Facebook's Push Into Game Streaming Will Help Sell Ads; Walmart Embraces Experiential

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Facebook’s Game Plan

Facebook’s new video game streaming service, launched this week, is part of a big push to sell more ads. Facebook selling more ads? Who woulda thunk it. The service, which allows games to be played from the cloud and streamed directly to a user’s device sans download, is focusing on Android’s free-to-play market, and will serve as the test bed for a new ad format called cloud playable ads, Business Insider reports. These ads, which build on Facebook’s existing HTML5 playable format, support interactive demos and a preview of the full experience pulled from a game’s native code, “blurring the line between games and ads,” Facebook VP Jason Rubin wrote in a blog post. Imagine a future in which someone is scrolling through Facebook and sees an ad for a game, say, Activision-owned “Call of Duty,” which immediately allows that person to try out a level of the game before committing to a download. In that scenario, Facebook would get a cut of the money Activision spent to promote its game, and Activision would ostensibly acquire a more qualified user – someone who can play regardless of whether they own a console or not.

Walmart Plus Experience 

Walmart is rethinking what experiential marketing means amid the coronavirus and starting to weave it more into its media mix, Digiday reports. That means working with more influencers and media partners to bring to life some of the missed “special moments” that were canceled this year. (Thanks, 2020.) For example, Walmart worked with NBC Sports to give a Seattle-based healthcare worker and his family the chance to watch the Seahawks’ first home game in the stadium. More recently, Walmart created an immersive trick-or-treat experience for one family to still have a typical Halloween experience. “We’re not doing a big in-person experiential moment, but I think it actually scales the experience to more people to be able to see it and partake than the one-time experience,” said Jill Toscano, VP of media at Walmart. Aside from the NFL, Walmart plans to use experiential marketing to acquire new customers for its  Walmart+ membership program through activations with media partners, including Allrecipes, HGTV, PARENTS, People en Español and NBC Sports Sunday Night Football.

Fighting For The Little Guys

Big tech is getting dinged for sucking local journalism dry in a new report released by Senate Democrats, The Wall Street Journal reports. Although local outlets are reeling from plummeting ad revenue exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the report, which paints a grim picture of the state of local journalism, points a finger in another direction: Google and Facebook. The duo today control 77% of local digital ad revenue – and that trend has only been going in one direction. The report, which came on the eve of a Senate hearing set for Wednesday with the CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter, notes that big tech’s alleged anticompetitive behavior needs to be better policed by federal regulators and even proposes a few potential legislative fixes. A law, for example, that forces tech platforms to negotiate with local news outlets to ensure that pubs get paid for their content is one option. Facebook and Google are already facing that potentiality in markets outside of the United States, including Australia and France.

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