Twitter Introduces New Audience Platform

Twitter is ready to engage its audience once again while at the same time appeasing its many publishers that look to take advantage of new features.

A report from MediaPost states that the popular social site has relaunched its Publisher Network with a new name the Twitter Audience Platform. With the launch, which took place today, users of the service can take advantage of new features, including the ability to encompass tweet engagements and video views. This is on top of the already existing ability to drive mobile app installs and re-engagements. With this, videos on Twitter Audience Platforms will play automatically on a device, with video fully in view.

Many of the targeting signals used on Twitter such as interest, username, and keyword can be applied to your campaigns across mobile apps, Eric Farkas, product marketing manager for revenue at Twitter, explained.

Some other features have been introduced as well, in an attempt to help advertising partners reach out to in-app audiences. This includes the ability to convert tweet engagement campaigns into interstitial and native ads, turning promoted video campaigns into in-app video ads, and creating banner ads from app install or re-engagement campaigns.

We ve also added creative features to interstitials to help you extend your best content beyond Twitter, said Farkas. This includes being able to retweet and favorite directly from the Twitter Audience Platform ads. Call-to-action buttons have also been thrown in, assisting brands with getting a better drive from desired user actions.

Internal estimates believe that the Audience Platform could now have a potential reach of 700 million consumers and that will no doubt be music to the ears of some of its partners.

How this will be effective in the long run remains to be seen, but it s a safe bet that some companies are already set to take advantage of the Platform, just to see what it can do.

‘Halo 5’: Audio Killed the Radio Star?

Halo 5: Guardians is set to be one of the biggest hits of the holiday season for Microsoft s Xbox One console, and director of marketing communications for Xbox Ryan Cameron chose the [a]list daily Summit to discuss the foundation for the forthcoming audio spin-off of that series, Hunt the Truth, a 12-part audio saga supplying additional character to the sequel.

Following the introduction of a video chronicling fan reaction to two different commercials (featuring hero Master Chief and newcomer Spartan Locke, each in similar positions against their foe), Cameron, interviews by Ayzenberg creative director Noah Eichen, explained that the audio series was put together to fill the gaps between the bullet teaser and the commercials. That eventually became a 14-episode, three and a half hour series that kept fans intrigued.

Staying true to the brand was a challenge, along with the marketing and raising awareness, but the podcast was an ideal way to provide additional content to fans, filling in the blanks with story. Touch points were used, including key art from Halo 2 and a commercial from Halo 3, to fold into the story, creating a connected universe and avid fans know how vital a connected universe can be. The more questions that were generated from it, the more attention generated from fans to get those questions answered.

Cameron indicated the importance of engagement with fans, and not just audio-wise, but also on social networks on Twitter and Facebook. Storytelling plays a part, he explained, with various touch points. He felt that it was a perfect connection, alongside the smaller videos that tied in with Guardians. A long-form format also activates the theater of the mind, allowing people s imaginations to take the story to greater heights. Its popularity created a personal experience that players could latch on to and intrigue others in the process.

One good thing from this involves the open-ended story. The further it went along, the more it would draw in players, seeking answers on a coordinating Tumblr blog, as well as future episodes. Even with turning the franchise on its head , so to speak (like introducing a new hero instead of the usual go-to soldier, Master Chief), fans still connected with the content.

Professional actors play a part in the podcast as well, adding authenticity to the material. Keegan Michael Key (from Key & Peele) played a part in early episodes, as well as Cobie Smulders and voice actors like Phil LaMarr and Troy Baker (a veteran of various game franchises).

Cameron then hinted that season 2 would begin recording later that week, continuing to tie in with the game s legacy leading into its release coming on October 27th for Xbox One.

The floor was then open to discussion, and measurement of the podcast s success was brought up. Remaining social and having strong conversation with friends were both strong points, and social chatter was monitored on a weekly basis, adding to its overall success. (6 million and counting, according to Cameron.)

Google Relying On Brands For Music Success

Most of the time, streaming music companies rely on subscription services or special features to draw revenue. The competition can be fierce as a result, with companies like Apple, Pandora and iHeartRadio all fighting for a piece of the streaming music pie.

Google entered the fray earlier this summer with a free, ad-supported music streaming service, in its own effort to get involved. However, instead of relying on subscriptions or special deals to generate funds, it has something different in mind promotional partners.

AdWeek recently reported that Google, alongside digital ad agency Essence, have teamed up with a number of brands, including fashion retailer ASOS and health food prep site Munchery to make online radio available in a new, unique venue offline.

“One of the key features of Google Play Music are these stations that make whatever you’re doing IRL [in your real life] better,” said Jessica Igoe, Google Play’s head of global media and content partnerships. “These digital partnerships with ASOS, Munchery and others that we’ll be announcing are critical to reach music fans where they’re doing things that we think could be a little more interesting.”

The partnership has some creativity behind it. Google, working with ASOS, put together a shoppable look book that pairs outfits with music festivals and parties, with a link to a themed playlist streamed from Google s page.

Meanwhile, its partnership with Munchery ties in with certain meals, like a playlist called Happy Hour Country Radio that ties in with a yummy dinner that includes macaroni and cheese, along with fried chicken. The radio station lists were actually compiled by Munchery s line-up of chefs.

Eddie Revis, creative media and strategy lead for Essence, believes this is the key to successful music marketing. “Munchery listened to Google’s radio stations to pair it [with food], so it was human-curated their chef actually listened to the station,” he stated.

With this deal, Google is investing more in its music service, and hopes that it pays off in the long run. “Music is our priority within Google Play it’s the main focus area for the second half of the year,” said Igoe.

Whether it will be effective against Apple s streaming service or the leaders at Pandora has yet to be seen but this new twist could do some good for Google. And who doesn t like fried chicken

What Video Creators Want From Brand Soulmates

The [a]list daily Video Summit has drawn to a close, but it went out with a bang as the final panel of the day covered the partnership between influencers and brand soul mates as it were. The star-studded panel included RocketJump (and Video Game High School production house) creative director Mike Symonds, self-appointed King of Music Video Parodies Bart Baker, The Game Theorists creator Matthew Patrick, #1 Twitch Streamer Tom Cassell (the first to reach two million on the streaming network), and actress and producer Olga Kay, moderated by talent group director for ION, Steven Lai.

After quick introductions, the panel turned to storytelling, where each of the participants discussed how they approach it, since they all do it differently. Symonds noted that while a familiar model was followed, creativity was found, especially when it came to doing so within an allotted budget. Rocketjump bypasses the usual digital film circles, instead just presenting it online in a short format. They still make it work within a traditional format, even as shorts. He also mentioned RocketJump s film school, devoted to the format.

Patrick spoke next, talking about finding the little details in the creative process. A lot of research and effort go into those works, so he finds that they can pay off when it gets implanted into videos, where they re usually overlooked otherwise. Twisting around the story can play a part as well (similar to what Microsoft is doing with Halo 5: Guardians). What if Mario is evil he asked, pointing out what evidence could tie into that. Meta-stories can emerge from the lore as a result, and he s excited about it because it changes around familiar IP, creating a new appreciation and perspective in the process. What is the value proposition for the fan he asked, wondering what they would learn from the videos. Delivering upon what already exists is a different way to look at it.

Kay then took the mic, saying that knowing the audience and brands really well pays off. As a result, the creative process becomes simple. It just becomes this synergy, easier to delivering to your audience, she said.

The process for a parody is two weeks, said Baker. We will watch it millions of times, and then we have to pick apart as much as we can and find whatever we can to make fun of another video that we think an audience would find humorous. Digging through this, while timely, can pay off with a built storyline, straight from user s commentary. This creates an interaction unlike most video content available for viewing.

Cassell simply said, I play video games, and while not as in-depth as what the others provide, he talked about challenges with YouTube and trying to overtake certain parts of the industry. He follows an easy routine, playing games and uploading, and millions of people watch it.

The topic then turned to the approach to high audience numbers. Cassell stated he took a big step with Twitch, and simply gave it a go to bring his audience over from YouTube. It s a pretty daunting task to ask them to switch platforms, but they managed to do it. One day, he managed to hit 121,000 users concurrent, just by playing the popular Minecraft. Transition definitely played a key part. He also noted raising awareness through social media channels.

Up next was Baker, he noted that he started using Snapchat and Vine, since he s friends will all the big Viners . He began posting regularly, and he s risen 120,000 users in three to four weeks time (thanks to his following). Snapchat is just a beast, he notes, saying he gets three millions opens daily. They literally are the most engaged audience.

Kay noted that staying on top of all the networks is a smart idea, as she recently experimented with Snapchat and Twitter s live-streaming Periscope service. She s only been on for a month, and already has a brand deal with Nestle as a result. You never know what s going to take off, she said, regarding experimenting with networks. Some are created more for businesses than creators, but there s still that one-on-one engagement that can pay off. She said there s a psychological effect to opening things by pressing a button on a device, particularly with Snapchat. With Snapchat, I have to be there, and that s why they re mostly successful, she said.

Patrick explained that it s confusing to be in today s media landscape. You don t know what s going to take off, or what you should be measuring, he explained. While Facebook is touting billions of views, they re mostly generated through auto-scrolling through a view on their webpage. The metrics can be completely different, which can be a challenge for brands. He also stated that they shouldn t be everywhere, as they can work in different mediums, such as Vine (with short and snappy advertising). Video game companies thrive on YouTube as well. Pipelines and revenue sources aren t available to join all the networks, either. Developing a strong audience on one platform seems to be a specialty for most, especially with the strong delivery available on YouTube. As for which platform fits what brands, he suggests asking for the brand preposition.

Kay returned to the mic to counter, stating it never hurts to open an account just so you claim the space .

Symonds brought up film school, and the tools necessary to complete it. Specializing in an audience that buys and engages in video content is in the same ecosystem, he explained.

Cassell mentioned there s an overload of social networks available, but he decides by seeing which ones are the most viable with what he has to offer.

Relationship with audience and engagement can make a difference as well, as Lai explained. Cassell once again spoke, telling a story regarding how he grew up and developed (over the past five years), and became able to build his own company, as well as a home. The audience has shared these moments with him, even connecting with him following a personal loss of a family member.

Baker says his channel is different with music video parodies, where he didn t really address the audience beforehand. However, with N-Slate content, he played more of a part in that, sharing links and such. That s when he rose from 100,000 to a million in a matter of months, due to that personal connection. Snapchat has that kind of personal connection as well, in spite of being temporary. It shows more of your personal side.

Kay said it s the same for all of us, but with all the companies and brands that start YouTube channels, they take the idea of traditional marketing and it doesn t really work, due to the lack of a connection. One-on-one conversation is what most of the audience was established on, and bringing in personalities can help brands connect better to said audience.

Patrick wondered how to match the success of others in the YouTube circles, like Michelle Phan. It s about relating to the audience with an organic connection. There s a passion to it, right he said. He brought up PewDiePie and how some folks couldn t connect to it, but he has a language with his audience that completely relates to them, and not necessarily outsiders. As a result, that s a more genuine reason for his popularity. The question between someone between amateur and professional YouTubers is brought up, but Patrick assures that PewDiePie is a professional at what he does, and his earnings, controversial as they may seem, show that. Overcoming that hurdle and getting that personal connection, high production values or not, is something that brands need to do.

Kay also brought up marketing, with attention being paid to brands. Some people don t have TV and couldn t name shows, and that the future generation will be growing with YouTube personalities, like PewDiePie. Both traditional and digital media should be concentrated on, even as the older generation dies off, as Kay puts it.

Symonds said the intent with trying to reach out to an audience remains the same, and brought up Steven Spielberg s Jaws as an influential idea. Finding the right balance with both the audience and the brands, particularly with mood ( Don t piss people off ) is vital as well, and communicating what RocketJump wants to do with their content. Getting everyone on the same page to understand this cool video is a key ingredient. That s really what we strive for at the end of the day, he said.

Cassell then brought up someone that tried to promote a snack that he was asked to promote. Natural brand integration was suggested, where he doesn t need to do some sort of awkward pitch. He enjoyed doing it, and the audience got a kick out of it as well, rather than groaning at the content. Working with brands pays off as well, rather than just being told flatly what to do, without any involvement from the talent.

Baker talked about an app he launched called Challenge, featuring ideal integration without hitting users over the head with sponsorship. It s generated a strong audience as a result, while at the same time getting word out around the bands. Offering a prize helps as well, like getting Bose s name out there by offering a headset for a giveaway.

How Mobile Use Varies By Generation

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Mobile usage can differ quite a bit from generation to generation, but you’d be surprise how much difference there is when it comes to different age groups that utilize these devices.

An infographic from RealityMine (reported by AdWeek) breaks down just how much this varies, surveying 3,000 mobile users and finding a number of trends amongst different age groups. The full infographic can be found below, but here are some general stats taken from the report:

  • Texting makes up 33 percent of millennials’ overall mobile usage. Meanwhile, social networks take up a big chunk of time for female users, accounting for 38 percent of overall app use.
  • When it comes to mobile messaging, the SMS format makes up most of the bulk, accounting for 85 percent of all overall messaging.
  • With age groups, younger ages prefer SMS functionality to phone or email contact, while other audiences are a little more mixed, preferring more email use alongside SMS. Phone contact, however, seems to be lower across the board compared to the other two groups.
  • Facebook Messenger has the largest usage across all generations when it comes to keeping in touch with friends and family, while numbers for Skype and Google Hangout are much lower.
  • SMS dominates apps usage overall when it comes to messaging, even putting the surging Snapchat to shame with much higher numbers. Viber and WhatsApp fare even lower on the charts.
  • When it comes to app categories, games have a monstrous lead across all generations, while music and audio and productivity follow closely behind. Photo and video and books and reference appear to be on the lower end of the numbers.

These numbers jump all over the place when it comes to certain apps and services, but it shows the variances between older and younger users of mobile devices. It’s certainly food for thought, especially for those looking to implement messaging service (or something along those lines) into their applications.



Bethesda Turns To Tinder To Advertise ‘Fallout’

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With Fallout Shelter doing big business on mobile and the forthcoming Fallout 4 set to be a big holiday title when it releases in November, Bethesda is preparing a big marketing push for that brand — and, in a rather peculiar move, chose to bring it to the dating app Tinder.

Kotaku reported that a profile appeared on the dating app today, featuring Vault Boy, a popular character from the Fallout brand, indicating an age of 25 and sharing special facts, like his loves for Nuka Cola and putting out fires, as well as this quote: “If love was radiation, I’d need a box of RedAways.”

Video game sites seldom appeal to dating apps or something along those lines, but it appears that’s the route Bethesda is taking with its Fallout series, even creating a special hashtag, #Dateadweller, that ties in with the campaign.

By clicking on the profile on Tinder, users can go to a link that enables them to download Fallout Shelter to their device (it’s available for Android now, along with iOS). That’s about the extent of the profiles, but it’s a campaign that appears to be taking off on social platforms.

As you can see from the pic above, the official Fallout twitter account has been promoting the hashtag with special cards, indicating that consumers can “find someone sweet and take a Nuka Cola break.” Obviously there’s no real dating involved, but it is a way to promote Fallout Shelter in rather unusual circles.

This is probably just the beginning of Fallout‘s forthcoming promotional push, which will include unprecedented online advertising, special deals with certain store chains (nothing official yet, but they’re likely to surface before the game’s release), and even TV advertising, as titles like The Evil Within and Wolfenstein: The New Order got such a push before their respective releases.

Fallout 4 arrives on November 10th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Brand Partners Launch ‘Angry Birds’ To Greatness

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Since its release earlier this month, Angry Birds 2 has managed to be a big success for Rovio, achieving over 20 million downloads in its first week. However, when it comes to its overall success, the publisher of the popular mobile brand believes there’s more to the picture.

VentureBeat recently spoke with chief commercial officer for Rovio, Alex Lambeek, about how this “second phase” of the Angry Birds franchise will go, as well as where it’s success could come from. Believe it or not, brand partners could actually play a big part.

That shouldn’t be a big surprise, as Angry Birds partnerships have a big chance of payoff, including a recent team-up with the folks at Lego and a movie due for release next year.

Of course, the games are important, too, as Lambeek explained that Angry Birds 2 is precisely the title that Rovio wanted to make when the whole thing began. “This is the game we would have wanted to create already five years ago,” he said. “This is what our vision about the game and the characters has always been like. At that time, it just wasn’t technically possible to create something like this. Nor had we enough resources back then.”

Making such a title wasn’t always an easy process, either but it was certainly a creative one. We were experimenting for a while [with] what we could do visually with the current mobile hardware, how we could improve environment and characters, but still stick to the 2D world of the original games and Toons, Lambeek stated. From a gameplay and user experience perspective, we are fans of simplicity and wanted to innovate within the frames of the very first game. Once we made those breakthroughs, we just had to make the game

But, of course, crossing over with brand partners became a fundamental part of the business, including team-ups with Star Wars and Transformers franchises, amongst others. We have managed to keep the brand fresh with diversification of game titles with very recognizable identities [Angry Birds Star Wars, Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Transformers, Angry Birds Go!, Angry Birds Epic], said Lambeek. We have also created two spin-offs: Bad Piggies and Angry Birds Stella with unique demographics. By creating these thematic updates and spin-offs, we focus on different demos. Taking AB into new genres of games and that is what inspires us and drives innovation in the company.

Not only does finding appeal with certain brands pay off, but also catering to what other countries look for in terms of mobile demand. We maintain the momentum by partnering with like-minded companies that know the markets very well, Lambeek said. One-third of our downloads come from the China market Kunlun [our success in China] truly depends on understanding consumers and working with partners like Kunlun Alibaba and Karatopia, who truly know the market for CP, media, and games.

So with partnerships with Lego, Sony and other companies, where will the true focus lie with Angry Birds from here Pleasing our fans and developing a brand that people love and trust is our core priority, said Lambeek. And we will not venture into any area where that core will be compromised.

Angry Birds 2 is available for download now.

Virtual Reality Set To Enhance Music Festivals

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Virtual reality has really come a long way over the past few years. It’s overtaken the Sundance Film Festival with ease; it’s seen immense growth when it comes to the introduction of new apps; and it’ll soon be the subject of its own conference, taking place next year. But now VR could make its way to the music scene, if Samsung and other VR-savvy companies can get the job done.

Billboard recently indicated that 31 percent of 18-34 year olds use mobile devices during music festivals and concerts during half of an event or even longer, if there’s something of great interest. While that has provided an open door for platforms like Snapchat and Periscope, Samsung’s vice president of strategy and creative content Matt Apfel believes that virtual reality can play a part as well, according to an interview with Forbes.

Samsung recently made it possible to be “virtually” at this year’s Lollapalooza festival, by utilizing Samsung Gear VR headsets to view the action in a “you were there” perspective. And Matt believes that’s only the beginning.

“Virtual reality is such a great technology, because it affords us the ability to transport the viewer to almost anywhere you can think of,” he explains. “Most music fans dream about being on stage, or even backstage for a performance by their favorite artist. VR allows us to give fans a truly unforgettable way to experience the music they love, from the best vantage points in the house.”

He also sees a lot of positive in virtual reality’s presence at events. “The biggest upside for VR in the festival space is the fact that most fans want the best seat in the house, AND To be in the front row for an up-close-and-personal performance from their favorite acts. VR can provide that experience from any location inside the venue.

The most common response we heard from festivalgoers who had the opportunity to experience the VR live stream at Lollapalooza was that they felt as if they had an even better view than those in the front row. That s huge for Samsung, for Lollapalooza, for artists, and best of all, for fans.”

There are challenges as well, however. “As for the challenges, we always want to make sure we provide a premium experience for fans through our technology,” said Apfel. “We are still very early in era of VR, but we, and our industry partners are innovating and improving the technology at an amazing rate and we look forward to giving fans more up-close, immersive and personal experiences through VR.”

But in the end, it’s all about transformation of the experience, which VR can easily handle. “VR provides fans the opportunity to share the biggest stages with performers, but the real-time aspect was something that hadn t been executed at this magnitude at a live music performance prior to Lollapalooza 2015. As time goes on, VR has the potential to add a whole other element to how fans expect to experience their favorite artists, bands, DJs and more Both at home, and on-site at the events themselves,” said Apfel.

“As we continue to push new boundaries in the world of virtual reality, a big focus is continuing to provide a wide array of premium content and new experiences. We are expanding the roster of top brands, entertainment companies and networks contributing dynamic virtual reality content for Samsung Gear VR, and we were thrilled to give fans the first VR experience that Lollapalooza has ever seen.”

The full interview can be found here.

PlayStation Experience Returns With Bigger Opportunities

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Sony isn’t afraid to give its PlayStation fans some love when it’s needed the most. It demonstrated this last year with the PlayStation Experience event, which was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. It turned out to be a huge success, giving Sony the stage time it needed to show off its line-up of upcoming games, while allowing third parties and independent developers the chance to announce their own PlayStation releases.

So, to no one’s surprise, Sony will be doing it again this year. The company announced via a post on the PlayStation Blog that the PlayStation Experience will be happening again this year. This time, however, it’ll be taking place in San Francisco, on December 6 and 7. The trailer for the announcement is below.

Like last year’s event, the Experience will provide opportunities for Sony and other companies to unveil upcoming games for the PlayStation 4, especially with 2016 right around the corner. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, which is expected to release in spring 2016, will get plenty of exposure at the event, and other titles are expected to be announced as well.So what makes the PlayStation Experience such an effective marketing tool Well, first of all, it allows Sony and third party companies to focus on a particular platform, without any sort of competition getting in the way, like Microsoft and Nintendo did with its presentations at E3. (That said, Sony still gained major exposure with announcements of games like Final Fantasy VII Remake and the Kickstarter-funded Shenmue III.)

Secondly, it enables Sony to connect directly with its audience, whether they’re attending in-person or watching online through Twitch. (It’s likely that the company will live stream its main presentation and several panels at the event, just as it did last year.) With panels and presentations, it can tell users why they should be excited about games like Uncharted 4 or No Man’s Sky, and provide proof with video clips and exclusive promotions that could lead to bigger sales.

Finally, December seems like the perfect time for these announcements to come around. The holiday market will be calming down around that time, with only Square Enix’s Just Cause 3 and Hitman games set to hit shelves that month (for now, anyway). With these announcements, players will have reason to be excited for the forthcoming year (if they’re not already), and Sony could also introduce holiday goodies to get people to sign up for its PlayStation Plus and cloud-streaming PlayStation Now services ideal Christmas gifts for those that don’t have subscriptions.

Through video presentations and hands-on demonstrations (most of the time with developers in tow to answer questions), the PlayStation Experience one again presents a unique opportunity for Sony to “cash in” on the PlayStation 4’s success, and continue pushing it with innovative new games and promotions. It’ll be quite the event when it takes place this December, where greatness awaits.