NPD: ‘Splatoon 2’ Tops July Video Game Sales; ‘Call Of Duty’ Continues To Shine

US video game spending in July reached $588 million, NPD reported, growing 19 percent over the same month last year. This growth was fueled by a number of factors including Splatoon 2, Crash Bandicoot: N Sane Trilogy and additional availability of the Nintendo Switch console.

Sales of console and PC game software combined to reach $277 million in July 2017, up 17 percent versus a year ago. Driven by the Nintendo Switch, hardware rose 29 percent to $182 million. Meanwhile, video game accessories grew nine percent over last year to $129 million.

Tom Clancy is feeling the love from gamers as the bestselling game franchise in the US. In fact, Tom Clancy Ghost Recon: Wildlands the bestselling game year-to-date, and Ubisoft is the top-selling publisher.

Nintendo Paints The Town

Splatoon 2 was the bestselling title of July, marking a strong period for Nintendo, which was the bestselling software publisher for the month. The company published three of the month’s top bestselling games, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 and ARMS at numbers five, seven and 17, respectively.

Coming in at number two, Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy became more popular during its second month on the market, as the game debuted in June at number four.

Gamers Answer The Call Of Duty

Over the 12-month period ending July 2017, Call of Duty is the market’s bestselling video game franchise and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare the bestselling game. In fact, gamers are “answering the call” big time—three games from the Call of Duty franchise reached the top 20 in July, with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered joining June carryovers, joining Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare at numbers 12, 13 and 15 on the charts, respectively.

RPGs Play A Role

Year-to-date dollar sales of games within the RPG genre have grown more than 50 percent, compared to the same period a year ago, NPD observed.

Titles such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Nier: Automata, Nioh and Persona 5 are driving the RPG market resurgence, as NPD video game industry analyst, Mat Piscatella noted in the report.

The NPD’s top 10 bestselling games across all platforms for July 2017 are:

  1. Splatoon 2*
  2. Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy
  3. Grand Theft Auto V
  4. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild*
  6. Injustice 2
  7. Mario Kart 8*
  8. Overwatch*
  9. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
  10. NBA 2K17

Asterisks indicate that digital sales were not accounted for (or purchases made on, in the case of Overwatch).

Pico Goblin Aims To Make VR Accessible To Everyone

Although mobile and premium VR headsets tend to exist in their own separate worlds, Pico Interactive is looking to bridge the two with a standalone, tetherless device called the Pico Goblin. The portable VR headset looks like a cross between the Samsung Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View, but it does not require a phone to be inserted into it.

Paul Viglienzone, vice president of business development at Pico Interactive, sat down with AListDaily and described the Pico Goblin as “an Android-based all-in-one VR headset. It’s fully self-contained with no wires needed, no need to plug into a PC, and no phone.”

Paul Viglienzone, VP of business development at Pico Interactive

The Goblin supports about three hours of continuous play and comes with a small Bluetooth remote control, similar to Daydream’s. It’s available for pre-order now for $249 and pre-purchases come with five free games.

The goal is to bring VR to everybody by offering an affordable device for users to pick up and enjoy. “We’re trying to make it as simple and as engaging as possible for users. Our goal is to expand the market and make VR accessible for everybody,” said Viglienzone.

Viglienzone also compared the Pico Goblin to mobile VR devices such as Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR. “Google Cardboard and other products like it require a phone,” he said. “With us, you don’t need that. You can just grab it and go and it always works. You don’t have to worry about the battery running out on your phone, and you don’t have to worry about compatibility like you do with phone solutions [like Samsung Gear VR].”

Even though the Pico platform is Android-based, it doesn’t support Google Play or Daydream content directly. Developers will have to port content to the device. However, Viglienzone assured us that it will be very easy for developers to bring their content to the Pico platform, stating, “We expect a lot of ports to come over.”

However, users won’t be struggling for content, as Viglienzone said that the device is launching with over 50 games, with some being exclusive to the device. More are being brought over from other platforms such as Gear VR, Daydream and PlayStation VR.

“We have Defender, which is made by our own studio,” said Viglienzone, describing a VR combat game where players use a sword to fend off a horde of invading creatures. “Another title that I’m excited about is called Attack of the Bugs from Binary Bubbles, and I really love Starship Disco from Solus Games, which comes from PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift, and is a music shooter where you can load your own tracks. Our goal with the types of games we have is for them to be super fun to play. We want to make the headset accessible, so we want content that’s similar to that. The games should be fun, engaging and easy to play.”

Pico also has a unique approach for supporting non-gaming entertainment such as YouTube 360 or Facebook 360 videos.

“Our plan is to keep things simple for people, so we have our own tool that allows you to aggregate content,” said Viglienzone. “So, you can pull in YouTube videos and Facebook videos—pretty much anything that’s on the web—and build your own library and playlist. The idea behind that is that you don’t have to fill up your memory by downloading 20 different apps. You’ll be able to add the content to your library and stream it.”

The Pico Goblin has 16 GB of memory built in, and users can add a 128 GB microSD card to it.

To spread awareness, Pico hosted an event to debut the device in Beijing, and its first showing in the US was at E3 to kick off a summer launch. At E3, attendees could sit down and try the device out by playing games and demos.

“We’ve been pretty low-key,” said Viglienzone. “Our focus is in getting it to market, so we’ve been focusing on social media and press coverage. We’ll be doing more marketing as we get closer to delivering the product.”

Viglienzone believes that the next big challenge for mass VR adoption will be content, but reiterated how the Pico Goblin may go a long way toward convincing users to pick up VR.

“Our approach—and I think we’ve done it really well—is focusing on a couple different things,” said Viglienzone. “One is getting to an affordable price, because many of the other products are quite expensive, and we’ve been focusing on bring an affordable all-in-one experience. We’ve also focused on making it as simple as possible. A lot of the solutions out there are pretty complicated for people who aren’t tech-oriented, and we’ve tried to reduce all those hurdles. There’s no complexity in playing with the Goblin. Those two things make it very accessible for folks.”

However, Viglienzone also explained how there is a third factor that makes the Pico Goblin far more appealing than a device like Gear VR.

“The biggest thing is that you can share it with people,” he said. “A lot of people don’t like having their phone in a Gear VR and having it passed around. With ours, you can share it with your family and friend and still keep your phone in your pocket.”

Wayfair Wants To Change Online Shopping With Augmented Reality

Most people probably associate Wayfair with online furniture and home goods shopping—featuring brands such as AllModern, Birch Lane and Dwell Studio in addition to its own brand name items—but the company sees itself more as a tech brand that happens to sell furniture, similar to how Amazon happens to sell books.

That is why Wayfair launched the Wayfair Next team two years ago, headed by Mike Festa, to explore up-and-coming technologies such as augmented and virtual reality. It was one of the first companies to develop a commercial app for the Google Tango AR platform, which senses depth and motion in ways that ordinary smartphones cannot. Even though there are only two devices that support Tango right now (the newly launched Asus ZenFone AR and the Lenovo Phab 2) Wayfair sees AR as the future platform for online shopping.

Mike Festa, director of Wayfair Next

Festa was a new engineer at Wayfair when he developed an AR app as a proof of concept at a hackathon. Not only did he win the hackathon, he was promoted to director of Wayfair Next, and his team has been working to integrate 3D models into the Wayfair app so that users can get their first taste of how AR enhances the online shopping experience.

The app detects whether or not a device supports Tango and will automatically enable its 3D shopping features accordingly. All users see is a new button for 3D shopping for certain items, which allows them to place computer rendered furniture items into their rooms to see how they look at scale. Users can freely move the virtual furniture around and rotate them as needed.

Festa sat down with AListDaily to discuss Wayfair’s AR app in detail and how the company believes the technology will shape the online shopping experience.

“We think AR is a great tool for customers to help visualize what they’re going to get before they buy it,” said Festa, discussing the company’s interest in the technology. “One of the challenges of selling home furnishings is figuring out how it will fit in people’s spaces. AR enables us to answer that question quickly and easily, as customers see how a product will fit with what they have.”

The standard Wayfair app lets users apply what Festa describes as “stickers” to their spaces. They’re 2D silhouettes of furniture items that users can zoom in and out on to imagine how they’d fit into their spaces.

“But people who have 3D Tango enabled phones get a 3D button, and that gives them content that helps them understand products better in their space,” said Festa. “It’s part of the shopping experience on mobile, and as more devices become capable of AR, more consumers will have access to that additional feature.”

That future might seem distant to some, given how Google Tango is only supported by two high-end mobile devices. However, Festa believes in the importance of true AR through Tango.

“I’ve been looking at a lot of different AR platforms that don’t use the Tango sensors, and I’ve found that Tango is incredibly stable and robust,” explained Festa. “That means we can put a piece of furniture into a space and have a high level of confidence that it will be to scale. If we put the real and digital products together side-by-side, they match every time we try it. Scale isn’t necessarily guaranteed with some of the other AR platforms, nor is the positioning. Sometimes, if you move a non-Tango device around, the product could be gone when you look back, or it’s floating up in the sky. Platform stability, scale and accuracy is what we’ve been getting out of Tango.”

But user adoption isn’t the only thing that Wayfair needs to consider. The bigger challenge is in getting more home goods manufacturers on board with AR, creating 3D content to promote their products.

“We work with over 10,000 vendors to sell over eight million products, and we have about 40,000 3D-ready products right now,” said Festa. “We’re trying to work with vendors to create 3D models of their products. Since these are the early days of AR, most vendors don’t understand why they’d need to create a 3D model. So, with the emergence of the 3D platform, we’re going to get data to show whether a couch with a 3D model outsells one that doesn’t. If we can make that compelling case to suppliers, they’re going to create 3D content for us.”

Festa also noted that, except for some high-end manufacturers, most furniture makers don’t design their products using CAD software. Most coffee tables are usually designed in shops, and changes to their design are done by making adjustments to a machine. But he hopes that, as more consumers have a chance to try AR shopping, more companies will warm up to the technology within a year or two.

“I think we’re one of the leading retailers to embrace this technology,” said Festa, talking about how the emphasis on technology helps Wayfair stand out from its competitors. “There are certainly others that are using 3D content in AR, but I don’t think any of them have the library of models and diversity of products that we do right now. But I’m also encouraged to see more competitors embrace the technology because that will help customers learn to expect it.

“Once customers use the experience, it becomes one of those things you get hooked on. The next time you buy something as big as furniture, if you don’t have an AR model or 3D preview, then you’re going to look for someone that offers that experience. That gives us an advantage right now, but I think that over time, AR is going to be a technology that consumers will pick up naturally, either by playing a game like Pokémon GO or shopping on Wayfair. App developers are going to create these new and interesting experiences and users will come to expect AR as part of the online shopping experience.”

So, considering how AR can significantly improve the shopping experience, why aren’t more of Wayfair’s competitors adopting the technology?

“It’s a big challenge, especially when creating the 3D content,” Festa replied. “When you think about the process of creating the content, putting it into an app and developing an app, it’s kind of risky. People haven’t necessarily embraced AR yet.

“I think by doing it early, Wayfair has an early-mover advantage and we’re actually a pretty big tech company. Although the Wayfair brand is well known, the Wayfair tech brand isn’t necessarily understood in the same way. Wayfair is in the space of being a furniture company, but we’re really a tech company with over a thousand engineers working on all kinds of interesting and complex problems—we just happen to sell furniture. AR is one of those interesting technologies we thought we could leverage for our business, and being a tech company, we took that on ourselves. Most other furniture companies would have to hire third-party contractors to do that because they don’t have the in-house capabilities. So, I see us as a tech company that’s looking to utilize the latest and greatest, which is why we made the leap into embracing AR when a lot of our competitors aren’t ready to do that.”

Wayfair has plans to improve on its AR app by allowing multiple products to be placed into a space, which was a feature in the original design until the company decided to simplify it to one item at a time. The company also has a number of decorative objects like coffee mugs that have been brought into its 3D library, but they’re mainly used in its developing VR application because “a VR room with only one piece of furniture looks really empty.”

Enhancements will depend entirely on how people are using the AR mobile app and what they want from it. “It’s just a matter of getting the right user experience,” said Festa. “We don’t want to overload people with too many features and buttons, but we’ll start introducing them if there’s demand for seeing those props in there.”

As for choosing the right technology to enhance the online shopping experience, Festa believes that there are more near-term opportunities with AR compared to VR, even though he’s a fan of both.

“VR is still a bit of an isolating technology, and people don’t understand it until they try it,” said Festa. “There’s a kind of social aspect to AR—where people can stand around a screen and look at something together—that VR doesn’t quite have yet. But I think that as devices become more connected, we’ll have shared experiences in VR that will be quite compelling. But AR is the main thing right now because it’s so easy to explain, show and share that experience with somebody.”

Despite Brand Safety Concerns, Google’s Parent Company Alphabet Leads In Global Ad Revenue

Google and YouTube’s parent company Alphabet released its earnings for the second quarter and despite the recent stretch of brand safety concerns, it has come out on top.

The company reported revenues of $3.5 billion in net income on sales of $26 billion. The profit would have been much larger except for a record $2.7 billion European Commission antitrust fine. Despite these concerns for brand safety, specifically with YouTube earlier this year, Google still leads the world in digital ad sales.

Concerns over brand safety had companies pulling out of YouTube ads at a staggering rate. The world’s most popular video-sharing site came under fire earlier this year when it was discovered that ads were running next to extremist content. Ads were pulled, funds were diverted to other platforms like traditional TV and YouTube creators suffered considerable drops in income, too.

Google was charged by European regulators with favoring certain results that were part of its special product advertising program. Alphabet recorded the massive anti-competitive behavior fine as an operating loss in the second quarter, despite the possibility of an appeal.

Regardless of the fine, Alphabet’s reported revenue increased by 23 percent versus the second quarter of 2016 and 23 percent on a constant currency basis.

Alphabet is expected to make $73.8 billion dollars in net digital ad sales in 2017, according to eMarketer. Google represents 33 percent of the world’s $223.7 billion in digital ad revenue this year. Facebook is scheduled to release its earnings Wednesday. They currently sit a distant second at $36 billion.

“You’ve told us to do better when it comes to ad placement,” YouTube CEO Susan Mojcicki said during Newfronts. “I want you to know that we have taken your feedback to heart. We work hard every day to earn our advertisers’ and agencies’ trust, and we apologize for letting some of you down. I’m here to say that we can and will do better.”

‘Futurama’ Nurtures Show Universe With Mobile Game

In a media environment saturated with TV shows becoming games, this increasingly common move may actually be the most on-brand for a property like Futurama. Thursday’s release of Worlds of Tomorrow to the App Store and Google Play is an episodic adventure targeted to all ages—especially catering to diehard fans of the show—and timed to fill a Netflix-sized hole when seasons 1-6 are removed from the streaming network on July 1. It’s a strategy meant for a media world of tomorrow and game creators are going for long-term engagement, extending gameplay and releasing new storylines in weeks to come as they would for a TV show.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – JUNE 20: Josh Yguado (L) and Chris DeWolfe attend Futurama Worlds of Tomorrow Event in Hollywood at Avalon on June 20, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Jam City)

The release has been promoted with the fans in mind, with a livestreamed table reading event which featured the original cast and a Reddit AMA featuring Matt Groening and series creator David X. Cohen.

The story of the game lives comfortably in the Futurama universe: It’s mating season for Hypnotoad, the wildly popular mind-control amphibian. Due to the creature’s sizable powers, this tender time has ripped the prophylactic membrane of the universe, throwing the characters into interdimensional turmoil. Your job is to rescue them and reassemble the characters of the crew through a series of RPG and choose-your-own-adventure scenarios.

For those not invested in either game genre—or not even that into gaming, really—the open world map of New New York has enough nuance from the Futurama world to keep fans entertained. Developers Jam City and TinyCo worked closely with Cohen, staff writers and animators from the show, and the original voiceover talent to make this happen. Both writers and developers had to sign off on storylines, arcs and dialogue, and animations were spot-checked all the way down to considering if a character moved in the game like it would on the show.

“We really wanted to make sure whatever game we designed did justice to what a deep storyline and set of characters Futurama represents,” said Josh Yguado, COO and president of Jam City. “We wanted mechanics that were not straightforward—we wanted something that was a mashup on a lot of different angles. Something that was complex and interesting and fit in with the story.”

True to being the sort of brand that lives in the future, Futurama creators feel the show universe can live on and even grow solely as a game, whether or not the show would ever come back.

Actor John DiMaggio, who plays the voice of Bender, sees the potential for maintaining the nuanced show universe with the way Futurama’s writers work, and even sees characters being able to evolve. “These guys would argue three hours about a math joke that would appear on screen for like a second or two,” he said. “They’re the most brilliant, over-educated writing staff in the history of television. I’m not joking.”

It’s also more advantageous for the show to live in this format, as far as current mobile consumption habits go. “People don’t have the time or scheduling wiggle room to be able to consume something that is 22 minutes or 30 minutes or, God forbid, comes on at a certain time or you have to be there, whether or not you’re doing something else,” said Sara McPherson, associate director of user experience at TinyCo. “People want to be part of this universe that they love whenever it’s convenient for them, and that’s why a game makes so much sense.”

Yguado also sees the move as a leveling up for the brand, with deeper interactivity and more time spent with the characters. “You get to make decisions and be a part of the stories,” Yguado said. “This is what it’s all about. This is a continuation for fans of what Futurama is.”

The Current State Of Mobile Gaming

Mobile gaming—from the most casual candy crusher to the obsessed champion—is a platform that spans gender, age, genre and lifestyle. About 1.9 billion people play mobile games, according to rewarded ad provider Tapjoy. Last year, mobile games brought in $40.6 billion worldwide—more than any other interactive entertainment medium. Let’s see who’s playing.

Meet The Players

Who plays mobile games? If you think it’s mostly teenagers, you’d be wrong. According to Tapjoy’s report The Changing Face of Mobile Gamers: What Brands Need to Know, the largest age group is made up of consumers 55 and over at 23 percent, followed by consumers ages 25-to-34 (21 percent) and 35-to-44 (19 percent). Teens 13-to-17 make up just 8.05 percent of mobile gamers, while those 18-to-24 are slightly higher at 13.56 percent.

Women represent the majority of mobile gamers, making up 63 percent of the total player base. Despite this revelation, 72 percent of the women surveyed said that they do not consider themselves a “gamer” even though 59 percent of women said they play games at least 10 times per week.

The vast majority of gamers (69 percent) said they play at least three-to-five times per day, while 71 percent of respondents play for an hour or more every day, and 21 percent play for more than three hours a day.

Global Mobile

China has climbed to the No. 1 spot for iOS mobile game revenue, surpassing the US and Japan as of the second quarter of 2016. According to App Annie, China’s sudden domination is attributed to the explosive popularity of multiplayer collaborative games in the region. Although the rise of the Chinese market to global leader was impressive compared to the last two years, it’s not exactly surprising.

Together, China, the US and Japan are responsible for approximately 75 percent of gaming revenue on the iOS platform, with gaming as the single largest revenue driver. China alone nearly doubled the iOS App Store games revenue it had just a year earlier in second quarter of 2015.

What They’re Playing

Puzzle games are by far the most popular category, Tapjoy found, played by 59 percent of respondents, followed by strategy (38 percent), trivia (33 percent) and casino/card games (27 percent). Among the least popular games were player-versus-player (15 ) and sports (11 percent). The shooting category was least popular among mobile gamers at just eight percent.

Phones Over Tablets

When asked which devices they use to play mobile digital games, 78 percent of US respondents identified smartphones versus a tablet (59 percent) or laptop (47 percent), according to a study by PayPal and SuperData. In fact, the smartphone is the most popular gaming platform in nine out of the 10 countries surveyed.

Combined, mobile gaming on smartphones and tablets is the largest segment of the video game industry this year, accounting for 42 percent of the total global market with $35.3 billion. The segment also has the most gamers, Newzoo reports, with 2.1 billion. Mobile is expected to hold its titles as the largest gaming segment, growing with a CAGR (2016 to 2020) of 13.9 percent to claim 50 percent of the market by 2020.

Okay With Ads

In addition to becoming the largest segment of gamers in the world, US mobile gamers in particular are accustomed to ad-supported business models and microtransactions. The Modern Mobile Gamer: Advertising Preferences Revealed by Tapjoy explores the ways in which US consumers interact with mobile advertising within a gaming app. Out of the 2,615 survey participants, 21 percent said they preferred free, ad-supported games while 14 percent preferred a paid business model without ads. Similarly, a recent study by NPD revealed that a majority of mobile game users prefer to earn in-game currency over paying real money.

More than half of US consumers — 51 percent — said they are willing to watch at least four videos per day in exchange for rewards. Thirty-seven percent said they’d watch six or more videos per day, Tapjoy found.

Rewarded ads that yield in-game offers in exchange for watching or interacting with an ad were preferred by 69 percent of consumers in a Forrester Consulting study. Respondents said it’s critical that ads don’t disrupt their use of the app, and 67 percent indicated they wanted to be offered a reward, such as premium content or virtual currency in exchange for engaging with an ad.

Global Game Market Reaches $106B; ‘Injustice 2’ Tops May Charts

The video game market reached a total of $109 billion in 2016—a 56 percent increase in just five years, according to Newzoo’s 2017 Global Games Market report. China leads the industry in terms of users and revenue followed by the United States, and mobile games have become the most popular platform—if only by one percent.

Gamers Around The Globe

The share of total revenues claimed by each region has remained almost unchanged since 2016, Newzoo observed. As usual, the Asia-Pacific region represents the largest gaming segment—earning nearly half (47 percent) of all global game revenues. In 2017, Newzoo predicts that Asia-Pacific will bring in $51.2 billion, which represents a 9.2 percent year-on-year increase.

North America is the second-largest region in the video game market, taking a 25 percent share of the market to earn $27 billion this year—a year-on-year increase of four percent. North America has a total of 180.5 million gamers, 58 percent of whom are payers spending an average of $256.10 each per year.

At 24 percent, the Europe, Middle East and Africa segment aren’t far behind and is growing at a higher rate of eight percent year-on-year. While Latin America represents only four percent of the global game market, the region is growing at a rate of 13.9 percent year-on-year and will reach $6.3 billion by 2020.

Platform Perspective

Move over consoles, mobile gaming (smartphone and tablet) is the largest segment in 2017, accounting for 42 percent of the total global market with $35.3 billion. The segment also has the most gamers, Newzoo reports, with 2.1 billion. Mobile is expected to hold its titles as the largest gaming segment, growing with a CAGR (2016-2020) of 13.9 percent to claim 50 percent of the market by 2020.

At 41 percent, consoles represent the second-largest segment with revenues of $33.5 billion 2017, followed by boxed/downloaded PC games (23 percent), tablet games (10 percent) and browser PC games at just four percent.

Browser game revenues will decrease by 9.3 percent to $4.5 billion as gamers continue their transition to mobile, Newzoo predicts. Boxed/downloaded PC games will experience a slight drop (1.3 percent) this year to $24.6 billion.

May Game Sales

US video game spending in May—which includes hardware, software and accessories—fell 11 percent compared to one year ago to $542 million, according to NPD Group. Led by the Sony PlayStation 4, hardware spending grew seven percent from May 2016 to $147 million.

“Nintendo Switch continues to be the primary catalyst for hardware spending gains, as it has since launching in March 2017,” said NPD’s VG industry analyst Mat Piscatella.

Software dollar sales in May fell 20 percent versus one year ago to $271 million due to a slim line-up of new game releases.

Injustice 2 was the best-selling game of the month across all platforms, followed by Mario Kart 8 and Grand Theft Auto V. NPD’s figures did not include digital sales for Mario Kart 8.

Study: 79 Percent Of Mobile Gamers Prefer Rewarded Ads Over Pre-Roll

Fifty-four percent of mobile gamers prefer the “freemium” business model, according to a report released by rewarded ad provider, Tapjoy. The Modern Mobile Gamer: Advertising Preferences Revealed explores the ways in which US consumers interact with mobile advertising within a gaming app. Out of the 2,615 survey participants, 21 percent said they preferred free, ad-supported games while only 14 percent preferred a paid business model without ads.

So does this mean that mobile gamers love advertising? Well, sort of—it’s more like consumers are willing to support the developer in exchange for in-game goodies.

Rewarded ads offer an interactive way for users to “pay” for use of an app without being intrusive like a pop-up ad or flashing banner. In fact, a recent study by NPD revealed that a majority of mobile game users prefer to earn in-game currency over paying real money.

Thanks For Watching

Tapjoy found that 79 percent of US consumers surveyed prefer opt-in ads that offer rewards such as in-app currency over mandatory ads such as pre-roll videos. This number is even higher—83 percent—for those who play at least 12 hours per week.

“It’s natural that consumers want to be rewarded for their engagement and attention,” Shannon Jessup, chief revenue officer at Tapjoy told AListDaily. “They shouldn’t have to suffer through disruptive and annoying pre-rolls or pop-ups that offer zero value when they could instead choose to engage with ads that actually offer some type of in-app reward.”

Video, Please

Survey respondents who interact with rewarded ads in exchange for virtual currency or in-game content prefer to watch videos, the study found, at 63 percent. This was far and away the most popular type, followed by installing apps at 10 percent, playable ads at nine percent and filling out a survey at eight percent. The least favorite type of rewarded ad comes in the form of subscribing to a service, at only one percent.

Rewarded video ads are not only the most preferred method for consumers, but 51 percent are willing to watch four or more such videos per day. This trend holds true across a broad mix of demographic backgrounds, Tapjoy reported.

Moved By Movies

Survey respondents prefer video ads that pertain to Movies and Entertainment more than any other category provided, at 55 percent. Food and Restaurants came in second at 46 percent, followed by Retailers (25 percent), Fitness and Healthcare (22 percent) and Local Services (19 percent).

At 44 percent, humor is the best medicine for consumers watching a video ad, followed by storytelling at 27 percent. Common assumptions about ad preferences may not as true as once thought—ads with sex appeal and famous celebrities were the least popular genres among the options provided at 13 percent each.

Internet Ads Will Reach $116B; VR Awareness Up To 51% in US

This week in marketing news, virtual reality is more of a household name, internet advertising spend will reach new highs, and while consumers prefer to research online, they don’t always want to purchase that way.

Video Gets Social

When it comes to apps, consumers sure love to watch videos on social media, and don’t seem to mind marketing videos. Sixty-four percent of consumers made a purchase after watching a marketing video on Facebook in the last month, according to findings by Animoto. Four percent of consumers reported watching social video content on mobile devices and 81 percent of marketers reported optimizing social videos for mobile including using tactics like planning for views with the sound off.

Vertical video is the preferred among mobile users, according to Yume, who found that 79 percent of first-time vertical-video viewers seeing the format as a more engaging content experience. In addition, 85 percent of both new and experienced viewers appreciate it as an option.

Speaking of vertical viewing, Snapchat’s most successful series, E!’s The Rundown, averages more than seven million viewers per weekly episode, according to the company. That’s about half of what the number one show brings in— CBS’ The Big Bang Theory—which averaged 14.03 million viewers per episode, according to calculations by CNBC.

Virtual Awareness

While not everyone has hopped on board the VR train, awareness for AR and VR devices nearly doubled year-over-year, according to Nielsen. Fifty-one percent of the general US population is aware of such devices, compared to just 28 percent in 2016. Intent to buy AR/VR skews more male (69 percent) and younger, with 44 percent of interested consumers being millennials.

In the first quarter, more than two million AR/VR headsets were shipped globally, according to new data from IDC. VR is still the most popular immersive headset, with 98 percent of shipments. Smaller brands comprised 43 percent of the market and 22 percent of devices shipped were from Samsung, followed by Sony (19 percent) and HTC (eight percent).

Tolerating Ads

According to Kantar Media, 68 percent of connected consumers either tolerate or like advertising, and 36 percent think advertising is changing for the better. On mobile, 35 percent of those surveyed said they would be willing to provide more data to brands in return for more relevant ads.

Internet advertising revenue in the US reached $72.5 billion in 2016, the largest market in the world, PwC reported. This figure is forecast to reach $116.2 billion in 2021, rising at a CAGR of 9.9 percent. Global entertainment and media revenues are expected to rise from $1.8 trillion in 2016 to $2.2 trillion in 2021, the firm predicts.


While 62 percent of consumers prefer to research electronics and computers online, only 43 percent are comfortable making that purchase online as well, according to an infographic released by Chargebacks911. Thirty percent of shoppers did all or most of their shopping for household appliances online, the company found, but 53 percent preferred to research online before purchasing.

Is Esports An Actual Sport?

Earlier this month, esports company ESL announced a partnership with Facebook to stream exclusive gaming content and it will be an official medal sport at the 2022 Olympic Asia games. A new study from Peanut Labs showed that two in five gamers don’t see esports as “real sports” or its players as “legitimate athletes,” however. The survey focused on 1,020 players from League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty and Minecraft. Whether they think it’s “real sports” or not, people sure love to watch game competitions. Watch time of esports videos has grown by over 90 percent in the past year, Google reports.

App Dreams

Developers watching Planet of the Apps may dream of making millions on their next idea, but how often does that actually happen? Mobile app intelligence provider Priori Data found that 4,648 app developers made more than $1 million in 2016. Of those, 81 percent of the publishers were in games. The study found that 1,077 earned more than $1 million from apps that were only on iOS, while 964 made more than $1 million from apps that were only on Google Play. Diversifying seems to be a key to success, with 2,607 making more than $1 million from apps that were on both platforms.

Take-Two Taps New 2K Games President; Staples Names CMO

David Ismailer, who has been with Take-Two Interactive Software since 2002, has been promoted to president of 2K Games. Ismailer replaces former president Christoph Hartmann.

“Having been at 2K since day one, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some of the most talented and committed professionals in our industry,” Ismailer said in a statement. “I am immensely proud of what we have achieved together. My goal is to enable and empower our teams further, and to provide them with the opportunity to build upon our rich history of creating innovative and engaging entertainment experiences for audiences around the world.”

Michelle Bottomley has been appointed CMO for Staples. Bottomley replaces Frank Bifulco, who had previously announced his intention to retire in 2017.

“Michelle brings tremendous breadth and balance in the marketing profession, and has a well-earned reputation as a leader of high-performing teams,” said Staples’ CEO and president Shira Goodman. “Her strong background in business-to-business marketing, including working closely with and leading sales teams, and deep expertise in digital marketing will be critical as we transform Staples to be a solutions provider for businesses.”

Brandon Rhoten has joined Papa John’s International as their new global CMO. Rhoten recently served as vice president of advertising, media and digital/social at Wendy’s International.

“Brandon was a key contributor in Wendy’s resurgence within the QSR Hamburger category, advancing their brand positioning, creative, media, digital marketing, and now renowned social media presence,” said Steve Ritchie, president and COO of Papa John’s. “He is a disruptor in the QSR industry, and we are excited for him to further enhance Papa John’s brand relevancy and quality positioning across our marketing channels globally.”

Mondelez International has hired Jonathan Halvorson as vice president of global media and digital. Halvorson previously was the director of global video strategy and operations at Twitter.

Brian Ames, a former growth director for Snap Inc., has left the company to serve as president of advertising for mobile game studio King.

Facebook has hired a pair of former CEOs. Nada Stirratt has been appointed as Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions for the US and Canada. Ty Ahmad-Taylor has been named vice president of product marketing.

Apple News, a mobile news aggregation app which the Cupertino-based company launched in the summer of 2015, is getting its first ever editor-in-chief in Lauren Kern, who left her position as executive editor of New York Magazine.

Joe Carney has been named senior vice president of sales and brand partnerships for The Player’s Tribune.

Live events VR platform Virtually Live announced the appointment of Markus Tellenbach as its new group CEO.

Former Condé Nast senior executive Holly Lang has joined iPic Entertainment as their new CMO.

Intel Corporation announced that its board of directors has promoted three corporate officers. Navin Shenoy was promoted from senior vice president to executive vice president. Gregory Bryant was promoted from corporate vice president to senior vice president. Sandra Rivera was promoted from corporate vice president to senior vice president.

Tidal CEO Jeff Toig has left the music subscription service founded by rapper Jay-Z. Toig is the company’s third chief executive to leave their post.

(Editor’s Note: This post will be updated daily until Friday, June 2. Have a new hire tip? Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

Director, Digital Programs, Martech & Personalization Starbucks Seattle
Vice President, Marketing Wesgroup Vancouver, BC
Worldpay Atlanta, GA
Marketing Director Essendant Philadelphia, PA
Director of Marketing Office Solutions Company Vancouver, BC
Chief Marketing Officer Gibson Brands, Inc. Nashville, TN
Vice President of Marketing Feed the Children Oklahoma City, OK
Banana Republic San Francisco, CA

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