Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

NDA News Roundup: Kangaroo, Outbrain, Mediakind and many more

A newly funded startup, Kangaroo, is introducing a gaming platform which enables fans to interact with celebrities from Hollywood to NFT projects and create new story games in the metaverse. This innovative technology allows for the creation of interactive online stories for and by the fan bases of celebrities, media franchises and NFT projects. Using its proprietary story creation engine, Kangaroo is set to release an endorsed series based on the likeness of each partner on iOS and Android. Fans can design their own avatars to play alongside the partner, and infinitely expand the stories using in-app story remixing tools. These fan-created ‘remixes’ may be shared on the platform and later on social media platforms like TikTok. Fan remixes can go viral on the Kangaroo ecosystem, and may earn a variety of rewards and prizes. Kangaroo is also announcing it has closed $3.3 million in funding from top investors representing the intersection of Hollywood and Silicon Valley, and led by Human Capital. Other investors include Michael Ovitz, Greylock Partners, Abe Burns, Phil Hellmuth, Kevin Yorn, and more. The funds will be used to grow the team at Kangaroo and expand IP partnerships.

Outbrain, the pioneering web recommendation platform, is integrating with ID5, a market-leading identity provider for digital advertising, to optimize the addressability of their clients’ inventory. Outbrain’s focus has always been on bringing value back to the open web and into the hands of independent publishers, while maximizing advertiser ability to provide better user experiences. With traditional identifiers such as third-party cookies and MAIDs gradually exiting the equation, Outbrain wanted to ensure that it can continue to support its publishers, users, and advertisers with privacy-safe solutions. To achieve this, Outbrain is integrating the ID5 ID, ID5’s first-party, encrypted identifier that is distributed at scale across the digital advertising ecosystem. The integration empowers Outbrain’s publishers to maximize value, while giving advertisers future-proof methods to reach relevant audiences. This also enables Outbrain to leverage an identity solution that is in line with data privacy regulations such as the GDPR and CCPA. ID5’s user identification services have been developed following a privacy-by-design approach to exceed privacy compliance expectations. ID5 relies strictly upon user consent for the processing of personal data, and has developed advanced encryption mechanisms to enforce users’ preferences down the value chain and block unauthorized vendors from activating the ID.

MediaKind has announced an extension to its strategic partnership with Microsoft Corp to enable new opportunities for video content owners, broadcasters, operators, and enterprises to accelerate their video digital transformation. This new collaboration has been designed to significantly enhance the integration and optimization of both companies’ products, platforms, and cloud capabilities, to enable its respective customers in media and entertainment – and beyond – to drive new levels of growth within the media industry. It will enable MediaKind to go to market, collaborate on innovative and more sustainable opportunities, and deliver a more competitive pricing model for MediaKind customers. The announcement sees the two leading technology platforms come together to collaborate on a range of new next-generation experiences, which will help drive innovation throughout both companies’ operations. The respective engineering and product teams will work together to deliver best-in-class cloud video solutions which provide customers with more cost-effective and monetizable opportunities to deliver new live video streaming services at scale. In the future, this cloud-driven model will enable MediaKind customers to access data faster and leverage cutting-edge innovations in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The Kite Factory has been appointed as media planning and buying agency for Time Products, parent brand to Sekonda and Accurist watches. The Kite Factory will be planning and buying media to launch the new product range and brand positioning for Accurist as well as bringing to life Sekonda’s ‘No Time for Nonsense’ philosophy to challenge the watch market sector.

Ello Group, the customer loyalty specialist behind tastecard, Gourmet Society, hi-life and MyGym, has launched a brand-new product aimed at coffee and hot drinks lovers. Coffee Club has the backing of high-street favourite Caffè Nero and chains such as Black Sheep Coffee, FCB coffee & Ezra & Gil as well as over 1,500 independents, making it the largest coffee club in the UK.  Ello’s new Coffee Club, which was scoped, developed and built within seven months, is designed to drive customer loyalty as part of a long-term strategy. Brands can incorporate Coffee Club, which would usually cost consumers £2.99 per month or £24.99 annually, into their loyalty programs to enable customers to save 25% on all regular sized hot drinks, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  

Merkle, dentsu’s technology-enabled, data-driven customer experience management (CXM) company, has formally unveiled its global Experience & Commerce practice and named the leadership team spearheading the agency’s services. As part of this unveiling, Merkle has appointed Michael McLaren as global Experience & Commerce lead. The announcement comes after Pete Stein, who previously served in this role, was named President, Merkle Americas. McLaren who has been leading Merkle’s B2B practice area since 2016, will continue to serve as global CEO of Merkle B2B. Jim Butler, formerly president at LiveArea, has been named Experience & Commerce lead for Merkle Americas. McLaren and Butler will work closely with the Experience & Commerce global team of regional CXM experts, including Martin Bochineck in EMEA and Patrick Deloy in APAC. Paul Lynch, head of experience and commerce UK, leads the UK cluster, comprised of 500+ experts across service centres in the UK, Bulgaria, and Pune, India. 

Redefine Meat has created a range of New-Meat, including the holy grail of flank steaks, combining their love for meat with innovative technologies such as 3D printing to create delicious, tasty products – recently launched in the restaurants of Marco Pierre-White and Selfridges. They have launched a humorous campaign with renowned global creative director Alon Seifert, who has previously worked with companies such as Google, Staples and Nikon, following his time at McCann NY as SVP, Group Creative Director. The campaign centres on a “Cow Repurposing Institute”, where Redefine Meat envisions a future where traditional cows used for meat production are eaten much less. As a result, these redundant cows can now learn new skills and pursue a variety of new hobbies to give them a new purpose. 

FashionTV, the fashion content distribution channel, has chosen Castify.ai, an omnichannel content distribution platform that allows video content owners to create their own branded OTT applications and channels across multiple smart TV and streaming platforms, to expand their viewer reach. This partnership will allow FashionTV to recognize a single user experience on all platforms with a branded application and a simplified content management flow. With Castify.ai, FashionTV has increased its potential household reach to 50 million OTT and connected TV in the US alone.

Propack Direct Mail has confirmed the renewal of its support of British Touring Cars driver Daniel Lloyd, extending its partnership for the 2022 championship season. Celebrating his nineteenth year of racing, Daniel will hit the track at Donington Park on 23 April. Qualifying takes place at 15:35 on Saturday with Sunday’s three races – scheduled for 11:50, 14:40 and 17:25 – all airing live on ITV4HD. Huddersfield-based direct mail and digital print specialist Propack is one of Daniel’s oldest partners having supported his racing activities since he made the move into competitive motorsport. Propack, alongside fellow long-time sponsors Abracs, will feature on the livery of Daniel’s Hyundai race car for the 2022 season and will also be prominently positioned on his race helmet over the course of the 10-round, 30-race British Touring Cars Championship season.

Independent PR agency, The PHA Group, is delighted to announce its appointment by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), to support the charity’s annual flagship fundraising campaign, Mayday, for a second year running. The RNLI’s annual Mayday campaign raises vital awareness and funds for the charity so that it can continue to keep people safe at the coast, in the UK and Ireland. Mayday 2022 will focus on fundraising ahead of the busy summer period, as well as giving the RNLI an opportunity to spread the message of its essential lifesaving work, carried out by volunteers who drop what they’re doing when a call for help comes in. Launching on Sunday 1 May and running for the duration of the month, funds raised from the Mayday Mile events will help ensure the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards can continue to answer mayday calls and rescue others. This year the RNLI are putting out their own mayday call, by asking the public to kick off their summer and be a lifesaver by signing up to the Mayday Mile. Whether supporters choose to run it, cycle it, dance it or simply walk it, the funds raised by participating in the Mayday Mile will help to ensure RNLI lifesavers have everything they need to help families keep safe this summer.

hoolah, the omnichannel ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ (BNPL) platform, has announced its partnership with Primer, the world’s first no-code automation platform for payments and commerce, allowing merchants in Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong to integrate hoolah’s BNPL solution, while providing consumers payment flexibility and an optimised, seamless shopping experience. An unprecedented innovation in the payment industry, Primer allows merchants to truly consolidate their payment stack, and add any API or tool from across the web to build dynamic, end-to-end payment flows. Since launching in 2020, Primer is fully distributed globally, serving merchants across APAC, Europe and the U.S., with over 70 payment and commerce services and dozens more in the pipeline. With this partnership, merchants will be able to seamlessly enable hoolah’s BNPL solution in minutes through Primer’s unified checkout and payment integration—with clicks, not code.

Proact IT Group AB has announced it has earned the Networking Services in Microsoft Azure advanced specialization, a validation of a services partner’s deep knowledge, extensive experience and proven success in designing, implementing, operating, and optimizing a customer’s network architecture, cost, and security. Only partners that meet stringent criteria around customer success and staff skilling, as well as pass a third-party audit of their networking technical practices, are able to earn the Networking Services on Microsoft Azure advanced specialization.

AstroPay, the global leader in online payment solutions, has launched a new in-app feature, Transfer, which enables users to transfer money to even those contacts who don’t have an existing AstroPay account as long as they are in the same country. Available in over 150 countries, this new functionality makes transferring money between digital wallets even easier and is commission free. A user can select a contact from the AstroPay App and if that recipient doesn’t have an existing account, they will simply receive a code by text message and have an account created, linked to their telephone number, so they can withdraw the money. If they already have an account, then they will receive a link either via WhatsApp or another channel and can click on it to accept the money within 24 hours.

Independent design consultancy The Frameworks has announced its appointment by Carbon Tanzania to develop its global brand strategy. Carbon Tanzania has pioneered verified emission reductions as the basis for forest conservation in Tanzania for more than a decade. It has successfully launched three certified carbon projects in the country, which between them have saved millions of trees and changed the lives more than 100,000 indigenous people who are now financially rewarded for protecting the natural environment around them. Looking to amplify the impact of these projects, the founders of Carbon Tanzania are building out the business to adopt a more global perspective. They have called on The Frameworks to develop a new name and brand for a global-facing business as well as making strategic recommendations around the future of the Carbon Tanzania brand, particularly in Tanzania itself. The Frameworks will be basing its creative, naming and strategic recommendations on stakeholder interviews, audience research, social listening and other market insights.

NextPlay Technologies, Inc., a technology solutions company building a digital business ecosystem for digital advertisers, consumers, video gamers and travelers, has completed its previously announced acquisition of gaming assets and IP from goGame, a Singapore-based mobile casual video game publisher and technology company. The acquired assets include goPlay, a new-gen game publishing platform featuring a tournament system, chat, payment, and 37 casual games ranging from arcade to strategy. NextPlay plans to complete the integration of its HotPlay in-game advertising (IGA) technology into the 37 goPlay games by year-end. NextPlay also acquired from goGame a perpetual license to goPay, a payment aggregator that offers game developers multiple ways to more easily collect and process user payments. This includes carrier billing, over the counter, e-voucher, bank transfer and e-wallet. The goPay technology further extends NextPlay’s existing payment services, offering access to a wider array of global payment providers.

Sensu, a research, measurement and evaluation consultancy, has launched to transform how marketing organisations use insights from digital content, conversation and search, alongside traditional research, to make better-informed decisions, develop customer relationships and achieve growth. Founded by communications and corporate reputation specialist Steve Leigh, founder of Reputation Consultancy, Sensu will draw upon Steve’s 20+ years of experience managing reputation strategy and designing research and measurement tools for some of the world’s most prestigious organisations. Blending traditional research, best-in-class digital measurement tools with its own proprietary software, Sensu offers a bespoke consultancy approach to help improve insight and understanding for clients. Using its expertise in the latest tools and techniques, Sensu is able to expand on what can be achieved with traditional research alone.

Ramsbury Single Estate Spirits, the award-winning Craft Gin and Vodka Distillery, has been working with global digital agency Tribal Worldwide to continue expanding their brand presence in both the UK and abroad. After successfully launching “The Ramsbury Tales” multi-channel campaign last year, Tribal Worldwide will create a series of narratives to bring the story of the Ramsbury Single Estate to life in this new creative campaign. The campaign will be featured across TV and Cinema, a series of new social tales plus print and digital assets, all of which will support the activity from the initial campaign.

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