Tag Archives: facebook

Facebook + Music + Games…not quite there yet?

Bopler Games

We’ve seen lots of new ideas this month: Chicago throwback-rappers The Cool Kids went through Mountain Dew to release an album; Earbits announced city-specific radio stations that survive on zero ads because everything they play is actually an ad; and now, a major label is using social gaming apps on Facebook to push product.

The third case comes courtesy of The EMI Group — the smallest of music’s Big Four major labels, which also include Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment. EMI agreed last week to a partnership with Facebook social gaming company MXP4, maker of Bopler Games, which has approximately 200,000 users each months by Facebook’s count.

As part of the deal, Bopler — which launched in April and announced on Friday that it’s moving to Los Angeles, we assume to be closer to the music industry — can make little Facebook games out of EMI’s music catalog and sell the label’s music within the games.

The idea of turning music into something “playable” in the sense of a game is a strong one, as noted earlier – especially on Facebook, given the runaway success of other amusements there, such as Farmville and YouTube. It’s nice to know that even as its owner struggles to sell the label to the highest bidder, this major label is opening up to business models that go this far past the tried methods of yesteryear.

Music, games, and Facebook. What’s not to like? Actually, the jury’s still out on these Bopler/EMI games, and here’s why:

  • Bopler ties certain games to certain playlists, rather than letting you play any song with any game. If you want to play Dodge It, you get a Motown-inspired playlist. Pump It comes with contemporary pop music, while Snake It‘s playlist is significantly more indie-oriented. You can change that in the Music tab and select another song, but that’s neither self-explanatory nor easily managed. (The Music tab doesn’t even feature a search bar.) This default handcuffing Bopler puts on users means that they’re essentially randomizing a catalog that ranks among the largest in the music world.
  • Users listen to a 60-second snippet of any song for free, but anything over 60 seconds requires that you buy the song. That’s done by purchasing a “Music Pass” with “Music Cash,” a lengthier-than-necessary process that should probably be replaced by a straight-up $.99-per-song payment plan.
  • Games end at the conclusion of each song. If you’re spinning a 60-second snippet, you only have one minute to play the game until “Game Over” shows up.

As with all social media ventures, this may all come down to numbers. Fortunately for Bopler, nearly 200,000 users have already jumped on board, as mentioned above — a promising figure.

If it can find a way to streamline the payment process and actively promote the catalog a bit better, this agreement and others like it could lead to a new widespread method of paying for (and playing with) music. Right now, though, our impression of Bopler Games was that it’s a bit gimmicky (not that that stopped Farmville).

Source: http://evolver.fm/2011/07/22/bopler-games-turns-major-label-music-into-facebook-video-games/


Which is the most popular UK retailer on Facebook?


TopShop remains the most popular UK retailer on Facebook, with more than 1.5m fans, while ASOS is one of the fastest growing, adding around 400,000 new followers since April. 

The Social Media Benchmark study by eDigital Research (registration/survey required), looks at follower numbers and growth on Facebook and Twitter.

Here are some highlights from the study…

UK retailers’ Facebook numbers

The latest standings are as follows, the data was collected at the end of June:

Since the data is almost a month old now, I looked at the top ten this morning to see how it’s changed.

It’s likely that Tesco, which only launched its Facebook page in March, is likely to grow very quickly, given the sheer reach of the company. It has added more than 265,000 fans since April.

Top shop :1,526,708

New Look: 1,040,268

River Island: 1,010,718

ASOS: 940,469

Next: 628,539

Claire’s Accessories: 575,004

Net-A-Porter: 484,261

La Senza: 442,492

M&S: 341,048

Phones4u: 268,222

Tesco: 265,786

When I covered the last survey, Jeremy from Phones4U pointed out that its Facebook page should be in the top ten. This seems to be an omission on the part of eDigital.

Looking at the numbers today, Phones4U should just edge Tesco out of the top ten.

How are brands achieving this growth in Facebook fans?

There seem to be a mixture of reasons for this. For one thing, many retailers, like Tesco, are now getting onto Facebook. Given the size of Tesco’s customer base, it is likely to grow a following very quickly.

The best examples have regularly updated content, and a mix of wall posts, photos and videos to give people a reason to follow in the first place, and to keep coming back.

Competitions and prize draws are a common tactic, and one that clearly works. ASOS has been running one to win music tickets for instance:

Some can be creative and relevant and useful to the brand, such as Rightmove’s Ideas Factory campaign, which is using Facebook to crowdsource new website features and improvements.

Others are more obvious, but still work in terms of adding fans at least. In May, PayPal UK launched a competition on Facebook, entering people who pressed the ‘like’ button into a draw to win an iPad2.

This was a fairly predictable tactic, but the lure of 10 iPads been given away has bumped up its numbers. I noted on May 19th that it had 19,500 fans, and by June 9 it had 184,000.

As this blog notes, PayPal UK managed to acquire 177,000 new fans at an average CPA of $0.028. This could be great value for money, though how many would enter the draw and never return again is a question worth asking.

I tried to access PayPal UK’s Facebook page to find an answer, but it seems to have vanished. Perhaps it breached Facebook’s competition rules, which state that:

You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism.  For example, the act of liking a Page or checking in to a Place cannot automatically register or enter a promotion participant.

Twitter followers

The report also looked at Twitter followers. The numbers are smaller across the board, but many of the same retailers, mainly fashion brands, still feature heavily:

Source: http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/7809-which-is-the-most-popular-retailer-on-facebook?utm_medium=email&utm_source=topic

CrowdStar Secures $23 Million Series A Funding From Intel, Time Warner, The9

Social game developer CrowdStar nets a $23 million investment this week in a series A round led by Intel and Time Warner with participation from Chinese game publisher The9 and from NVInvestments.

Peter Relan, CEO of CrowdStar, tells us that the funding will go primarily toward expanding CrowdStar’s reach beyond Facebook onto other platforms and into other regions through hiring and development. The participation from The9, he says, confirms that there’s a large potential audience in China that the developer could tap if it had the resources to develop its games for non-Facebook platforms and localize them for China, Japan, Korea and other Asian countries.

Key to success in Asia is the mobile platform, on which CrowdStar has only recently begun to release its games, which is where the support from Intel comes in. Intel has also invested in OpenFeint, a mobile-focused sister project to CrowdStar formed out of the YouWeb incubator.

“Our focus on mobile is most important right now,” Relan says. “We believe social gaming is going beyond Facebook and mobile [eventually]. In a year, we’ll look at investing in [expanding onto] smart TVs.”

Relan says that CrowdStar aims to reach a potential audience of 2 billion alone on smartphones and “highly capable” feature phones. In Asia, Relans says there maybe 1 billion gamers that “want It Girl.” In order to get its games in front of those audiences as quickly as possible, CrowdStar hopes to double its staff this year to around 200 employees by investing about 80% of this series A funding into game development talent to adapt existing games and create new one. The rest will go toward globalization and localization of existing CrowdStar games.

This round of funding represents the first time CrowdStar has ever raised funding from investors for its projects. Previously, the developer was funded primarily from its own profits, but Relan says that the social games market is in a unique place that CrowdStar needs to take advantage of.

“Every major industry has three independent leaders,” Relan explains. “Over several years, three, maybe four wind up dominating the space. Playdom cashed out early. It’s really just Zynga and maybe one other left. And CrowdStar [has the chance] to remain one of the few independent social game developers with long term [potential].”

Beyond Asia and platform expansion, CrowdStar will get support from investors Time Warner in the form of branded intellectual property. CrowdStar hasn’t announced any new games as of yet, but Relan recently told us we could expect to see a new title this quarter.

CrowdStar has seen some gradual losses in monthly and daily active users across all its games in the last three months, according to our traffic tracking service, AppData. down about 10 million in MAU to today’s levels of 29.1 million and down 2 million in DAU to today’s 2.4 million figure. Its largest game, It Girl, accounts for 8 million of its total MAU and almost 800,000 of its DAU.

Source: http://www.insidesocialgames.com/2011/05/23/crowdstar-secures-23-million-series-a-funding-from-intel-time-warner-the9/

Top 10 Facebook Applications for Music Lovers

Considering a Facebook application renaissancecould be on its way, it’s a good time to take a look at some of the apps that managed to make and keep themselves relevant during the Dark Ages. If you’re a music lover, check out this list of 10 great options to consider for adding some more music-related interactivity to your Facebook profile.

Whether it’s expressing your love for music on your Facebook profile or even casual “I like this song” folks wanting to share the occasional tune with friends, you’ll probably find something of interest on this list. And of course, if you know of any other worthwhile music apps we missed, let us know in the comments.

10. MixPod

mixpodThis app integrates with the MixPod site to let you create playlists and embed them on your Facebook profile. They have a fairly large selection and you can browse by year which is a nice feature — but be sure to test out the tracks you’ve added before posting the playlist. We had trouble with a few of the songs not playing, or being unmarked covers of the originals.

You also have a number of styles to choose from for your playlist, from utilitarian to playful. You’ll have to create a MixPod account to set up, save and embed your playlists.

9. Music Video Jukebox

music-vid-jukeboxThis is a fun little app that makes it easy to post music videos to your profile from YouTube or last.fm. You can search for YouTube videos right inline from the app, or let it scan your Facebook profile’s musical favorites section to help surface videos you might like. Or, hook it in to your last.fm account to pull in the videos from the most recent tracks you’ve listened to, and post them to your profile with one click.

8. Music Challenge

music-challengeFor the more trivia minded among you, Music Challenge is one of the more popular music trivia apps at almost 3.4 million monthly active users. It follows a typical “name that tune” format, where you have to identify the song based on the audio being played. In bonus mode, you also get points for identifying the artists.

7. Music

my-musicDubbed simply Music, this is another twist on sharing songs through your profile. You can upload your own tracks to share in your embedded playlist — although hosting limitations constrain you to only two at a time. However, you can also add and share any music from URLs on the web, including YouTube. Grab the URL of the track or YouTube music video you want to include and paste it into the “Add Song” interface to build up your playlist.

6. Last.fm Profile

lastfm-profileWhereas last.fm used to have its own official Facebook app, they’re interestingly deprecating it in favor of third-party community apps. The last.fm Profile app is one of the better among them, and allows you to add a handy tab to your Facebook profile with stats from your last.fm profile. Simply add the app, submit your last.fm username, and once the data is cleared you can add the last.fm profile as a new tab in your Facebook profile.

5. My Band

my-bandIf you’re a music lover who is also a musician, you might want to check out My Band. It’s a promotional tool to enhance your Facebook Page with band-specific needs like gig schedules (including ticket sales), music sales, mailing lists and street teams, and analytics on who is listening and sharing your tunes.

4. imeem

imeem-fbThis official app from the folks at imeem lets you integrate your imeem profile with Facebook, but can also be useful even if you don’t spend much time on imeem itself. After adding the app you can add songs, videos, and playlists to your profile from the featured, most played this month, and top ranked leaderboards, or add any track imeem hosts by pasting its URL into the Facebook app. You can also see your Facebook friends’ imeem activity and manage your profile from within the app.

3. Pandora

pandora-fbIf you already use Pandora, its official app will help you integrate your listening with Facebook. You can set up either a sidebar box with details from your Pandora listening or add it as a new tab to your Facebook profile. Show off your latest stations, favorite artists and songs to your Facebook friends, or create new custom stations right from within the app. You can also see what your Facebook friends are listening to from the Pandora app dashboard.

2. Share Song

groovesharkFrom the folks at Grooveshark, the Share Song application is one of those simple yet very effective apps that simply lets you find and share music easily. Just search for the track you want to listen to or share, and if it exists in Grooveshark’s 8+ million song database you can post it to your profile or send it directly to friends.

1. iLike

ilikeAlthough it’s owned by rival MySpace, iLike has been one of the most popular music applications on Facebook for some time. You can listen to and post songs to your profile, get music news and updates, find nearby concerts and more.

Source: http://mashable.com/2009/11/10/music-facebook-applications/

Nothing Casual About This Game Obsession

Marketers Take Note: Time Spent on Casual Games Has Gone Up and the Average Age of Players Has Gone Down

Illustration: Martin Kozlowski

They do it at the bus stop, at the doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store. They do it everywhere they can.

The number of people playing casual games and the amount of time they spend playing is unprecedented. “Angry Birds” alone sucks in users for 200 million minutes a day and Zynga’s CityVille entices close to 100 million people a month. This no longer sounds casual.

The reason people have become so committed is easy to identify: the proliferation of the mobile device that’s always in their pockets. The Casual Games Association reports the industry earned $3 billion in mobile revenue in 2009. Mobile devices and social networks have resulted in more people playing more games, giving advertisers an opportunity for innovation and huge new audiences.

“Casual games have been growing thanks to the explosion of mobile — largely the iPhone — and social networks, primarily Facebook,” said Mari Baker, CEO of PlayFirst, creator of the Diner Dash games. Ms. Baker said casual doesn’t refer to the relationship of the player to the game, but means that the game is easy to learn, can be played in short bursts and is relatively inexpensive and fast to develop. “Angry Birds” cost Rovio $100,000 to make and is bringing in more than $2 million a month.

Mobile devices have also had an impact on who plays the game. “Demographically the other thing that’s happened with Facebook and iPhone is the average age of the casual game player has gone down from 35-to-55 to 25-to-45,” Ms. Baker said.

The reason these games are so attractive to today’s consumers is the fact that they can get in and out in five minutes or less, making it appealing to busy people who are running around but have their mobile devices with them. Unlike games such as “World of Warcraft” or “Grand Theft Auto,” which can consume hours a day or more to complete just one stage of the game, casual games give gamers the satisfaction of completing a level without a huge time commitment.

So what can advertisers do with this incredibly huge audience and its love for quick and easy games? Peter Vesterbacka, creator of the “Angry Birds” game, said brands first have to let go of the idea that they need their own game. “We get a lot of requests like ‘You made ‘Angry Birds,’ can you make a game for us?’ Sure we can. But the smart brands are the ones who will work with the apps that have the audiences already and create experiences that will be integrated into the app.”

Mr. Vesterbacka added, “We have the audience, and we get contacted by some of the biggest brands who get it, who want to see how they can integrate their brand into the experience.” He said it was too early for him to discuss any plans “Angry Birds” has with brands for integration, but that 2011 will be a big year for the “Angry Birds” franchise.

Mr. Vesterbacka also noted he is looking to TV as an advertising model for casual games. “In TV, there’s free-to-air, there’s cable, there’s ad supported, there’s pay-per,” Mr. Vesterbacka said. “This is still early days, but we will be much bigger than TV.”

A good way for advertisers to integrate with casual-game content is to sponsor items inside the game. Unlike several years ago, when casual games were mostly for sale, gamers have more choices for free games than ever before.

“That’s a huge shift in gaming,” said David Madden, CEO of game marketer Wild Tangent. “It used to be a software business, but now it’s a content-access business, and users are paying for items inside the free content.”

Mr. Madden said his company creates campaigns for Clorox, Axe Body Spray and Dove. For interacting with a brand inside the game, players get virtual goods that would normally cost money. “In the social-game space, less than 3% of users are spending real money, so there’s a 97% opportunity here for advertisers to sponsor social-game access,” Mr. Madden said.

Another opportunity to innovate with casual games is merging online and offline experiences. PlayFirst’s Chocolatier game created a campaign for Charles Chocolates during which users could opt to purchase real-life versions of the chocolates they made in-game. Players have since created 135 million pieces of Charles Chocolates for their virtual shops — that’s not bad name recognition for a small San Francisco brand.

Ms. Baker, who worked on the Charles Chocolates campaign, said the most important thing for short bursts of game play is that the ad doesn’t get in the way. “You can’t be in the middle of breaking down the wall in ‘Angry Birds’ and have something pop up as an ad,” Ms. Baker said. “The principle of advertising has to be not to interrupt the game play.”

Source: http://adage.com/article/digital/angry-birds-success-shows-casual-games/148091/

Google In-App Payments Appear Slated For a Full Launch in May

Google may be looking at May for a full release of much anticipated in-app billing features, at least according to an e-mail sent today by a payments company the search giant recently acquired to former customers.

In a letter leaked to TechCrunch, Jambool, which was behind virtual currency platform Social Gold said it will discontinue the service in favor of a Google in-app payments product in May. But Jambool customers can use the company’s merchant console through September and get financial statements through February of next year. Google acquired Jambool last August for a reported to $70 to 75 million, just as the company was being cornered on the Facebook platform by the emergence of Credits.

Google’s in-app payments product is currently in beta testing. A handful of developers, including Disney’s Tapulous, have gotten their hands on it to experiment with in hits like Tap Tap Revenge. But it’s not out to consumers yet.

In-app billing promises to bring Android developers the income that has long eluded them on the platform, at least compared to what can be made on iOS. Across multiple platforms including iOS, developers are transitioning from reliance on upfront paid apps and advertising to a model that resembles what has worked on the Facebook platform — virtual goods. Two developers, Pocket Gems and TinyCo, have raised sizable rounds from Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz respectively on the bet that dominant gaming companies will rise in the next 12 months.

There are a number of remaining questions, however, about how Google will implement in-app payments. Google’s Eric Chu, who oversee the company’s relationship with the Android developer community answered a few of these in an interview in January.

1) Can it execute payments well? Part of the original reason why Google Checkout turned out to be so lackluster, at least from our understanding, was that it suffered from a convoluted vision. It was initially conceived as a product that would help small to medium-sized businesses, but then internal politics turned it into a product aimed at larger corporations, which require more time-consuming custom work. Secondly, it’s unclear how the product is being internally managed — how much is it under the purview of the Android team, and how much is it under the oversight of the commerce group under eBay veteran Stephanie Tilenius?

2) How strongly will Google enforce the use of its approved payment methods in the Android marketplace? Developers selling content, goods or services within apps on the Android Marketplace have to use an “authorized Payment Processor,” which basically means Google Checkout or direct carrier billing. There are two exceptions: if you sell physical goods or services like movie tickets or digital goods that can be consumed outside of the application, which is presumably the loophole that companies like Amazon or media publishers can use to sell songs or content through other payment systems.

Conceptually though, we find Android’s payment policies less problematic than on other platforms. There will be multiple Android app stores, some of which will be heavily promoted by carriers like Verizon or by competitors like Amazon, which developers can turn to if they want to use alternative payment methods.

DICE 2010 – Design Outside The Box

A great video for those into online entertainment courtesy of Jesse Schell…but also what is next in terms of social gaming