Social Studies: ‘Stories’ Time With Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook

Forget taking that boring photo of your lunch and posting it online—now you can animate it, draw on it and cover it with stickers, too. Yes, social media updates are going well beyond the filter to become “Stories”—disappearing messages that transform everyday situations into playful forms of communication. Pioneered by Snapchat but adopted by Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, Stories tap into the fear of missing out (FOMO) while allowing both users and brands a way to be more creative with social sharing. All three networks have their own version of Stories, but let’s take a look at what sets them apart.


While messages sent in Snapchat are automatically deleted after viewing, Snapchat Stories have a slightly longer lifespan of 24 hours. Stories originated on the Snapchat platform and not only taps into the FOMO, but set the standard. A recent Stories update put more control into the user’s hands while offering more lucrative ad formats to brands.

Previously, Auto Advance would play all Snapchat Stories back-to-back with Snap ads in between. Now, Snapchat users can manually select which Stories they wish to view and the updates will be played in that order. If users watch more than one, ads will appear mid-roll, or at the end when viewing just one at a time. And now, in addition to the new 3D experiences with World Lenses that were announced on Tuesday, the company that recently hit IPO is reportedly launching a self-serve platform for Snap ads.

Snapchat users can enhance their Stories with drawings, emoji and augmented reality stickers.

Despite being imitated by Instagram, many young consumers still prefer the original. A study by Survata found that users ages 13-to-34 still prefer Snapchat over Instagram. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said Snapchat is “cooler,” 67 percent said that Snapchat had better features and if they could only have one app, 51 percent named Snapchat.

February research from SCG, an advertising and public relations agency, surveyed 333 US high school and college students regarding social media usage. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they use Snapchat on a daily basis, just slightly more than said they use Instagram (76 percent) or Facebook (66 percent) on a daily basis.

While new features are always a plus, young consumers seem to use it for the privacy. A study by Defy Media conducted for Variety found that 30 percent of respondents prefer Snapchat because their “parents don’t use it.” Millennials make up the largest share of Snapchat’s US user base—eMarketer estimates millennial monthly active users (MAUs) of the platform will total 43.9 million in 2017.


Meanwhile, Instagram Stories alone have already reached over 200 million daily active users—exceeding all of Snapchat’s DAU (161 million). As with its Snapchat “inspiration,” Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours and appear at the top of a user’s feed for easy viewing. Instagram’s Stories autoplay through all updates, however, just as Snapchat once did before the aforementioned update.

Stories are fun for users, but even more valuable to advertisers who gain access to Facebook’s array of measurement tools. The photo-sharing app exceeds 500 million users and shares access to Facebook’s pool of three million advertisers who have the option to extend Facebook ad campaigns to Instagram.

Instagram has just rolled out its own Story enhancements, including the ability to create stickers out of selfies, geostickers and a shortcut to access stickers for when inspiration strikes. A previous update added “see more” capabilities for verified users, as well as the ability to tag other accounts.

Brands were quick to adopt Instagram Stories and aren’t afraid to have a bit of fun with the casual platform.

“Because businesses play such a rich role within our community, we’ve seen they are the profiles that have led the way and really innovated in [the Stories] space,” Jen Ronan, Instagram’s brand development lead, told The Drum. “They’re telling stories of behind the scenes, of the day to day, and really building their brand in that way.”


Facebook is rolling out Stories for Facebook, too, complete with an in-app camera, stickers and “masks” galore.

“The Instagram community has shown us that it can be fun to share things that disappear after a day,” Facebook explained on its blog last month, “so in the main Facebook app we’re also introducing Facebook Stories which lets you share multiple photos and videos as part of a visual collection atop News Feed.”

Facebook’s app may have a long way to go before it rivals even its own Instagram, but the social media giant certainly has the advantage of numbers. Sixty-eight percent of all Facebook traffic comes from a mobile device, offering easy access to the new Stories feature.

Advertisers love Facebook, too—five million active marketers, to be exact. In a survey conducted by Social Fresh, Firebrand Group and Simply Measured, over 95 percent of marketers named Facebook as the best social media platform for ROI.

How MLBAM Revived The Iconic ‘RBI Baseball’ Brand

MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) continues to innovate with new video games, apps and digital services to connect baseball with tech-savvy fans. In 2014, the technology division of MLB decided to revive Namco’s classic RBI Baseball franchise, which originally launched in Japan on NES in 1986. Since then, the franchise has grown in size and scope, while retaining a $20 price point for consoles and $5 price for tablets and smartphones.

MLBAM shipped the new game with season, postseason, exhibition and local multiplayer modes, including season-saving and simulation capabilities. A free update will add online multiplayer to the mix.

RBI Baseball 17 features all 30 MLB teams, 30 detailed ballparks and over 1,000 MLB players with detailed attributes. Players can modify lineups with complete MLB rosters, or play classic RBI Baseball rosters, while staying current with downloadable roster updates throughout the season. There’s also the ability to track season stats by team, player and league leaders across multiple seasons.

Peter Banks, MLBAM’s director of marketing for gaming and virtual reality, joined AListDaily to explain how the league revived one of its most popular video games.

What are the challenges of bringing out a new RBI Baseball game every year?

Annualized games present great challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, we need to really look into what’s most central to the identity of our game, and what areas present might benefit from change. While bolt on “bullet features” are tempting, it’s much more challenging, and ultimately more rewarding to the user, to evolve and advance the core tenets of the game while preserving the feel that brings fans back. On the other hand, there’s a really wonderful opportunity to develop a closer connection and relationship with your core fan base, to really understand what is loved (or not) and provides an opportunity to have a really unique dialogue both overtly and through gameplay. With RBI Baseball 2017, we’re very proud to have brought development wholly in-house to our New York studios at MLBAM. Ramping the team up and getting all our skus in line for retail, digital consoles and mobile presented challenges no other league has ever had to deal with internally, and we think really positions us to further deepen the dialogue with our fans as we bring more content, more authenticity and more fun to RBI every year.

How do you expand this game’s offerings through online updates throughout the year?

One of our big focus areas is roster updates. As you’re aware, there will be trades, injuries and guys brought up from and sent down to the minor leagues throughout the season; this can really change the way a team plays. This almost forms a metagame for core baseball fans as the teams they love evolve and grow. We have an entire team here dedicated to roster updates. These developers are huge fans of the game, and keep track of all the player changes across the 30 clubs. We reflect this with monthly patches that update player teams, stats and performances, so our fans can have access to the most authentic MLB experience possible. At this point RBI has stayed away from a lot of the paid content packs and releases. As a $20 title, it’s important that RBI be accessible to all fans of the sport, and we’re sticking with that model for the time being.

How have you worked with cover athlete and Dodgers star Corey Seager to promote this year’s game in the US, and with Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays to promote it in Canada?

Our athlete partnerships in general are one of the most enjoyable aspects of rolling out the game. While Seager and Pillar were obviously a big part of our marketing, we also have partnerships with Kyle Schwarber, Francisco Lindor, Dansby Swanson and many others. Baseball fandom is both national and regional, so we try to find players that have appeal for both individual markets and more nationwide reach. Our licensed players really give us a great individual effort to shape marketing around, while supporting the league-wide efforts to promote MLB’s amazing, and growing, roster of young stars and speaking directly to regional fandoms and more. With Seager and Pillar, we’ve worked closely with the guys and their clubs to pull off a range of fun promotion points, and will continue to do so throughout the regular season. One activation that was really entertaining was Corey revealing this year’s cover at the LA Dodgers Fanfest. We were at Dodger Stadium with thousands of their most dedicated fans and were able to collaborate with the team to get this really personal, impactful message. The game was on the jumbotron, making for a really fun day. We did something similar with Pillar as part of a broadcast package with MLB Network.

What type of retailer cross-promotions do you have going on?

We try to promote our retail partners in all our key retail touch points, so we include tags in our online presence trailers. We have to balance being both a strong digital title as well as a solid retail performer, so we’re allocating resources to both of these channels throughout the product life cycle. One specific promo we just wrapped up that was pretty cool was a custom Xbox giveaway with EB Games in Canada. We’re also partnering with the Red Box around our roster updates, to help keep the games active in their ecosystem.

How does MLB Gaming tap into the social media channels of MLB to cross-promote this franchise?

We work closely with the MLBAM social teams to deliver relevant and timely content through the official MLB social channels. Facebook and Twitter have the largest viewership base, but we’re definitely exploring more emergent platforms. These have great reach and really target our core fans. In addition, we work with the individual clubs to create content that targets fans with club specific social messaging.

What type of engagement did the Twitter Xbox One RBI Baseball 17 contest generate?

Huge! This was a pretty heroic effort to pull off. We were able to work with nearly every major club to deliver a unified, timely and well-amplified message that tied in directly with the launch of the game and the start of the regular season. We were also very happy with the prizing. We collaborated with Microsoft to produced 30 super nice, exclusive-enameled Xbox S consoles customized by Colorware. This is more than just a decal; the actual box is taken apart and transformed into a one-of-a-kind collectable featuring branding from the game, the club and the league.

How does MLB Gaming work with MLB TV and to connect the RBI Baseball brand with baseball fans?

We have a handful of product groups and owners across MLBAM and we work closely across all of these verticals to deliver meaningful content to our fans on the appropriate platform. While these are individual business units with their own priorities, all of these products are designed and defined by our charter to give fans great access to the game in whatever way they want and that helps us find common ground to leverage these platforms for our key messages.

How does MLB Gaming work with individual teams and stadiums to market this game?

Gaming is a part of the DNA of baseball fans, so when it comes to working with clubs it has been pretty easy. The clubs understand the connection that both their club and video games have with their fans. Working with them and providing activations for both games and VR creates a win-win with our products and the individual club fan bases.

Baseball has a long season. What role do key days like Opening Day, the All-Star Game and the postseason play as marketing opportunities?

RBI has a very long tail, largely thanks to the structure of the season. We try to maintain a steady drumbeat of robust content and marketing pipeline throughout the season. This includes things like live events and activations around high points, digital content that speaks specifically to the various stages of the regular and post season and content updates that advance RBI’s gameplay.  The MLB All-Star FanFest also continues to be a powerful in-person platform for us to engage with fans, including this year where we’ll have a special never-before-seen enhanced VR experience. More to come there soon.

The classic RBI Baseball is still mentioned by MLB players as a favorite. How have you revived that brand awareness over the past few years?

This was a big part of our thinking behind reviving the franchise in 2014. RBI Baseball is synonymous with fun, accessible baseball. We’ve taken that core DNA and evolved it with more authenticity with clubs, players and parks and continue to polish the experience to deliver something unique and rewarding for our users.

What do you feel differentiates the RBI Baseball brand from competition like Sony’s MLB The Show?

They’re very different titles, serving different audiences. The focus of RBI is more the ability to jump right in and get playing. Our game is all about accessibility. The Show is a much more involved and elaborate product. We think they both serve a passionate and engaged audience.

Sony is both a partner with PlayStation 4 and a license holder with MLB The Show. How do you work with them in the baseball game space?

We really love what they do with The Show and support them in their successes. Our core licensing and product strategy is to make sure our fans have access to the types of experiences they are looking for and having multiple products helps us deliver on that goal.

‘Battlefront II’ Expands The Star Wars Universe

Electronic Arts is investing heavily in its Star Wars license with Lucasfilm and Disney. The gamemaker used Star Wars Celebration over the weekend in Orlando to officially reveal the first details of Star Wars Battlefront II. The Nov. 17, 2017 release is being created by three developers: Motive, which is focusing on the single-player storyline; DICE, which is creating the massive multiplayer battles; and Criterion, which is focusing on the space battles after delivering the PlayStation VR-exclusive Rogue One VR Mission add-on for the original title.

Bernd Diemer, creative director on the game at DICE, is new to the franchise. He told AListDaily that playing the first game as a fan brought back his favorite memories from being a Star Wars fan as a kid in Germany. “The first game allowed me to step into a picture-perfect recreation of Hoth, which still gives me goosebumps just talking about it,” Diemer said. “How do you top that?”

That’s the challenge EA faces, after selling over 14 million copies of the original game since 2015.

“We decided to make it really big,” Diemer said. “This might be the biggest and most ambitious game I’ve ever worked on.”

Battlefront II will introduce a new female commander, Iden Versio (played by actress Janina Avankar), although this time, the story will focus on the Empire.

“There are a lot of stories about the heroes of the Rebellion in the Galactic Civil War, but we wanted to focus on the Empire,” said Mark Thompson, game director at Motive Studios. “It’s a narrative we haven’t explored a lot in Star Wars. And the idea of introducing these special forces soldiers gave us a new perspective to tell a story.”

Iden leads Inferno Squad, and Thompson said these are the soldiers who can lead the rank and file stormtroopers to take out the “rebel scum.” They’re the reason these kids join the Imperial Academy and become pilots and soldiers.

It also flips the perspective of the storytelling, establishing the Empire as wanting to maintain order and peace, while the rebels are terrorists trying to disrupt the status quo.

“Iden will go down as a heroic Star Wars character as this game explores how she was raised and who she becomes,” said Steve Blank, creative executive at Lucasfilm. “It’s a different twist, but she’s that type of hero for the people of the Empire to look up to.”

The single-player story will also help fill in the official Star Wars canon following the celebration of the destruction of the Death Star 2 at the end of Return of the Jedi. Iden is on Endor fighting, and she vows to avenge the death of her emperor.

EA worked with Lucasfilm to create a new planet, Vardos, which is Iden’s home. This Imperial utopia is where citizens grow up in a peaceful environment and look to the Empire as the “good guys.”

Key Promo image of Star Wars Battlefront II

Speaking of the good guys, the single-player campaign will offer missions where players take control of popular heroes from the Rebellion, including Luke Skywalker. This game will help fill in that gap of 30 years that took place between the end of Return of the Jedi and the beginning of The Force Awakens.

This being a Battlefront game, multi-player remains a key focus. The game will span all three eras of the film universe, including The Clone Wars, and even offer DLC that ties into the upcoming Christmas release, The Last Jedi.

Diemer said multi-player also introduces different classes, which offers more choice for individual play styles. When playing as a trooper through the eras the character will change its look from planet to planet, but it will share a progression as the player unlocks abilities and finds new gadgets.

“As a trooper who is really good and has unlocked a certain set of abilities, maybe you can stand up against Darth Maul,” Diemer said. “Teamwork becomes more important when you play as a trooper, as well.”

Heroes have received an upgrade. Rather than popping in as a power-up for a seemingly invincible bout of gameplay like in the original, they now have a career. The game includes a resource-based system that allows the player to change into a hero or vehicle. In addition to Darth Maul, other heroes featured in the debut trailer include Yoda, Rey and Luke Skywalker.

“Here we wanted to give heroes more depth,” Diemer added. “They’re more physical, so they have more presence in the game. We gave them a career, so they can become better heroes and unlock new abilities. And they’re available to more players, so there are more heroes on the battlefield.”

The game introduces plenty of new vehicles from all the films, including Taun Tauns that you can ride on Hoth. And the ship-based combat is leaving the planet’s surface this time around.

“We heard from fans they wanted to go to space, so that’s where Criterion entered the picture,” Diemer said. “Criterion has nailed the sense of speed and making you feel like an awesome pilot. We also treat the ships the same as troopers and heroes. You can unlock new abilities and modifications and customize your TIE fighter for your play style. We have hero ships like Slave 1 and the Millennium Falcon and they have the same depth and personalities as the heroes. And there are a lot more vehicles from all eras in this game.”

Disney and Lucasfilm are celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the original Star Wars film this year. And now fans have a new hope in a Battlefront game that, at this early stage, has the potential to live up to the very high bar fans have set for this franchise.

Why Brands Are Flocking To Music Festivals This Season

It’s festival season, but music fans aren’t the only ones flocking to the party. As millions don their sunscreen and head over to the beer tent, brands are connecting with audiences in ways that go beyond their name printed on a banner. Sponsors spend $1.4 billion on the music industry in the United States each year alone, and that number is increasing year-over-year.

“I see brands becoming a lot more intertwined with live music,” Ari Berger, director of event management company P2-EG said in a 2017 music trends report by Eventbrite. “It’s mutually beneficial—it’s become more of a symbiotic relationship than it was before. Before, brands only wanted to align with talent that gave them a platform they couldn’t be on before, and vice versa. But now it’s almost like they need each other.”

Coachella ticket sales are up 125 percent over last year, according to StubHub, and the festival is expected to exceed all previous attendance records in 2017. American Express—a major sponsor for the event—is appealing to affluent millennials with special events for platinum card holders. The American Express Platinum House in nearby Palm Springs offered attendees SoulCycle classes, premium food and drinks and a private concert by Bebe Rexha. For everyone else attending Coachella, the American Express Experience tent allows music fans to create their own “mini music video,” as well as unlock special rewards through the official Coachella app.

Netflix, another sponsor for Coachella, is providing free Wi-Fi at the event and promoting its new series Girlboss. Considering that 55 percent of millennials pay for digital entertainment, having your name associated with the internet is a pretty smart idea.

While Coachella is a perfect example of brands getting involved, music festivals are perfect examples of how millennials prefer to spend their money—whether they’re affluent or not. Seventy-eight percent of millennials would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something, according to a study by Eventbrite. The study further revealed that 55 percent of millennials say they’re spending more on events and live experiences than ever before. In addition, 69 percent believe attending live events and experiences make them more connected to other people, the community and the world.

An astounding 32 million Americans attend at least one music festival per year, according to Billboard—more than the entire population of Texas. That’s a whole lot of people posting on social media and sharing memories. This makes music festivals a prime opportunity for influence marketing.

For the Bonnaroo festival last year, Red Bull partnered with Megan Batoon, a popular internet personality to post on Instagram where she showed all her followers the inside scoop of what it’s like to be at the festival. Naturally, she was also encouraging them to check out the official livestream of Bonnaroo, which was officially sponsored by Red Bull.

Capturing memories is a priority, so photo ops make great ad ops at music festivals, and beyond. According to EventTrack, 98 percent of consumers capture content during live events and 100 percent post the content on social media. Excited to share the fun with others, those documenting their experiences share them up to 15 times.

Boomeo Offers ESports Training From The Best

Imagine getting golf lessons from Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy. For many, it would be a dream come true to get expert guidance from pro players, and IMG is helping to make that dream a reality in the world of eSports and competitive video games with its new service, Boomeo. IMG, which also partnered with Turner to form ELeague, launched Boomeo—a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) boot camp—to help both pro and amateur players improve their skills using lessons created by professional Counter-Strike players from top eSports teams such as Cloud9, compLexity, Counter Logic Gaming, G2 Esports and SK Gaming.

Speaking with [a]listdaily, Simon Abitbol, founder of Boomeo at IMG eSports, said that, “Boomeo is a service designed to help users improve at CS:GO with super digestible content from some of the best pros in the world. We pair that content with our custom training mods that are revolutionizing how casuals and pros alike train and warm up—all while solving the pain point of the antiquated method of finding servers that has existed for nearly 18 years.”

Abitbol then discussed what inspired the service, stating that, “I’ve wanted to create an educational platform for eSports content for quite a while, but Boomeo’s specific short-form content format was inspired by getting tired of sifting through 25-minute videos to find content that was relevant to me and my playstyle. As it relates to Duels, our flagship training mod, I was sick of the meatgrinder that is Deathmatch, and recognized early on that it was a low-efficacy way to train and warm up. I knew there was a better way, and we think Duels is definitely better.”

When asked how Boomeo differed from asking for tips from pro players during livestreams, Abitbol said that, “learning from watching pros on Twitch is fantastic—I recommend doing it—but it’s like comparing a buckshot to a sniper rifle. Boomeo content is laser focused and short-form, so you can find the nuggets of info that apply to you and your game in just a few clicks.”

Abitbol also explained that, “Boomeo lessons are fully automated, and we update with fresh new content three times per week. In the future, we’ll be looking at human-reviewed demos, and even a coach-finder system, similar to how you’d book a golf coach.” Abitbol also stated that the eSports learning platform is designed for broad appeal. “I think we offer something for everyone,” he said. “New players have the fundamentals section which teach you the mechanics of the game. The pro strats and general guides are great for the mid-tier casual player all the way up even to semi-pros. Our gameplay definitely is beneficial for silver 1 rank all the way up to the best players in the world.”

We asked Abitbol if the learning system could be applied to a game such as League of Legends, which features an expanding roster of characters, each with their own strategies. Abitbol responded by saying, “most top-tier eSports became eSports because they are boundless in their depth and complexity, so there’s an infinite pool of content ideas to draw from. League of Legends is a great example of that. As new champions need new content—while certainly, it presents an interesting challenge as things shift with patches—overall, a lot of mechanics either stay the same or have a transferable skillset, and you’d never need to fully flush your entire library.”

With that, we asked Abitbol if there were plans to expand Boomeo to cover more than Counter-Strike. “Right now, we’re focusing on Counter-Strike,” said Abitbol. “There’s a lot to do, and we want to build the right foundation first. I like to say, we built the chassis and now we are working on adding Bluetooth. That being said, other titles are absolutely of interest down the road.”

So, what is IMG’s long-term plan with Boomeo? “To fill a whitespace and find a niche between the other awesome platforms that already exist,” said Abitbol. “Ultimately, people are going to find themselves in competitive game modes like matchmaking or a third-party service like FaceIt—we want to be the place you go first and spend some time learning and warming up before you go compete. We have some amazing features in the works that will make players want to come back after they compete too!”

Why Experiential Marketing Is Pivotal To A Brand’s Ad Strategy

When marketing becomes an experience, great things happen. Experiential marketing creates a sense of community among fans, who share a common interest and excitement during events.

From concerts to pop-up coffee shops, art galleries and game worlds come to life, brands are using interactive events to create emotional connections with consumers. Seventy-seven percent of marketers use experiential marketing as a vital part of a brand’s advertising strategies, according to a 2016 study by EventTrack. Engaged consumers spend more, and 65 percent of brands also say that their event and experiential programs are directly related to sales.

Experiential marketing was out in force during SXSW, showcasing a variety of ways in which the ad method can be employed. TV network Bravo sent out a horde of people dressed in nude fabric to promote its upcoming show Stripped, while Hulu promoted A Handmaid’s Tale by strolling women solemnly around the event.

Los Pollos Hermanos, the restaurant from AMC’s Breaking Bad series, got its own pop-up location during SXSW and in other subsequent cities worldwide on its tour to promote the third season of Better Call Saul (the prequel to Breaking Bad). Stars from the show have made appearances for autographs, and those patient enough to wait in line are rewarded with free curly fries and branded cups.

Sixty-nine percent of millennials believe attending events makes them feel more connected to other people, according to a study by EventBrite. That feeling isn’t limited to millennials, however. For the Los Pollos Hermanos activation, as with the Gilmore Girls Luke’s Diner coffee shop this past October, fans waiting in line shared stories and many appeared in costume.

According to EventTrack, 98 percent of consumers capture content during live events and 100 percent of them share this content on social media. Excited to share the fun with others, those documenting their experiences share them up to 15 times.

“There is always value in traditional above the line media and also digital and social media, but there is no replacing the value of experience,” Lee Applbaum, chief marketing officer of Patrón Spirits, told Event.

After attending a brand activation, 98 percent of consumers feel more inclined to purchase, 74 percent have a better opinion about a brand and 70 percent become regular customers.

CCP Celebrates 20th Anniversary; CEO Plots Course For Future

CCP, creators of EVE Online—a sci-fi game that emphasizes space exploration, battles and economics—has one of the closest relationships with its fan base of any game developer. This closeness is best demonstrated with the EVE Fanfest, where hundreds of players from around the world come together in Reykjavik, Iceland to celebrate all things EVE.

This year’s 13th annual Fanfest stands out because it marks the company’s 20th anniversary and it comes at a time when its VR efforts, including EVE Valkyrie and Gunjack, are helping to pioneer VR. Valkyrie has been a key launch game for premium headsets, including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR while Gunjack was a launch game for the Samsung Gear VR, helping to kick off mobile VR. Similarly, Gunjack 2: End of Shift is pioneering new ground by being one of the first games to be built from the ground up for Google Daydream. CCP will release its first non-EVE game while originating an all-new sport when Sparc comes out later this year.

Realizing that cutting edge technology helped bring EVE Online to success, CCP is committed to exploring the VR space to push the technology forward while growing both its brand and fan base beyond its core game. However, CCP CEO, Hilmar Veigar Pétursson explained at the event’s keynote that the hype period for VR is officially over. Now comes the task of exploring the “desert” to figure out what works best for VR entertainment. Part of the strategy is in creating a “playground” for its players. Where EVE Online is a sandbox experience, CCP is looking to complement it with focused short-form VR experiences that will create just as many cherished memories for its players.

Pétursson sat down with [a]listdaily at EVE Fanfest to talk about navigating the VR desert as the technology shapes the company’s brand, engaging with a loyal fan base, and the direction the company is headed so that it continues to grow for another 20 years.

How do you think the 13th EVE Fanfest, celebrating CCP’s 20th anniversary, compares to previous years?

I think it compares quite nicely. Every Fanfest is different, but I would say that this is probably the most relaxed one. Everyone is super chill—the team, the players and speakers are all chill. It’s very nice to see. We’re trying out a new thing: live-action role-playing. I think that’s a very interesting spice to add to the mix and I see people going very deep into that. It’s nice to innovate on something that we’ve been doing for such a long time. I also thought the EVE Online keynote was very good and it’s probably the strongest one I’ve ever seen, with a concrete plan for the year and vision for the future.

CCP has a deep connection with its community, but how important are these in-person events when there are so many ways to communicate online?

They’re very important. For all the magic of the internet, engaging through text is often not very productive. It sometimes brings out the worst in people. In person brings out the best. That was kind of the situation that created Fanfest. In early 2004, we were having various struggles with EVE, and it was impossible in so many ways. We were mostly interacting with people through forums, and sometimes it just wasn’t productive. I remember saying, “I wish we could just have them over.”

So, we had the idea of holding Fanfest that fall without knowing what it would be. We opened up a page for people to sign up, and when we saw 140 people signing up to fly to Iceland, we thought, “okay, we’d better think this through now.” Over 100 people came from Iceland, so we had close to 300 people at the first Fanfest. That’s when we got it—this has to be a thing—and we’ve been doing it ever since.

EVE Online - space battleFor a long time, CCP has been known as the EVE Online company. What would you like CCP to be known as in five or ten years?

I would like us to be seen as pioneers in the gaming industry, taking gaming beyond what they’re historically known to be. We think of what we do as more like virtual worlds than games. Certainly, games and gameplay are important pieces, but there are also deep fundamental things relating to social, communities, economies, making decisions and dealing with the consequences, reputation, and so on. There are so many aspects of sociology weaved into our creations that I hope we are identified as one of the early pioneers that brought it to millions of people.

Do you feel that the perception of CCP has been changing with its development of VR games?

Yes, I think we are more associated with the tech disruption that is VR because we have shipped many games on many platforms and most of them have been quite successful. So, I’ve definitely noticed that people associate us with that.

How important is it for CCP to be seen as a leader in the VR space?

Well, I think it’s more important that we make games that are good and people enjoy them. The goal isn’t necessarily to be seen as a leader; the goal is to make games that people love. Being identified as a leader in this space is more of an emergent property of doing that well. So, we’re more focused on making kick-ass games.

You said in the keynote that the hype period for VR is over and now we’re entering a desert. What is the key to navigating that desert?

The key for us to be really critical about what to do next and not think that our next successes are going to look like our first successes. You can see that in Sparc. It’s very different from Gunjack and Valkyrie, and they’re both different from each other. So, we want to make sure we’re making relatively diversified experiences because nothing in VR is really known regarding what’s going to work and what won’t. As we evolve the Valkyrie and Gunjack franchises, and learn from the release of Sparc, we have other projects in the works that we’re not yet ready to talk about, so we’re figuring out how they should be.

It’s also important to work with the market makers. We are a mid-sized company and the other players in the VR space—especially in the hardware space—are gigantic companies. So, it’s very important to work with them and be tuned in to their future roadmaps so we understand how they think it’s going to evolve. Then we can aim our efforts to be aligned with that. It’s important that we go for breaking even on our games. We don’t want to be losing money on VR, but we’re not seeing it as a profit center yet. Those are the components we think about in navigating the desert.

RedLeader_1920x1080Is CCP partnering for location-based VR experiences?

We’re in an exploration phase, talking to everyone that is planning location-based VR. It’s too early to talk about anything concrete, but games like Sparc have a very obvious use case for that.

Can you elaborate on the shift from creating sandbox experiences to making more of a playground for players?

EVE Online is a social economy sandbox, so for a period of time, we thought all of our games needed to be like that. If it wasn’t an EVE-style game, then it wasn’t something we thought we’d be interested in. But now we’ve opened it up to a playground metaphor. It’s perfectly fine, and even encouraged, to do shorter-form games if they help us learn something that we can bring back to the fold.

For example, Gunjack (the simplest game we’ve made) taught us a lot about mobile VR. It was important to not overcomplicate the game because we were learning something brand new. So, in the metaphor of the playground, the sandbox is still there but we’ve widened our scope in terms of what games we see ourselves making if they are teaching us about an important topic.


What are some of CCP’s other goals for the future?

Obviously, one of the biggest topics for us is continued growth for EVE Online. It’s in an unprecedented place of being 14 years old but still having a bright future ahead of itself. So, it’s a big challenge to continue that journey. Another challenge is to better understand the components of EVE that really make it tick so that we can recreate parts of it in other games. Then, at some point—once we have explored VR well and its installed base is at scale—the challenge will be of how we can do something at the scope of EVE Online in VR.

What do you tell developers to keep in mind as they forge forward into unexplored areas of gaming?

What I tell developers to keep in mind is that we’re exploring, we might not always be right, and it’s okay to fail if we learn something and grow from it. If you don’t say that, you’re not really pioneering, you’re just making safe moves. I want to emphasize to developers that we are now in the phase of exploring VR and it’s very new. We’ve been doing it for four years, which isn’t a long time. So, we should look at it as a wide-open field and do different things. It’s okay to be wrong if we figure it out quickly and learn and grow from it.

Google Adds On To VR Team; Showtime, Kohl’s, Black Angus Appoint New CMOs

From media networks to gaming, here are the week’s biggest job moves.

Pandora has promoted Susan Panico to senior vice president of strategic solutions. Panico previously was Pandora’s vice president of sales marketing. She previously worked 18 years for PlayStation in a variety of roles, and recently joined AListDaily to talk about how their music discovery platform is a place where artists find their fans and listeners find the music they love—and how brands organically get in on the action, too.

Donald Buckley has been promoted to CMO at Showtime Networks. He previously was the executive vice president of program marketing and digital services.

SoundStage developer Logan Olson is joining the VR team at Google.

Phil Brook, formerly a regional director for Buick and GMC, has been appointed to be General Motors’ new US vice president of marketing.

Greg Revelle is leaving his CMO post at Best Buy to take on the same role for Kohl’s.

Black Angus Steakhouse has appointed restaurant industry marketing executive Liz Geavaras for their newly created position of chief marketing officer.

Ubisoft has lost its creative director for Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed III. Alex Hutchinson left the company to start his own studio in Typhoon Studios.

The Estée Lauder Companies announced new leadership appointments in North America and the UK and Ireland. Group president Thia Breen announced plans to retire after a 40-year career; Chris Good will succeed Breen in the role of president of North America and Philippe Warnery will lead the UK and Ireland business.

Mondelez is in the process of laying the groundwork to replace Irene Rosenfeld, its chief executive, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Jerry Rebel plans to retire as Jack in the Box’s chief financial officer in 2018. The company will begin an external search for a new CFO.

Job Vacancies 

CMO, Mixed Reality GE Waukesha, WI
Vice President, Marketing Esurance San Francisco, CA
Vice President Marketing American Eagle Financial Credit Union East Hartford, CT
VP, Marketing (Global Underwear) Calvin Klein New York, NY
VP, Marketing & Digital Channels City of Hope Irwindale, CA
Director, Marketing  Fox Deportes Los Angeles, CA
Director of Brand Content & Partnerships  Time Warner Burbank, CA
Senior Marketing Manager Apple Santa Clara Valley, CA
Sr. Manager, Creative Services NBC Universal Universal City, CA

Make sure to check back for updates on our Jobs Page.

Have a new hire tip? Let us know at

Live Broadcasts Make Up 20 Percent Of Facebook Video

This week, we find out what teenagers do on their phones all day, gamers get hardcore and people fear what they don’t understand.

Rise Of The Machines

Nervous about voice-controlled AI sharing all your secrets or devices banding together to take over the world? If so, you’re not alone. A study by Pegasystems found that a quarter of respondents are worried about that very issue. In addition, 72 percent of respondents indicated some level of fear toward AI. The study, which queried 6,000 consumers in six countries, found that only slightly more than a third liked the idea of businesses employing AI to engage with them—even if it resulted in a better customer experience. A lack of understanding about AI could, at least partially, be to blame for the fear—while 72 percent of respondents claimed to understand AI, only 41 percent knew that Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home intelligent assistants utilized the technology.

A separate study by InsideSales found similar results. Asking nearly nearly 2,000 people in the US, the company found that 42 percent of consumers don’t trust AI, although nearly 55 percent say they have used it outside of work.

Consumers don’t seem to fear home automation, according to findings by Internet of Things (IoT) firm Parks Associates. According to a new report, 55 percent of US broadband households want to use their voice to control their smart home and entertainment devices.

Native And Hands-On

Early adopters of native advertising aren’t investing as much anymore, according to a three-year study from Nativo. Based on data from over 600 brands, Nativo’s study found that companies in automotive, tech B2B, entertainment, tech B2C and finance & insurance—all early adopters of native advertising in 2014—saw their aggregate share of budget decline from 57 percent in 2014 to 37 percent in 2016. Overall, native ad spend among those surveyed has increased by 600 percent from 2014 to 2016.

Marketers are getting a lot more hands-on with their advertising, and 57 percent of US digital marketing and media practitioners polled in January 2017 said they expect to be engaged in cross-channel measurement and attribution this year. This research by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Winterberry Group found that this time of measurement is expected to take up the most resources this year, followed by programmatic media buying and cross-channel audience identification/matching.

Preferred For . . . You Know

According to data from VR porn company, BadoinkVR, 40 percent of its video downloads this year have been for Samsung Gear VR. The next most popular headset, Google Cardboard accounted for only 23 percent. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive together accounted for 25 percent of all video downloads since the beginning of the year, the company told Variety, and PlayStation VR made up nine percent. Google’s Daydream VR headset accounted for just three percent of all downloads.

us_teen_smartphone_users324pxLive From Facebook

Live broadcasts now make up 20 percent of video on Facebook, according to a post by Fidji Simo, Facebook’s VP of product. Simo went on to say that the number of broadcasts has grown more than four times over the last year.

“We’ve focused on making the Facebook Live experience more engaging, more fun and more social,” Simo wrote in the post. “We’ve added live masks and new creative effects, built features that give publishers more control and flexibility over their broadcasts, and rolled out exciting new formats like Live 360 [and] Live Audio.”

Gamers For Life

A study of 2600 people by We Know Gamers revealed that gaming is far more than a pasttime for most. Seventy-five percent of respondents said gaming will always be a part of their lives and 35 percent claimed to have played more as they got older. The survey found that a majority of gamers believe watching and playing video games will overtake the viewing and playing of traditional sports by 2022, while 58 percent believe competitive gaming (esports) should be an official sport. Given the option, 28 percent would rather be the top player of their favorite game over being a movie star (22 percent), athlete (18 percent) or music star (15 percent)

Thanks to games like Pokémon GO, the augmented reality (AR) market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 151 percent to reach $8.96 billion by 2021, per estimates by Technavio.

Mo’ Mobile

Updated forecasts by eMarketer indicate that the average US adult will spend 2 hours, 25 minutes per day using mobile apps in 2017, a jump of 10.3 percent over last year. Time spent with mobile apps will reach 19.9 percent of average daily total media time this year, the company noted. “Among mobile internet users, mobile apps will account for 84.9 percent of total mobile time spent, with mobile web browsing making up the remainder. Meanwhile, time spent with a mobile browser is expected to remain stagnant at 26 minutes per day in 2017.”

This should come as no shock, but teenagers really love their phones—especially to watch video. According to a Think with Google survey conducted by Ipsos, roughly seven in 10 teen smartphone users spend at least three hours per day watching video on their phones—more than any other activity. Over half (51 percent) of teens said they spend three or more hours a day on social networks, and another 52 percent spend the same amount of time on messaging apps.

For Ludacris, ‘The Fast And The Furious’ Is The Unexpected Gift That Keeps On Giving

Acting landed in the lap of Chris “Ludacris” Bridges out of nowhere.

The Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist, who plays the role of Tej Parker, an electronics-and-gun-hungry techy and the go-to mechanic for The Fast and the Furious’ illegal street racing and heist team, will be starring for the fifth time in one of Hollywood’s biggest global franchises this Friday.

But it all almost never was—and he can thank a fellow musician for his surprising breakthrough as an actor.

Rapper Ja Rule, who played a role in the original The Fast and the Furious in 2001, blew his shot at 2 Fast 2 Furious simply because he wouldn’t return director John Singleton’s phone calls, who instead of paying the Murder Inc. rapper $15,000 like he originally made for his cameo, was now offering $500,000 for the sequel. This was around the time when Ja Rule was one of hip-hop’s hottest commodities, and as the story goes, his head simply got way too big and he began brushing off Singleton’s shot at the big screen.

In a classic case of “move bitch,” get out the way, next on Singleton’s speed dial was Ludacris—and the rest is history. Ja Rule’s comeuppance was the unexpected “money maker” for the Southern songsmith, who landed the role and has since enjoyed the manic ride of the B-movie’s evolution into a global blockbuster.

“Luckily Ja Rule was acting stupid. If it wasn’t for him doing that, I wouldn’t be here. Now, I pull up on a set in Atlanta with a robe and slippers, please believe!” Ludacris says with a smile that immediately widens from ear-to-ear. “The Fast and Furious is definitely the gift that keeps on giving. People always ask me this, but never in a million years did I think that I’d be here. And now we’ve got [versions] nine and ten planned for you. Let me just keep renegotiating my contract. Sounds good to me!”


The 39-year-old Atlanta-based rapper will be starring again in The Fate of the Furious, which premieres Friday. He’ll be bringing more marketable muscle to a crazy cast that already includes Vin Diesel, The Rock, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Jason Statham and Charlize Theron.

After banking more than $3.9 billion in global box office sales, Universal’s action tentpole will open amid sky-high expectations, expected to reach an upward of $400 million this weekend. Furious 7, longtime star Paul Walker’s final film, globally grossed $1.5 billion alone.

Of course, with such a fervent and loyal fan base, the marketing potential for the film has proven to be seismic this time, too, proving that the franchise and the brand are alive and doing very, very well. Marketing has ranged from merchandising with NBC Universal and Mattel to Buckle and Afflication, movie integrations with Dodge and activations across social with the likes of Twitter, Castrol and Xfinity.

Ludacris is personally joining in on the action by leveraging the anticipation and ambitious international roll-out of the film to market and boost his personal brand by touring and performing in such locales as London, Los Angeles and Canada in recent days—all while delivering some well-timed new music.


He premiered his single “Vitamin D” for all formats and dished out doses of prescriptions in the ridiculously entertaining music video on Monday. It was the rapper’s first song since his 2014 album “Ludaversal.”

Ludacris also announced that he will host MTV’s revival of the one-time hit show Fear Factor for the new generation that Viacom is tilting toward. Ludacris will also serve as an executive producer as part of an overarching deal with the network.

The fresh music and breaking news is certainly not by accident. Ludacris—who’s also starred in Crash and Hustle & Flow and has Screen Actor’s Guild, Critic’s Choice and MTV Awards accolades attached to his dossier—says it’s “smart” to pair a movie’s promotional tour with personal projects.

Whether it’s his investments in the mobile game Slang N’ Friendz for which he’s the face and voice, the Uber-for-packages app Roadie, his cognac brand Conjure, or his new restaurant Chicken+Beer, Luda has a lot of different lines for making loot. He’s paired his success in music with smash hit movies and complemented the journey by fulfilling his entrepreneurial zeal.

“You have to be very strategic and smart about your time,” Ludacris says. “We have to promote ourselves on social media and stay ahead of the curve. If you don’t keep up with what’s new, you’ll become your own worst enemy. And nobody wants to be the old disgruntled person having to catch up with what’s going on.”

Ludacris Livestream

By Tuesday, Ludacris was in a full-fledged press and promotional tour by appearing on Ellen, ESPN and a Facebook Live interview for Extra. He also joined radio shows hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Big Boy. On Wednesday, appearances on Conan and The Talk followed, where he previewed a wild chase scene from the movie of him driving a tank and saving Tyrese from a Lamborghini.

In between the tireless tour, he was actively manning his social handles with live sessions on Instagram and Facebook from the barber chair, was fully operational with a flurry of content on Stories and personally engaging the over 40 million fans on his channels.

In previous weeks, the promotional tour included stops on the Today Show with The Rock, sinking jump shots on the set of the NBA on TNT, cover stories for magazines like CNET and Jezebel and a signature southern brunch at SXSW hosted by ChooseATL, where AListDaily had a chance to catch up with the entertainer.

Here are the highlights of the conversation, as told by Ludacris himself:

On his path to becoming an artist . . .

I always knew what I wanted to do. I wrote my first song when I was nine years old. All of my friends just always wanted to hear more music, and more rhymes. This was a time where labels like Rowdy Records and So So Def Recordings and groups like Kriss Kross and ABC were coming up. I was living with my mom in Illinois, and said that in order for me to get noticed and discovered in the music industry, I have to live with my dad and move to Atlanta. I used to go open mic clubs and talent showcases and started making a name for myself, and meeting different people. After years of demo tapes, I then went and interned for the radio station 97.5 when I was 18 years old, and that’s when it really took off. I had a chance to give all of the artists and producers my music. It took a while, but obviously you see that it worked. But back then, I was known as Chris Lova Lova.

Ludacris On Stage Live Performance

On how music led to acting . . .

To be honest, there wasn’t much intentions at all. It was funny how it happened because I was on tour with Eminem at the time. I got a call saying [director] John Singleton wanted me to try out for a part in the 2003 film 2 Fast, 2 Furious. John is known for taking people from the music world (Ice Cube, Tyrese Gibson) and putting them into movies. I was like, ‘Hell, yeah, I’ll try it! Why not?’ I remember putting it on tape literally 10 minutes before I was about to go on stage. Next thing you know, I got a call saying he wanted me to do the part. Later on, I figured out that he originally wanted Ja Rule for the part, but Ja Rule was acting crazy, or something like that, so he was like, ‘okay, my next best person is Ludacris.’

On how democratization of music with new platforms is changing the industry . . .  

Music distribution is becoming more direct to the fans. It’s easier to put your music out, but it’s so saturated and harder to get noticed [for emerging artists] if everyone is in this pool. I think it’s a great way to get discovered. If you can get a certain fan base on your own, and get people to love you, then all of the big wigs and executives will eventually find you because there are people constantly scouring the internet trying to find the next big sensation. But it’s also hard, because anyone can make a hit record right now. You see it. Anyone can just put out music, and it can catch on like wildfire.

On social media . . .

Self-discovery is the best way to do it right now because you have complete creative freedom and control. People are landing [acting] roles just based off of doing their own thing on YouTube, or their social media alone. If you can, showcase yourself and drive people to your channels. Before you know it, you’ll have someone contacting you directly, as opposed to having to beg someone.

On expanding into the content marketing world . . .

That’s one of the things we’re working on. We’re just trying to find the right outlet to make it happen. A lot of people seem to like my “Now That’s Ludacris” storyline on Instagram, so we’re absolutely trying to make it something bigger.


On tech investment . . .  

It’s always scary getting into the tech world. I’m not a programmer. Obviously, people are scared of what they don’t know. But the ones who are developing apps and immersed in that world, those are the ones that have their fingers on the pulse of everything going on. So you really have to educate yourself, because this is a very competitive market. Everyone and their momma has an app, or they are working on one. It’s about how you break through with all of that. . . . With Roadie, we were looking for something in tech to get involved in. It’s the future. You can’t get around it. Roadie came to my business partner and I, and out of everything that we were looking at, we were very interested because of the potential it had. The app is growing at an exponential rate. Right now it has so much success, with other investors joining as well. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. We’re very proud of what’s going on, and with all of the partnerships that we’ve been forming, I think we’re going to make some history very soon with Roadie. . . . I have projects that I’m going to need investors in myself. I use one term that’s not in the dictionary that I made up—’entrepre-negro.’

On how music allowed him to build a brand as a businessman . . .

It’s definitely difficult. I had a restaurant called Straits in Atlanta for four years that I eventually had to close down. Some people looked at that as a failure. But I did not, because my new restaurant Chicken+Beer would not be open right now. Shutting Straits down was the best thing that could have happened to me because I got my feet wet in the restaurant business; people took me seriously. That was some of the best four years of my life. That’s what allowed me to even consider something like Chicken+Beer. To have that opportunity is a blessing within itself.

On impacting a future generation with The Ludacris Foundation . . .

Without sounding cliché, we have to lead by example. When I started at the radio station, they used to require us to do a certain amount of community service and hours every week. At that age, I didn’t truly understand why they were making us do it. But I really saw the impact I had on kids when I was just a local celebrity in Atlanta. As my popularity continued to soar and I became commercially successful as Ludacris, I just kept doing it on a bigger scale and giving back more. Seeing the looks on people’s faces and knowing that they’re going to remember what you did for the rest of their lives, that’s rewarding enough. I’m fortunate for that, and it’s the right thing to do.

On his favorite car of all-time, a 1993 gold Acura Legend . . . 

It’s my first car, and I still have it till this day! It has over 260,000 miles on it. It was the car I rode around before I got a record deal. When I worked at the Atlanta radio station 97.5, which is now 107.9, this was the first car I ever wanted, and I saved up enough money to put a down payment on it. People would call it the drug dealer car. I had to have one of those cars because even though I wasn’t dealing drugs, I was definitely dealing music out of the trunk! And recently, my 15-year-old daughter got her driver’s permit, so instead of letting her drive my expensive cars, we took the Acura, which has some nice rims on it. She hugged one of the corners a little too close and my rim was scratched the hell up! I’m a little heartbroken right now. I’m going to have to ask Acura to send me the paint so I can get it dipped. I’m a Virgo. I’m a perfectionist.

On the city of Atlanta turning into a destination for creatives and technology . . .

I’ve lived there for 20 years, and I never have seen the city grow this fast. It’s a thriving market for so many opportunities. Los Angeles has always been known as a hub for entertainment. In Atlanta, people are just catching on that you can get so much work, especially with so many studios being built, and TV shows filming there. People just need to understand where to go to get noticed. If you’re an actor and need auditions, you have to know where these things are. . . . I just feel like there is something different about Atlanta. When you think about the music industry, and the culture, and shows like Atlanta, everyone is interested it in. That curiosity is what’s helping Atlanta shine right now. Everyone is gravitating toward it. That’s why all of the shows are successful. People are just drawn to the culture.

On his favorite area code . . .

404! Yeah, man!

On balancing all of his projects . . .

It’s hard to juggle. I try to focus on one thing at a time. There was a point where I spread myself too thin, but you never know you’re doing that until it happens. You want to put so many things on your plate and see how many things you can do at the same time before realizing that it’s taking away from what got you here in the first place. And obviously for me, that’s music. And I can never shy away from that.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan