US Marketers Will Spend Over $46B On Programmatic In 2018

Marketers in the US will shell out $10 billion more for programmatic ad buying this year, according to new forecasts by eMarketer.

Over $46 billion will be spent on programmatic advertising in 2018, according to eMarketer’s latest report, “US Programmatic Ad Spending Forecast 2018: Private Setups Pull Even More Ad Dollars to Automation.”

More than 85 percent of all US native display ad dollars will transact programmatically in 2018, and that portion will continue to grow through the year 2020.

In 2018, $27 billion will be spent on direct programmatic, while $19.55 billion will be devoted to real-time bidding (RTB). Meanwhile, $10.56 billion will be spent on the open exchange, which includes ads transacted through a public RTB auction in which anyone can participate.

Mobile programmatic ad spending will reach $32.78 billion in 2018, which comes out to 70.4 percent of all programmatic digital display outlays in the US.

The least amount of budget this year, eMarketer predicts, will be devoted to private marketplaces, with $8.99 billion. That will change over time, however. Of the nearly $19 billion in additional ad dollars that will enter the programmatic display space between 2018 and 2020, the majority will go to private setups, such as private marketplaces (PMPs) and programmatic direct transactions.

EMarketer attributes this investment in private setups as a sign that buyers are still wary of transparency and quality issues in the open market. However, marketers still turn to programmatic for its audience targeting capabilities.

The increase in spending is good news for programmatic buyers, especially since many CMOs will continue to outsource this task. According to a recent study by NewBase (formerly Publicitas International), 43 percent completely outsource programmatic to out-of-house providers—more than any other task.

Outsourcing makes sense since overall, marketers find it difficult to understand programmatic pricing. It may be confusing to the uninitiated, but marketers across the world hope to gain a better grasp on the subject this year.

In a December 2017 survey by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and dataxu, more than 60 percent of marketers worldwide said better understanding auction dynamics/pricing is a priority for 2018.

Three Tips For Marketers Ready To Approach OTT 

With the ubiquity of smart TVs and streaming devices and the rise of cord-cutters, advertisers are changing their approach to reach younger viewers, embracing Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms like Hulu and YouTube as the best way to reach this demographic.

For those just catching up: OTT is a term for services which deliver online video without requiring you to watch a television channel. Though these platforms and streaming players like Roku and Google’s Chromecast line have been on the market—and taking up market share—for years, advertising on OTT platforms is still a relative novelty. And some OTT services, like Netflix and HBO Go, currently don’t air advertisements.

While advertising through dongles or boxes like Roku is similar to doing so through smart TVs, both differ significantly from advertising to viewers watching streaming content on their desktops or mobile devices. Luckily, it isn’t complicated.

Good To Know

A few points before we dive into OTT best practices: Advertising on traditional broadcast and cable television is relatively restricted. With few exceptions, ads are in a traditional 30-second format and targeting is pre-algorithmic: Ads correspond to shows’ perceived audiences, rather than being targeted at individual viewers.

OTT advertisements, in comparison, are anarchy. YouTube advertisements are highly targeted and range across a variety of formats from quick, five-second pre-roll to long, 10-minute quasi-infomercials. Although Hulu skews to the traditional format, the company is increasingly improving their ad targeting capabilities. There are even newer emerging advertising venues, such as in-dashboard/in-home screen advertisements on Roku and Xbox Live.

Many advertisers make the mistake of assuming that watching OTT ads is a similar experience whether users are viewing the same content on their laptop or on their television. However, viewing experiences vary wildly. An advertisement that entrances viewers on a computer screen can fail when ported to a home television screen, and vice versa.

Three OTT Points To Remember

1. Understand Your Platform

There are plenty of resources out there for advertisers placing YouTube ads. However, it’s easy to make the mistake of assuming the same content is interchangeable on different viewing platforms. Advertisements steering viewers to websites or mobile apps, for instance, are largely a waste of time if viewers are watching on their television. Similarly, longer seven-to-12-minute infomercials can work great on more intimate platforms like smartphones but are less effective on televisions.

Analytics also differ across platforms. Keith Johnson, COO of Made in Network, tells AListDaily by email that “Tracking performance on ads viewed on settop boxes (including Roku, smart tvs, Chromecast and game consoles) can be frustrating because AdWords does not provide information on them as a separate device. Instead, all ads are categorized as mobile phone, computer, or tablet views. Still, by monitoring traffic sources within YouTube analytics, it’s clear that ads are regularly run on settop boxes.”

2. Don’t Treat Hulu Like Conventional Television

In 2017, Hulu made more than $1 billion in advertising revenue for the first time. Although things are changing, especially with Disney becoming Hulu’s majority shareholder, Hulu is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for big brands.

While YouTube is still welcoming to advertisers of all shapes and sizes, Hulu is mainly attracting the big fish. Unlike conventional television, Hulu offers a range of video formats—including seven-second ads, ad selectors, extended pre-roll videos viewers can watch instead of 30-second commercials, and a number of other formats. They even offer bespoke assistance for advertisers that essentially creates ads for them.

3. Embrace The Weird

Unlike conventional television ads, OTT ads for streaming players can include interactive aspects, target niche interests or both. Marketers can find good results by targeting high-quality advertisements to small interest-based or demographic audiences, and by creating advertisements which offer experiences you can’t find through your cable box or laptop screen.

Mark Williams, senior director of media operations at Fullscreen, added that “People say television is dying. That’s not [the] case; it’s just shifting a bit. We’re seeing some reallocation, but it won’t go away for the foreseeable future.” However, the rise of OTT advertising does offer advertisers and marketers new opportunities. For instance, Williams notes that advertisers can target ads to television viewers based on their individual or household interests—something that traditionally has been the province of desktop and mobile streaming video.

New Advertising Formats Mean New Opportunities

While these platforms are still relatively new, reaching viewers through streaming boxes, dongles and smart televisions is accomplished with a hybrid of both new and old tactics.

Advertisers and talent still deal with Google Adsense even when YouTube ads are viewed on big screen televisions, while advertisers can microtarget ads to individual households watching big-budget television shows on Hulu.

“Most of our advertisers today are looking to capture audiences that they’re not able to reach through a traditional television buy,” noted Seth Walters, vice president of demand partnerships at Roku. “They’re looking to leverage perhaps their own first party or third party data to reach a more qualified audience that’s more traffic for them and manage the sequencing of messaging against that audience.” In other words: Web-style ad targeting, but for television.

Marketers Use Adblockers More Than Average Internet User

Ironically, marketers and media professionals are just as tired of seeing ads as consumers, despite spending more on digital ads this year.

Recent estimates by eMarketer claim that adblock technology will be used by 30.1 percent of internet users in 2018. However, internal tracking shows that 76 percent of AListDaily readers—comprised chiefly of executives in the media and marketing space—actively use adblockers.

AListDaily tracked ad block usage from users over a period of 30 days in March using Google Analytics. Considering that our readers are marketing professionals—70 percent of which are VPs and C-level executives—it came as a surprise to find that 76 percent of our total audience uses adblockers themselves.

Meanwhile, US advertisers will spend nearly $48 billion on digital display ads in 2018, eMarketer predicts. This is an increase from nearly $42 billion spent last year.

As a marketing professional, do you use adblockers? If so, how does that decision impact your view on advertising?

CMOs Are Shifting Strategy To Bring Services In-House According To New Survey

CMOs are taking more marketing services in-house, according to a new study released by media and marketing consultancy NewBase (formerly Publicitas International).

The Evolving Marketer” survey, released Wednesday, explores the marketing strategies of 120 CMOs and found that brands prefer to keep certain advertising elements close to the chest.

Unsurprisingly, marketing strategy is performed in-house by 86 percent of CMOs. Likewise, 76 percent of survey respondents indicated that product marketing is performed in-house compared to 20 percent shared responsibility with an outside firm and five percent delegating out-of-house.

“There are some critical functions that need to remain in-house and require the day to day control and management of the marketing team, and these tend to relate to strategy, pricing, product and customers,” wrote NewBase in the survey.

However, areas like social media and branding—both traditionally outsourced to agencies—are now becoming part of the CMO’s wheelhouse.

Just over half of CMOs said their marketing teams handle social media exclusively in-house, for example, with only 10 percent combining resources with an outside agency. Branding is exclusive to in-house operations for 43 percent of respondents, as well, compared to 42 percent who outsource the responsibility.

When it comes to budgets, digital marketing is now the number one priority for CMOs, the survey found, and his/her responsibility has increased across the board for digital, content and social media marketing.

One reason for this increased responsibility is an increase in pressure. “There is an increasing expectation for the CMO to implement change and deliver results,” said the report. Another reason is the availability of technology that makes a CMO’s job easier.

“Many automated systems, processes and efficiencies are now in place to handle repetitive tasks, which to some extent has freed up time for marketing teams to focus more on consumer and creative related work,” said NewBase.

Over three quarters—77 percent—of global CMOs agree that ‘there is increasing interest in marrying art, science and data.’ CMOs are divided on whether to rely on outside sources to handle data and analytics, the study found. The role of data and analytics is split between exclusively in-house and exclusively out-of-house at 45 and 43 percent, respectively.

Similarly, content marketing is also split between in-house and out-of-house exclusivity at 44 and 49 percent, respectively.

The CMO is now overseeing an average of 12 creative and MarTech areas, NewBase found, with 64 percent of respondents responsible for 10 or more.

Despite the control of handling marketing services in-house, the practice is not without its limitations. NewBase found that while 66 percent of global CMOs claim that their business is moving more towards in-house marketing services, budget or other structural constraints often prevent organizations from hiring the ‘perfect team’ on a full-time basis.

In addition, 55 percent of respondents claim that they lack the right skill set, or indicated that the ‘mix of skills’ could be better. Only three percent are confident that they have perfected the skill set necessary to handle all marketing services in-house.

CMOs aren’t bringing everything in-house, however. Amid brand safety concerns regarding ad placement on the web, CMOs still rely on outside sources for programmatic ad buying. The study found that 43 percent completely outsource programmatic to out-of-house providers.

‘Glenlivet Code’ Adds Augmented Reality To Annual Whisky-Tasting Challenge

Glenlivet is promoting its limited edition Glenlivet Code whisky through Shazam’s AR marketing platform.

With Glenlivet Code, the Scottish single malt whisky distiller continues its annual tradition of releasing a limited-edition mystery bottle, but this year’s partnership with Shazam marks the first time AR has been used to promote its yearly taste challenge. In previous years—the tradition began in 2016—users participated through an interactive online Q&A. Users can still take the 2018 challenge online if they so choose.

A QR code for Shazam has been printed on the back of each box of Glenlivet Code whiskey, which released on Wednesday. Scanning the code with a mobile device opens a virtual room, where users are greeted by master distiller Alan Winchester.

The limited-edition bottle is presented without tasting notes or cask information, challenging fans to determine the whisky’s ingredients through taste and smell. After a brief introduction to the challenge, the AR projected Winchester guides users through a whisky tasting and quiz to record their guesses.

Participants’ answers are marked and scored, and consumers are encouraged to share their results on social media using the hashtag #TheGlenlivetCode.

Glenlivet kicked off the challenge with an unveiling at the Black Rock whisky bar in London, where members of the press and spirits industry were invited to participate in a “hackathon” to see who could unlock the mystery first.

The use of AR and social media allows Glenlivet to promote its whisky to young, tech-savvy and verifiably interested consumers. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, millennials are responsible for growth in the spirits industry, which grew to $46.2 billion last year.

“Spirits makers continue to develop new innovations to appeal to a growing audience of adult millennials, and they are responding by purchasing and enjoying our products,” Distilled Spirits Council president and CEO Kraig R. Naasz wrote alongside 2016 sales figures.

Shazam launched its AR marketing tools last March, which have been used to promote a number of brands from grocery chain Asda to Michael Jackon’s album “Scream” and Netflix’s Stranger Things.

Blockchain And Augmented Reality Were In Focus At SXSW

South by Southwest draws businesses and creatives from across the world, and while their ideas may be different, their strategy is the same—to use technology to leave potential customers with a lasting impression.

From farming to film production, technology was at the forefront of SXSW conversation—how it’s being used now and how it can solve problems and delight consumers in the future.

For the Royal Shakespeare Company, which was established in the late 19th century, attracting audiences means honoring literary classics while innovating their presentation. The company co-hosted a panel at SXSW called “Brave New World: The Future of Theatre and Tech” that focused on VR and AR in theatre performances.

“Audiences are attracted to quality and interesting experiences, and I think they definitely converge across music, film and interactive,” Sarah Ellis, director of digital development at the Royal Shakespeare Company told AlistDaily. “We’re definitely seeing a much more meaningful curated architected space now [around VR and AR].”

Upgrading familiar products with new technology was a common strategy this year at SXSW, as well. High-end audio equipment manufacturer Bose arrived at SXSW not with its latest stereo system, but wearable tech that combined AR and audio in a single pair of glasses.

Bose AR glasses have speakers built into the arms that allow its user to hear without broadcasting the sound out into the world. Using accelerometers and other sensors, the glasses track where users are looking and display relevant information on its lenses. For example, tapping on the arm while looking at a restaurant displays hours and menu information.

Technology may be exciting, but it can also be confusing—especially when it’s brand new. For this reason, blockchain software technology company ConsenSys felt it was important to be at SXSW with answers.

“Blockchain was a very hot topic this year. However, there can be a lot of misconceptions around the technology and what it’s actually used for,” Ariana Fowler, ConsenSys impact analyst on blockchain, told AListDaily. “We were attempting to enlighten people as to the variety of use cases from social impact to music to journalism—not just cryptocurrency or financial sector services.”

IKEA Launches Place AR App On Android With YouTube Game Show

Keeping in line with its AR marketing strategy, IKEA created a YouTube game show called “Matchers Keepers” to promote the launch of its Place app on Android.

While the Scandinavian build-it-yourself furniture brand first debuted its Place app in September alongside Apple’s ARKit and iOS 11, “Matchers Keepers” marks IKEA’s first full-scale campaign to promote it. With the app’s launch on Android this week, Ikea hopes to reach the 100 million devices running Google ARCore.

According to Google Play, IKEA Place has been downloaded over 10,000 times during its first two days on the market. Customer feedback has been generally positive, with a handful of users reporting bugs or incompatibility with their devices.

“Matchers Keepers” makes light of—and offers a gamified solution to—the age-old problem of heated arguments in Ikea stores.

“IKEA Place helps us continue a commitment [to democratic design] in new ways,” Michael Valdsgaard, Ikea’s head of digital transformation told AListDaily.

The series is hosted by lifestyle blogger Caroline Solomon, who challenges two roommates to finally agree on a furniture selection through the Place app. If they succeed, contestants win the real-life item to take home. Three episodes have been uploaded that focus on items like couches, lamps and desks.

Users at home can also play the game, although just for fun.

IKEA considers the emerging technology a way to close the gap between imagination and reality when selecting products. For example, admiring a couch in the store only to get it home and realize you don’t like it all.

“The online experience partly addresses accessibility, but it still struggles to close the gap completely,” Valdsgaard explained.

Inspiring purchases through visualization is the goal behind several AR retail products launched just this month.

  • On March 2, Pottery Barn is now offering “3D Room View,” a web-based AR option that lets users place, move and alter the appearance of products within a real-life environment.
  • On Monday, Lowe’s debuted “View in Your Space,” an AR experience found on the Lowe’s Android app. Customers browsing products can choose to see it in AR, where it can be dropped into real-life surroundings.
  • Yesterday, Overstock launched an AR viewing option inside its Android app that accesses thousands of 3D models to place in the home and mull over.

Mobile AR is expected to generate $5.4 billion in direct consumer spending by 2021, according to new estimates by SuperData Research.

Acquiring AdsWizz, Pandora Seeks To Dominate Audio Ad Tech

Pandora is making further moves to advance its audio ad tech stack, acquiring digital audio advertising technology firm AdsWizz for $145 million.

AdsWizz provides software for both advertisers and publishers, offering support for dynamic ad insertion, programmatic placement, activity-based targeting and other ad tech staples. Additionally, the firm invests significantly in research and development, creating new audio formats like “ShakeMe,” an ad product that would allow listeners to interact with ads by shaking their phones.

“Since I joined Pandora six months ago, I have highlighted ad tech as a key area of investment for us,”  said Roger Lynch, CEO of Pandora, in a statement. “Today we took an important step to advance that priority and accelerate our product roadmap.”

Under Pandora’s ownership, AdsWizz will remain its own company and keep its executive team, allowing it to continue its business with several of Pandora’s rival companies like iHeartRadio and Spotify. For its part, Lynch’s company plans to invest mostly in new audio ad technology development, which it claims will be made available to “all constituents.”

“Our focus has always been digital audio,” said Alexis van de Wyer, AdsWizz CEO. “That will not change. What will change is our ability to grow even faster, to develop technology more rapidly.”

Pandora has of late been expanding its premium subscription options, launching a web app similar to Spotify’s service just last month, but it still relies primarily on advertisers to support its business. According to Pandora’s Q4 earnings call, subscription revenue totaled only $97.7 million, as opposed to its $297.7 million in income from ads.

In his statement, Lynch declared his hopes that the acquisition will create “the largest digital audio advertising ecosystem,” but was quick to reassure that Pandora would not be the only company with a share in the spoils.

Now that fees paid to AdsWizz may end up in Pandora’s coffers, it remains to be seen if rival music services may be willing to take part in Lynch and van de Wyer’s vision of the audio future.

Tech’s Rival Players Eating Up Larger Portions Of US Digital Ad Spend

While Google and Facebook dominate US digital ad spend, Amazon and Snapchat are slowly moving up the ladder.

Over the past two years, Google and Facebook’s share of new digital ad spend in the US has steeply declined. In 2016, the duopoly garnered nearly 73 percent of US digital ad spend, but will only account for 48 percent of it in 2018, according to eMarketer.

Meanwhile, Amazon is on track to become the number three digital ad seller by 2020. The retail giant’s ad revenues are growing at 64 percent, and are expected to exceed $2 billion this year.

Snapchat’s US ad revenue will surpass $1 billion for the first time in 2018, growing at a rate of 82 percent. The company is expected to scrape together a one-percent share of US digital ad spend this year, compared to 0.6 percent in 2017. While that doesn’t seem like much, it’s a sign that Snapchat means business.

Google and Facebook’s lack of competition for ad sales has raised numerous concerns across industries, from TV to journalism.

The duopoly and other tech giants pose a threat to TV networks’ ability to compete in the ad marketplace. Gaining leverage against these ad companies is a major reason for a proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner, according to Daniel Petrocelli, the group’s lead attorney in an antitrust case.

With little faith in the media and a drop in advertising revenue, competition for news outlets to be seen on Google and Facebook has become a growing problem.

On Tuesday, Google introduced The Google News Initiative—a multifaceted strategy to help news outlets survive in the digital marketplace. The initiative includes Subscribe with Google, which allows users to subscribe to various outlets in one place, similar to a program Facebook launched for local news outlets last month.

Earlier this month, a bill was introduced that would allow media outlets to negotiate terms with Facebook, Google and other tech companies as a united front. The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, introduced by Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, is a response to concerns that access to news should not be limited to the highest bidder.

“Our papers need to be able to band together to negotiate with giants like Facebook or Google,” Susan Rowell, president of the National Newspaper Association and publisher of The Lancaster News said in a press release. “This legislation will help to ensure that we are treated fairly.”

Startup Digital Platforms Strategize To Offer Alternatives To PC Majors

The 27 billion-dollar-per-year PC gaming market has long been dominated by a handful of companies, with Steam and GOG sitting at the top of the digital download space. While that’s not likely to change anytime soon, there are new platforms giving developers and publishers an alternative.

These digital distribution platform startups are being built with gamification in mind, and have potential to create new opportunities for discovery, monetization and community engagement. Users may come to try out new tech like blockchain and cryptocurrency or stay to connect with others on a rewarded social network.

Selling games by being a game isn’t necessarily a new concept, as Steam introduced Trading Cards and achievements years ago, and their success proves how well a gamified approach can work. But even though Steam’s updates have been in step with major trends in the gaming landscape, with particular emphasis on improving its recommendations system, the overall user experience has remained relatively unchanged, leaving an opening for other platforms to present their own approaches.

Robot Cache, a decentralized digital game platform founded by inXile Entertainment CEO Brian Fargo, will use both blockchain technology and a type of cryptocurrency called Iron Tokens (based on ERC20 tokens) for its transactions, but conventional money will also be supported. Unlike open-market cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Iron will have a fixed value for transactions.

According to Fargo, who spoke with AListDaily, cryptocurrency opens a number of gamification opportunities as users mine it or receive Iron as rewards. The platform will launch by airdropping millions of dollars worth of Iron Tokens into the ecosystem, seeding the market and encouraging users to come to the platform to cash them in. Iron may also be distributed through friend referrals and as a reward for users helping to maintain the network.

Another upcoming platform is Kartridge, which was announced by game publisher Kongregate in March. The community-based platform is expected to launch this summer with a mix of Kongregate-funded games and titles from third-party developers.

Kongregate CEO Emily Greer told AListDaily that the company intends to engage with its existing users through its online portal, email and its PC games, as the most important factor to attracting people will always be content.

“We have a lot of advantages, given our long-term trusted relationships with thousands of developers,” said Greer. “We’re reaching out and working with them to bring content.”

Kartridge will handle the marketing for these games on the platform, thereby incentivizing exclusivity deals with developers. Greer also said that the platform may offer a higher revenue share during the exclusivity period.

“We have a lot of experience doing marketing and outreach, mostly on the free-to-play side, but also on the PC browser side over the years,” explained Greer. “We’re taking advantage of our built-up knowledge to do shows, [create] ads and [work with] marketing influencers.”

Blockchain-Backed Trust

Robot Cache applies blockchain cryptology to the sale and development of digital games and their related items and services, meaning that the ownership of games and digital goods can be accurately tracked and ensuring that they cannot be copied. This makes it possible for both players and publishers to profit from their resale—something that has benefited physical retailers such as GameStop for years but until now has been almost impossible for digital stores.

SuperData senior analyst Elena Fedina said that having digital trade-ins may sound lucrative at first, given how developers and publishers are left out of the loop with trade-ins while GameStop profits greatly from them. But her concern is that the feature may be less attractive to large developers, who may not want to partner with a platform that can potentially make more money from resales than they will. A platform lacking the wider reach and higher-quality content of major developers may have trouble establishing a foothold.

Fargo responded to these concerns by stating that users will receive 25 percent of resale revenues, and developers will have full control over adjusting that amount. Publishers may even choose to increase the percentage users receive to encourage more resales.

“It is my belief that they will discover that giving much more than 25 percent will not affect their sales,” said Fargo, pointing to Humble Bundle, where users name their own prices for games. “If that model destroyed your back-catalog business, it would end tomorrow. But each publisher goes back to it knowing that it doesn’t. As those numbers start going up, it’s going to become an even bigger game changer.”

Robot Cache proposes that publishers and developers take in 95 percent of proceeds from new game sales, instead of the standard 70 percent most other platforms use. It also intends to complement its blockchain and cryptocurrency systems by being open source—meaning that developers can create custom APIs for a variety of different functions that all creators would be able to take advantage of. Not only could this create Robot Cache–exclusive applications, but would also have the potential for new monetization opportunities.

“With open source, I believe that developers will come up with functions that have not been done before,” said Fargo. “On top of it, there will be functions that are very blockchain specific. For example, users can trade items and always know that they’ll be one of a kind on the blockchain.”

Fargo referred to CryptoKitties, a blockchain-based game that lets users purchase, collect, breed and sell virtual cats. The technology ensures that each cat is completely unique and cannot be copied, and other games can adopt similar types of scarcity principles to monetize their own digital items.

Foundational features such as game discovery and community engagement are still in development, so it’s unclear how well publishers will take to it at launch. However, there are other uses for blockchain technology in the gaming space. Potential applications include crowdfunding, where smart contracts will enable backers to receive a portion of the game’s proceeds without the risk of fraudulent developers failing to make good on their promises.

Gamified Community Engagement

Kartridge will launch with a focus on premium games, but it will also support free-to-play, pay-what-you-want and ad-supported games, as well as rewarded video monetization. Developers can decide on their own pricing and which revenue systems work best for them.

Greer describes the shopping experience as a cross between being part of a social network and playing a game. Users will be able to connect with each other and developers via chat and other social features—collecting achievements, earning rewards and “leveling up” their accounts by doing so.

“We’re building a platform that’s focused on indie developers and moderated social connection between players and developers,” said Greer, “something that makes a rich and meaningful experience.”

Although Kartridge intends to leverage the community and features built on, the company decided to create a new brand to avoid upsetting its users by introducing too many changes. Kartridge will deal primarily with premium games while Kongregate remains focused on browser-based games, which grew by 50 percent in revenue last year, according to Greer.

Through Kartridge, communities can be built around specific game brands, genres or titles, giving developers and marketers an opportunity to engage with audiences more directly. Rewards such as personalization items offer incentives for users to discuss games and engage with their creators.

The gamified platform will also help with discovery, with a personalized recommendation system that will surface titles to relevant audiences. Additionally, store pages will feature continuous video loops of gameplay, coupled with animated icons that can be moused over to reveal more information.

“We’re taking pages from what we’ve learned on in terms making sure every game gets exposed to a reasonable number of players so that we can help identify what’s rising,” said Greer. “We use a lot of features to not only put things on charts and editorial banners, but using systems like achievements and other types of player featuring.”

One example is “Kongredate,” which is currently on Players take a quiz to be matched up with less exposed games. Greer said that it is one of the most popular features on the site and that it is the kind of personalized content matching users can expect from Kartridge.

Fedina claims that Kartridge has a significant advantage due to Kongregate’s dedicated community. She added that the upcoming platform could be financially profitable, but it’s difficult to predict how successful it will become since there is no clear selling point at the moment. However, both she and Fargo stated that Kartridge has a very good chance of competing with, the current third-place platform in the digital PC gaming marketplace.

With major publishers such as EA, Ubisoft and Zenimax creating their own digital storefronts, Fedina said that there’s plenty of room in the PC gaming space for new platforms to rise.

“It comes down to having the dedication of their player base,” she explained.