Twitter Brings Music to Vine

Vine, the short-form video sharing service, is getting a musical infusion from its parent Twitter, according to a report by VentureBeat. “Music has been part of Vine’s culture since the beginning,” notes the new Vine Music website. Now, we re connecting you to the music you love, starting with new ways to discover and create with music on Vine.”

Twitter’s really wants to get artists to share music through Vine, as a way to get discovered. For Vine users who aren’t musicians, this means there should be plenty of music you can add to your own Vines. Vine users can explore the Featured Tracks section, where they can choose tracks to add to their own videos. Twitter noted that the site is working with music publishers to make this happen. “Now that people have the ability to add music to their Vines, we want to make sure they have access to music they can use. Our editorial team selects songs they think our community will enjoy, and then we work with labels, publishers and artist management to license songs and bring them to Vine as Featured Tracks,” said Twitter in a statement to VentureBeat.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has tried to help users discover music; the company launched Twitter Music back in April of 2013, though that was shut down after a year. Now, though, Twitter is looking for the popularity of video to help drive interest in music. If Vine can line up some popular tunes, there’s no doubt people will enjoy putting their very own videos to the music of their favorite artists. We’ll be watching and listening to see how well this goes.

Cox Debuts Flare Kids Video App

A lot more companies these days are trying to cater to younger audiences, in the hopes of appealing to both them and their parents. Joining the likes of Comcast and Verizon is Cox Communication, which announced (per Variety) that it is launching a new mobile online video service called Flare Kids.

The service, which launched on the App Store for iPad {link no longer active} a few days ago, enables viewers to access free and ad-free access to clips and episodes from various TV favorites, including Cailou, Sesame Street, SpongeBob SquarePants and Doc McStuffins, among others.

The service offers a total of 10 networks across various publishers, including PBS Kids, the Disney Channel, Nick Jr. and National Geographic Kids. Instead of direct licensing agreements, however, it’s simply aggregating content already available on other services.

The purpose of the app, according to a Cox spokesperson, is to help parents “safely navigate the multitude of existing, free online content for children.” They added, “Additional content such as eBooks, games and music will be added to the app in the future and we will have more to share soon.”

Based on the screenshot above, the service offers a fairly easy interface for younger viewers and families alike, and also sets up time limits based on content restrictions for each profile entered into the system, so parents won’t have to worry about over-consumption.

With the exception of Texas, people in all states are able to experience Flare’s Kids channel. There’s no reason yet as to why Texas isn’t allowed to stream it yet.

A business model isn’t in place, as the app is free to download and features available in-app purchases, including the ability to buy personalized themes for $.99 a pop. Otherwise, programming is free to watch.

Even with the lack of licensing agreements, Flare Kids could certainly be worth a look to those looking to watch programming with their children. The video below gives a strong example of what potential viewers could expect.

{video link no longer active}

 

Mobile Ad Cost Per Loyal User Increases

The cost per install (CPI) for mobile users is a vital statistic for mobile game and app marketers, as it tracks one of the key costs for marketers seeking to grow their audience. As CPI rises, game developers may be rethinking spending on typical user acquisition. It seems marketers aren’t having any trouble with the bumped-up cost, though, according to new numbers from Fiksu.

As reported by VentureBeat, Fiksu’s report indicates that for the month of July the cost to acquire loyal users through CPI stood at $2.98. While that’s a seven percent drop from the previous month, it shows an increase as a whole compared to the previous year, by 51 percent.

Acquiring new users for apps and games is getting more costly, particularly with developers trying to compete for attention in a market flooded with millions of apps. Still, as mentioned, some marketers are willing to go the distance with that cost.

Over on iOS, the CPI rose to $1.43, a 24 percent increase since June, and a 16 percent increase over the previous year. Android is much higher at $2.73, up 29 percent over the previous month and 115 percent over the previous year.

“July’s results reveal the most important metric that marketers should be focusing on: the cost to acquire a loyal user. This month is indicative of what it looks like when marketers spend smarter,” said Micah Adler, the CEO of Fiksu, in a statement. “We can see month over month that marketers are still getting accustomed to this shift in audience targeting, but they are beginning to realize the power of putting the right messages in front of the right people at the right time.”

Meanwhile, app downloads decreased by 10 percent over the previous month, down to 7.5 million daily downloads for the top 200 free iOS apps, according to the Competitive Index. Part of that is due to the typical summer slowdown in app releases, although that’s likely to pick back up over the holiday season, with the iOS 9 launch and new iPhones expected to arrive sometime next month.

Fiksu advises marketers to prepare for this transition, initiating re-engagement with existing users and ensuring that the app remains relevant, so it doesn’t run the risk of being removed or replaced.

YouTube Gaming Is Already Drawing Marketers

YouTube Gaming just got its start this week, in the hopes of catching on to the popular game streaming interface that’s made Twitch such a hit on both the eSports and casual circuits. But one thing is for certain it’s definitely got the attention of some advertisers.

A report from AdWeek indicates that, even with the specifics that YouTube is looking for with advertising on the channel (including popular favorites like HikePlay, Squadrom or Driftor, advertisers are still coming on board for it, with ads that will run alongside gaming-related clips through Google Preferred and Google AdWords.

Wendy’s is on board with the channel, running ads promoting its Spicy Chicken Sandwich through TrueView promos, while Kotex is pointing more towards a female gamer demographic with its 30-second spot, offering free samples as part of its “Save the Undies” campaign.

Other companies on board include Best Buy, Anheuser-Busch’s Stella Artois brand, Taco Bell, Angry Orchard and Carrabba’s Italian Grill and more are likely to join up in the weeks ahead.

NBC Universal is one of the bigger partners at the moment, looking to draw a big gamer-related audience for two of its upcoming properties, including the M. Night Shyamalan horror film The Visit (hitting theaters September 11th) and its forthcoming fall comedy Truth Be Told.

Though the marketing plans are pretty well laid out, the effectiveness of YouTube Gaming ads has yet to be gauged. After all, not all gamers are going to be thrilled with seeing an ad that promotes a “Save the Undies” campaign, and Stella Artois seems to aim towards an older demographic, instead of younger viewers looking for content based on games like, for instance, Super Mario Maker.

However, there’s a large audience just waiting to be reached with this new portal, and if companies can find the right reach to them, they could very well have a success on their hands. We’ll see how YouTube’s Gaming channel as a whole fares over the next few weeks.

Mobile Games Highlights: August 26

Welcome back to Mobile Games Highlights for the week of August 26. There are plenty of great mobile games this week, so let’s get started!

Lara Croft GO (Square Enix, $4.99, releasing tomorrow for iOS and Android)

After the success of Square Enix’s board game-style strategy game Hitman GO, {link no longer active} the publisher has opted to repeat its success, but this time with its iconic Tomb Raider hero. In Lara Croft GO, players will work their way through a number of stages, solving puzzles and battling with various monsters in order to get to the next stage. Featuring turn-based strategy (similar to Hitman) and sharp visuals that match the decor of previous Tomb Raider games, it should be a big hit when it arrives later this week — and a fine tie-in for Rise of the Tomb Raider when it debuts on Xbox One on November 10th.

Pac-Man 256 (Bandai Namco, free-to-play, available for iOS and Android {links no longer active})

Following the success of its hit game Crossy Road, the developers at Hipster Whale have chosen to tackle an old-school favorite — Bandai Namco’s Pac-Man. In the endless runner Pac-Man 256, players will need to navigate a maze, collecting fruit and eating ghosts with power pellets (in the classic Pac-Man tradition) while avoiding an upcoming “glitch wave” that could easily wipe him out. With in-game transactions that are more than fair (mainly for power-ups and lives when players run out) and a retro vibe that players of all ages can enjoy, Pac-Man 256 is sure to eat up plenty of attention.

Final Fantasy VII (Square Enix, $15.99, available for iOS {link no longer active}, coming soon for Android)

Final Fantasy VII is easily one of the best classic role-playing games from the PlayStation era, so it should be no surprise that Square Enix has brought it to mobile devices, almost completely intact. Although the touch-screen controls take some getting used to, the visual design and story for the game remain timeless, with plenty of exciting battles for fans of the series to engage in. The game is a bit on the expensive side, but to some people — namely those that grew up with the series — it’ll certainly be worth it.

Horizon Chase: World Tour (Aquiris Game Studio, $2.99, available for iOS {link no longer active})

Fans of older racing games like the Cruis’n series or Sega’s Outrun will find something to like in Horizon Chase: World Tour, the latest offering from Aquiris Game Studio). Featuring bright, colorful visuals, a variety of tracks to choose from, and quick-to-adapt-to gameplay where speed is everything, the game offers a lot of fun. In addition, car customization is available at no additional charge, and a variety of vehicles and locales can be unlocked as well. Rev that engine, because Horizon Chase is ready to take players on a ride.

 

Tales From the Borderlands Episode Four (Telltale Games, $4.99, available for iOS and Android {links no longer active})

Over the past few months, Telltale Games has been telling an interesting story with Tales From the Borderlands, a spin-off of Gearbox Software’s successful shooter series. With episode four, Escape Plan Bravo, things pick up greatly for the two characters, Rhys and Fiona, as they experience new dangers. The key component with this game is the storytelling, as it’s quite refreshing — and in some ways, hilarious — based on the choice of the player. Fans won’t want to miss it, and for those that are new to the series, a full season pack of all five episodes can be purchased for $14.99.

How Digital Ad Spending Is Shifting

We’ve talked in the past about the increase in mobile ad spending, since more and more consumers prefer to view video and other content through the convenience of their smaller devices. Now, a new report from BI Intelligence indicates that spending will continue to pick up on mobile devices with digital content, while desktop and traditional formats will see a slowing down.

Business Insider indicates that, over the next five years, marketers will warm up to mobile spending, spread across video, search, display and social, with more dollars seeping away from traditional media, including newspapers and magazines. The chart below indicates just how much is being spent on each field.

As you can see, mobile spending will differ between 8.1 and 21.9 percent across all fields, with a digital total spending of 11 percent overall. Meanwhile, traditional media will drop anywhere between 2.2 and negative 2.5 percent, with newspaper advertising taking the most critical hit.

Other facts provided by the report are as follows:

 

  • Mobile will be the fastest-growing advertising channel and buoy spending on each of the digital formats. US mobile ad revenue will rise by a 26.5 percent CAGR through of 2020.
  • Digital video ad spending is rising faster than search and display. US digital video ad revenue will rise by a CAGR of 21.9 percent through 2020.
  • Mobile search will overtake desktop search in ad revenue by 2019. Mobile search ad spend will rise by a 25.2 percent CAGR, while desktop search ad revenue will decline during the same period.
  • Mobile display ads, including banners, rich media and sponsorships, will overtake desktop display-related spending even earlier, by 2017.
  • Social media ads, which cut across display and video, are seeing fast adoption. US social media ad revenue, which includes video and display ads, will grow by a CAGR of 14.9 percent through 2020.
  • The rapid embrace of programmatic ad-buying tools is fueling a dramatic uptick in the share of digital ad spending coming through programmatic channels. Programmatic transactions will be a majority of total US digital ad spend this year.
  • Unlike digital, traditional ad revenue will remain flat overall through 2020.Total traditional ad revenue will rise by a CAGR of just 0.4 percent between 2015 and 2020. 

The full report can be found here.

Hulu Tries Programmatic Advertising

Hulu has gone to great lengths to get good weekly programming going on its service, including upcoming shows like RocketJump: The Show, Casual and the newest season of The Mindy Project. Now, it’s ramping up its advertising strength as well, ready to give programmatic advertising a shot.

AdWeek reports that the streaming network has partnered with both Oracle Data Management Platform and Facebook-owned video ad platform LiveRail to begin offering programmatic advertising options. This is a first for the network, giving options that include automating the buying, placement and optimization of ads through its site. It’s expected to launch sometime this fall, alongside many of its debuting series.

“The marketplace has shown that data is overwhelmingly the new currency,” said Peter Naylor, senior vice president of advertising for Hulu. “With this new offering, Hulu is at the forefront of defining ‘programmatic’ for the digital video ecosystem and will increase efficiency and ROI for marketers.”

Both partners will play a vital part in the program, with Oracle providing first and third party data to help increase reach, scale and efficiency, while Facebook’s LiveRail will allow Hulu to offer complete deals with advertisers through programmatic means. The streaming network will still keep a certain stature of control over its sales structure, however.

It’s a pretty timely decision, considering that Hulu is launching several new series over the next few months, as well as considering an ad-free subscription plan. The company hasn’t made any official comments on that front just yet.

In addition, the strength of programmatic advertising is stronger than ever, with more companies embracing the idea of obtaining better data through targeting consumers via audience exchanges, according to this MediaPost report.

So this new plan can be very effective, provided that it’s embraced the right way and doesn’t get to the point of obtrusion when it comes to watching hit shows. We’ll see how it fares over the next few months.

Target, YouTube Feel The ‘Star Wars’ Marketing Force

With Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens set to hit theaters on December 18, millions of fans of the popular science fiction series can’t wait to see what’s next. In the past, we’ve talked about marketing partners on board for the film, including Subway and Duracell, but this week, it will go light speed with two new promotions.

First up, previously reported by Mashable, Target has just launched a new promotion in conjunction with Lucasfilm that will help Star Wars fans share their fandom while they wait for new products to be revealed. Titled “Share the Force,” the program enables them to share memories of their beloved sci-fi franchise, which are then stored in large 3D virtual environments “galaxies”, if you will based on characters from the films, including Darth Vader and Boba Fett. Other fans will then be able to explore them however they please. The video below shows just how these interactive universes will work.

 

Stars are getting involved as well, including Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick, who shared a photo he got with creator George Lucas in 2012, and Saturday Night Live star Bobby Moynihan, playing with Star Wars figurines.

“We’re excited to not only be creating the first collection of fan memories, but also to be giving (fans) the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for their memories to become a permanent part of the Star Wars legacy,” said Rick Gomez, senior vice president of marketing for Target.

There’s no doubt that this campaign will play a big part in Star Wars mania in the weeks ahead, and that Target will be one of many retailers benefitting from the new toys and other Force Awakens-licensed goods coming to shelves. This Friday, YouTube will be hosting a global live toy unboxing event that will span over 18 hours, showing fans the range of merchandise that will be available this holiday season. Digital stars from the Maker Studios will be on hand for the reveal.

Star Wars toys have always played an important role in how our fans interact with the saga,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “They’ve inspired multiple generations to relive the experience of the movies and to create new adventures all their own. These spectacular Star Wars: The Force Awakens products will continue that tradition.”

Click here to learn more about the global reveal event on the official Star Wars page. It’s going to be a busy day.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuts in theaters December 18th.