s also looking to bring in publishers and content creators for all sorts of content—video, live video, as well as text. The advertising possibilities have yet to be detailed, but Facebook is no doubt hard at work in this area. The company has already demonstrated great strength in mobile advertising, and it seems like a good bet that Facebook will be among the leaders in bringing mobile advertising to the revenue levels that its audience deserves. Marketers of all types of products should be ready to jump in when advertising opportunities present themselves in Facebook Live Video.

How Diversity Is Impacting ‘LawBreakers’ Game

Tramell Isaac is the art director at Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key Productions. He’s been developing games for 22 years, having worked on Planetside 1 and 2 and Fallout 1 and 2 over the years. He’s now one of the elder statesmen at Boss Key overseeing LawBreakers’ look and feel. The new shooter, which Nexon America will publish, is coming to Steam. He talks about the new game, which was playable at PAX East, and how the Raleigh, NC studio’s make-up is impacting the characters gamers will play.

BK_team_profile_0003_TramellCan you talk about the diversity in LawBreakers’ cast of characters?

It starts from Cliff himself. One of the things that he wanted to do was build a diverse game and develop a diverse workforce. If you look around, you’ll see a bunch of people that we have working here are minorities and females. We have a little bit of everything, and that’s going into the game. So my opinion, Ned’s (Gasorntip’s) opinion, Lee (Hind’s) opinion—all of these people are minorities or people of color. They all have input into these characters that we are making, so that we don’t make stereotypes. And it’s going to make this a more solid game. It’s going to make it a more well-rounded game. It’s going to give different perspectives on Latinos and African Americans and Asians that aren’t necessarily just your typical stereotypical African American or Latino or Asian characters.

How do you see this impacting the players you can reach?

We’re trying to build a brand that is acceptable for many, many people and not something that’s exclusive to one group or another. It’s an all-inclusive type game that actually includes all different types of people from all different walks of life, so people can identify with one character or another in some way. It’s not filled with your typical Army dude with no females in this world, because that’s not the real world that we live in. Cliff wants to make sure that we make games that stand the test of time, mainly because they include everybody. Hopefully, we can get to the point where we have a class that fits pretty much every ethnicity out there, transgender, who knows? We can make whatever we want, but it comes from the top to the bottom, saying, “Okay, we need to make sure that we include these types of people and make sure that they have something that represents them accurately.”

You’ve been making games for 22 years now. What’s it like being an elder statesman at Boss Key?

It’s been great, man, because it’s been really good to learn from everybody. Just because we’ve been doing this for 20 something years, even Cliff himself, we’re all learning new things every day. It’s great to be in a situation where we can use what we’ve learned to teach other people, and at the same time, learn from the people that we’re bringing in. It’s been a blessing because I get to learn new things and I get to pass on some information to these youngins and give them a little bit of something from the old days.

Can you break down the four new characters on display at PAX East?

We have Kintaro, who is on the Breakers side, and Bomchelle, who is on the Law side. We have Hellion on the Law side, and Toska-9 on the Breakers side.

What are their abilities?

We’re symmetrical on the ability side, so we have the Titan class, which has a rocket launcher and the crisper (an electricity gun). We have the Mavericks, which is basically our flying stealth jet class. We have got the Assassin class with the dual wielding swords. And we have the Enforcer, which has shoulder rockets and the traditional aim-down-the-sites rifle.

What influences the art direction in LawBreakers?

We really wanted to give the players something different, something they hadn’t seen before. A lot of the ideas came from Cliff himself, so we’re consolidating them to something that’s a little bit more believable. Cliff comes up with these wild ideas, and it can come from left field, but at the essence of it is basically what we’re trying to achieve. Right now, what we have on the screen with these eight different characters is the boiled-down essence of what this is. This space is a more vibrant, different take on what reality could be if this cataclysmic event (The Shattering) actually happened.

How have these characters evolved from the switch to a paid game from free-to-play?

What you see is where we want to end up. Before what we were talking about was basically adjusting the characters so that they weren’t as over-the-top and exaggerated. We were going a little bit more exaggerated for visuals sake, and it’s more to identify what things were in the distance. But we quickly realized that we didn’t actually need that, so we brought things back to more realistic proportions to keep it more within the fiction of what we were trying to go for. This is a Mature rated game. We want it to feel a little more realistic, a little bit more gritty, and what we had before didn’t really fit that paradigm.

Can you talk about this first playable level you’re showcasing in the Grand Canyon?

The game takes place after a cataclysmic event, but everything has been rebuilt. It’s a little bit different from a lot of games where the world is destroyed and then it stays that way. That doesn’t happen in real life, so we wanted to ground these things in reality. You’ll have multiple locations that are familiar to you. Grandview happens in the Grand Canyon, so you’ll see landmarks within the game, but then we take that and put a twist on it. You have these gravity wells and things floating in space, but then you also have a giant base that’s in the middle of the Grand Canyon that’s sitting on a rock that’s been tethered down so it doesn’t float away. You have this anti-gravity, but how do you make that world feel realistic with those rules? So we changed the rules, and then we built a world around those rules, and that’s basically how Grand View came to play.

Can you talk a little about the verticality of these levels and how that’s been designed to take advantage of anti-gravity?

All the maps have been designed for 360-degree combat. You can get attacked from any direction. It’s not like the linear flow that you’re used to in most first-person shooters. You can basically swing from one end of the map to the next end of the map, go up over the top of buildings, go through the buildings. You can fly up and down and go in and around and all these things. You can blind fire. You can propel yourself through the space. There are a lot of different paradigms that LawBreakers has that you won’t ever see in any other game.