‘Deadpool Core’ Promotes Sequel With Coloring Activities

The Deadpool Core mailing list, released this week and designed to engage fans ahead of Deadpool 2‘s theatrical release on May 18, is beginning to see social traction.

The promotion includes projects for fans to do at home and keeps in the spirit of the Deadpool franchise, which is famous for its parodies. In addition to periodic emails, the microsite allows visitors to download assets—like a movie poster that parodies Flash Dance. To commemorate National Crayon Day on March 31, the site offered a coloring book page that fans can print out at home and share online with the hashtag #DeadpoolCore.

To measure user engagement with the campaign thus far, we calculated the earned media value from posts about Deadpool Core from March 31 to April 3.

“Earned media” is the value of engagements a brand receives across channels as a result of their marketing efforts. To help quantify what the value of those engagements is worth, Ayzenberg Group established the Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index (AEMVI) and assigned a quantifiable dollar amount for marketing gains a brand receives from a campaign or individual engagement that includes social media networks and similar digital properties.

The official Deadpool account posted identical status updates on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook March 31. “Red” earned the most “green” on Instagram, where the post earned over 91,000 likes and 242 comments. On Twitter, the original #DeadpoolCore announcement post was liked over 6,000 times and shared by 1,145 users. Facebook users liked the post a little over 3,000 times. Based on the latest EMV values, 20th Century Fox earned just shy of $14,500 in the four days spanning March 31 to April 3.

The campaign’s dedicated microsite parodies the original Mickey Mouse Club with photos of the film’s characters in white turtlenecks with their names on them. Those who sign up for Deadpool Core are also referred to as “Mercateers.”

“You will be locked, cocked, and loaded with everything a true ‘core fan’ needs to prepare for the theatrical release of everyone’s favorite ‘Merc with a Mouth’ all over the world,” reads the site’s F.U.Q. Frequently Unanswered Questions section. “Mostly, it means you will receive emails with exclusive content and F-ing awesome digital goodies.”

Soon after the campaign’s announcement, fans began to post their coloring pages online, along with screenshots of their first Deadpool Core membership email. Like good Mercateers, fans followed Deadpool’s instructions to include the hashtag #DeadpoolCore, as well.

(Editor’s note: AListDaily is the publishing arm of [a]network and a sister site to Ayzenberg. To read the updated AEMVI report reflecting the rapid changes in social, click here.)

IAB Proposes New OTT Advertising Guidelines For Marketers

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has proposed a set of guidelines for advertising within over-the-top (OTT) environments.

The Guidelines for Identifier for Advertising (IFA) on OTT platforms” proposes three requirements for ad requests sent by devices and apps. These guidelines are centered around giving privacy choices to the consumer.

The first guideline proposal is an identifier for advertising (IFA). IAB says that an IFA must be a unique value that is completely disconnected from a hardware ID, MAC address, IMEI, or IP address. This identifier would be mandatory for ad requests unless the user has opted in to limit ad tracking (see below). Users must be able to reset the IFA and a new, unrelated IFA must be generated whenever a reset occurs.

Under the next guideline, an associated IFA type should identify the source of the IFA, whether device-generated, publisher-provided, or temporary.

Finally, IAB recommends offering limit ad tracking (LAT) as an opt-out mechanism to respect the user’s privacy choices.

Under these proposed OTT advertising guidelines, consumer electronics manufacturers and app stores must provide an API or SDK for app publishers to read the IFA. Having a single area within a platform for users to manage advertising identifiers is also recommended. IAB recommends that access to the privacy policy and terms of use should be located near the IFA reset and LAT settings for convenience.

“The traditional semi-persistent cookie we are accustomed to using as an identifier on browsers isn’t at play across OTT systems, so we need to deploy other types of identifiers to ensure that ad experiences are optimal for consumers,” Dennis Buchheim, senior vice president and general manager of IAB Tech Lab wrote in a statement. “These guidelines will direct stakeholders down the path of best practices to allow OTT to grow and evolve as a significant advertising platform.”

“The Guidelines for Identifier for Advertising on OTT platforms” are open for a 30-day public comment period from April 3 to May 3. Questions and comments regarding these guidelines can be sent to video@iabtechlab.com.

Video Game Publishers Navigate Legalities With Influencers

Influencers marketing is still a relatively new means of engaging with audiences, but it has grown to become a critical part of video game marketing campaigns—and it’s not just the games themselves that are benefitting from endorsements, as non-gaming brands have taken notice too. But not all publishers and influencers are following FTC disclosure guidelines, even though it was a video game that helped spark their creation.

A recent paper written by Princeton researcher Arunesh Mathur analyzing YouTube videos and Pinterest pins found that 90 percent of posts containing affiliate links did not disclose that they were sponsored, indicating problems with the entire influencer marketing space. Mathur’s paper points out that with gaming specifically, 21 out of 152 affiliates disclosed themselves on YouTube, so it’s not surprising that the is gaining more attention in the legal community.

“The most common mistake I hear about is companies and influencers assuming that it’s someone else’s job to figure out the proper disclosure,” Will Bucher, a lawyer at Debevoise & Plimpton, explained to AListDaily. “A large company hires an external agency assuming the agency will know the disclosure requirements; an agency assumes that an influencer remembers the guidance the agency provided during a previous engagement a year ago; or the influencers assumes if they had a disclosure requirement, someone in a suit would have told them. The truth is that when no one takes responsibility, everyone gets in trouble.”

With more video games being treated as a service, companies are becoming heavily invested in influencer and community marketing. Sources told AListDaily that they consider livestreaming a top priority channel, placing it among traditional marketing activities such as advertising. It’s a medium where broadcasters can talk directly with their audiences in an authentic way, showing games as they are, without hiding behind stylized or heavily produced marketing materials.

Bucher defines influencers as “non-traditional marketing,” meaning that they are campaigns based on personal recommendations and endorsements, both explicit and implicit. So, an ad that plays at the beginning of a Twitch stream is considered traditional marketing, while a streamer talking about a game he or she is playing is non-traditional. Predominantly wearing a certain brand of headphones during broadcasts also counts as non-traditional marketing.

“Most social media platforms facilitate traditional marketing, but increasingly it’s the recommendations and endorsements of the influencers themselves that are moving products,” said Bucher. “For this reason, non-traditional marketing through social media influencers has attracted much attention from both marketing teams and the Federal Trade Commission.”

There are companies that host multiple live broadcast events every week, and some have partner programs where streamers become official ambassadors for their games and brands. These partners may have direct access to the development team for information and are usually provided with giveaway items in addition to access to new content to encourage viewership and showcase a game’s newest features. Those looking to emulate this kind of focus on community-based marketing should also take steps to avoid disclosure issues while doing so.

“If you are paying influencers or giving them free products to promote a brand or company, you should also be providing those influencers with clear guidance on when and how they should disclose,” said Bucher, stating that lawyers should write the guidance well enough for fourth graders to understand it. “If you don’t currently have guidance that you provide the influencers you work with, now would be a good time to implement those policies. A procedure for monitoring compliance across all sponsored content is important too.”

According Bucher, disclosure is required when there is a connection between an endorser and the marketer that consumers would not expect, but affects how those consumers evaluate the endorsement or recommendation. This usually occurs when a company pays an individual for an endorsement or provides someone with a free product.

Disclosure can be as simple as including “#ad” or “#sponsored” in a tweet. If it is not provided, both the influencer and the sponsoring company are taking a risk.

“If the Federal Trade Commission or a state agency takes notice, the result could be a legal settlement. The class action bar is starting to take notice too,” said Bucher.

Bucher recommends that if a company realizes that an influencer forgot to provide disclosure that it should either take the post down or add a complaint disclosure to it.

“Remedying mistakes is important,” Bucher continued. “The Federal Trade Commission has made it clear that when companies have robust monitoring programs to make sure influencers are compliant and a system for taking swift action to correct noncompliant content, they can avoid legal repercussions for those mistakes.”

A possible workaround to avoid potential compliance issues is to partner with the streaming platform itself. For example, Twitch has a program called Drops, where in-game items are given to live viewers when a streamer hits certain achievements during a broadcast. The program has worked well for both publishers and livestreamers, and sources said that longtime broadcasters who once had a peak viewership of around 100 people suddenly had audiences numbering in the thousands, with those viewers converting to players when they redeem their rewards. Unless companies are coordinating with specific streamers to use Drops or similar features, there wouldn’t be anything to disclose.

Still, Bucher said it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to disclosure.

“We wouldn’t fault any company for misstepping, since this is all new and the rules of the road are just emerging,” said Bucher. “Having said that, there have been cases where companies made no disclosure at all, and it’s clear by now that some disclosure is always better than none.”

How Companies Are Growing Audiences With Snapchat And Facebook Watch Shows

Some call Snapchat and Facebook the future of television, while others see them as major challengers to YouTube. In either case, these social networks are changing the way viewers consume shows by courting media companies to produce premium content for their respective platforms, and these companies are finding different ways to grow audiences for their programs.

Snapchat began working with studios to host premium content on its Discover section in 2016 and has aired 50 shows to date. Facebook Watch launched in 2017, and now hosts hundreds of shows that cater to almost every taste. It’s a win-win situation for both the platforms and content creators, as Snapchat and Facebook get quality content to keep users engaged and media brands gain direct access to their user bases. Snapchat in particular has 187 million daily active users, who are largely comprised of millennial and Gen Z audiences.

Neither platform is likely to overtake broadcast television, but that’s not their goal. Instead, creators are turning to these platforms as additional means of engagement and to grow their brands. Shows on Snapchat tend to be short, lasting less than five minutes, and are all created specifically for the platform. A number of them complement existing broadcast news programs and talk shows such as The Late Late Show With James Corden, which posts show-related comedy sketches, while others have no relation to any other shows. Snap Inc. announced in February that it is furthering its investment in premium content.

Vertical Networks, a mobile-first digital content studio founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, has several shows on Snapchat, with one of the best performing ones being Phone Swap—a dating show where the two people agree to snoop through each other’s smartphones before deciding on whether to go out a second time. The show began its second season in March, and its first season averaging about 10 million views per episode, attracting 14 million people at its peak.

Vertical Networks CEO Tom Wright describes the company as “mixing math with creative,” with the aim of making story-driven content that is refined and optimized for individual platforms through data analysis. Vertical primarily makes shows on Snapchat, but it also has one Facebook Watch program, and they’re all made with the intention of creating an initial audience base on social media before moving to longer-form platforms like television.

“Our focus is on reaching mass audiences and creating global franchises that we believe can become worldwide hits,” Wright told AListDaily. “Outside of premium mobile environments, we don’t see any places where we could do that kind of thing.”

In addition to their massive scale, Wright said that Snapchat and Facebook are ideal platforms for premium content because they both have curatorial elements to them, creating a quality threshold so that premium content doesn’t get mixed in with lower quality videos. Wright also appreciates how these social platforms are meritocracies, with content gaining popularity almost entirely through word-of-mouth.

Neither Snapchat nor Facebook promote any of its premium shows outside its normal process for surfacing content to relevant users and alerting subscribers to new episodes. Facebook Watch has a banner for featured shows, but its programs still rely heavily on word-of-mouth. However, creators on both platforms can help grow popularity by engaging with fans on their official Facebook pages or other social networks.

As a result, many of these shows have a feel that is distinctly different from television. Snapchat shows are all presented vertically so that they take up the whole screen on mobile devices, and are told quickly, sometimes through multiple snaps (photos and videos). Facebook shows such as Comeback Kids: Animal Edition, Returning the Favor, and Make Up or Break Up are usually longer and are meant to be viewed in landscape mode, but what they all have in common is that they’re designed to be shareable.

Comeback Kids, which tells tales about animals overcoming hardships, began its second season in March and is one of five animal-themed shows produced by The Dodo, part of the Group Nine Media network. The Dodo launched on Facebook Watch with 19 million followers on its main Facebook page as its base and grew its Watch audience organically from there.

The show’s first season has collectively attracted over 140 million viewers on Facebook alone, and The Dodo ranked as one of Tubular’s Top 10 Facebook Video Publishers for February 2018. But unlike Vertical Networks, The Dodo puts some of its shows to YouTube, Twitter and other platforms two days after episodes premiere on Facebook.

“We’ve spent the last few years really leaning into Facebook, learning about our Facebook audience and identifying what works best on the platform,” said Joanna Zelman, executive editor of video at The Dodo. “YouTube is newer for us, so we’re experimenting with different types of stories to see what that audience is most excited about. We’ve seen enormous growth on YouTube YOY in terms of watch time, subscribers and video views.”

According to Zelman, The Dodo’s YouTube audience has a higher concentration of males in comparison to Facebook, with about 50 and 30 percent respectively. YouTube also has a more international audience, so growth on that platform hinges more on having a universally relatable voice. Additionally, The Dodo found that human-centric content tends to perform better on YouTube, which inspired the studio to create its first YouTube-specific show that highlights famous pets and their human companions.

Although both Facebook and YouTube have tools for speaking with audiences, Zelman said, “YouTube affords us more opportunities to break down the fourth wall and engage directly with the audience.” Specifically, The Dodo asks its fans for opinions and feedback to guide its posting strategy, and it recently started using the YouTube community tab feature to interact with its audience.

Both Vertical Networks and The Dodo use remarkably little to no cross promotion to grow their audiences apart from the social platforms’ recommendation systems. Wright takes pride in the fact that all of Vertical’s programs grew to have millions of viewers on their own, with no supplemental marketing done except perhaps a tweet to let fans know that a new season was starting.

Wright also said that Vertical doesn’t do any post episode engagement with its viewers. Instead, shows rely on conversations occurring naturally. For example, Phone Swap generated about 60 thousand related tweets in its first season based solely on viewers discussing episodes with each other.

“The shows we create drive incredible word-of-mouth, but it’s not about proactive marketing outreach,” said Wright.

But in a sense, given Vertical’s long-term goals, its Snapchat shows are marketing future programs based on their core concepts. That’s a markedly different attitude compared to shows such as Returning the Favor on Facebook Watch, hosted by Mike Rowe, who travels the country to spotlight people who are making a difference in their communities. Rowe is the former host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel and was once a Ford truck commercial spokesperson. That fame earned him a large following on Facebook, and he actively engages with it on a regular basis to help promote the show.

But to grow beyond that initial fan base, Hudsun Media CEO and Returning the Favor executive producer Michael Rourke said that audience participation was the key.

“All of our heroes featured on RTF are nominated by the community, and they post videos, photos and articles in our Facebook group. We say that our show is for the community, by the community.”

According to Rourke, Watch is ideal platform because show producers get immediate feedback on shows through comments, which lets them know what works and doesn’t.

Rhett Bachner, president of B17 Entertainment’s Thumb Candy Media and production on Make Up or Break Up, tells a similar story. With Make Up or Break Up, audiences vote in real-time on whether a couple should stay together or call it quits.

“Real-time feedback is such a powerful tool,” said Bachner. “We know fairly quickly if a new idea is or isn’t working, but you have to be willing to try new things. The community appreciates being heard and you can see the results.”

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to building an audience on social platforms. Although reality shows appear to be some of the best performing programs, Vertical also produces a scripted interactive mystery show on Snapchat called Solve, and its premiere episode pulled in 4.6 million viewers.

But even though Vertical has impressive viewership numbers, Wright said that it focuses on different metrics to determine a show’s success. The company emphasizes loyalty, quality of time spent with the show and engagement—which factors in top snaps per user, time spent per episode and subscription rates. These factors indicate an engaged audience, and they’re also qualities the Snapchat platform rewards.

“Scale is exciting, and we love that we have the audiences that we do, but we’d like to create brands that people care about,” said Wright.

Both Vertical and The Dodo agree that it all comes down to understanding audiences and the demands of each individual platform, whether it be Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Instagram or Twitter.

“There’s no silver bullet,” Wright explained. “If you make really good content, you’ll find a meaningful audience. Between Facebook and Snapchat, there are different audiences and different behaviors. A piece of content that is built for Facebook would perform terribly on Snapchat and vice versa.”

Wright describes the Snapchat audience as “impatiently curious,” and brands can either fight that by trying to force content that they think they should be consuming, or embrace it by tailoring content to what gets viewers excited.

“If you’re going to try to stimulate and retain that audience, you need to commit resources and have a deep understanding of who you’re looking to engage,” said Wright.

‘Fortnite’ Helped Drive $9.1B Worldwide Digital Game Sales In February

Global consumers spent $9.1 billion on digital video games in February, an increase of six percent year over year (YoY), according to the latest figures by SuperData Research.

US digital spending grew 21 percent, primarily from an increase in console spend across premium AAA titles and free-to-play (F2P). Premium PC grew 33 percent YoY, while the console segment grew 34 percent over the same month last year.

Meanwhile, the Social and Pay-to-Play PC segments shrank one percent and eight percent, respectively.

F2P, FTW

Free-to-play console games drove a staggering 359 percent YoY growth last month, a feat that SuperData attributes to Epic Games’ Fortnite. The zombie survival game and its battle royale mode earned more in additional content purchases than all other console games in February, with the exception of Call of Duty: WWII.

“With the success Fortnite demonstrates, it is likely that more developers will attempt to enter this space,” Elena Fedina, senior analyst at SuperData told AListDaily. “We currently saw that in 2017, the F2P console market was over $300 million, but it will more than double in 2018.”

Fedina noted that while F2P remains a large subset of PC gaming—earning more than $15 billion last year—consoles are a much more closed off and challenging platform for developers.

“Games like World of Tanks and SMITE (even before the impressive performance of Fortnite this year) showed developers that despite being a more challenging environment from a development standpoint, consoles have a large audience of gamers that want to play F2P games,” said Fedina.

Free-to-play PC revenue dropped four percent last month, while mobile—free or otherwise—grew a modest four percent YoY.

Tencent Races For The Top

QQ Speed, Tencent’s mobile racing game, is a breakout hit in China. The game released in December after a popular run on PC and has climbed to the number two mobile spot in a matter of months. SuperData notes that QQ Speed shows one of the fastest climbs of any mobile title they’ve seen.

“Essentially, [QQ Speed] is very similar to Mario Kart, which is not available in China, hence the initial interest,” explained Fedina. “QQ Speed had no real competition and it is a part of the Tencent ecosystem, which adds the social aspect to it and makes it more attractive to players.”

Fedina also pointed out that QQ Speed does not offer cross-play between mobile and PC, which doesn’t put PC players at an unfair advantage.

“This also leads to potentially increased spending,” she added. “The accounts are not shared, i.e. in the mobile version player starts from scratch so if they had a favorite skin, they would have to buy it again.”

Mobile Gaming On Rise, But Brand Ad Spending Remains Low

Despite the strong growth of mobile games, brands outside of the gaming industry have yet to take full advantage of the platform. There are multiple possibilities as to why, but analysts agree that brands are largely missing out on an opportunity to target a diverse and engaged audience.

According to data gathered by DeltaDNA, mobile gaming grew globally by about 19.3 percent to $46.1 billion, but brand spending in mobile games accounts for only 15 percent of total ad spend. DeltaDNA CEO Mark Robinson told AListDaily that the reason brand ad spending was low is because of an outdated view of mobile gaming demographics, which has changed significantly in recent years.

“In 2008, the year that the App Store launched for iOS, just 4 percent of the global mobile population downloaded games to their phone, and the bulk of mobile game development was dedicated to adventure and sports simulation. These are genres that broadly appeal to men aged 18 to 30,” explained Robinson. “Five years later, analysts were still extolling the virtues of in-game advertising as a way of reaching the young male demographic that represents the majority of mobile game users.”

Today, according to DeltaDNA’s findings, 62 percent of mobile gamers are female, with the majority over 25 years old, making games a prime platform for industries such as beauty or fashion. The typical mobile gamer of today is a professional woman around 35- to 44-years-old, but Robinson notes that audiences vary according to the types of games. Women tend to prefer casual and social casino games, while men lean more heavily towards action and strategy games.

Data analyst firm App Annie has similar findings. Its 2017 gaming report, which released in March, shows that games represent nearly 80 percent of total worldwide consumer spend across iOS and Android, and account for roughly 35 percent of worldwide downloads in 2017. According the App Annie, 25- to 44-year-olds made up 38 percent of US gaming demographic last year, with 37 percent older and 25 percent younger. US gamers age 45 and over spent around 37 percent of their total mobile time playing games, which is greater than in other countries the firm analyzed.

Although App Annie’s director of market insights Amir Ghodrati also notes that demographics change from game-to-game, he said that both men and women are taking to mobile games. He agrees that ad spending on mobile gaming is lower than what it should be, given the data, but he believes it has more to do with how brands need to learn the benefits of the gaming platform.

“It’s easy to do app-install type advertising, especially when it comes to gaming, where those companies tend to be ahead of the curve,” said Ghodrati. “You can have a specific call to action to install an app directly from an ad, and that’s something that’s easy to measure.”

With app-install ads, companies—usually games—can quickly see how many impressions an ad made, how many people downloaded the app, how many continued to play and which spent money. The direct link between these types of ads and revenue is easy to see, but the connection isn’t necessarily as direct when it comes to brand advertising.

“You have to do a lot more complicated research to measure what kind of impact advertising is having on your brand,” said Ghodrati. “But if you look at the total time spent in mobile versus other ways people consume advertising, the amount of money people are spending on mobile should still be a lot higher.”

“Mobile increased its share of global ad spend to 20.6 percent in 2017, showing massive growth year-on-year, and pushing itself into distant second behind TV at 36.5 percent,” Robinson added, stating that the shift does not reflect the importance of the gaming audience, as investments are still heavily focused on web, video and social media. “We have all these huge figures and yet there are still huge discrepancies between where users spend their time and advertisers spend their money.

DeltaDNA found that as of January this year, games accounted for a higher percentage of all active apps on Apple’s App Store than any other category, at 25 percent. Robinson also stated that 57 percent of all mobile app users are gamers and 86 percent of total smartphone time is spent in-app. But only 73.2 percent of mobile ad spend is dedicated to it, with the rest going to mobile web. Judging by its data, Robinson said that brand ad spend should be spread out with 83.72 percent going to gaming apps, 8.14 percent to social media, 4.65 to business apps and 3.49 to other types of apps.

However, Ghodrati said that in the US, only about 11 percent of people’s time is spent in gaming apps, with the remaining 89 percent spread out across other categories, with the top being communications at 21 percent of time, social with 22 percent and video players and editors comprising about 10 percent of time. While this indicates that there are more opportunities for brands to take advantage of, non-gaming apps still only represent 20 percent of global consumer spending on the app market. Games also have the added benefit of cycling at a faster rate in comparison to other apps, meaning that the time from download to spending tends to be much shorter.

Robinson also points to a study by Tapjoy, which reports that gamers tend to feel more engaged, focused and happy while playing. Comparatively, a 2017 report by the American Psychological Association (APA) shows that users tend to feel stressed when engaged with non-gaming apps such as social media.

Both analysts agree that rewarded video—ads that offer in-game currency or other benefits in exchange for viewing—is the ideal format for brands, since players opt-in to watching them.

A prime example of how effective rewarded videos can be, and how they’re evolving, comes from a recent partnership between Tapjoy’s newly launched in-house brand experience design studio, Interplay Studios, and 20th Century Fox to promote the animated film Ferdinand.

For Ferdinand, Tapjoy took a traditional rewarded video and added interactive end cards to them. Trailers for the movie were accompanied by branded minigames that included a mix and match memory card game, a fall-and-catch game called Bull in a China Shop and a maze for players to puzzle over.

According to Tapjoy’s findings, all three campaigns saw an average completion rate of 97 percent. Although Tapjoy CRO Shannon Jessup told AListDaily that this was the same completion rate of rewarded videos in general, the interactive end cards added another 30 seconds to the 30-second trailer, totaling a whole minute of in-ad engagement time. She also notes that the click-through rate of end cards is three to fives times higher than traditional mobile video ads.

“Over the last year or so, we have seen a notable increase in the amount that brand advertisers are spending to reach mobile gaming audiences,” said Jessup. “Mobile gamers are an extremely desirable audience for brands, and our data shows that 63 percent are women, mostly between 18 and 44-years-old. The best time to reach them is while they are engaged in a fun, entertaining, low-pressure activity like mobile gaming.”

Rewarded videos are an effective way for brands to engage with mobile gaming audiences because they not only offer positive brand affinity, but they help drive the metrics that they care about most: viewability, audibility and video completion rates. Jessup said that interactive end cards add downstream metrics such as conversions and sales.

Brands may also take advantage of cross-promotional integrations, the way the NFL partnered with Rovio to promote Super Bowl LII in Angry Birds 2. Ghodrati said that App Annie observed a 30 percent bump in downloads and an active user increase for the game during the time leading up to the Super Bowl.

But Robinson doesn’t believe that in-game cross-promotions offer good ROI for the majority of advertisers, stating that a worldwide survey from last year revealed that only four percent of mobile marketers were excited by these ads. Cross-promotions stand in fifth place behind native ads, social video, full-screen video and playable ads, which is by far the most popular at 45 percent.

“These partnerships only make sense for huge names with huge budgets and massive studios,” said Robinson. “Brands are missing out on ideal targets at every level from indie upwards, not just the very top bracket.”

However brands choose to engage with the mobile gaming audience, both Ghodrati and Jessup emphasize that the method needs to naturally complement the gaming environment so that it doesn’t create tension with the user.

In the meantime, it looks like brands are becoming more aware of video games. App Annie reported that the global average for advertiser spend is set to grow from $13 to $52 per user by 2021, as “advertisers increasingly leverage technology and new ad formats that allow for better targeting and measurements of ads and their effectiveness.”

Casual Connect Europe 2018 Coming To London This May

On May 29-31, join 1,800 games industry professionals in London—the gateway to Europe—at the deal-making event where creativity meets business.

At Casual Connect Europe 2018, you’ll have unlimited access to the Pitch and Match meeting system to network with games industry professionals like yourself. All attendees get access to three days of lectures, official networking parties, and 100 of the world’s best indie games with developers.

The venue will also feature a large expo area where you can talk one-on-one with industry-leading companies like Appodeal, Product Madness, Vungle, Mopub, Game Insight, Aarki, Applovin, Phunware, G5, App Samurai, GamePoint, KamaGames, IronSource, Unity and other industry leaders.

You will be able to learn from panels and presentations – featuring experts from Zynga, Sports Interactive Netmarble, Small Giant Games, Space Ape Games, Epic Games, London Venture Partners, Oculus, Playtika, Murka, Disruptor Beam, Unity Technologies, Flaregames, NaturalMotion, FGL, Creative Mobile and more speakers to be announced.

FOR DEVELOPERS

Submit your game for the international Indie Prize London 2018 scholarship program before March 31—more details in the submission form here.

Join industry leaders as an established developer with the Developer showcase here, or support this great event as a sponsor with 50% off Gold, Silver and Bronze.

FOR FUNDING PUBLISHERS

Sign up for a Publishers Pitch and review 40 of the world’s best indie games during three hours pitch on May 29. Get more exposure at the expo area with a booth or meeting table with 50% off Gold, Silver or Bronze sponsorship packages—more info here.

NEW DELEGATION PACKAGE

CGA has recently launched a new program that will make it simpler for government and non-profit organizations or just a group of up to 10 developers to join Casual Connect with a special Delegation package rate. More details here.

About Casual Connect

Casual Connect brings together the most talented and knowledgeable experts in the gaming field to further the industry with the best learning and networking opportunities for gaming professionals since 2005 four times every year. See the full schedule of Casual Connect events for 2018 at http://casualconnect.org/events.html.

Register here for your conference pass before prices go up on April 30.

Location: The Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London, UK

Dates: May 29-31, 2018

Attendees: 1,800 gaming professionals

Speakers: 150 executives and experts

Indie Prize Showcase: 100 games

Website: http://europe.casualconnect.org/

For any questions, please contact Yuliya Moshkaryova at yuliya@cga.global or contact on Facebook.

Live Sports Drove National TV Ad Revenue Growth In February

National TV advertising revenue grew 12 percent year over year (YoY) in February 2018, according to reports provided by Standard Media Index.

February was a significant month for live TV events that included Super Bowl LII and the Winter Olympics. Even without a big advertising push for the Olympics, Grammys and Oscars (both awards shows aired outside of their usual February spots), national TV advertising revenue experienced growth of 7.6 percent.

Both cable and broadcast TV ad revenue grew 12 percent in February 2018, Standard Media Index observed. The increase in ad spend for National TV was driven by live sports—mainly, major broadcasters changing their programming as not to compete with the Olympics, said Standard Media Index CEO James Fennessy.

“We saw ESPN’s revenue jump significantly with big increases in the NBA, College Basketball and Sportscenter,” said Fennessy. “Fox Sports 1 also saw big gains in NASCAR and College Basketball.”

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang earned NBC a whopping $903 million of revenue across TV and digital platforms, approximately 10 percent higher than the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Super Bowl LII generated in-game television revenue of $337 million, a 3.4 percent jump over last year. Total ad revenue for all Super Bowl programming exceeded $400 million across both linear and digital TV.

Cable news experienced growth in ad revenue last month—the “Big Three” cable news networks including FOX News, CNN, and MSNBC increased ad revenue a combined 9.4 percent YoY. The cost for a 30-second prime time spot on the Big Three grew significantly in February, as well. FOX News grew 16 percent, CNN grew 19 percent and MSNBC grew 37 percent YoY.

Across all advertising categories in February, Digital experienced the highest growth at 18 percent YoY, followed by radio at 15 percent. Out-of-home (OOH) also experienced a boost of nine percent, but print dropped 26 percent YoY in February.

Carl’s Jr. Renames Sliders ‘Spielburgers’ To Capture ‘Ready Player One’ Hype

Carl’s Jr. renamed its charbroiled sliders “Spielburgers” and released a series of short videos that pay tribute to the films of director Steven Spielberg.

Quick service restaurant Carl’s Jr. released a series of videos on Monday that parody some of Steven Spielberg’s most iconic films by inserting hamburgers into them. Five tribute videos have been timed with the Monday release of Ready Player One and although “Spielburgers” are not official promotions for the film—nor an official partnership with Spielberg—Carl’s Jr. says they “assume [Spielberg is] cool with it.”

Update: Spielberg isn’t “cool with it.” He issued a video statement Tuesday asking them to cease and desist.

Jurassic Park, Jaws, ET: The Extraterrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind are presented with a burger T-Rex, a burger attacking a swimmer, a burger replaces ET in a basket and a giant burger spaceship. There is even a preview for Ready Player One that reveals a burger wearing a VR headset.

Over the past year, Carl’s Jr. has transitioned from sexualized ads to adopting a tongue-in-cheek persona online. The brand continues a trend of quick-service restaurants that make light of marketing on social media. Carl’s Jr. joins brands like Wendy’s and KFC which have adopted similar strategies to win over young consumers.

Earlier this month, Carl’s Jr. hosted “The Thickies” to coincide with the 90th Academy Awards and promote the restaurant’s Thickburger. Fans could enter to win in categories like Best Selfie, Best Carl and Best DM.

The brand has also experimented with live advertising that offered real-time consumer interaction. In 2016, Carl’s Jr. partnered with Vice’s new site Waypoint and Twich to stream live ads during a 72-hour gaming marathon.

Hamburgers are the most popular quick service option in the US, according to Grand View Research. According to estimates, the US fast food and quick service restaurants market will be worth $263.8 billion by 2025.

At GDC 2018, Virtual Takes A Back Seat To Augmented Reality

Meeting in San Francisco all this week, the Game Developers Conference has been a sort of vitals-taking by the games industry as a whole, reflecting on where it has been this year, and, ideally, where it will be in the coming years. GDC 2018 brought a number of interesting announcements, trends and aspirations for developers and consumers alike.

Virtual Reality Pushes Forward

That VR featured prominently at GDC 2018 should come as a surprise to few, given its many applications in the gaming field.

A number of non-gaming properties have dipped their toes into the virtual reality waters, attempting to bridge the gap between video game worlds and reality.

Survios showcased Creed: Rise to Glory, a virtual reality boxing tie-in to 2015’s critically acclaimed Rocky film that hopes to train its players to box rather than just showcase events from the movie. On a less action-packed note, contemporary board game sensation Catan received a VR adaptation, recreating the experience of playing the game, but with strangers wearing masks.

But outside of the hardcore gaming space, VR has had little luck finding popular adoption among a more casual crowd. Facebook and Oculus are attempting to find a mainstream audience with the Oculus Go, a $200 wireless headset that needn’t be tied to a phone or PC. Disney has also invested in virtual reality, creating a tool to automatically create three-dimensional storyboards from film scripts, that, ideally, will ease the burden of turning flat text into VR imagery.

Wider use cases for VR could not come at a better time, as a January survey of game developers administered by GDC revealed that interest in making VR games is steadily waning.

“I just don’t think the install base in most cases has been quite there for them to make their investments back, unfortunately,” said Simon Carless, a GDC 2018organizer, to Mashable. “People will continue to work in VR, I just think it will potentially be more indie studios, or maybe more things funded by hardware companies who want examples of the games to showcase.”

This waning developer interest showed itself in the “Best VR Game” award GDC presented: Superhot VR took the grand prize, despite having been originally released (and considered for the same award) in 2016.

The State Of Mobile Games

Google dominated much of the conversation around augmented reality at GDC 2018, announcing that it would be releasing its Google Maps geographic data for developers using the Unity platform. Instead of painstakingly recreating environments by hand, a gargantuan task for outdoor games such as Pokemon Go or the upcoming Ghostbusters World, developers will be able to use the same satellite maps many consumers trust sight unseen.

“We help you design gameplay around real-world locations so you can choose places that are appropriate, unique, and fun to play, no matter where your players are,” said Google product manager Clementine Jacoby.

This data will make it easier for smaller developers to jump on the Pokemon Go bandwagon, offering the potential for lower-budget titles that aren’t tethered to existing properties.

On the non-AR front, Facebook Games has been facing difficulties in drawing users because of recent privacy issues on the platform at large.

“Thinking about the context of where we are and saying, ‘Look, obviously privacy is extremely important, not only to Facebook but to the developers we’re working with,’” Leo Olebe, Facebook’s global director of games partnerships, told Polygon. “It’s mostly about our mission on the games team and that’s to try and build incredible experiences for people and help developers be successful.”

Additionally, HBO revealed another promotional tie-in to Westworld Season Two at GDC 2018, though one slightly less immersive than its presence at SXSW. Described by Polygon as an “economic strategy sim,” the game lets players take control of the shadowy corporation running the theme park, letting them experience the same difficulties in managing potentially sentient robots that the show’s characters do.

Social Responsibility And Player Behavior

Game developers at GDC took special note of its effects on the world at large, especially relevant after recent comments by world leaders on the dangers of video game violence.

“As a veteran, I routinely find that people have a deep appreciation for the military, but a shallow understanding of what war is and does,” Andrew Barron, a game writer and veteran, said at a GDC 2018 talk.

Which is a problem, as, according to Barron, video games have become “society’s teachers when it comes to war.” Its greatest problems come from its erasure of the consequences for civilians in armed conflict, something Barron urged developers to change.

Inclusion likewise featured heavily, with events focused on the representation and treatment of both Muslim and Black people.

“Solely portraying us as victims justifies the wars that make us victims,” said Osama Dorias, game designer and GDC 2018 speaker. ““Muslims have a public image problem. And it’s sometimes dangerous to be Muslim. So we need help addressing the public image problem.”

Similarly, the Blacks in Gaming mixer addressed a variety of issues regarding inclusion both in game characters, game developers and game players, addressing not just the need for more representation but better tools to address toxic, racist players.

Online-only games have brought the issue of toxicity to the forefront of many discussions, with League of Legends, Fortnite and Sea of Thieves developers all discussing the importance of preventing other players from ruining the fun they spent so long trying to create.

“There’s always going to be the one percent that’s out there and disruptive,” Kimberly Voll, a senior technical designer at Riot Games, told Polygon. “Our first goal is to the player that’s being hurt by them. The problem with one disruptive player, and a severely disruptive player, is that they’re potentially affecting nine other people. It doesn’t take very long for that to explode.”