Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

When one door closes – another opens. Or…Facebook and Twitter

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

As Facebook officially shuts down it’s store, Twitter seizes the same opportunity and opens up a viable revenue stream. As of yesterday, the Facebook store is no more, a clear indication that the social networking giant is seeking alternate routes of shopping monetization. Meanwhile, in a carpe diem move, Twitter officially launched it’s @earlybird stream that focuses on announcing one-time-only, deep discounts from selected advertising partners. In other words, something that a number of other retailers and brands do via Twitter, only now, if they want the visibility of @earlybird, they’ll have to pay for such exposure.

Facebook

facebook-iconFacebook’s 3 year old gift shop allowed users to purchase virtual goods, or gifts, for other Facebook friends via that platforms’ virtual currency system. Typically, 10 credits cost $1, with the average virtual gift costing anywhere between 20-30 credits, thus making that virtual birthday cake cost a few bucks. Nothing to break the bank, but also…nothing that users were really interested in.

Justin Smith from Inside Facebook estimates that the Facebook Store made up less than $10 million in revenue for the Palo Alto, CA based social network. In contrast, venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners pegged the Store to pull down around $35 million in revenue back in 2008.

So now that the Store is closed, what’s with the credits? Perhaps (most probably) a foreshadowing of things to come, Facebook users may continue to purchase virtual gifts from external 3rd parties, Hallmark Cards Inc., for example. Again, nothing earth shattering, but a clear indication that Facebook is eager to platform themselves as ‘the’ gateway between consumer and retailer.

Jared Morgenstern, Facebook product manager for games and credits has this to say, “While the ability to give gifts will be gone, I am proud of the impact gifts have had on Facebook. Out of the Gift Shop’s ‘gift credits’ came the virtual currency, Facebook Credits, that now makes it easier for people to buy premium items across the many games and applications on Facebook. So while we’re returning one gift, we’re replacing it with another, one that will be used to improve the experience of even more people on Facebook.”

Twitter

twitter-iconIn a world of increasing Twitter awareness and usage, the company has been struggling for quite some time as to how to monetize their product. Taking a look around the retail landscape of today’s internet, the Twitter crew may have just found the porridge which is just right.

Building on the intense reactions and interactions Twitter allows consumers to have with their favorite brands, the company has launched it’s own brand of the retail experience: @earlybird.

“Many of you use Twitter to stay on top of timely, relevant information, and lots of businesses are already sharing special offers on Twitter,” Twitter said in introducing the @earlybird account. “We believe that surfacing deals through the @earlybird account will help you discover the best of those deals, as well as find and follow accounts that consistently provide exceptional value.”

Other than that, we don’t really know too much more about @earlybird, as it’s still very much in it’s infancy. Twitter did say that initially, the offers will be large, international brands, or US market focused. Down the line, Twitter says that the plan is to further localize and specialize the service, meaning that shoppers can chose which offers they’ll see, and which they won’t.

Now, the really interesting thing here would be if the two were to sit down at the table together, and hammer out a way for shoppers to be alerted of a special offer, click through to said offer, and then pay for the item with Facebook credits. Or is it all just getting a bit too Orwellian? Time and consumer behavior will tell….

 

New Report indicates maturation of Social Networks

Monday, November 30th, 2009

In a recent report released by Reality Digital, the latest demographic data concerning social media usage indicates the increased usage of social media networks as a marketing tool.

social_networking_sitesBased on research conducted by Pew Internet and American Life’s daily tracking survey, the October 2009 report indicates that U.S users of the leading social networks, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Facebook have seen an aging trend in demographics.

The median age of Twitter users remained firm at 31 between May 2008 and May 2009, while both MySpace and LinkedIn saw a one-year age drop year-over-year from 27 to 26 and 40 to 39, respectively. The most dramatic change however, comes via Facebook users. In May of 2008, the majority of Facebook users were aged 26. One year later, that demographic has shot up to 33 years old in May 2009.

Rob Proctor, Head of EMEA, Reality Digital said: “The marked increase in the median age of Facebook users is significant and represents a further maturation of the sector, which is now being wholeheartedly embraced by marketers. Naturally, the increase in users has not passed marketers by and as a result there has been a significant development in terms of content. Where, with a younger demographic certain types of lightweight content proliferated, the maturation of the sector has witnessed an evolution of content, with considerably more practical usage that appeals to a broader, less niche audience.”

And while this report primarily focuses on marketers, some direct correlations of the overall demographic research can be applied to gaming on social networking platforms. Over the past year, we’ve seen a massive interest in and activity of gaming on social networks. If common wisdom says that games are for kids, then this aging study of social networking users flies directly in the face of this supposition. It’s hardly a coincidence that as social networking users skew upwards in the age trend, social gaming, and the associated monetization, have risen almost on par.

The average 26-year-old Facebook gamer is most probably much more concerned with how rent will be paid that month, rather than his status in a social game (at least from a microtransaction perspective). However, the average 33 year old, with credit card in hand, most probably has a bit more money to throw around and make a microtransaction purchase here or there.

A final interesting data proposition put forth by the study indicates that the number of users that say that use social media sites to share updates has risen to 19 percent, up from 11 percent from December 2008. Again, this is pure marketing data, but the question remains to be asked – does social gaming have something to do with this? As more and more users play more and more games, with the associated ‘status updates’ that are posted to players feeds, the question is – who’s driving who’s growth?

 

EA uses social app to promote upcoming console title

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

With EA moving further and further into the social gaming sector, it should come as no surprise that they’ve recently launched a social game that serves not only as a stand alone game, but a teaser for an upcoming console title: Dante’s Inferno.

GoToHellHailing from the Visceral Games branch of EA, the social (read Facebook) game launched yesterday, and serves two purposes. ‘Go To Hell’ makes use of the famous poem’s nine circles of hell. The game itself is nothing really we haven’t seen already done. I.e., gameplay is a well worn – don’t like so and so? Send them to the ‘anger’ ring of hell. Mad at an ex-lover? Send them to the ‘lust’ ring. You get the idea. However, the game is not limited solely to the Facebook platform, as users can share play data across other online platforms including MySpace, iGoogle, and Twitter.

Players can choose to punish or absolve other players and see how the community reacts to such actions. For stats trackers, the ‘Go To Hell’ app also includes a ‘Hell Browser’ that serves up a daily snapshot of all activity in Hell. This ‘Hell Browser’ serves is a pushed leader board, thereby encouraging others to play for dominance, without forcing them to an external area to check stats.

“This app is awesome! Not only will it be a blast to see who the world sends to hell, but it’s also a great opportunity to take Dante’s notion of the 9 circles of hell and make it current and relevant for people who may not be familiar with the poem,” said executive producer Jonathan Knight. “Let the damning begin.”

Again, the app itself is nothing special, but rather, it signifies an interesting move for EA. While Dante’s Inferno still hasn’t received a PEGI classification, and isn’t due out until February 9th, 2010, launching a stand alone app that serves as a teaser – and this far out- is noteworthy. Keep in mind that both the Xbox360 and PS3 contain social networking input/output exchanges – wouldn’t that be something if these consoles one day allowed Facebook apps to run on them. Perhaps EA knows something we don’t?

Go To Hell can be found at http://apps.facebook.com/gotohell while non-facebook users (is there such a thing?) can play the browser based version at http://gotohell.dantesinferno.com with other social networking API’s in place. A free iPhone version of the app is expected soon.

 

Ngmoco acquires iPhone and Facebook game maker Miraphonic

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Late 2009 has been a banner time for games maker ngmoco. Granted, a lot of their success has been leveraged buy Apple giving the green light to microtransactions in free-to-play games on the iPhone, but obviously the ngmoco team had to have a product in the works that would fit this model perfectly – as they did with their recently released Eliminate first person shooter.

epic-pet-wars-sBuilding upon their push for social gaming, ngmoco has made it’s first acquisition, buying out Miraphonic, makers of iPhone and Facebook titles Epic Pet Wars and Epic Soldier Wars.

Announced via twitter from ngmoco CEO Neil Young, “Delighted to announce that Miraphonic, creators of the awesome Epic Pet Wars have been acquired by ngmoco!” No financials of the deal have been disclosed.

Epic Pet Wars is (yet another) virtual animal training and fighting MMO that Miraphonic states has over one million users. Fitting in-line with ngmoco’s strategy, the game is free-to-play/download but monetizes via sales of in-game currency ‘Respect Points’ which are used to purchase virtual goods. Respect points cost anywhere between approx. $1 right through to approximately $40. Miraphonic’s Epic Soldier Wars operates under the same premise.

If ngmoco’s commitment to developing and publishing quality free-to-play/microtransactions monetized social games was in question, this purchase should certainly seal the deal. Clearly, the company’s acquisition of former MySpace SVP of business development, Jason Oberfest, back in September is already starting to pay off. Charged with “negotiating deals to drive revenue and support the launch of innovative new products…”, it’s fair to say that Oberfest can now call his first deal done.

Granted, ngmoco is receiving a bit of press hype as of late, but they’re still swimming in very competitive waters. Social games makers including Zynga and Playfish are still raking in the profits, but it’s good to see an up and coming player in the field, as the next 6-12 months at ngmoco will really put their new business model to the test.

 

E3: Microsoft brings in full game downloads, avatar enhancement, twitter, and more

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

What would E3 be without a whole lot of announcements and gaming goodness?   If Microsoft’s foray is any indication of what the industry will do to outdo the others, this looks like it’s going to be one heckuva week in Los Angeles.  While Microsoft’s blitzkrieg of fast and furious announcements took over two hours, and included the living Beatles, John and Ringo, as well as skateboard legend Tony Hawk all endorsing or demoing new and exciting projects that Xbox fans can look forward to, it was perhaps the luncheon that took place afterwards where we were given the most clarification on the news.

Arguably one of Microsoft’s most exciting announcements is their plan to begin offering full game downloads directly to the console’s hard drive.  Coined “Games on Demand” for Xbox 360, Xbox General Manager Marc Whitten called this new feature a “natural progression” of Xbox Live’s current arsenal of offerings.  Yes, competitor Sony’s PS3 has had this feature for some time via the PlayStation Network, but now adding the Xbox into the mix may be seen is a direct assault on retail distributors.  With the Xbox Live community reportedly covering approximately 20 million members, with 6 million members checking in daily, brick and mortar retails such as GameStop could see a serious drop in foot traffic.  Answering the question from Gamasutra editors, Whitten responds,

“We’ve been talking closely with our retail partners,” he said. “This isn’t some zero-sum game where there is a winner or loser. I personally believe that going into a store and seeing that back of the box of the game, talking about the game–that’s not going away.” He said that digital distribution and retail can coexist in the current ecosystem.

At launch, the service will feature 30 games, with top tier titles including Assassin’s Creed, BioShock, Call of Duty 2, Crackdown, Mass Effect, and Oblivion.  Direct download prices will be inline with their physical retail counterparts, with new titles being added on a regular basis.

It’s also interesting to note that these direct digital downloads also open the door for Microsoft to begin accepting direct credit card purchases, instead of the current mechanism used for purchases, the Microsoft Point value system.  If we look between the lines here, could Microsoft also be testing the waters for more direct, however micro, payments down the line?  If the technology is already in place, and larger purchases are the testing mechanism, the proposition doesn’t seem unreasonable.

joyrideSpeaking of testing the waters, it looks like Xbox fans have a whole lot of new community features to look forward to.  Using a new free-to-play title, Joyride, as a vehicle to facilitate new and revamped avatar interaction, the new kart racing-style game will predominantly feature gamer’s own virtual creations of themselves.  And as with any good virtual self, Microsoft is betting on folks wanting to customize themselves a bit.  Enter stage left – Microsoft’s new commitment and focus on avatar accessories, both free, and as Whitten puts it, “slightly more than free” (read, microtransaction).  “I think you’re going to continue seeing avatars show up in lots of different places,” Whitten said.  Giving us just a taste of what he’s talking about, Whitten demonstrated an avatar dressed in full Halo Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODST) gear.  Putting a smile on almost everyone’s face, the Halo ODST accessorized avatar also included pom-poms and an added cheerleader animation.

Certainly not to be taken lightly, Microsoft also announced new third party integrations of both facebook and twitter.  Obviously developers have had the inside track on this for a while, as the upcoming version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour will allow users to send screenshots and score updates directly to their facebook profile via the Connect interface.  Likewise, players will be able to invite their other Xbox playing facebook friends to a game without ever having to leave one central platform.

While a number of Microsoft’s new announcements may not be directly tied to monetization, they certainly demonstrate that Microsoft clearly has their finger on the pulse, and are ready to deliver an envelope pushing experience to users, perhaps even before they know that they want this experience.  By adding more avatar interaction, direct game downloads, and third party integrations, Xbox just became the social life of the party overnight, further enhancing the console as not just a gaming platform, but taking one step closer to becoming the family digital entertainment hub.  If I might steal a line from James Earl Jones, via ‘Field of Dreams’ If you build it…they will come.

 

Freemium model tops Social Networks monetization list

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

During Social Media Week held in New York City, Abrams Research polled over 200+ social media founders, bloggers, journalists, entrepreneurs and high profile Twitterati members from across the US and Canada asking a simple question, ‘How should social networks be monetized?’  Other topics surveyed ranged from which social networks were the most important to them, to where they see facebook, twitter, linkedin, and other social networks headed, and more.

According to the survey, just under one third (thirty-two percent) said that they would most likely pay to used facebook, with linkedin taking a very close second with thirty percent, and twitter rounding out the top three with twenty two percent.

As far as monetizing social networks, the survey revealed that a “freemium” business model was most acceptable to the audience.  A freemium business model is a monetization model that allows users to use a ‘basic’ version of a service for free, and then seeks to add revenue via purchased upgrades.  A prime example would be Playfish’s ‘Who Has the Biggest Brain’ application that allows users to access core functionality for free, but offers a ‘Go-Pro!’ option; a one time fee paid by users to access premium content including more games, time trials, etc.  An overwhelming forty-six percent of respondents said that freemium was the way to go.  Other than twenty percent of those surveyed responding with ‘contextual/targeted ads’, other interesting monetization models paled in comparison.  Nine percent stated that social networks should monetize by charging for research, only 6.9 percent liked a subscription model, and traditional banner ads scored the lowest with only three percent liking the idea.

What exactly are social networking users looking for from the experience?

Twenty-four percent of respondents stated that the most critical feature to them is the status update, closely followed by twenty-one percent ranking the newsfeeds as must-haves.  Rounding out the top four are comments coming in at seventeen percent, and personal messaging taking home fifteen percent of the pie.  Not quite as impressive, yet still noteworthy are those ranking in at less than ten percent: uploading and sharing photos and videos, mass-messaging, and tagging and untagging.

And while facebook tops the list of social networks that users would be willing to pay for, twitter takes the top spot as ‘must haves’ for businesses.  Forty-five percent of those surveyed advised businesses to have a twitter account (and presumably interact with clients/customers).  LinkedIn nabbed second place with twenty-one percent, YouTube with nineteen percent, and oddly enough facebook took the number four spot with fifteen percent.

All’s good, so where’s the problem?

Of the top movers and shakers surveyed, twenty-nine percent said that the biggest problems facing social networks is the “inevitable slide into uncoolness” (myspace, what?).  15.3 percent stated that lack of advertiser interest would be their demise, and 13.4 percent found the ‘inevitable spam problem’ to be the final nail in the coffin.

Download and read the full survey available from Arbrams Research (pdf download).

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fatfoogoo on twitter and twestival

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

We’ve been flying a bit under the radar on this one, but it’s time to let the cat out of the bag: fatfoogoo is on twitter.  We’ve been slowly adding lots of interesting people from all over the business and gaming community and not only adding our own little bits, but more so, doing a lot of listening.  There are plenty of game community and industry folks actively participating on twitter, and lots of great news and opinions to be read and heard.

We’re also proud to announce that we’ve taken more than a passive interest in the twitter community, and are donating a Nintendo wii as the grand prize drawing in tonight’s Vienna westival event.  Twestival is a collection of over 185 cities around the world that are coming together not only to facilitate a twitter meet up, but to do so for a great cause, charity:water.

In September 2008, a group of Twitterers based in London UK decided to organize an event where the local Twitter community could socialize offline; meet the faces behind the avatars, enjoy some entertainment, have a few drinks and tie this in with a food drive and fundraising effort for a local homeless charity.

The bulk of the event was organized in under two weeks, via Twitter and utilized the talents and financial support of the local Twittersphere to make this happen.

Around the world similar stories started appearing of local Twitter communities coming together and taking action for a great cause. Twestival was born out of the idea that if cities were able to collaborate on an international scale, but working from a local level, it could have a spectacular impact.

By rallying together globally, under short timescales, for a single aim on the same day, the Twestival hopes to bring awareness to this global crisis.

charity: water is a non profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations by funding sustainable clean water solutions in areas of greatest need.
But don’t just take out word for it, check out charity:water founder Scott Harrison’s video about the event.

http://www.vimeo.com/3170682

The foogoo team will be in attendance at tonight’s event, stop by and say hi, or tweet us!

Cynthia Lederer – @_whitenoise_
Dan Taylor – @MountainDan
Daniel Petri – @massiveattack55
Johannes Sperlhofer – @timeactor
Martin Herdina – @iznogud
Moritz Bayer – @ViennaMoB
Patrick Krippner – @locoloki
Patrick Pachner – @Adamantos
Ritchie Pettaur – @datadirt
Stevie Case – @killcreek
Thomas Stagl – @herrstagl

 

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mEgo lands another cool $2.5M in second round of funding

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Based on the simple premise of making managing and sharing your online personality a more coherent and fun user experience, Los Angeles based mEgo has just closed another round of funding, bringing home a cool $2.5M to fund further development.

Launched at the 2007 TechCrunch40 conference, mEgo has quite a bit to celebrate as of late.  Not only have they just refueled the dev. machine, but also recently reached the 1 millionth registered user milestone, with a twenty percent growth rate month over month.  Not too shabby.

mEgo’s concept is centered around a portable you that ties all your social connectivity together in one simple flash based widget.  Popular social sites like Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are easily and painlessly integrated into your mEgo just by using your username.  No fancy RSS feeds or API keys to hunt down.  Just plug your basic info in and mEgo takes it from there.  Each info pull can then be assigned to a user-selected button, which can then be placed on the avatar anywhere the user so chooses.  For example, in the my mEgo below, hover over the ears and you’ll see updates from my last.fm account.  Likewise, hovering over my chest reveals my vital statistics.  If you’re feeling generous, shake my hand and have a view of my amazon.com wishlist.  A hover over the eyes should reveal thumbnails of my most recent YouTube favorites.  Personally, I’d like to see this default to my uploaded videos, but this feature is no further than a drop down menu away.

mEgo can be embedded on a wide variety of social networks and blogs, and reports that they’re seeing around 30M impressions per month.

A pretty neat concept, tying all your social activities into one avatar that not only looks cool, but is incredibly easy to set up and publish.