Fuseit Eyes Enhanced Consumer Engagement With Augmented Reality

Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog is the big hit of the coronavirus pandemic.

The animated feature is one of a handful of high-profile titles that received an early digital release, at a premium price, at the end of March.

It was subsequently released through traditional digital channels, as well as Blu-ray Disc and DVD, and has held onto the top spot on the weekly physical media sales charts, published by NPD VideoScan, for five weeks.

One of the more interesting aspects of Paramount’s marketing campaign for the film, based on the popular video game franchise, was an app that, through augmented reality technology, allowed users to create their own videos with characters and other elements from the film, and then post the results on social media.

The result was a flurry of TikTok videos in which fans appeared to “dance” or otherwise interact with Sonic — including one, with more than 125,000 likes, in which Sonic keeps appearing on a girl gamer’s Fortnite screen until she finally says, “All right, Sonic, you win — I’ll watch your movie.”  In all, the campaign reached tens of millions of consumers in the United States in a few short weeks.

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The augmented reality (AR) component of the Sonic campaign is the work of a company called Fuseit, whose patented AR platform specializes in brand content creation.

Partnering with clients that range from Coca-Cola to Old Spice/Procter & Gamble to the major Hollywood studios, the company’s AR technology lets anyone create a professional-looking video with whatever image or icon the client brand chooses — all in real-time, with just one click.

Liat Sade-Sternberg

Fuseit was launched in 2017 by Liat Sade-Sternberg, an Israeli businesswoman and entrepreneur who now lives in Los Angeles. Prior to launching the company, Sade-Sternberg was the first Israeli women to win MIDEMLAB, the leading startup competition of the music industry. She also served as the VP of sales and marketing at Babylon, an Israeli public company that provides translation software.

“The concept behind Fuseit is to utilize content in innovative new ways to significantly increase consumer awareness and fan engagement with brands, and generate a solid ROI,” Sade-Sternberg says. “While current consumer engagement on social platforms has sagged to 1% or less, we understand that advertisement methods must change, and augmented reality can boost advertiser results 50% or more while they gain a deeper engagement with their consumers/fans.”

Fuseit’s AR technology has been previously utilized by Warner Bros. to promote the theatrical releases of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

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“It really comes from an understanding that marketing and social media have changed, and will continue to change, rapidly, and so much of the advertising is really not working,” Sade-Sternberg says. “Marketers are spending more and more money on Facebook and Instagram and other social platforms, but they’re getting less and less impactful results than they used to. Consumers desire real engagement. These days, when brands are boycotting Facebook ads, adopting digital innovations such as Fuseit is more important than ever.”

She also believes Fuseit’s technology is more relevant than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic since shelter-at-home orders, business closures and event cancelations have led to a steep decline in live engagement opportunities.

“If you want to really engage with your customers, and with your fans now,” Sade-Sternberg said, “the only way to do it is through augmented reality. Now you can meet consumers in their homes and on their social feeds, and do it fast, easily and cost-effectively utilizing the content the brands already have.”

Disney Streaming Boss Kevin Mayer Jumps to China’s TikTok as CEO

In a surprise move, Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer & International unit, is leaving to become COO of the corporate parent of Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok, effective June 1.

Mayer, who has spent 25 years at Disney, will report directly to Yiming Zhang, founder/CEO of ByteDance. He will be charged with driving the global development at ByteDance, as well as overseeing corporate functions, including corporate development, sales, marketing, public affairs, security, moderation, and legal.

In his role as COO, Mayer will lead music, gaming, Helo, emerging businesses, and will also serve as CEO of TikTok, leading the rapidly growing platform as it continues to build its global community of creators, users, and brands.

“Kevin’s wealth of experience building successful global businesses makes him an outstanding fit for our mission of inspiring creativity for users globally,” Zhang said in a statement.

As chairman of Disney’s revamped home entertainment unit, consumer products and international business, Mayer oversaw rollout of Disney+, the company’s flagship subscription streaming video service. Additionally, Mayer led the company’s other direct-to-consumer businesses, including Hulu, ESPN+, and India’s Hotstar, as well as overseeing Disney’s international operations, global ad sales, and global content sales.

“Like everyone else, I’ve been impressed watching [ByteDance] build something incredibly rare in TikTok — a creative, positive online global community,” Mayer said.

The executive said he is grateful to Bob Iger for his visionary leadership and mentorship over many years, and Bob Chapek, whom Mayer said he greatly admires.

Alex Zhu, the current president of TikTok, will transition to ByteDance VP of product and strategy, where he will focus on his primary passion overseeing strategy and product design.

Kelly Zhang and Lidong Zhang will continue to lead the business as CEO and Chairman of ByteDance China, respectively, reporting to Yiming Zhang, as ByteDance’s global CEO. They manage a range of products, including Douyin, Toutiao, and Xigua, in addition to their duties leading the business and operational teams in China.

In the management restructuring, TikTok said its national and regional management leaders would remain in their roles with their current responsibilities, reporting to Mayer.

Analyst: TikTok to Surpass 50 Million Users in U.S. by 2021

After nearly doubling its U.S. user base last year, growth for TikTok, a Chinese video-sharing social networking service, will slow in the coming years as competition heats up and concerns grow among marketers, according to new data from eMarketer.

TikTok’s domestic U.S. user base will grow 21.9% in 2020 to 45.4 million people. By 2021, it will surpass 50 million (52.2 million). This follows 97.5% growth in 2019, as the short-form video platform drew in a huge number of users, especially children and teens. Growth will slow to single digits in 2022 as the app becomes heavily saturated among core younger users.

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“TikTok had a breakout year in 2019, and it is incredibly popular among teens at this point,” analyst Debra Aho Williamson said in a statement. “Some are spending multiple hours per day on the app, which is a testament to the incredible stickiness of its scrolling video format. But it has yet to develop a strong following among older generations.”

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This year, 21.6% of U.S. social network users, or more than one in five, will use TikTok at least once a month. Despite having lower penetration than more established competitors, it’s one of the few social apps whose penetration is growing.


Report: Disney+ App Downloads Topped 31 Million in Q4

Consumer interest in Disney+ continued strong through the end of 2019, with subscription streaming video platform’s app downloaded more than 31 million times in the fourth quarter, according to new data from SensorTower.

The app downloads were more than double the total for the next closest app, TikTok. Disney+ was also the top app on the App Store in the U.S. It ended YouTube’s four-quarter run at No. 1. By comparison, Netflix had nearly 10 million app downloads in the quarter, including 6 million on the App Store and less than 4 million on Google Play.

An app download does not automatically translate into a paid subscription. Netflix, as a matter of new policy, no longer reveals free trial subscriptions.

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According to the tracking firm, Disney+, which launched Nov. 12, 2019, had more than 12 million U.S. installs on Google Play. No app had surpassed 10 million U.S. downloads on Google Play in a quarter since Messenger in 2017.

Disney+ was the No. 9 app by worldwide downloads in Q4 2019. It achieved this despite launching well into the quarter.

The report suggests Disney+ grossed more than $50 million in its first 30 days, even with a seven-day free trial — ahead of SVOD rivals HBO Now and Showtime OTT. Disney+ reportedly earned more than HBO Now’s best month — the latter streaming the final season of “Game of Thrones”.

Worldwide, TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media/music platform, remains the most-popular app with nearly 220 million downloads. This represented a 24% increase over Q3 2019 and 6% growth from the previous-year period.

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WhatsApp remained popular, leading four Facebook-owned apps in the top five. WhatsApp experienced a huge growth of 39% Q/Q in 4Q19, after decreased downloads in the previous four quarters.


Warner Partners with Chinese-Owned TikTok for Movie Marketing

Despite criticism by some U.S. lawmakers calling Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok a national security threat, Warner Bros. has partnered with the short-form video site to promote a new movie.

In a first for the studio and TikTok, Warner is streaming the global trailer debut for new movie, In the Heights, which fuses Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music and lyrics with Jon M. Chu’s direction about the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York.

The film is slated for worldwide release on June 24, 2020, and in the U.S. on June 26. TikTok’s partnership with the studio represents major validation for the site’s mobile videos with hundreds of millions of users.

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The trailer launched Dec. 12 on TikTok with users receiving a first-of-its-kind push notification, “Check out the new trailer for In The Heights!” driving global users across 30 countries to view the trailer.

“People around the world are going to TikTok every day to celebrate their creativity, culture and music,” Andrew Hotz, EVP of worldwide digital marketing, said in a statement. “I couldn’t think of a better platform to launch the trailer.”

Some lawmakers in Congress think otherwise. The U.S. Treasury Dept. is reportedly investigating whether TikTok censors content negative to the Chinese government.

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) earlier this year sent a letter to the Treasury asking for a review of the site after he claimed it streamed scant coverage of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Other lawmakers contend TikTok — like Facebook and YouTube — is vulnerable to foreign influence akin to Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. election via social media platforms.

TikTok says its content is stored in U.S.-based servers and not subject to Chinese government regulation.

WWE Partners with TikTok

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has partnered with TikTok, marketing select wrestlers to the social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company founded in 2012.

WWE is making 30 of its wrestlers available on TikTok, including Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Ultimate Warrior, Becky Lynch, John Cena and Sasha Banks. The branded wrestlers’ onstage themes and music are embedded within TikTok’s library of music artists.

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“We are thrilled to be launching this partnership which offers a new level of engagement with WWE content by enabling the TikTok community to create their own shareable stories tied to WWE‘s world renowned Superstars,” Jayar Donlan, EVP of advanced media, said in a statement.

TikTok’s Mayan Scharf hopes the partnership captures the “passion and thrill” of wrestling on social media.

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“We’re looking forward to bringing the excitement of the WWE experience to TikTok’s global community,” Scharf said.

NBA, TikTok Partner for Video Contest in India

India, with the world’s sixth-largest economy and youngest global population by 2020, is a coveted streaming video market for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney and now the NBA.

The National Basketball Association has partnered with user-generated short-form mobile video sharing platform TikTok for a campaign around the ongoing 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors.

The social media venture – dubbed #DuetWithNBA – enables TikTok users to create and share video duets with content offered on the NBA India app.

The top-three winners who post and share content on the platform will be featured on a post-game presentation of the NBA Finals. Other participants will selected to receive NBA Fanwear.

The campaign follows last December’s partnership between the NBA and ByteDance, TikTok’s corporate parent.

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“We are always looking at partnerships that allow our fans to engage with the league across various content platforms,” Diane Gotua, VP, global business operations at the NBA, said in a statement.

Mayank Gandotra, director of business development at TikTok India, said the platform is ideal for users seeking to watch and interest with sports video.

“We are excited to bring to our active sports community pan-India exclusive content and engaging in-app challenges,” Gandotra said.

The TikTok app is available in more than 150 markets and 75 languages globally.