Paytm, Alibaba’s AGTech Holdings launch new mobile gaming platform

Gamepind, the new gaming platform of Paytm and AGTech Holdings, will be available as a standalone app and in the Paytm app

Mobile payments company Paytm and Alibaba Group-owned AGTech Holdings Ltd have formed a joint venture to launch Gamepind, a gaming platform aimed at mobile users in India.

Gamepind will offer a host of popular social, casual and sports games with an exclusive rewards programme. The platform will be available as a standalone app and in the Paytm app, the company said in a statement on Monday.

In addition, the platform will offer cash coupons and products, which will serve as a marketing and promotional platform for merchants to engage with mobile shoppers and gamers.

The joint venture between Alibaba’s AGTech Holdings and Paytm was originally signed in July 2017. AGTech Media currently holds 45% in the joint venture, and Paytm owns the rest. At the time of signing of the agreement, Paytm’s parent company One97 invested $8.8 million in the venture for its 55% stake, and AGTech Holdings put in $7.2 million for its 45% stake.

“India’s young consumers are experimenting and discovering more entertainment options on the mobile. Gaming is therefore growing in the country and becoming big with mobile users. We are happy to partner with AGTech to build an incredible gaming destination. AGTech’s expertise and experience in global gaming market will help us accelerate our plans in gaming and bring exciting content to our users,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, chief executive officer of Paytm, said in a statement.

“We are excited to partner with Paytm to localize this unique platform for its 300 million and growing registered customer base by combining Paytm’s local resources and our expertise in gaming and other user engagement activities. A member of Alibaba Group and Ant Financial Group, we have been active in looking for international expansion opportunities capitalizing on the vibrant ecosystems of Alibaba Group and Ant Financial Group,” John Sun, chairman of AGTech, said in the statement.

Source: livemint.com; 29 Jan 2018

Formula One puts the grid girl practice to tire-screeching halt

Singtel Grid Girl

FormulaOne (F1) has revealed that it will end its practice of using walk-on grid girls in its races. The move will take effect during the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, and also apply to F1’s other motorsports series taking place during Grands Prix weekends.

Confirming the move in a press statement, Sean Bratches, managing director, commercial operations at F1 explained that the organisation did not believe the practice is “appropriate or relevant” to old and new F1 fans across the world. He added that while the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades,

The move also follows a review of areas the organisation felt need updating to be more in tune with its vision for the sport. The statement added that F1 considers the time spent by teams and drivers on the grid before a race as one of celebration. This allows guests and various performers to add to the “glamour and spectacle” of the Grand Prix, enabling promoters and partners to showcase their countries and products. The new F1 season begins on 25 March 2018 with the 2018 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

While lauded by woman sports groups such as Women’s Sports Trust, the move received mixed reactions from netizens, majority criticising F1 for putting the grid girls out of a job. The organisation was also criticised for bowing to societal pressure.

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Closer to home, the use of grid girls in the Grand Prix was a common occurrence back when Singtel was a title sponsor for the F1 race. The selection process was one garnering media attention, going as far as producing an entire pageant-style competition in 2009 to name top 21 girls who will lead the pack on race day.

According to a 2009 press statement from Singtel, the active sporty girls aged between 18 and 26 were also selected to Singtel Grid Girls on Tour programme running that year on Mediacorp’s Channel 5. This was on top of grid girl duties. After Singapore Airlines took over the title sponsor role, grid girl duties fell on existing SIA cabin crew for representation at the F1.

Most recently, Singapore GP and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) revealed they will continue to host the FIA Formula 1 World Championship for four more years from 2018 to 2021. In Malaysia however, F1 did not get its contract renewed, a move confirmed by Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz. This was primarily due to high costs of hosting the race without justifiable returns to the country, as well as a drop in ticket sales and TV viewing figures, according to several local media reports.

The move also follows recent steps F1 has taken to refresh its brand image. In November 2017, F1 revealed a new logo as the first step in its rebranding along with a new mission statement. While the management at F1 was positive about the new logo, fans however, did not share the same sentiment. Months later, F1 was met with trademark trouble after its latest logo was said to contain striking similarities to one used by 3M for its Futuro product line of compression tights.

Source: marketing-interactive.com; 1 Feb 2018

YouTube is now the most viewed video platform in APAC, barring China

With 45.5% digital video viewers, YouTube has been named as the most popular video viewing platform in APAC, according to eMarketer.

The number is further expected to rise by nearly 13%. The report named India as the fastest growing market with the viewership expected to rise from 203 million in 2018 to 285 million by 2021. Empowered by internet penetration, mobile phone video viewers in India will also rise to 204 million in 2021.

As for China, video platforms like Youku, Tencent, iQiyi, LeTV and Sohu—will have the highest penetration rate of internet users accessing their mobile phone to watch video in 2018, at an estimated 65.8%. Australia and Indonesia will also rank highly this year, with penetration rates of 62.9% and 61.7%, respectively.

Oscar Orozco, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer, said: “YouTube usage is on the rise and has become the most popular video streaming service throughout Asia-Pacific, except in China where it is censored.

While regional Netflix adoption is still low, awareness and intent to subscribe is growing. We expect Netflix adoption will continue to expand, while at the same time providing much-needed competition and influence on local streaming providers.”

“Online video streaming is on the rise in Asia-Pacific; viewing is primarily occurring on mobile phones. In China, the availability of content has increased tenfold over the past year, with Baidu’s video platform iQiyi inking a content licensing deal with Netflix, while Alibaba’s Youku Tudou reached a similar agreement with NBCUniversal and Sony,” he added.

Source: thedrum.com; 31 Jan 2018

Twitter introduces sponsored Moments to help connect publishers with brands

Twitter introduced an In-Stream Sponsorship featured sponsored by Moments for advertisers and publishers to engage their audience with relevant content.

Advertisers can sponsor Moments from premium content partners. Sponsored Moments include interstitial Tweets from the brand as well as a branded cover.

According to Twitter: “The goal with sponsored Moments, as with all In-Stream Sponsorships, is tight alignment between advertiser messaging and partner content.

“By working with premium publishers as part of an In-Stream Sponsorship, brands know exactly which partner they are working with, and can develop deep brand integrations within that partner’s content.”

Twitter tested its new feature with Bank of America’s sponsored Moment from Bloomberg at Davos.

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Meredith Verdone, chief marketing officer, Bank of America said: “We know that decision-makers and influencers are turning to Twitter to keep up with what’s happening at Davos. Sponsored Moments gives us a great new way to seamlessly join that conversation as it is happening. Working with Bloomberg and Twitter helps us bring high-quality, relevant content to an engaged global audience. We’re excited to debut Moments as a key part of our #WEF programming.”

Meena Thiruvengadam, global head of audience development, Bloomberg Media said: “Twitter Moments offers a unique way to curate our content around key storylines and events in a way readers can best understand the most important stories unfolding around them.”

Source: thedrum.com; 27 Jan 2018

Google to offer users mute button for retargeted reminder ads

Retargeted ‘reminder’ ads can expect to see a drop in reach with Google’s announcement of a ‘mute button’ that will let users choose the reminder adverts they don’t want to see.

In a post on Google’s Keyword Blog, the company’s group product manager for data privacy and transparency, Jon Krafcik described how the feature will work and why it was needed.

“You visit Snow Boot Co.’s website, add a pair of boots to your shopping cart, but you don’t buy them because you want to keep looking around. The next time that you’re shopping online, Snow Boot Co. might show you ads that encourage you to come back to their site and buy those boots.

Reminder ads like these can be useful, but if you aren’t shopping for Snow Boot Co.’s boots anymore, then you don’t need a reminder about them. A new control within Ads Settings will enable you to mute Snow Boot Co.’s reminder ads. Today, we’re rolling out the ability to mute the reminder ads in apps and on websites that partner with us to show ads. We plan to expand this tool to control ads on YouTube, Search, and Gmail in the coming months.”

Mumbrella has contacted Google to find what details advertisers will receive about users blocking their campaigns but at first glance this feature seems to be a good move for advertisers choosing the CPM option in Adwords as it reduces irrelevant views.

The Mute This Ad feature has been available since 2012 but has been restricted to specific ads and user devices. The upgraded feature will remember a user’s choices across any device they use.

Krafcik claims feedback from that feature has enabled Google to remove over a billion intrusive ads from the network.

Source: mumbrella.asia; 29 Jan 2018

Buzzfeed makes headway in China after deal with media powerhouse Bytedance

American media giant Buzzfeed has made a great leap forward into the Chinese internet market after signing a licensing deal with Bytedance Technology Co.

The media company, renowned for its viral listicles, will allow the Beijing-based media powerhouse to distribute Buzzfeed’s content on its platforms, including Toutiao, an AI-operated news aggregator with a reputed 120 million daily active users.

The deal gives Buzzfeed, a site which primarily uses the firewall-blocked Facebook to distribute its content, a significant foothold in the Chinese market.

In addition to Toutiao, Buzzfeed will also gain access to TopBuzz, the English-language version of Toutiao, and short-form video app Xigua Video.

As well as the news and listicle articles, Bytedance will also gain access to Buzzfeed’s franchise of content sites, including Tasty, Nifty, Goodful, Top Knot and Bring Me.

Although Toutiao is one of China’s most popular mobile apps, its parent company has largely flown under the radar until recent times. Last year, Tech Crunch described the company as only recently becoming no longer a secret outside of its home market.

However, its app Musical.ly, a mishmash of homemade music and comic videos, has a user base of 200 million, of which includes significant numbers of youths from North America and Europe.

It has also made other inroads into the West by investing $50 million into Live.me, a mobile streaming app operated by Chinese ad player Cheetah, that’s focused on the American market.

It also paid US$86.6 million to buy France-based News Republic, a media aggregation service also owned by Cheetah. The company also allegedly tried and failed to buy Reddit last year.

Meanwhile, in contrast, Buzzfeed has had a rocky year, having missed its revenue target for 2017, forcing it to axe 100 jobs – or eight per cent of its US workforce.

Having built its brand on the back of getting stories to go viral on Facebook, the platform is likely to see its traffic take a hit when the social network rejigs its News Feed to de-prioritise publishers’ posts.

On the new deal, Scott Lamb, VP BuzzFeed International, said: “We’re so pleased to partner with Bytedance to take our entertainment content to millions of people across China.

“We look forward to meaningfully engaging Chinese audiences in our feedback loop, to learn more about what they love, how they use and interact with our content and what they’d like to see, and we’re thrilled about this first foray into testing our content there.”

Lin Chen, Head of product of Bytedance, added: “BuzzFeed is recognised around the world as one of the original incubators of viral content and a leader in the digital media revolution, and we are proud to welcome them to our growing global network of content partners. We aim to connect our users with the very best content creators from around the world, from individual creators to major media publishers.”

Source: mumbrella.asia; 26 Jan 2018

Amazon plots digital ad push with ad tech launch

The ecommerce giant is bringing new ad tech tools for publishers to Europe as it ramps up attempts to take on Google and Facebook in the digital ad market.

Amazon is pushing further into the digital ad market as it brings new ad tech tools to Europe aimed at helping publishers make more money online.

Amazon’s Transparent Ad Marketplace, which went live in the US a little over a year ago, is now launching in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. It offers digital publishers and app developers a new means to monetise their content using header bidding (a technology that allows multiple ad buyers to bid on ad space at the same time, meaning the highest bid should always win).

What differentiates this product is that it is cloud-based, meaning the bidding takes place on Amazon’s servers rather than on the publisher’s website. That in turn means publishers don’t have to input lots of codes from different ad buyers into their website, speeding up page load times.

Amazon also claims the product will offer greater transparency, enabling publishers to see which companies are bidding and which one won the auction.

“When we started offering header bidding several years ago, we quickly saw there were clear publisher, advertiser and customer benefits in moving ad calls to the cloud and giving publishers full visibility into who’s bidding on their impressions, who’s winning, and why,” explains Matt Battles, vice president of ad technology at Amazon.

The launch is just the latest sign that Amazon is looking to make a bigger move into the ad space. Emarketer estimates that, in the US, Amazon is the fifth largest generator of digital revenues with sales of $1.65bn in 2017 – more than Twitter and Snapchat. That figure is expected to rise to $3.19bn in 2019.

It is also the fastest growing player – with increases of 48.2% in 2017. But it will account for just 3% of the total US market in 2019, well behind Google and Facebook.

That Amazon would want to become a bigger player in digital advertising should come as little surprise given that it was a $209bn business globally last year, according to Magna Global. And Amazon has both the scale and data that means it could compete with the two biggest players.

However, Amazon has so far been reluctant to discuss its ambitions. Nevertheless, it is rapidly hiring sales people for the ad unit as its New York office, with the latest launch a clear sign it is hoping to attract publishers as well.

And brands including Procter & Gamble and Unilever are increasingly working with the company. For example, P&G says it has teamed up with the ecommerce giant to make use of its consumer ID data to reach consumers who are ready to buy. And that is the key to Amazon’s pitch to advertisers – its data on what people buy.

Source: marketingweek.com; 9 Jan 2018

Slow mobile pages will hurt your ranking: Google

Advertisers have until July to get their mobile pages up to speed.

Starting in July, Google will include page speed among the factors that determine mobile search optimisation and by extension, page ranking in search results.

Advertisers and agencies have six months to optimise digital assets for mobile-based search, with existing issues identified by the updated PageSpeed Insights tool.

Page speed has been a ranking factor for desktop-based search since 2010.

”We encourage developers to think broadly about how performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user-experience metrics,” said Doantam Phan, a Google product manager, in an announcement post.

While slow sites with quality content still stand a chance, over time page speed will outweigh content strategy as a measure of a site’s value to a user, the company said.

Google is rewarding advertisers and agencies that create digital assets that allow users of Google Search to go from query to answer in the shortest time possible while retaining relevance.

Advertisers and agencies that intend to get ahead of the update rollout can optimize their digital assets by drubbing Google’s benchmarks for mobile page speed. They can start by cross-checking mobile page speed with TestMySite, a free Google tool. The free report includes a mobile friendliness report and a mobile speed score.

Specifically, Google said advertisers and agencies will need to beat three benchmarks:

1. Drop the request count below 50

Google recommends keeping requests (the number of times the browser has to call on the server for information while loading the page) below 50. The minification of images, Javascript, and CSS are great starting points.

2. Reduce page weight below 500 kilobytes

The main culprit for data-heavy pages is images. WordPress sites rely on Smush Image Compression, while others use Compressor IO, among other tools. Reducing the image load is critical for sites meant to deliver a commercial outcome, but the irony is that more images drive faster conversions. While image optimisation is a tedious task ignored by most, image compression is relatively less time-intensive.

3. Dwindle TTFB

TTFB, or time to the first byte, is a measure of how fast a site sends the first byte of data to a browser once a request is made. With numerous requests and black-hat redirects plaguing the ecosystem, this is one of the toughest pain points to correct, even more so considering that the user’s internet speed also makes an impact. For WordPress sites, W3 Total Cache helps a browser store site data better.

Advertisers and agencies can take comfort in the fact that most websites are nowhere near the halfway point of Google’s benchmarks, which means there is plenty of time to get ahead of the competition and get indexed as a mobile-optimised site that has steadily implemented and maintained best practices.

Source: campaignasia.com; 18 Jan 2018

Facebook Tweaks Newsfeed to Favour Content From Friends, Family

IN NOVEMBER, FACEBOOK CEO Mark Zuckerberg started sprinkling a new phrase, or perhaps a new idea, into his quarterly call with investors. “It’s important to remember that Facebook is about bringing people closer together and enabling meaningful social interactions,” he said. Research, he continued, demonstrates that interactions with friends and family on social media is particularly “meaningful.” The goal of his service is to “encourage meaningful social interactions” and to connect in ways that lead to “meaningful interactions” and let us “build meaningful relationships.”

Clearly something was up. In December, Facebook researchers worked the word “meaningful” seven times into a blog post about the value of social media. “We want Facebook to be a place for meaningful interactions,” they wrote, explaining findings that the passive use of social media can be alienating but active use can be beneficial.

Thursday, Zuckerberg more fully explained how this quest for meaning will be worked into the core of its platform: Facebook is changing the algorithm that powers its newsfeed, the service at its core and the mechanism that increasingly determines how news and information spread throughout the world.

“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness,” Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post. “But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other. Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

The upshot: The newsfeed algorithm will now give less weight to the popularity of posts and more weight to posts that encourage users to interact and comment. One of the big criticisms of Facebook in the past 18 months is that the content we see in the newsfeed is driven too much by Facebook’s obsession with persuading people to spend as much time as possible on Facebook. The more time people spend in the newsfeed, the more ad revenue Facebook makes. That may be good for Facebook, but, according to an increasingly loud chorus of critics, it’s not so good for humanity.

That’s changing. Popularity may have been the most important indicator when Facebook was small. But as Facebook has become the world’s news and information network, it’s helped make the newsfeed feel like a third-rate tabloid that not only drives the most extreme and polarizing information to the top our feeds, but encourages creators of that content to be more extreme and polarizing to get noticed.

Now, instead of optimizing for how much time users spend on Facebook, Zuckerberg says he wants the time users do spend be “time well spent.” What that means, according to Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s newsfeed boss, is that video, news, and other content from formal Facebook pages will get less prominence than posts from friends and family. It means that the number of comments on a post will count more than the number of Likes, and it means that posts where people have taken the time to write long comments will get more weight than those with only short comments. News and video will continue to appear in newsfeed, but the number of friends sharing it will matter more than its overall popularity.

Newsfeed’s algorithm works by looking at every post you could see—whether posted by a friend, a publisher, a celebrity or a political candidate you follow—and then crunching the zillions of signals you’ve already given Facebook through your past use. The story is then given a score based on how relevant Facebook thinks that information is to you. The algorithm tries to assess things like whether the content is a photo, or a video. Is it about a family member or is it a news article you found on your own? The more Facebook thinks you will interact with that content, the higher its score.

Source: wired.com; 11 Jan 2018

Using the same tune is better for adverts, according to new study by Goldsmiths

Using the same piece of music in adverts year after year helps people to like and remember your brand, according to a new study of brain responses led by scientists at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Until now there was no hard data to suggest whether it was better to stick to the same piece of music across consecutive advertising campaigns or change to a fresh tune for each new campaign.

The study also found that classical music was rated more favourably than other musical genres when used consistently across multiple adverts. Radio adverts using classical music in this way were especially successful at getting people’s brains to ‘engage’ with the brand or product, according to measurements of brain activity.

A report of the research will be published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics.

The researchers investigated whether using music ‘strategically’, consistently across advertising campaigns, or ‘tactically’, changing music across campaigns, had a greater positive impact on participants.

16 volunteers took part and were exposed to 27 radio adverts and 27 TV adverts with one third of adverts featuring ‘strategic’ music, one third ‘tactical’ music, with the rest having no music. The volunteers wore EEG (electroencephalogram) caps with electrodes attached that recorded electrical signals generated by their brains as they listened to or watched the adverts. After each advert they were asked to rate how much they liked it, how familiar it was, how much they liked the music, and how well the music fitted the brand or product advertised.

Joydeep Bhattacharya, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths and lead author of the study, said: “Not only did using music strategically, using the same tune across multiple adverts, boost the ratings people gave each advert regarding how much they liked them and how familiar they were, but this strategic use was also associated with music being a ‘better fit’ for the advertised brands. We didn’t just see an increase in these subjective ratings. EEG recordings showed that ‘strategic’ music was associated with more power in high frequency brain waves, the beta and gamma oscillations, compared to ‘tactical’ music and especially over frontal brain regions. Previous studies suggest that the boost of these brain waves is a signature of reward networks ‘lighting up’ and we believe it demonstrates an enhanced engagement which could make an advert more effective at influencing people’s behaviour.”

The research also suggests that the effects of strategic music are more impactful and immediate in the brain for radio adverts than for TV adverts.

Co-author Richard Lewis (PhD), MD of Neuroformed Ltd, said: “The most satisfying thing about this particular study is that the data clearly supports strategic use of the same tune across different ad campaigns, as opposed to switching the music for each new advert. It’s good to finally have some clarity on this prickly issue. During the exit interviews many volunteers mentioned that, for the ads that have been using the same music over many years, the brand would often instantly spring to mind as soon as the first few notes had played, even before any brand imagery had appeared on screen. Such is the power of music to trigger brand associations when used strategically.”

According to these findings, the researchers say advertisers should select a backing track carefully and stick to it over consecutive campaigns so that it becomes the ‘common thread’ associated with a brand even as other aspects of new TV and radio adverts change. Of course the big challenge, they say, is to pick a tune that will stand the test of time.

Source: marcommnews.com; 17 Jan 2018