Retail Giant Walmart to Offer Store Credit for Used Video Games

Starting next week, the country’s largest retailer Walmart will allow customers to trade in used video games for store credit to spend on other products in more than 3,100 Walmart stores nationwide. The plan is an expansion of Walmart’s program that provides customers with credit for used tablets and smartphones that can be used toward new devices. The plan also represents a potential threat to game retailer GameStop, the biggest seller of used games in the U.S. Continue reading Retail Giant Walmart to Offer Store Credit for Used Video Games

Notable Cable Industry Vets Raise $21 Million for Layer3 TV

IP video startup Layer3 TV announced that it has raised $21 million in Series A funding. The company, staffed by cable industry veterans, describes itself as “a next-generation cable provider” combining “the best of television, social media, and digital life.” Executives include CEO Jeff Binder (founder of VOD company Broadbus Technologies), CTO David Fellows (formerly of Comcast and AT&T Broadband), and Chuck Hasek as head of video technology (formerly principal architect of video systems at Time Warner Cable). Continue reading Notable Cable Industry Vets Raise $21 Million for Layer3 TV

Facebook Plans to Roll Out its Premium Video Ads Next Month

Facebook announced that its autoplay video advertisements will be called Premium Video Ads. Beginning in late April, the marketing tool will deliver 15-second video clips into users’ feeds that will play automatically. According to a Facebook rep, the social media giant wants “to create a captive, but not interruptive experience.” Similar to videos on Instagram, the ads are activated when scrolled over, but audio does not play unless a user clicks on the ad. Facebook will test every video prior to approving them. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Roll Out its Premium Video Ads Next Month

Glassware App Plays Trailers When You Look at Movie Posters

A new Glassware app called Preview allows Google Glass users to view a movie’s trailer just by looking at a movie poster. After the app is manually installed, if a Glass wearer looks at a poster, the film’s preview will automatically play from YouTube. The app was created by Takahiro Horikawa, who debuted the software in January, and has been making minor fixes since then. The idea behind the app is to allow users to go to a movie theater, view trailers, and then decide which film to see. Continue reading Glassware App Plays Trailers When You Look at Movie Posters

SXSW: Neil Young Launches Kickstarter Campaign for PonoMusic

Legendary musician Neil Young, the featured speaker on the eve of South by Southwest Music, introduced PonoMusic, his new high resolution audio ecosystem, to a capacity crowd in Austin, Texas. Only four hours earlier, he launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, which raised more than 50 percent of its fundraising goal before he appeared onstage. The mission of PonoMusic is to bring the highest-quality music to discerning consumers who want to experience music the way the artists intended. Continue reading SXSW: Neil Young Launches Kickstarter Campaign for PonoMusic

Disney Teams with Shanghai Media, Producer Forms New Studio

Disney has signed a multiyear deal with Shanghai Media Group that will have writers in the U.S. collaborate with Chinese writers and filmmakers to develop Disney-branded movies that incorporate Chinese themes. The partnership will also expand training opportunities between the creative teams of both countries. Meanwhile, film producer Robert Simonds is forming a new movie studio that intends to meet the growing needs of China and self-distribute the types of films that have been displaced by summer blockbusters. Continue reading Disney Teams with Shanghai Media, Producer Forms New Studio

Instagram Flexes its Muscles with E-Commerce and New Ad Deal

Social photo- and video-sharing site Instagram has signed its first major advertising deal with an agency. Instagram is launching a paid ad program with Omnicom Media Group, which agreed to a year-long commitment of up to $100 million that will deliver ads from brands tied to Omnicom’s media and creative agencies. Instagram, which launched in October 2010, was acquired by Facebook in 2012. Today, Instagram says its 150 million active users upload 55 million photos daily. Continue reading Instagram Flexes its Muscles with E-Commerce and New Ad Deal

Expect an Emphasis on Privacy and Security at SXSW Festival

The SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Festival kicks off in Austin, Texas today. The interactive portion of the conference, now in its 21st year, has grown to hundreds of sessions. Privacy, security, wearable tech, the Internet of Things and 3D printing are expected to be hot topics. On Monday, the show will host a conversation between NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (via videoconference) and Christopher Soghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union. Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, is also scheduled to speak. Continue reading Expect an Emphasis on Privacy and Security at SXSW Festival

Product Placement Most Effective When Viewers Are Scared?

When mapping out product placement strategies, marketers often avoid scary movies so that consumers will not associate their brands with fear. However, a recent study from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business suggests that viewers, especially when alone, are actually more likely to remember products and think of them favorably when they see them in a scary movie. When subjects of the study experienced fear, they also experienced an emotional attachment to familiar brands. Continue reading Product Placement Most Effective When Viewers Are Scared?

Google Takes On Broadband Giants with Fiber Expansion Plans

Google is looking to expand its fiber network to compete with cable operators that currently dominate the broadband market. Google is in talks with 34 cities in nine areas, such as Atlanta, Nashville, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Portland, Oregon. Google’s new network is currently offered in Kansas City and Provo, and is expanding into the Austin, Texas area. Google Fiber provides download speeds of up to 1 GB per second for $70 per month. Continue reading Google Takes On Broadband Giants with Fiber Expansion Plans

Amazon Discusses New Streaming Service with Music Labels

Amazon continues to expand into the entertainment realm with its delivery of movies and TV via Amazon Prime, the launch of Amazon Studios, its recent acquisition of video game developer Double Helix, and now, the possibility of a streaming music service that would likely be bundled into its Prime delivery option. Amazon has been hiring executives with digital music experience in recent years, and has reportedly been in talks with major music labels for the past few months. Continue reading Amazon Discusses New Streaming Service with Music Labels

Industry Execs Discuss Direction of Games, VR and the Cloud

Trends in electronic gaming, virtual reality and the impact of the cloud were topics addressed during last week’s Digital Entertainment World conference in Los Angeles. During “The State of the Game Industry” panel, Machinima co-founder Allen DeBevoise said that gameboy culture is driving entertainment. Companies including Warner Bros. are exploring games as a service; gaming in the cloud seems inevitable, but faces challenges; and VR tech is supported by most, while consumer adoption remains a hurdle. Continue reading Industry Execs Discuss Direction of Games, VR and the Cloud

Facebook to Acquire Mobile Messaging Service for $19 Billion

Facebook has agreed to purchase mobile messaging company WhatsApp for $19 billion, in what marks the largest-ever acquisition of a company backed by venture capital. The deal, which comes in the wake of Facebook’s failed attempt to acquire messaging service Snapchat, includes $3 billion in restricted stock, $4 billion in cash, and $12 billion in Facebook shares. The deal easily outranks other notable startup acquisitions, including Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram, and Microsoft’s $8.5 billion Skype deal. Continue reading Facebook to Acquire Mobile Messaging Service for $19 Billion

Warner Music Group Uses Shazam to Identify Breakout Artists

Warner Music Group has entered a partnership with Shazam to gain access to unique customer data. This data will allow Warner Music Group to see how often songs are listened to, and help them find breakout artists. Shazam is a popular smartphone app that helps consumers identify songs, and has about 500 million song identification requests per month. Due to this large volume, Shazam’s data gives a strong indication of which songs are popular with the public. Continue reading Warner Music Group Uses Shazam to Identify Breakout Artists

UFC Discusses Its Big-Data Strategy at the HPA Tech Retreat

The HPA Tech Retreat was in full swing on Tuesday, and one of the most intriguing presentations was a case study in the use of Big Data, given by Christy King, VP digital technology and R&D at the Ultimate Fighting Championship. King, co-presenting with journalist Deborah McAdams of TV Technology outlined the methods that UFC employs to collect and analyze data about its fans and viewers, including how they use that data to make decisions about marketing and expansion. Continue reading UFC Discusses Its Big-Data Strategy at the HPA Tech Retreat

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