Rovio Entertainment, maker of the popular line of “Angry Birds” games, announced today that its expanding its business to include third-party titles, which it will publish, distribute and market to consumers. The new program is being called “Rovio Stars,” and makes available the company’s expertise as well as its marketing teams to other publishers. The first title to be released under the new effort is “Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage,” by Nitrome Ltd.
The Icebreaker game, which follows the adventures of a lone Viking, will be followed by medieval adventure and puzzle game “Tiny Thief,” made by 5 Ants.
This is the first time Rovio has included third-party titles in its lineup, the company announced this morning via a blog post and press release.
“We want to help the developers to give these games that last coat of polish, publish the games and find their audience,” said Rovio’s Director of Development Kalle Kaivola. “We’re focusing on a small, select number of games, and each Rovio Stars launch will be an event of its own.”
That “last coat of polish” means Rovio will actually assist its partners in finalizing game production and with post-production, the company explains. Rovio notes that it’s looking for titles in “an advanced stage of production” – that is, in either alpha or playable format.
Rovio’s experts will specifically help to mentor developers in order to “turn their games into blockbusters,” as well as market them, provide PR, and help publishers distribute titles to all the relevant app stores.
Developers can now apply for consideration as one of Rovio’s next picks on the Rovio Stars dedicated website, where the company provides a submission form. Interested parties can attach screenshots and/or video alongside a description of their game. For now, only mobile titles are being considered. Expecting a high volume of submission, the company says it can’t promise that everyone will receive a response.
Rovio has long since moved beyond being only a games publisher, and is now more of media company offering cartoons, toys, and other merchandise like t-shirts, books, and even soda. It has debuted an “Angry Birds Space Encounter” at the Kennedy Space Center, and Angry Birds-themed parks. It also recently partnered with Dreamworks to release “The Croods,” a game based on the animated film.
These expansions have been working well for the company so far. In April, Rovio announced its 2012 sales were up 101 percent to $195 million, and net profit was up to $71 million. 45 percent of Rovio’s revenue now comes from “consumer products,” versus 30 percent the year prior. The company also has 1.7 billion downloads across its properties, and sees hundreds of millions of active users per month.
Details regarding how Rovio Stars will generate revenue – through a revenue share, perhaps, or other fees, were not immediately provided. We’ve reached out to the company for more information and are waiting on a response. (Update to follow).
Read the original: Angry Birds Maker Rovio Will Now Publish And Market Select Third-Party Games
Facebook has introduced a new way for developers and marketers to target users with specific adverts based on their existing app purchases and microtransactions.
Developers speaking at Mobile DevCon 2013 in London yesterday unveiled a new targeting field buried in the latest SDK for a feature called Custom Audiences, which will result in more relevant adverts being displayed on both its website and native apps.
A retail app such as Etsy could use the feature to reach out to Facebook users with additional products and items that they might be interested in, based on their interests and order history.
Likewise, a video game developer could incentivize players with additional in-app items or microtransactions from the Facebook timeline. Facebook employees suggested that the targeting tool could also be used to target groups of people who have downloaded one game, take Angry Birds Friends, with another title from the same publisher, such as Bad Piggies.
Any talk of adverts often makes Facebook users recoil in disgust. It’s understandable, given that in an ideal world the social network would be free and also devoid of adverts.
The reality is that Facebook is a free service. If CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to keep it that way, he’s going to need to find an advertising model that is both lucrative to brands and unobtrusive for users.
The Next Web looked at Facebook’s mobile display ads earlier this year and was irritated by the number of entirely irrelevant panels devoted to online casino apps and gambling services.
Targeted tools are therefore, albeit reluctantly, the best way for Facebook to continue publishing adverts without alienating users or encouraging them to quit the service altogether.
The feature announced at Mobile DevCon 2013 yesterday relies on Custom Audiences, a tool built by Facebook to help marketers find new customers among Facebook’s existing userbase.
“Using email addresses, phone numbers, Facebook user IDs or app user ID’s to make the match, you can now find the exact people you want to talk to, in custom audiences that are defined by what you already know,” a guide on the Facebook website reads.
As a result, developers can use information about offline audiences – say those who walk into a brick-and-mortar store – to target new segments of the Facebook population.
It’s a powerful tool and one that should be bolstered by the new ability to reach users who are already engaged with a Facebook-connected app.
As a user, however, it’s important to remember that you can always hit the drop-down arrow from either the desktop, mobile Web or native app versions of Facebook and hit ‘Hide’ to avoid adverts from a specific brand or publisher.
NewsCred, a company that licenses content from publications like The New York Times and The Economist to use in brand marketing campaigns, announced that it has raised $15 million in new funding.
The company was founded by Shafqat Islam, Iraj Islam, and Asif Rahman in 2008, and it has shifted focus a number of times, from a credibility rating score for publishers, to a “Ning for newspapers,” to a content licensing service. Licensing is actually still a big piece of the NewsCred business, but instead of selling that content to other publications, the company sells it to brands like Pepsi, Toyota, and Johnson & Johnson for use in their advertising campaigns.
NewsCred says that it works with more than 2,500 news sources, using technology and an editorial team to choose the right articles, images, and videos, for each advertiser, then distributing them via the web, email, and social networks. For example, NewsCred helped power the Pepsi Now campaign, in which the Pepsi website was taken over by a pop culture-centric news board. NewsCred says that one month after the campaign launched, traffic to Pepsi.com increased 2.4x.
CEO Shafqat Islam said NewsCred’s content marketing business has exploded in the past year.
“At the beginning of 2012, there were zero brand customers who were buying content from us,” he said. “And if you fast forward to now, 60 percent of our customers big fortune 500 corporate or consumer brands.”
There’s been some discussion and controversy recently (sparked in large part by a controversial piece of sponsored content from the Church of Scientology in The Atlantic) about how the lines between online advertising and content can start to blur. Islam acknowledged that that’s a big concern for its publishing partners — for example, he said that signing The Times as “a feather in our cap”, but in order to make the deal work, there were a number of limitations on what content NewsCred could use and where it could use it.
Overall, Islam said that NewsCred operates in “less of a gray area” because it’s not pushing marketing campaigns or advertorials onto its publisher sites. Instead, it’s taking content that was being created anyway and making it available to advertisers.
The new round was led by Mayfield Fund, with participation by new investor Greycroft Partners
and existing investors FirstMark Capital and IA Ventures.
Continue reading here: NewsCred Raises $15M To Build Marketing Campaigns From High Quality Content
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