Fake News Crisis Affects Social, Digital Outlets More Than Mainstream Media

The phrase “fake news” has been unavoidable from everyday vernacular in recent months, even to the point of being a central theme to a music marketing campaign. However, despite presidential accusations and congressional hearings, public trust in mainstream news media remains as strong as ever.

Research and design firm Kantar has released the results of its 8,000-person “Trust in News” study revealing that public reliance on conventional news outlets for an accurate picture of world events has been largely unaffected by what The New York TimesForbes and The Economist have called “the post-truth world.” You can download the full report here.

Individuals are taking greater responsibility for vetting the news they read, Kantar’s survey found. Forty percent of respondents claim they have increased the number of news sources they rely on, and 75 percent said that they have independently fact-checked a news story as they read it.

Conventional Media Fights Fake News

Print magazines, cable networks and radio programs ranked highest among news providers, with 72, 69 and 68 percent, respectively, claiming they trusted said sources. Survey respondents trust social media and messaging apps the least, with only 33 and 37 percent valuing them as news sources.

Furthermore, out of all news providers, magazines, radio networks and news channels suffered the least from accusations of fake news. Of those Kantar surveyed, 23 percent responded trusting magazines less than they had before, but the same percentage claimed to trust them more. The same held true with radio bulletins, with both 18 percent trusting less and 18 percent trusting more.

The hardest sectors that were hit once again were social media and messaging apps, with more than half of all respondents claiming to view both verticals as less reliable for accurate coverage than they had before.

Dark Days Ahead For News Publishers

Many respondents understood both the importance of and the difficulties faced by independent journalists—73 percent believed that accurate journalism is key to the maintenance of a healthy democracy, 79 percent responded that news organizations do not get enough money from online advertising to support themselves and 44 percent expressed concern that media businesses face difficulty earning money.

Despite this, many are not willing to actively support news organizations monetarily. More than half of those surveyed claim not to see the point in paying for news when they can get the same content for free, and just 8 percent felt socially or morally obliged to pay for unbiased and independent journalism.

Movember Mastermind Discusses Brand’s Evolution

The first day of November unofficially signals the start of the holiday season, but more importantly, it’s also a time to raise awareness for men’s health by growing and maintaining a mustache no matter how mountainous the task may be.

You’ve likely heard of Movember by now, a month-long movement originally made in Australia 14 years ago. It’s since evolved into a global crusade and undertaking in which the Movember Foundation has made men rethink their physical and emotional wellbeing and forced action toward a healthier lifestyle.

To date, the Movember Foundation’s efforts have raised more than $769 million in 21 countries for 1,200 men’s health projects focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

To get a better idea of the how their brand, identity and ethos has evolved, AListDaily took a trek to the charity’s US headquarters in Culver City, California to chat with Adam Garone, co-founder of the Movember Foundation.


How has Movember’s message evolved as you’ve grown as an organization?

From a cause point of view, our vision at Movember is to holistically have an everlasting impact on the face of physical and mental health for men. We initially focused on the more extrinsic motivators as to why someone would be inspired to do Movember—fun, irreverence and getting to do it with your buddies. We really focused on that, so a lot of our creative and branding in the early years was playing to that fun, irreverent side of the brand. What we’ve realized more recently is that we can’t lose that fun edge, but we needed to focus more on the intrinsic motivators as to why someone would do Movember.

Sadly, you don’t need to look too far to know a friend, brother, father or uncle that’s been affected by one of the issues that we focus on. It’s a great way for us to bring in more women as well because they all have men in their lives that are important to them. We put the cause first more recently with the tagline ‘Stop Men Dying Too Young.’ This year there was the addition of ‘You can be the difference in a man’s life.’ It’s really helped emphasize the importance of the work that we do and the cause that we’re focused on.

How would you describe your brand marketing strategy?

In my mind, every aspect of the organization helps define the brand. It’s no longer about a font, color and a positioning statement. Every community touchpoint is an opportunity to reinforce who we are as an organization, and what our brand means. Right from the get-go, the Movember brand is at the heart of everything that we do. How we project that brand is ultimately why people are inspired to join the movement. It’s so important to keep the brand relevant and fresh each year, and keep evolving, keep pushing the boundaries. Ultimately, it’s not what we think about the brand that’s important, it’s about what the community and the public think about our brand. That’s really what defines who we are and what we stand for.

A big part of our brand also is our culture and open-office environment. The true rock stars of Movember are the Mo Bros and Mo Sisters that join us each year. A unique part of our space in Culver City is that we also have the Movember barbershop attached to it. It’s a great touchpoint for people to experience the brand and a way for us to engage the community around us and have conversations. That’s how we see our role in this great movement.

Why are procuring brand partnerships just as important to reaching your goals?

Brand partnerships and alignment are very important, and they also define our brand as well, so we’re very selective in that process. Where the partnerships work best is when their target market and consumer truly believe in Movember and the cause that we’re serving. We’ve always called our partnership program just that—a partnership. It’s not about sponsorships. Sponsorships are typically more transactional, where a brand will give you money for a certain amount of exposure. We’ve always looked for deep, true and authentic engagement from the brands that we partner with. Do they believe in the cause? Are they participating internally? Is there a brand alignment? Is their target market similar to ours?

Our major partners bring us something that we don’t have. We don’t have a huge marketing spend, so the first thing we look for is authenticity, but secondly, how can they help us reach new men and women to get engaged and inspired by the campaign? How can they reward those people participating with prizing and other rewards along the way? How can they help us fundraise? We have a partnerships team, and we’ve developed a policy about who we will partner with and who we won’t. Oftentimes, what you say ‘no’ to defines you more than what you say ‘yes’ to.

Why do you believe brands are increasingly leaning toward cause marketing?

I think all brands are looking for opportunities where they can truly and authentically demonstrate how they’re making this world a little bit better. Why brands come and partner with Movember is largely because of the halo effect of the brand association with us and the cause that we’re serving. It gives them something else to talk about with their community. It’s not just a new product release, or a new sale or asking people to buy more of their product—it’s a bigger and deeper story.

How are you reaching the community and new audiences through social channels this year?

We’re all about inspiring conversations and stories that matter. We’ve definitely got our own profile stories, but that only reaches a certain amount of people. I often think that the most important social networking is getting people to come together. It’s a shared experience—old-school social networking is just so powerful, if not more powerful now than it was a few years ago when we didn’t have all these social platforms. It’s all about having fun and doing good. In addition, we do an Unmute Ask Him campaign through social media. Everything we do at Movember has a deeper meaning, and we can’t ever lose the fun aspect.

How are you incorporating storytelling into your cross-channel strategy?

We’re always looking for new, interesting and innovative ways to tell our stories, and the podcast I host is just one of those elements. We invite men to talk about the ups and downs of life. The importance of discussion and being vulnerable draws listeners. Podcasts are a unique medium where we can have extended conversations with inspirational people. The whole aim of the podcast is to get men talking about the real stuff going on in their lives and give listeners some tools and tips on how they can live a happier, healthier and ultimately longer life.

How cool is it when you start seeing celebrities support the cause by growing mustaches too?

It’s always cool when you see someone wearing your product and talking about your product. It’s amazing when you see the likes of LeBron James or Aaron Rogers wearing your brand and talking about it. Their reach is enormous, but each year we consider everyone that’s part of the Movember community, every Mo Bro and Mo Sister to be a celebrity and an ambassador because they’re out in their communities and networks talking about the cause as well. Those conversations are just amazing and often life-changing.

What does Movember do for the rest of the year outside of the month of November?

Movember is a year-round conversation, and like every other foundation, we’re running thousands of programs that are having a real impact. The month of November is our key focus. It’s Men’s Health Awareness Month, but that conversation has to exist year-round, and we have other moments during the year that we focus on, like World Cancer Day in February and Testicular Cancer Awareness Month in April. We do a program leading into Father’s Day, as well as Suicide Prevention Day in September.

What is your long-term strategy? What’s next for Movember?

We’ve established some goals that we want to achieve by 2030, and that’s to reduce the number of deaths by prostate and testicular cancer by 50 percent and to reduce the number of male suicides by 25 percent. It’s only 25 percent because, at the moment, we’re losing that battle and the rates are going up, so it’s a huge turnaround to achieve that. That’s why we exist. To be able to achieve those goals we need to keep the brand alive, the community energized and keep them fundraising and advocating on our behalf.

Also, taking the power of that grassroots movement to governments, to world health organizations, and have them prioritize men’s health, particularly suicide prevention. We’re absolutely focused on men and inspiring men to be better and in doing that, we know that we’ll flow onto women’s health and women’s rights too. We’re also feminists and we care deeply about those issues as well.

Did you ever in your wildest dreams envision ending up where you are today?

There’s no way I thought after we grew those first mustaches in 2003 that this would become a global thing. It’s humbling to see it continue to evolve as an organization and as a brand. Sometimes in life, you have these happy accidents.

Snapchat Opens Pixel Tracking Despite Initial Reservations

Snapchat is finally opening up further audience tracking features for advertisers, catching up with similar services run by its competitors. The new service, called Snap Pixel, allows advertisers to track users’ activities on their websites in relation to ads they’ve placed on the platform.

Put simply, Snap Pixel gives brands a more sophisticated picture of how well their ads on the platform are working, beyond just viewability and click-through statistics. So far Snap Pixel just offers measurement tools, but the company has promised to expand the technology to support ad retargeting and real-time optimization.

Snapchat has supported custom audience targeting since late 2016 and even tracked the offline behavior of its users since early this year, but this marks the platform’s most detailed audience tracking feature yet. Their previous partnership with Oracle’s Data Cloud split users into only 100 different general categories, rather than the ultra-granular, brand-specific profiles it could have tracked.

This latest update is a further about-face from what Evan Spiegel, Snap’s CEO, described in 2015 as “creepy” and another step in the same direction as other digital advertising platforms. Both Google and Facebook have long offered similar features to their advertising partners, including more sophisticated tools to segment audiences and target based on online behavior.

Snap Pixel in its current state does not allow users to opt out of the service, as it did with Snap Audience Match in 2016, but the company has promised that once the ad product supports more aggressive audience targeting, users will be able to.

A report earlier this week revealed that Snapchat is the weakest of the major social media platforms in driving direct purchase engagement, and with Snapchat losing new audience acquisition to Instagram, it’s likely that the company will continue to fall in line with accepted industry practices in the future.

NBA Taps Virtual And Augmented Reality To Engage Fans

The NBA continues to embrace new technology across multiple platforms by launching the free augmented reality iPhone app game Pop-A-Shot.

Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, the NBA’s senior vice president of digital media, told AListDaily that the league’s young and tech-savvy fan base has come to expect the NBA to run a fast break on innovation.

“AR allows the NBA to begin creating experiences in an area where younger fans are spending a lot of time—in front of their camera,” Brenner said. “The NBA AR app allows us to engage with our fans across the globe by shooting hoops on a realistic NBA basket on a realistic NBA court. Conceivably, you can now work on your virtual game anywhere in the world.”

Using the iPhone camera and ARKit technology, the app captures a player’s surroundings, pins an authentic NBA backboard and court into the real-world environment, and then uses the accelerometer in the iPhone to flick shots at the hoop before the 30-second shot clock expires. Players can share their shooting sessions with friends (through iMessage, email or social media), or see how they stack up globally on the overall leaderboard.

Brenner said there’s a level of personalization the league is providing fans through the inclusion of all 30 teams in the AR game, which can be customized to include franchise logos and colors. The app also provides information on the team’s next game. The experience, which was developed by third-party company Camera IQ, has been created as a platform that will offer updates for fans.

“We’re already working on new ideas, both from a utility and entertainment standpoint, to help enhance the NBA AR app,” Brenner said. “This includes content from both on-and-off the court.”

By leveraging ARKit’s reach across millions of existing devices, Brenner said the NBA is exploring how all types of AR could fit into its emerging technology strategy. She added that it’s part of a strategy to look for new ways to integrate its partners into NBA content and create compelling experiences for its fans.

The NBA has also partnered with NextVR over the past two years to broadcast select games in VR. Brenner said this medium has been especially powerful for the league’s international fans who don’t have the same opportunity to experience the in-arena action. The league has also used VR to incorporate new marketing opportunities for brands.

“Whether it’s the live game or highlights, we’ve received very positive feedback on our VR content from fans all around the world,” Brenner said. “As compared to more traditional advertising channels, VR provides the opportunity to create immersive experiences that are additive to the overall viewing experience. We try to use VR technology to enable a consumer to ‘experience’ a particular product or service and we think it has really resonated with fans.”

Charles Barkley: NBA In Virtual Reality Is ‘Weird And Whacky’

We caught up with NBA Hall of Fame basketball player and hot take maestro Charles Barkley to see what he thinks about virtual reality.

Posted by AListDaily on Monday, February 20, 2017

The NBA has over 155 million core fans of basketball around the globe. Less than one percent actually experience games in an NBA arena, so the incorporation of technology becomes even more important to keep fans engaged.

“The ability to reach fans through new technology and platforms, especially one this ubiquitous, is always appealing,” Brenner said. “When you see Apple, Facebook, Snapchat and Google all focused on AR, that tells you that this space has massive potential. Getting a product into the market now allows us to learn quickly about the technology and how our fans use it, as well as make important decisions that can further grow the game.”

Crunchyroll Finds Significant Crossover Audience Between Anime And Gaming

Crunchyroll is debuting a new advertising strategy for game publishers. The move comes shortly after the anime-streaming video service hosted a one-week survey to better understand the crossover between Japanese animation and gaming fans.

Over 10,500 users participated in the survey—90 percent self-identified as gamers and 54 percent considered themselves to be “hardcore” gamers. The results were so surprising that the brand brought on a new strategy.

“We didn’t realize just how hardcore the gamers were,” Henry Embleton, head of ad products and revenue for Crunchyroll, told AListDaily. “What [the data] tells us as a brand is that when our users are not watching anime, they’re playing a lot of games.”

The respondents were a mix of male (55 percent) and female (45 percent), and users with both paid and free subscription plans.

“What we started doing with our strategy was target the gaming sector,” said Embleton. “When we went and talked to game publishers and their advertising agencies, they’d always come back with these nuanced questions like ‘what percentage of your gamers are mobile gamers-versus-console gamers?’ We were getting these sort of difficult questions without any hard data.”

The survey, conducted from October 2 to 8, was designed to answer marketer questions in terms of demographics. Although the brand knew that at least some of their users were gamers, just how many came as a complete surprise.

“I have to say it’s really kind of shocked everyone here at the office,” said Embleton.

The survey revealed that 48 percent played video games 20 hours or more per week and 16 percent play 40 or more hours. The most popular platform was PC at 38 percent, followed by console and handheld devices.

Crunchyroll users not only spend a lot of time playing games, but they’re not afraid to spend money, either. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they spend $200 or more each year on PC gaming equipment and 59 percent pre-order games prior to launch.

The results of this first survey confirm the brand’s recent efforts to attract the gaming demographic. A Crunchyroll video app is available on both Xbox and PlayStation consoles, and the brand partnered with Twitch for a five-day anime marathon in July.

Knowing just how fanatical its users are for both games and anime will help Crunchyroll formulate marketing strategies not only for itself but its advertisers as well. The next challenge, Embleton said, will be reaching paid subscribers who don’t typically see advertising on the platform.

“We’ve traditionally [used] video ads that we run in the pre- or mid-roll of the video content, itself,” Embleton said. “We have 25 million monthly registered users and over a million of them are actual subscribers. Those one million-plus subscribers who pay for the service don’t receive any adverts which put a real wall around our users’ ability to be targeted and engaged with from the gaming community.

“What we’re really looking to drive now is integrated ad products, so the idea is to target users through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or email campaigns. This is a kind of extension of an existing strategy where we’re working very closely with the gaming industry, but now they can really penetrate our entire audience outside of the traditional Crunchyroll platform.”

Crunchyroll plans to repeat the survey process each quarter and will include additional questions that explore the correlation between preferred game and anime genres.

‘Final Fantasy Brave Exvius’ Leans On History For Global Recognition

Kei Hirono, executive producer for Final Fantasy Brave Exvius at Square Enix

The Final Fantasy franchise marks its 30th anniversary this year, and at the same time, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius (FFBE) celebrates the two-year anniversary of its initial Japanese (one-year global) launch. Having reached 27 million downloads worldwide, FFBE is regarded as one of Square Enix’s most successful mobile games, but there’s still plenty of room to grow.

“We believe that one of the reasons why the game has been accepted by so many people across the globe is because of the concept we have for the title,” Kei Hirono, executive producer for Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, told AListDaily through a translator.

He and the game’s global producer, Hiroki Fujimoto, explained how FFBE focuses on three main points—a rich story, a classic and strategic battle system and adventure elements that expand the breadth of the game and allow for exploration. These points capture the Final Fantasy spirit and work to attract players worldwide.

Brave Exvius was created from the ground up for mobile platforms and features a mix of 2D sprites and 3D artwork for its graphics. Additionally, all the legendary characters from all the Final Fantasy games appear in Brave Exvius, turning the game into a kind of celebration of the franchise.

“There are so many titles within that franchise,” said Hirono. “As long as you like one of those characters, I think that will lead to a point of entry for Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. There are a lot of ways to get into this game because of that.”

As part of the celebration, the Brave Exvius team has been going around the world to host public events called Fan Festa to meet Final Fantasy fans. The first Fan Festa event took place in Paris in July, the second was hosted in Taiwan in September and the third took place in New York City in October during the New York Comic Con. The Fan Festa tour finishes out with visits to Korea in November and Los Angeles in December. At Fan Festa, attendees get a chance to play FFBE against the developers, but everyone walks away with prizes in the form of special in-game content.

Brave Exvius is also celebrating through a series of in-game events, which were launched globally instead of in the traditional way of going live in Japan first. These include a new event featuring Ariana Grande. The musician already has two costumes available in the game from previous events, and the update adds two more. Dedicated fans who collect them all will be able to equip their party with all four versions of Ariana, all of which feature different looks, techniques and skills.

Hirono said that the game’s success can largely be attributed to how it captures the “Final Fantasy essence.” Fans of the franchise recognize that essence and have taken to the mobile title. However, he believes that Brave Exvius is still a long way from its goals.

“Even though we feel like we achieved a certain level of success, this is not even close to what we’re aiming for, or what we feel is a real success for the title,” said Hirono. “That’s because with this game, we wanted as many people as possible to experience the new Final Fantasy story and get into it. We also wanted people, after playing Brave Exvius, to go back and try all the different Final Fantasy games in the series. So, there’s still a lot more that we want to achieve, and we want to aim for bigger success.”

Hiroki Fujimoto, global producer for Final Fantasy Brave Exvius at Square Enix

“We have 27 million downloads, but our goal last year was 100 million,” added Fujimoto. “So, we’ve only achieved about a quarter—over a quarter—of what we were aiming for. We’re not there yet.”

Hirono elaborated further on what the team at Square Enix considers true triumph.

“We feel that the game is a success when you can ask anyone on the street if they know what Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is and they’ll know,” he said, laying out an ambitious goal. “There are about seven billion people in the world now, so once they all know what the game is, then we can say that it’s a success.”

It’s one thing to say that you want everyone on earth to know about your game, but it’s quite another to get it after two years on the mobile market.

“I think it’s the same for any mobile title, but it becomes more difficult each year to acquire new players,” said Hirono. “We must always think of new ways to acquire new users because the more people we get, the fewer amount of people we can reach out to becomes. You’re taking people out of that pie.

“While we’re thinking of ways to reach people, we also have to create new experiences in the game [for current players]. We know that it’s difficult, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to give up on it. The new events and characters are things we have been doing to try to acquire new players and keep our fans playing. The collaboration with Ariana Grande is also another way of gaining new players. Even the Fan Festas are part of that—they help acquire more people.”

One of the new ways Fujimoto and company are reaching new gamers is through the songstress Grande’s events.

“The spike in players was like none we had experienced before,” said Fujimoto. “Now it’s more about how to keep them coming back and have them continue playing the game. That’s about how the game is and what it offers. We’ll continue to work hard and create a game that has a lot of appeal.”

Hirono said, speaking as a content creator, the key to engaging with a global audience comes down to the game’s overall appeal and charm.

“I feel that it’s most likely the characters, story and lore,” he said. “I hope those are what are engaging players. We try to create the game so that those points are appealing.”

Fujimoto said that FFBE sometimes likes to keep its players guessing. Since the normal practice is to release new content in Japan first, dedicated players from around the world often know what’s coming beforehand. But he cited a collaboration with the game Nier: Automata where the character 2B appeared in FFBE. When the event launched worldwide, players were surprised to find that A2 was also added.

“Those kinds of surprises are things we’re always thinking about adding to events so that they’re not always exactly the same as the Japanese version,” said Fujimoto.

Brave Exvius may capture the Final Fantasy essence, but the brand has been long associated with cutting-edge computer graphics and technology, demonstrated in last year’s launch of Final Fantasy XV, which not only features stunning graphics but also includes a virtual reality mode.

Given the launch of high-end phones such as the iPhone X and the Pixel 2, and both Apple and Google’s commitment to growing augmented reality technology, Hirono spoke about whether Brave Exvius would follow a similar path by adopting new technologies.

“There is that ideology for the Final Fantasy brand to always take on new [technological] challenges,” said Hirono. “We want to do that as well, but what we feel is strong for this title is creating something that anyone can play. We don’t want to focus on new technology too much, making it so that only the core Final Fantasy fans can enjoy it. We want to keep Brave Exvius highly accessible, and we don’t plan to change that. But we do feel that we need to expand the brand further, and to do that, we’re taking many different approaches. We’re already planning other things for this title.”

Part of those efforts include how some of the sprites appear to “pop-out” from the screen, which is a technology the game created and patented. However, Hirono suggested that there’s a far subtler way that the game takes advantage of cutting-edge graphics.

Final Fantasy one through six all used sprite artwork, while seven and onward all started using 3D graphics,” Hirono explained. “But with Brave Exvius, one of the concepts we had was to take the original sprite artwork and imagine, ‘What if 3D graphics didn’t evolve that much and we kept to sprites?’ So, that’s the image we have with this title, and it’s like the latest and greatest in sprite artwork.”