‘Second Life’ Creators Prepare New Virtual World

Linden Lab is a developer that’s no stranger to creating virtual worlds, as its simulation Second Life has managed to attract a large audience. But now it’s looking to expand those ideas into a new universe: virtual reality.

Variety reports that the developer is hard at work on a new virtual reality program for the Oculus Rift and other devices under the code name Project Sansar. With it, the company hopes to go leaps and bounds over what its original product offered in terms of immersion.

Said CEO Ebbe Altberg about the project, “Second Life hit the ceiling at the hobbyist level,” with slightly more than one million active users a month upon launch, dropping down to just 900,000 for this year.

With that, Altberg and company are looking to improve upon the virtual world, based on lessons learned from Second Life. One big part of this is economics. “Land in Second Life is quite expensive,” Altberg explained. With Sansar, the team hopes of lower real estate taxes and increase sales taxes, so that people can find an easier way to create a place of living in this new world.

But perhaps the most noteworthy feature for the forthcoming project will be about creating an individual experience for each user, based on Linden Lab’s tech. With that, marketers and brands will have a key opportunity as well, with the ability to create their own VR experiences for others to be deep-linked to, through websites and third party apps. “Second Life is a platform dressed as a product,” said Altberg. “The experience is the primary brand” when it comes to Sansar, with a platform in which other companies can build.

With that, Altberg considers Sansar a virtual take on the popular blogging site WordPress, letting others come in and create as they please without needing a large budget for custom programming. Altberg is also looking to enhance the experience with popular 3D software, including products from Maya, Blender and Sketchup, among others.

As for when Sansar will arrive, Altberg explained that a beta is set to launch by the end of 2016, depending on the popularity of various VR headsets and what direction Linden Lab wants to take the experience. But the experience could be wide open, dependent on what consumers and companies alike would want it to be. “It’s gonna start from the beginning,” he explained.

YouTube Boosts Mobile Features

The VidCon event is taking place in Anaheim all this weekend, bringing the spotlight  to digital video. One of the highlights from the show revolved around YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki, who made several announcements regarding Google’s YouTube video site that could push it in a far more popular direction.

“Ten years ago, YouTube started with a simple idea: ‘Broadcast yourself,'” Wojcicki said during her presentation. “We believed that anyone should be able to create content that everyone in the world could watch. It turned out with that simple idea, creators like you from around the world were able to spark a massive change: the reinvention of television. We’ve gone from an era of passive entertainment into a renaissance of immersive entertainment.”

With that – and following a surge of over 60%in YouTube revenue for the second quarter of 2015, Wojcicki revealed, per a report from the L.A. Times, that YouTube is “a mobile company,” with the revealing of a revamped YouTube app that focuses more on “maximizing discovery and expression.”

The app still works to the user’s benefit, and also includes capture and editing tools with filter and music, as well as vertical video playback and the “most requested creator feature: a simple way for your fans to opt in to all notifications from your channel.” This revitalized app is available now, and should be easy to update for those who already have it.

In addition, the company will continue to push for more 360-degree supported video, as well as 3D support to “enable truly immersive virtual reality experiences.” Wojcicki also stated that YouTube Spaces will also be updated with the latest Jump camera gear, so that 360-degree video is more adaptable to video creators. Additional Spaces will be opened up next year as well, including locations in Toronto and Mumbai.

“We’ve seen big name artists like Avicii and Bjork do some breakthrough things with 3D video,” she said. “But we want to empower all of you to chart this new frontier.”

Finally, Wojcicki turned the focus of the presentation back to the creators, since their work is where YouTube seems to thrive the most. “I want to leave you all with one final message: YouTube succeeds only if you, our creators, succeed,” she said. “You’re the reason that we’re all here today: you’re the reason that VidCon exists in the first place. All of you have invested in building your channels, building your businesses, listening to viewer feedback, pored over your analytics and, as a result, made great content and built strong communities.”

However, there’s still no word on when the company will launch its ad-free subscription based services. Said Wojcicki, speaking with the Wall Street Journal, “There are some partners outstanding, and we’re still in the process of working through that with them.”

She added, “It’s important that there is parity, meaning that all content that was on the ad-supported service is available for our users on subscription. It doesn’t make sense from a user perspective to pay and then get less.

“It’s important that content creators have choice in terms of do they want to participate in the platform. But it needs to work for the users. If they don’t come, nothing else really matters,” she concluded.

YouTube Goes Full Circle With 360-Degree Video Ads

Using video for advertising is nothing new for either Facebook or YouTube, who have built a thriving video advertising business with multiple major brands reaching a vast audience. The competition between the two rivals for new business is intense, and bringing out a new technology is one way to try and get an edge. YouTube is looking to get a boost in advertising by introducing a new format that could help marketers and brands bring messages full circle with their ads – literally.

Per a report from The Next Web, Google has announced that the new format of 360-degree video advertisements will now be supported for both iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as the Google Chrome desktop browser. Utilizing the company’s TrueView ad platform, users can use their mouse or tilt a device to pan around a field of view in a video, getting a look at the whole perspective of the ad however they please. This takes ad interaction to another level, and hopefully will get users both more interested in ads and engaged with the ad for a longer period of time.

Bud Light has launched its own campaign to show this in action, with its latest “Up For Whatever” video showcasing a number of fans jumping into a parade and having a good time. The video can be seen below. (Note: if you’re viewing on a computer, other browsers aside from Google Chrome won’t work with the format. Not yet, anyway.)

Google initially announced 360-degree video support a few months back, where users could upload interactive videos to YouTube with ease, in an attempt to garner more viewers interested in the interactive format. It seems to have paid off, as the company reported that these videos have performed 36 percent better than standard videos – which indicates that ads with the 360-degree format would be far more effective than watching a routine commercial.More videos of these types – with more sponsors tied in – should be introduced over the next few months. Here’s hoping that Google continues to make it compatible with other browsers, including Safari, Windows and Firefox, so that no one will miss the 360-degree party.



Brands Go Big On Music Festivals To Reach Large, Captive Audience

Music fans are already paying an arm and a leg to attend their favorite music festivals this summer, whether it’s Lollapalooza or the Electric Daisy Carnival. So marketers are doing whatever it takes to ease this financial burden, while at the same time spreading the word about their products.

Via a report from Adweek, Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light brand is offering plenty of goodies to fans through its “immersive digital toolkit,” which provides fast passes, backstage tours, exclusive downloads, photos with artists and free schwag, amongst other goodies, provided they take part in some form of their marketing.

A number of festivals see advertisers such as this taking part in one form or another, including Stagecoach, Bonnaroo, HARD Summer and Rock In Rio, among others. But like Bud Light above, they’re looking for the right approach – and a small sampling just isn’t enough.

“There aren’t many places to reach 100,000 people in a day in a captive environment,” said Andrew Klein, senior vice president of global partnerships for ARG Live. “We tell brands to come big or don’t come at all.”

Various sponsors have rolled out different programs at these events, including Sephora’s beauty patio at the Coachella event and Malibu Rum’s devoted beach house, in the midst of a rainy FarmBorough event in New York.

Other promotions are jumping in as well. Uber paired up a popular country artist to ride along with fans during Chicago’s Windy City Lake Shake, while 7up and H&M have created limited edition merchandise for their Electric Daisy Carnival and Coachella appearances, respectively.

Finding the right “groove” for this fans is key for a program to work. “Fans are asking, ‘What did you do for me ‘ There’s a higher expectation of what a brand will bring to a festival,” said Mike Raspatello, manager for digital innovation and strategy at Anheuser-Busch. “You want them to be glad you’re there.”

However, connections aren’t just made in person – companies can also get into the action online, where an even bigger audience can await. “It’s not just about those three days, it’s about the six or eight months surrounding the festival,” said Maureen Ford, president of national and festival sales for Live Nation. “Everyone’s being challenged in a good way to tell their story over a longer period with unique content.”

One example of this is Yahoo’s recent livestream from EDC Las Vegas, where 130,000 fans  tuned in every night. 7up took advantage of this with specially made cans designed by DJ’s Tiesto and Martin Garrix, among others. “Being on the ground and launching special product demonstrates to fans that we’re part of the culture,” said Eric Blackwood, director of marketing for 7up. “And the livestream allows us to take it to a much larger scale – millions rather than a few hundred thousand.”

And the bigger brands aren’t just taking part – DoSomething.org continues to be a big part of the Vans Warped Tour, one of the summer’s more popular events. However, some are catering to a new audience, since 70 percent of these concert-goers happen to be female. “Some brands got away from experiential marketing for a while, but they’ve come back to it because of the emotional connection,” said Lyman. “When they create a hybrid activation, with social media to amplify it, that’s a winner.”

Rock on, fans.

Now Hiring This Week: July 22nd

[a]listdaily is your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings.

  • NBC Universal – VP Marketing, Consumer Products (Universal City, Calif.)
  • Zynga – User Acquisition Manager (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • Pocket Gems – Director, Performance Marketing (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • Ayzenberg – Account Director (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Ayzenberg – Senior Tech Developer (Pasadena, Calif.)
  • Ayzenberg – Sr. Social Media Strategist (Pasadena, Calif.)

For last week’s [a]list jobs postings, click here. Have a position you’d like to place with us Email us at pr@ayzenberg.com.


Brands Realizing the Power of GoPro

For years, GoPro has been the go-to tool for athletes and extreme sports lovers that want to show the world the thrills they experience from their activities, ranging from wing-diving to motorcycle riding. But the appeal of GoPro is about to go one step further, as the company has introduced a new platform that is set to appeal to marketers.

Adweek recently posted a story regarding the introduction of GoPro Licensing, which puts hundreds of these first-person athletic videos in the hands of marketers. “We’ve gotten calls almost daily from creative agencies, TV networks and film studios that want to use our content,” said Adam Dornbusch, head of programming at GoPro, explaining the reasoning behind the creation of the new platform.

General user-generated content is one thing, but seeing an “extreme” sports video – like wing-diving off a mountain – is another, according to 72and Sunny’s director of business affairs, Michelle Slusser McKinney. The clips tend to provide better consumer engagement based on their content, which in turn can be better incorporated into campaigns for certain products.

“The most significant difference between regular user-generated content and GoPro content is higher quality and footage (that comes from) in and around spaces that are not easily captured,” she stated. “When you want adventurous high-quality, then GoPro fills that space. It brings a unique, first-person experience with content that also differs from traditional licensed content.”

Over 600 videos from amateur and professional filmmakers are available through GoPro Marketing, through partnership via licensing agreements. More clips will become available over time as well, going for $1,000 apiece, depending on both commercial use and distribution with the partners.

“This is going to stay at a very premium level,” said Dornbusch. “If you are looking for top-shelf content, this is the platform.”

And with it, insiders believe that GoPro Licensing will become an immense success, especially considering that video ads have taken off as a $7.7 billion industry. “I believe licensed video is another step in the evolution of user-generated content in brand marketing,” said David Karnstedt, CEO of branding consultancy firm Quantifind. “There is a significant demand from marketers for quality video content, and with proven economic models from (peripheral incumbents like Getty Images and Shutterstock), I believe this new market could be a significant value-creation event for GoPro.”

But will this shake up the agency model in general “I do think agency executives may be somewhat resistant,” added Karnstedt. “Instead of a two-day video shoot, brands can now purchase a video and take the production expenses out of the equation, which could reduce creative costs in a significant way.”

However, brands are likely to see this as a positive overall. “A lot of brands want one-of-a-kind, crazy types of content but don’t want to pay for the necessary production,” said Jeremy Greene, CEO of social-animation app creator PingTank. “And we are going to eventually see TV commercials that are made by the hands of GoPro creators. Some kid from Omaha, Nebraska is going to be watching TV and suddenly realize, ‘Hey, I made that.’, which is pretty cool.”

Indeed, the future for GoPro looks, dare we say it, extreme. Check out a sample clip from its YouTube channel below.

‘Fallout’ Digs Up Great Success On Mobile

A little while back, we talked about a mobile game called Fallout Shelter, Bethesda’s mobile management spin-off to its popular open-world adventure games. Even though the franchise was new to the mobile front (releases had previously come out for PC and game consoles), Shelter had no problem weathering the storm, easily overtaking King’s Candy Crush Saga since its arrival last month. But now, its success is stronger than ever – and that’s good news for the mobile front and Bethesda alike.

GameZone has reported that the mobile game, where players manage a group of “happy” characters through underground living, has managed to gross more than $5.1 million in its first two weeks – a first for the developers at Bethesda.

Originally, the intent of Fallout Shelter, which was released during the company’s press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, was to build hype for its forthcoming sequel Fallout 4, set to debut on November 10 for Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4. But it appears that the game has created its own mantra, one that players can easily get into. Plus, with its fair payment system (there’s a lot to offer on its free-to-play set-up), that indicates that players are actually willing to pay to get more out of it.

Said SuperData on the game’s surprising mobile success, “While we’ve seen mobile spin-offs based on AAA game franchises before – Call of Duty: Heroes, Halo: Spartan Assault and Heroes of Dragon Age – Bethesda managed to maximize exposure and reap the benefits. More significant than the publisher’s success is the notion that core gaming fans proved to be willing customers for a free-to-play mobile game.”

It continued, “By emphasizing unobtrusive monetization and offline playability, Bethesda managed to earn the respect of a consumer group that is otherwise highly critical of free-to-play monetization. The game’s success further underscores the value of a strong franchise in the otherwise crowded mobile games market.”

Plus, on top of that, Shelter has become its own hype machine for Fallout 4, which should be an immense success when it releases later this year.

But the publisher isn’t just reaping success on the mobile front. Its latest console release, the online-only adventure The Elder Scrolls Online, has sold over 138,000 digital copies – not a bad number for a game that requires a consistent connection. And it’s got a killer line-up of console/PC games lined up for next week’s QuakeCon in Dallas, Texas, where Fallout 4 and the forthcoming Doom will both have a huge presence.

Dave & Buster’s Bring Arcade Experience To Mobile

Dave & Buster’s has always been an ideal place to hang out with adult friends, whether it’s watching the big game in its restaurant/bar area or playing a number of its exclusive arcade games, such as Star Wars: Battle Pod and Jurassic Park Arcade. But the chain doesn’t want its customers to stop playing there.

VentureBeat has reported that the entertainment chain has launched a series of mobile games today based on some of its more popular ticket-producing arcade games. These games include the sensor-hitting Speed of Light, the spin-for-prizes Big Bass Wheel and the tricky balancing game Tippin’ Bloks. These free-to-play games provide plenty of entertainment, as well as a unique twist.

Players can enter their Power Card info from their Dave & Buster’s cards and earn tickets as they play, then turn them around and purchase real goods from any of the participating locations.

Kevin Bachus, who previous worked with Microsoft on the original Xbox years ago, helped put together the mobile games for the company, after joining them in 2012 to help expand its arcade experiences.

“We wanted to enhance our in-store experience by providing a virtual experience,” said Bachus, senior vice president of entertainment and games strategy. “Now guests can keep the Dave & Buster’s fun going even when they’re not at our restaurant. They can download these new mobile games and win tickets to redeem for prizes on their next visit.”

However, that doesn’t mean every arcade game will translate into a mobile experience. Licensed titles probably won’t make the transition, but simple ones that provide tickets make for a good experience. “We didn’t just put an arcade game on your phone; we made these games feel ‘native’ to mobile,” added Bachus. “These games are about more than winning tickets – these are really good, really fun games you will want to play.”

Canada-based Sarbakan and Robosoft Technologies helped put the games together, and Dave & Buster’s easily put together the program where players could redeem cyber-tickets for their favorite goodies. “Clients turn to us for complex marketing and gaming solutions when an app needs to be spot on with capturing the essence of a brand,” said Rohith Bhat, the CEO of Robosoft Technologies, in a statement. “This is just the type of project that Robosoft loves to work with – where strategy, design, and engineering have come together beautifully. Dave & Buster’s recognizes that mobile apps are already enriching people’s lives, so finding a creative solution to extend the Midway fun anywhere consumers want and provide them with rewards is a perfect extension of what makes them successful.”

The video below shows the game Big Bass Wheel in action, to give players a better idea of what to expect.


Users can download the games at the following links, including Big Bass Wheel, Speed of Light and Tippin’ Bloks.


Connor Franta Launches Music Label For Influencer-Curated Compilations

Connor Franta has managed to make a name for himself as a virtual superstar, with 4.7 million fans on YouTube and over 3.2 million followers. Now, he wants to bring that stardom to other talents through his own music label.

Variety reports that Franta has formed a new music label under the name Heard Well. It’s a music label that focuses on putting together compilation albums that feature a number of undiscovered artists, as curated by “influencers” on the web.

Partnering up with Franta on the label are his manager, Andrew Graham from AwesomenessTV’s Big Frame unit, along with Jeremy Wineberg, who works on his own Opus Label music distribution and licensing company.

So far, the label has already signed on a number of stars, including Amanda Steele, LoAnthony and Jc Caylen, performers that already have an established fanbase on YouTube with more than 20 million fans. “We’re looking at digital influencers as modern A&R execs,” said Graham.

Franta has had a passion for music, sharing a number of artists on his YouTube videos, and releasing two compilation albums. The first, Crown, became one of the top 20 best-selling pop albums on iTunes last year, while the other, Common Culture, has been popular as well.

“I find a lot of up-and-coming musicians I enjoy, present them to my viewers – and hopefully inflate the growth of these artists by putting them in front of an audience that wouldn’t have been aware of them,” said Franta, leaning his musical tastes towards “alternative pop,” as he calls it.

Wineberg told [a]listdaily, “Heard Well focuses on distributing music through social tastemakers. In essence, we look at our tastemakers as the new radio and magazine ad. Being able to discover a new artist and use the Heard Well platform to market is priceless.”

YouTube has been an ideal place for up-and-coming music stars, including Michelle Pham, among others. With Heard Well’s assistance, these stars can help find a bigger audience, even without the need of a manager.

The label “doesn’t really require any investment outside of our time,” said Graham. “The influencers are identifying (the artists.” The label will split the cut of revenue with the artists, so it’s an even partnership.

Congrats to Franta and his new music label. Here’s hoping it helps some artists find the audience they deserve.

Netflix Q2 Earnings Top Estimates

by Allen Weiner

Streaming giant Netflix reported higher than expected results across the board causing the stock to take a major jump in after-hours trading.

Most impressive among its Q2 earnings announcement was its growth in both domestic and international subscribers. The company reported it added an additional 900,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 2.37 million internationally. Both figures beat company estimates reports. Netflix now has a total of 65.5 million subscribers.

Keep reading…

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via thevideoink.com for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.