Mobile Game Marketers Share Video Ad Strategies For 2018

There are several emerging video ad formats that mobile game publishers should be aware of this year.

Brian Bowman, CEO of adtech company Consumer Acquisition, said publishers should watch out for “brand in motion,” “demo in motion” and “six-second videos.” These are all short animations that emphasize specific aspects of the game, from the brand name to its gameplay.

“Publishers may want to start testing six-second videos and brand in motion videos from simple assets, and then graduate to the more interactive formats,” he explained.

These short-form ads, in addition to rewarded video, are the most effective formats for engaging and converting players, but he also warns that users may quickly grow bored of ad creatives, decreasing returns over time. In a recent blog post, Consumer Acquisition wrote that on average, 95 percent of video and image creative “fail to outperform best-performing ads on a portfolio making heavy creative testing necessary to achieve and sustain Return On Ad Spend (ROAS).”

Where Mobile Game Ads Thrive

Naturally, mobile game developers and publishers have turned to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for their marketing over the years to acquire users and strengthen engagement with their titles. Bowman said Facebook is the platform of choice for most companies and marketers are allocating between 20 to 60 percent of their monthly user acquisition budgets there.

“Compared to other platforms where we’ve tested video ads, such as Pinterest and Snapchat, Facebook is miles ahead in efficiency, and this is why it continues to be a key platform for advertisers,” said Bowman.

But many marketers have found stronger returns from other mobile games than from video or social platforms.

“YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are excellent sources of user acquisition, but are inherently different environments than mobile games,” Tapjoy’s VP of performance sales Sarah Chafer told AListDaily.

Chafer explained that rewarded ads on other games offer the best returns for discovery. In a game, players clearly understand that they’re watching videos in exchange for in-game currency, boosts or other benefits.

“Not only does this defined value exchange generally drive greater advertiser return on investment, but studies have shown that consumers are in a more relaxed and open state of mind when playing mobile games than when engaging with social networks, so they are more receptive to hearing advertising messages,” she added.

This relationship means that video ads within mobile games have better engagement, higher completion rates and ultimately bring in better quality users. There are no wasted impressions when it comes to using mobile games because publishers know that the audience is already interested in gaming.

While rewarded videos offer high returns, marketers stand to benefit from engaging players on other platforms.

Phil Hickey, SVP of brand marketing at Seriously, noted that creatives on rewarded videos in other mobile games tend to be very straightforward, whereas YouTube and Facebook allow the developer to reach its target audience in unique ways by mixing creativity with data.

“For YouTube, our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are based on Cost Per View (CPV) at scale, resulting in the Cost Per Install (CPI) we are happy with,” Hickey said. “We generally compare against our own benchmarks, since we’re already aware of what success looks like for us.”

Hickey also said that Facebook has a clear ROAS, which needs to be hit within the first week of an ad going live to know if it will be profitable or not.

Working with influencers to livestream games across Twitch, YouTube and Facebook remains critical to helping games grow an audience. Discovery occurs as viewers seek to learn more about a specific game or tune in to watch their favorite streamers. Both happen at close to the same rate.

“Viewers generally come for the game itself and stick around if they like the streamer,” explained SuperData senior analyst Carter Rogers. “Education about games is nearly as important as entertainment for livestream viewers. Among US livestream viewers 13-and-up, 72 percent watch to learn about games they are interested in, while 78 percent watch to be entertained.”

Rogers also said that livestream viewers ages 13-and-up in the US are 29-years-old on average, and they have a 69 percent male 31 percent female gender split. However, those statistics differ greatly when it’s an esports title. Esports viewers tend to be young and skews heavily toward males. Among US esports viewers 13-and-up, 84 percent are male and have an average age of 28. Rogers said that this also contrasts greatly with the overall gaming audiences, which has a gender split of 52 percent female and 48 percent male with an average age of 34.

According to Hickey, the key to knowing which platforms to extend a marketing mix to is in understanding the audience.

“After you have insights into your audience’s interests, it’s important to find platforms that can scale, such as radio, TV, out-of-home or even interesting digital media platforms that are unexpected, like Grindr,” said Hickey.


Unilever To Social Media Giants: Shape Up Or We Ship Out

Unilever has given social media an ultimatum—stop spreading toxic content or the company will take its millions of ad dollars elsewhere.

Chief marketing officer Keith Weed will explain the company’s position in a speech given at the annual Interactive Advertising Bureau conference on Monday. Copies of the speech were obtained by certain press outlets beforehand.

“2018 is either the year of tech-lash, where the world turns on the tech giants—and we have seen some of this already—or the year of trust. The year where we collectively rebuild trust back in our systems and our society,” the speech reads.

Unilever spent about $9.4 billion on marketing last year, 25 percent of which is dedicated to digital. As one of the world’s largest advertisers, Unilever’s portfolio spans across food, home and healthcare industries including Dove and Lipton.

A September study by the CMO Council found that 88 percent of consumers would think differently about a brand or would stop doing business with it after a negative brand association. For Unilever, having so many brands under its name equals more risk of bad press or boycott.

“As a brand-led business, Unilever needs its consumers to have trust in our brands,” Weed will say in the speech. “We can’t do anything to damage that trust—including the choice of channels and platforms we use. So, 2018 is the year when social media must win trust back.”

Weed doesn’t accuse any companies in particular, but Facebook was quick to respond with a statement: “We fully support Unilever’s commitments and are working closely with them.”

The speech targets divisive content and lack of transparency, naming fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate and toxic content directed at children. Unilever will also make a commitment to fight gender stereotypes in advertising.

Unilever has been accused of racism as recently as October when a Dove ad showed women of different races changing into one another. Dove apologized and promptly removed the ad saying that they “missed the mark.”

The company’s safety demands—for both brands and consumers—place additional pressure on companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter to clean up their content.

Google-owned YouTube recently announced a new task force that will moderate and review videos that could be in violation of YouTube policy. Working alongside machine learning software, the new team will enforce stricter criteria on the channels earning money from ads. Over the weekend, YouTube announced potential punishment for creators who negatively impact the community.

During its fourth quarter earnings call, Twitter said it will continue its efforts to make the social network safer by clarifying its policies and adding new signals to give better context to reported Tweets.

In November, Facebook, Google and Twitter testified before US Congress regarding Russian interference that could have influenced the 2016 Presidential Election.

Shell Repackages ‘Make The Future’ Campaign For Tumblr Demographic

Furthering its “Make the Future” clean-energy cause marketing campaign from last year, Shell has partnered with Oath’s RYOT Studio to repackage and expand the campaign’s reach to younger audiences through Tumblr.

The activation, a Tumblr-hosted microsite, features an interactive spinning globe and highlights Shell’s clean energy initiatives and already-existing messaging. The site’s underlying content is nothing new—it primarily features a music video and a series of explainer videos the company released late last year—but nonetheless allows Shell to extend the lifespan of its existing messaging.

“Our team worked with Shell and MediaCom to bring a new, interactive angle to their music video that engages audiences around this message,” said John DeVine, chief revenue officer for Oath.

The activation isn’t Shell calling a mulligan on an unsuccessful effort, either; hitting 11.5 million views in two months, its “On Top of the World” music video was no slouch in the reach category. However, the interactive microsite allows Shell to better educate consumers about its efforts and redirect traffic to its less bombastic explainer videos, which did not fare as well as the music video in views.

Shell’s treatment of its clean energy efforts mark an interesting take on environmental cause marketing as well—with subjects as general as climate change, it can be difficult to make company efforts tangible to the general audience. By highlighting the effects of its energy initiatives on individual people, Shell grounds the larger issue, allowing its audience to better grasp the concept.

“We can spark a global conversation around access to cleaner energy in an engaging way,” said Malena Cutuli, global head of integrated brand communications for Shell. “Addressing future energy challenges demands collaboration between and among business, communities, entrepreneurs, influencers and citizens.”

Chobani Expands Wellness Theme To Fit Cause Marketing Vibe

Chobani’s “One For All” campaign, launched with an experiential marketing installation on Monday, is designed to inspire a generous spirit.

“It’s meant to feel very magical in terms of what planting a seed can do—small acts leading to big fireworks in a metaphorical sense,” Leland Maschmeyer, Chobani’s chief creative officer told AListDaily.

Located in New York’s Grand Central Terminal, the one-day experience is an interactive version of a Chobani spot called “The Giving Tree.” Participants arrive to find a stylized tree leading up to a colorful projected canopy. At the base of three are round activators designed to simulate the covering of a seed with dirt. Interacting results in an LED light show moving up the “trunk” of the tree where the canopy “explodes” with animations of fruit and leaves in the same animation style as the commercial.

For every virtual seed planted, Chobani will donate a case of its Greek yogurt to the No Kid Hungry charity organization. Multiple seeds yield different results, encouraging participants to try them all. A national media campaign launched alongside the activation on Monday. Visitors are also gifted with coupons for free product.

The message of “One For All” represents two ideas—small acts leading to bigger things and 10 years of company growth.

In a country divided by politics and social issues, it has become more common for brands to take a stand or advertise their goodwill efforts. Chobani, which has always focused on wellness and nutrition, now finds itself among a sea of well-wishers but isn’t worried about standing out.

“With our brand relaunch, we’ve understood that the context of our mission is the idea of wellness,” said Maschmeyer. “This campaign isn’t meant to be something different for us, it’s meant to be a doubling down on what we believe to be incredibly important.”

The Chobani Foundation, for example, volunteers time and food to communities and organizations such as the Red Cross, food banks and the Special Olympics.

“I think at the end of the day what really distinguishes companies who want to stand for bigger social ideas is what they do, not so much what they say,” Maschmeyer explained. “What you say is a great way to begin, but what you do is ultimately going to be the thing that separates the talkers from doers and the thing that’s actually going to create the impact that these companies envision.”

A teaser campaign was launched a week prior to the activation that included digital display ads, video, social media and a sign-up portal on Chobani’s website. The company poured $40,000 into media buy that consisted of paid or organic social, TV, display ads, video ads, radio and more.

On average, 22 people sign up for Chobani’s email list each day. Once the teaser campaign launched, 50,000 signed up within a week. Video ads yielded a completion rate of around 70 percent across both organic and paid. Maschmeyer attributes this success to the art style of the spots, advanced audience targeting and brand recognition.

Through March 4, consumers can visit Chobani’s website to download a coupon, redeemable at retail, for a free yogurt. An Alexa skill allows consumers to redeem the coupon through Amazon Fresh and Prime Now.

Chobani has set a benchmark of 10 million cups given away between consumers and No Kid Hungry. Maschmeyer said the company has already experienced a 50 percent conversion rate on display ads and within two hours of the campaign’s launch, averaged 1,000 coupons printed per hour.

“The main thing we needed this campaign to do was to create social content for people to promote the One For All campaign online,” said Maschmeyer. “Everything we did was geared toward that so we made sure that there are lots of different ‘Instagram-able’ moments.”

In addition to a light display, the activation features a mirror with the hashtag #Chobani and silhouette billboards throughout.

“We’re not telling people to do stuff, but we’re making it really compelling for them to take photos and post them,” Maschmeyer added.

“This is the most integrated and ambitious campaign Chobani’s ever done,” said Maschmeyer. “It really is ambitious in the sense of being able to get all of these national retailers working together to bring this campaign to the doorsteps and the email inboxes of everyone in America.”

In November, Chobani redesigned its logo and packaging to mark the 10th anniversary of distributing its Greek Yogurt. The brand currently holds 20 percent of the US yogurt market, according to Nielsen. While the Grand Central activation will be the only one of its kind for Chobani’s One For All campaign, future campaigns are expected to include experiential marketing this year.

Image credit: Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Chobani

A Quick Primer For Marketers Ready To Study Machine Learning

The rise of machine learning-derived technologies means new opportunities and projects for marketers—and a massive job gap on the horizon. Now is a good time to start training for employers needing talent that can marry AI and data science with analytical chops.

First, Some Background

It’s important to note that data science and machine learning are not the same things. Data science is a massive field dealing with the intersection of data sets, computer programming, and analytics; machine learning is a subset of data science that deals with teaching computers and other machines how to learn.

Vince Lynch, the CEO of AI firm, recommends that marketers think about how machine learning benefits their organization before coming up with a learning strategy. “One of things that’s important is to look at the overall construct of the problem that you are facing and then think about all the data that comes into play to solve that problem,” Lynch says. For instance, if a machine learning project is based around understanding how customers interact with an ecommerce website, organizations should think about which data would be applied to the project and how it would be handled.

Companies working on artificial intelligence and machine learning projects don’t have enough talent to go around, which means workers with AI backgrounds are paid very well—between $300,000 to $500,000 if stock options are taken into account, according to the New York Times’ Cade Metz.

These high salaries have just as much to do with competition for qualified artificial intelligence experts as they do with the difficulty of the work.

A 2017 IBM report gives a good idea of the sheer numbers involved. By 2020, report authors Steven Miller and Debbie Hughes project 364,000 new jobs total created for data and analytics talent, with approximately 62,000 of those consisting of data scientists. That’s a lot of jobs.

Prepping Marketers To Learn AI

For marketers, machine learning may be trickier to learn than other data science concentrations. Potential students without a background in computer programming and mathematics will want to keep up by learning the basics of algebra, algorithms, the programming language Python, statistics and calculus. through Khan Academy or another site helps greatly with the necessary building blocks.

Lynch recommends that once marketers understand the basics, they start experimenting with different machine learning projects. “Start building things and deploying them,” he says. “Take some of the approaches that you learned about and start testing. Get data into shape, run it through models, look at the output and see how it performs.”

MOOCS, Online Courses And Self Starters

Learning the basics of machine learning doesn’t have to cost anything.

The rise of Massive Online-Only Courses—a.k.a. MOOCs—has led to a profusion of free, high-quality and in-depth online classes offering machine learning primers.

Coursera offers hundreds of machine learning and data science courses, including offerings from the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University. One of their best-known MOOCs is the 11-week Machine Learning course, developed by Stanford University and taught by Andrew Ng, Coursera’s co-founder and the former head of Baidu AI Group/Google Brain. Coursera offers this as either a free course or a $79 version, which includes a verified certificate enrollees can share with their employers and place on their resume. Over two million students have enrolled in this particular MOOC so far.

A wide range of online machine primer courses are available free or under $100 from Udemy, Lynda, and Skillshare. Udacity, another MOOC service, offers a $1000 “Machine Learning Nanodegree” that lasts six months, with approximately ten hours of study time weekly.

Class Central, an online learning aggregator, also offers an extensive list of online machine learning courses for those seeking exactly the right fit.

There’s one big caveat about these services, however. Everyone learns differently and free online courses are not a one-size fits all solution.

MOOCs and self-paced online learning services offer two major advantages: They’re free (or low cost) and allow students to learn on their own schedule. However, students need a considerable amount of initiative, time to study, and diligence in order to succeed.

In comparison to in-person learning, there is very little hand-holding in MOOCs and responsibility for completing assignments and understanding in-class material is completely on the student.

There’s also the background knowledge students need to succeed in these courses. For marketers who are used to working with a specific marketing tech skill stack, learning the basics of machine learning will be challenging and, at times, disorienting.

Extension Learning And On-The-Job Education

While MOOC certificates look good on resumes and help open the door to interviews, many learners prefer more formal certification or certification that ties in more closely with their employers’ goals. At marketing firms, this includes everything from AI-driven data analysis to streamlining marketing costs and making sense of real-time data.

Many of the large tech incumbents, such as Facebook and Google, offer their employees free courses and resources. For instance, Facebook recently launched an internal Facebook AI Academy—a combination of in-classroom courses and on-the-job immersion designed to quickly bring engineers up to spec on various artificial intelligence-related technologies. Amazon takes this one step further and also offers machine learning and deep learning certifications for anyone working inside the AWS ecosystem.

When choosing a machine learning program, students should be prepared to shop around—check up on the bonafides of instructors, make sure their learning style aligns with what they’re looking for, confirm that the syllabus aligns with their career growth expectations, and make sure that students have used their degree or certificate for career growth afterwards.

Major Brands Still Honor Cash As Mobile Payments Rise

Worldwide mobile payment revenue is expected to reach $930 billion this year and surpass 1 trillion US dollars in 2019. But even in the face of this growth, some major brands don’t want to overlook those who don’t have a bank account, offering workarounds through pre-paid cards and brick-and-mortar stores.

Last year, Amazon introduced Amazon Cash—a way to preload a user’s account with money to spend online. The ecommerce giant, which was recently named the world’s most valuable brand, allows its users to pay cash at 19 partnering retailers—like 7-11 and GameStop—and transfer it to their Amazon accounts as if it were a gift card. The credit never expires and can be used for anything on Amazon’s website or mobile app.

Walmart’s website offers a cash option at checkout as well. Customers simply choose to pay with cash, then do so at a brick and mortar location within 48 hours.

Starbucks is another brand that exchanges cash for credit—a smart move considering Mobile Order and Pay accounted for 10 percent of transactions in US company-operated stores during the company’s last fiscal quarter.

The Seattle-based coffee giant has mastered the art of funneling its customers into digital transactions—offering rewards through the mobile app and whenever someone uses their Starbucks card. In fact, “star rewards” are denied if even a portion of a transaction is paid with cash.

Cash-loving coffee drinkers may miss out if Starbucks’ cashless location pilot turns out to be a success. While it’s unlikely all Starbucks locations would convert to a no-cash policy overnight, unbanked and underbanked customers may someday find themselves out of luck, left to seek their cravings elsewhere.

The Young And The Bank-Less

According to a 2016 Pew Research study, some 15 percent of US consumers—approximately 37 million adults—do not have a bank account. The biggest reason for this is lack of income, with 40 percent of unbanked respondents earning less than $15,000 per year.

Nielsen reported that 97 percent of Gen Z consumers have smartphones, but with the oldest members being only around 19 years old, that’s not much time to build a credit history or significant income.

Pew Research also estimates that there were 11.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the US as of 2016. This is another demographic that may not have access to bank accounts or lines of credit, making mobile payment adoption difficult.

While across the world, brands—and entire countries—are making the move to a digital economy, the change is not without problems. Privacy, identity theft and lack of access for the poor remain hot-button topics as mobile payments become a new norm.

IAB Recommends Blockchain To Cure Video Fraud Woes In Whitepaper

Blockchain is more than just Bitcoin: it’s got significant potential for industries outside of finance.

In a whitepaper released today, the Interactive Advertising Bureau uncovers strong use cases for blockchain technology for higher-value, lower-volume media placement, like digital video and over-the-top (OTT) advertising.

Current blockchain networks can cut down on the rampant fraud in the digital advertising space, allowing advertisers and publishers to deal directly with one another transparently, eliminating untrustworthy middlemen and increasing accountability for all parties. Additionally, the decentralized structure of blockchain networks reduces the chance of hackers stealing information or rerouting any transactions.

“Blockchain seems to be the new ‘siren’s call’ in the business world—but there is no doubt that this technology holds tremendous promise for digital video advertising,” said Anna Bager, executive vice president of industry initiatives for the IAB.

The current stumbling block for blockchain in its current state is its speed, or, more aptly, its lack thereof. Though engineers for networks like Etherium are working to speed up the process, blockchain networks are still several hundred thousand times too slow to handle programmatic advertising’s millions of tiny purchases per second.

While this more or less eliminates blockchain networks from contention for high-volume, cheap digital formats such as banners or pop-ups, the more exclusive media of video and OTT align well with blockchain’s strengths. According to the IAB’s report, the relatively tiny amount of transactions per second, young market and limited amount of well-known publishers all point toward a successful implementation of blockchain technology.

Despite these advantages, the IAB doubts that many OTT players will jump on board with the technology, however. Ad fraud isn’t as much of a problem for companies like Hulu, and they may not see much need in rocking the boat.

“My hunch is that you are going to see blockchain flow out from PC and mobile first before you will see it kick off in OTT,” said Adam Moser, head of ad operations for Hulu.

Additionally, success for the platform would require broad adoption among OTT companies, but the ad buying process differs for every publisher.

“We’ve always found the way you do things for Roku is very different from how you do it for the Samsung TVs or Xbox or PlayStation,” Moser added. “Seemingly, there is no one device on which it is the easiest to integrate and no devices we cannot integrate with. It’s a bit of a chicken or the egg dilemma.”

The IAB considers these obstacles surmountable, writing: “On balance, the advantages of focusing on the digital video/OTT asset class outweigh the disadvantages.”

This whitepaper is only the first of what the IAB expects to be a long discussion about the potential of such a technology over the coming years.

“Tapping into our members’ pioneering work and insights from across the ecosystem, we plan to offer thought leadership, guidance, and inspiration that will steer the new course for digital video, OTT, and blockchain,” concludes Bager.

CoverGirl’s AR Makeup Experience Skips The App Install

CoverGirl has launched the first augmented reality experience that does not require the download of an app. Consumers can now visit the “Try It” AR experience on their web browser via mobile or desktop to virtually apply products from CoverGirl’s Spring 2018 collection.

Using a live camera, consumers can try on five makeup products: Perfectly Matte Lip, Smoky Eye, No Makeup Makeup, Doe-Eyed and Bold Brow looks.

An exclusive partnership with Walmart will allow customers to try on the makeup, then purchase it through Walmart’s website. The experience is available on iPhone devices running iOS11 or higher and most modern Android smartphones.

“Try It” is part of a new CoverGirl campaign called “I am what I make up,” encouraging the use of beauty products as self-expression. The AR experience is designed to close the gap between inspiration and purchase.

CoverGirl is utilizing a variety of both male and female social media influencers to promote the “Try It” experience on their respective YouTube Channels, including Raye Boyce, Angel Merino, Melisa Michelle and Tiarra Monet.

Parent company Coty plans to expand the experience to other brands while refining its features. Coty also owns makeup brands Rimmel and Max Factor as well as luxury brands Calvin Klein and Gucci.

This isn’t the first time CoverGirl has used AR to give users a virtual makeover. The brand launched its BeautyU app in 2016 that uses facial scanning to superimpose the latest products onto a user’s face.

Beauty brands are adopting AR in mass, using visualization to inspire confident purchases and social sharing. L’Oreal launched Makeup Genius in 2014 and last summer, integrated its worldwide makeup brands and collections into YouCam Makeup, an AR beauty app. Beauty app ModiFace has become a one-stop shop for the idea, powering the AR experiences of 84 beauty brands on its platform.

“Today’s consumers expect their shopping experience to be fun, effortless and tailor-made to meet their momentary aspirations, moods and desires—wherever they are,” Esohe Omoruyi, senior vice president of global open innovation and digital services for L’Oréal, told AListDaily in a previous interview.

For National Lipstick Day on July 29, Maybelline New York sponsored a Snapchat lens featuring its new Loaded Bolds lipstick collection—allowing users to virtually test out each of the bold colors for themselves. Olay and Sephora have also used AR technology to help consumers visualize beauty results.

AR holds an advantage over VR in it doesn’t require the purchase of additional hardware. Digi-Capital forecasts that AR (mobile AR, smartglasses) could approach three and a half billion installed base and $85 billion to $90 billion revenue within 5 years, while VR (mobile, standalone, console, PC) might deliver 50 to 60 million installed base and $10 billion to $15 billion in the same timeframe.

Twitter Finally Sees Growth In Q4, Continues To Invest In Video

Twitter enjoyed modest growth for the fourth quarter of 2017 despite a bad investment and plans to use its new features to bolster advertising ROI.

Daily active users (DAU) grew 12 percent year over year in the fourth quarter but dropped two percent over the third quarter. Monthly active users (MAU) were 330 million.

After three straight quarters of revenue losses, Twitter finally saw revenue growth in the fourth quarter of 2017, albeit only two percent for a total of $732 million. Total revenue for the 2017 fiscal year reached $2.4 billion, a decrease of three percent year over year.

Twitter blamed its struggles on TellApart, a marketing technology company acquired in 2015. This bad investment resulted in approximate losses of $82 million year over year, according to the letter to shareholders, and fourth quarter growth would have been eight percent year over year had it not been for depreciation.

The social network isn’t giving up on performance-based marketing, however. In November, Twitter launched a new Promoted Tweet composer designed to simplify the process. Advertisers who had access to the new compose experience created 26 percent more Promoted Tweets, launched 13 percent more campaigns and spent 23 percent more on Twitter in the fourth quarter.

Twitter also doubled its character limit and increased username length during the quarter. To attract smaller businesses to the platform, Twitter began offering Promote Mode, an automation tool that promotes brand posts up to 10 times per day for $99 per month.

Emphasis was placed on ad serving optimization in the fourth quarter, which resulted in a 26 percent increase in ad engagement rates and an 18 percent increase in return for advertisers, Twitter said. Cost per engagement (CPE) declined by 42 percent year over year while overall ad engagements increased by 75 percent.

Going forward, Twitter says that its main revenue priorities are to improve core ad offerings, tap new channels of demand such as online video and add new advertising options for brands.

Like its competitors, Twitter is investing in video content to keep users tuned in. During the fourth quarter, Twitter announced approximately 22 deals and streamed approximately 1,140 live events with 60 percent of those reaching a global audience. User-generated streams also proved popular, with 28 million broadcast during the quarter across both Twitter and Periscope.

Twitter has become a hotbed for political debates and bullying and has often been accused of censorship by its users for banning Conservative-leaning accounts, with some employees reportedly admitting the practice. With brand safety a growing concern across all marketing platforms, Twitter says it will continue its efforts to make the social network safer by clarifying its policies and adding new signals to give better context around reported Tweets—although it denies any discriminatory practices.

Entertainment Leans On Celebrities To Grow VR Awareness

While Walmart’s investment in a virtual reality startup may show more diverse industries driving virtual reality adoption, entertainment remains one of VR’s most prominent supporters—especially given how the industry marked the first seven-figure purchase of a VR series at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

While that was a major milestone, spreading awareness about VR still requires a large variety of content—preferably backed by celebrity participation. These include everything from having famous actors play “Virtual Reality Pictionary” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to Elton John announcing his retirement from touring using a VR retrospective of his music career.

Sports, which has its own celebrities, is a major driver for the NextVR platform. The company recently partnered with the WWE to broadcast highlights from 2018 events in virtual reality.

Danny Keens, VP of Content at NextVR, pointed to ex-NFL player Reggie Bush as a prime example of a VR influencer. He said that the former pro football player, who also happens to be an avid video game player, was a natural fit for presenting the NFL in VR as a co-commentator who discusses highlights from select games.

“The VR space is new and exciting, and like most new ventures people want to get in early to be part of the movement,” Keens said. “A key factor with talent and celebs in the VR space is having a passion for technology.”

“The opportunity to transport fans from anywhere in the world to see their favorite sports team or band live is transformational,” Keens added. “We’re able to have fans feel as if they are at the live venue experiencing the event through our technology.”

But sports events aren’t the only ways to grow an audience for VR. Baobab Studios, an animation studio co-founded by former Dreamworks Animation director and writer Eric Darnell, specializes in creating animated VR shorts such as Invasion!, which won a Daytime Emmy last year. The company has attracted a long list of celebrities interested in helping to pioneer the medium, starting with Ethan Hawke, who is featured as a narrator for Invasion! More recently, the studio brought on musician John Legend as a voice and producer for its VR series Rainbow Crow.

Baobab CEO Maureen Fan explained that VR allows audiences to emotionally connect with characters in ways they couldn’t before, and that’s attracting celebrities to become involved.

“Celebrities are creatives, and of course they want to create experiences that connect with audiences more deeply,” said Fan.

Although the NextVR platform includes standalone programming such as short VR films, it puts special emphasis on live event broadcasts, which Keens said helps drive fans to adopt VR. Content includes concerts, sports, esports and other events as The Game Awards. Specifically, Keen said the NFL and NBC’s World of Dance are examples of strong VR programming, with the latter being a weekly series that complements the television show featuring Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo, Derek Hough and Jenna Dewan Tatum as judges.

But even though sports and other live events are major drivers, catering to all different tastes, Fan added that statistics show that VR narratives make up about half the time people spend in virtual reality headsets, indicating exceptional interest in original stories.

“VR is like the mobile phone or a TV,” Fan explained. “It’s a platform to deliver content.”

Underscoring the point is how Invasion! is currently being adapted into a full-length 2D movie experience in partnership with Roth Kirschenbaum Films, a movie studio founded by Hollywood veterans Joe Roth and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum. Additionally, Fan said that other forms of virtual reality such as social VR, location-based experiences (LBE) and immersive theater are all gaining traction.

“I’d imagine that sports would work especially well for social VR,” she said. “In order for an LBE experience to draw audiences, it better be ‘wow’ enough to get you off your couch. Right now, that means integrating the physical world with the virtual world in the LBE spaces.”

Ultimately, what works best to attract audiences is still being worked out.

“VR is still a young medium and networks, brands and VR companies are experimenting with programming,” Keens said.