In March, video game streaming site Twitch introduced a new way for its streamers to make money: by selling games directly to their fans. Initially, however, that feature was only available to Twitchs Partners that is, the sites top-tier streamers with large audiences. Today, Twitch is adding game sales to its newly launched Twitch Affiliate program, as well.
The affiliate program was introduced last month as a means of giving streamers who werent large enough to gain Partner status a way to make money from their efforts. At launch, Twitch Affiliates could generate revenue through Twitchs virtual tipping option, Cheering with Bits. But the company promised that more tools would become available to Affiliates in time.
Selling video games to fans will essentially work the same for Twitch Affiliates as it does for Twitch Partners. The idea is that streamers can showcase the titles theyre playing, giving fans the opportunity to purchase the games in question right from the site. That turns streamers into a crowdsourced advertising team of sorts for game publishers, while shifting Amazon-owned Twitch into more of an online retailer and game distributor, as well.
Affiliates, like Partners, will display the titles and other in-game content for sale, on their Channel pages on the site. Theyll also earn 5 percent on game purchases. (Another 70 percent goes to game publishers, and Twitch keeps the rest.)
Games are also available from the games detail page at any time. The games are downloaded via Twitchs desktop app.
At launch, Twitch was offering around 50 titles available for sale from game publishers large and small.
This included titles like Ubisofts For Honor and Tom Clancys Ghost Recon: Wildlands; Telltale Games The Walking Dead and Minecraft: Story Mode; Hi-Rez Studios SMITE and Paladins; Paradox Interactives Tyranny; Trion Worlds Atlas Reactor; Double Fine Productions Broken Age and Psychonauts; Campo Santos Firewatch; Jackbox Games Jackbox Party Pack 3; and Digital Extremes Warframe, and others.
Today, Twitch tells us it has nearly doubled its lineup to include close to a hundred titles. Some of the newer additions include a Twitch exclusive Warframe Prominence bundle and Bob Ross skins for SMITE.
The company is also kicking off the expansion of game sales by giving out double the Twitch Crates for the week ahead. Crates are an incentive Twitch uses to encourage game sales on its site, by offering other content along with the game itself, like its emotes, chat badges, and Bits.
Twitch declined to say how popular game sales have been on its site since their debut, given how early the company is into this new area of its business.
The move into game sales gives streamers another way to make money something thats needed to grow a strong creator community. However, the changes could also have an impact on the type of content featured on Twitch subtly shifting streamers to favor those games from publishers working with Twitch over the ones they would have otherwise chosen.
Twitch Affiliates will be a much larger group than Partners, which greatly expands Twitchs ability to sell games. While there are only17,000 Partners out of a total of 2.2 million unique streamers per month, Twitch invited tens of thousands of non-Partnered channels to its Affiliate program.
Twitch Affiliates will have the ability to sell games on the site, starting today.
Below is Twitchs original announcement about game sales:Continue reading
At the end of 2016, the anger trade is a good business to be in. Audiences are reading and sharing fake “news” that stirs partisan ire while hardline outlets like Breitbart can count the president-elect as a fan. Advertising dollars are following those eyeballs, and thanks to the automated nature of online ads, the cash can flow into these sites often without the knowledge of companies doing the actual advertising. As a result, brands run the risk of appearing to endorse political stances or rhetoric that potential customers may find objectionable. Now some are starting to worry.
A growing number of brands, from Kelloggs to Allstate to Warby Parker, have pulled their ads from Breitbart. Meanwhile, at least one brand, Fiat Chrysler, said it adds fake news websites one by one to a blacklist it maintains. Others are scrambling to rejigger their ad policies to account for such fraudulent sites. But the influence of those individual brands may pale next to the power of a handful of companies whose names you probably havent heard: the ad tech companies that funnel ads to those sites in the first place.
These are the companies that run the digital marketplaces where advertisers bid for ad space on sites. They also provide the tech tools advertisers use for ad placement. Last month, one of the biggest, AppNexus, said it would block Breitbart News from using its ad-serving tools because the site had violated its hate speech policy. One week later, two more ad-tech companies, TubeMogul and RocketFuel, followed AppNexus lead.
Breitbarts editor-in-chief calls these decisions an attempt at censorship. But whats really at stake isnt a sites right to say whatever it wants to sayits whether a site can make money saying it. Fake news creators and hardline sites can’t get by if advertisers won’t sponsor their sitesa hard fact of the online publishing business that could make a few obscure tech companies the unlikely arbiters of the future of public discourse.
Last month, a week and a day after the election, the anonymous activists behind Sleeping Giants posted their first tweet: @sofi Are you aware that you’re advertising on Breitbart, the alt-right’s biggest champion, today? Are you supporting them publicly?
The tweet was directed at San Francisco-based Social Finance (SoFi for short), an online personal finance company that helps offers student loan refinancing, personal loans, and mortgages. The company didnt respond publicly. But Sleeping Giants added SoFi to the list of brands it says its confirmed have blocked their ads from appearing on Breitbart. The list currently runs more than300 companies deep. The longer that list gets, the more incentive ad tech companies have to proactively seek to keep their clients ads off sites that might expose them to controversy.
But how is it that advertisers often dont know how or where their ads end up online in the first place? In more traditional advertising, brands designate where their ads will appear in print or on television, and they do so well in advance. But online advertising increasingly involves third-party networks and agencies that place ads across the web based on digital auctions that often happen in near real-timea matter of 100 or 200 milliseconds as a visitor arrives on a site.
The tech behind these auctions relies heavily on targeting and personalization based on what people have searched for and clicked on while surfing the web. If you searched for, say, a pair of boots in the last hour, a brand touting a new line of boots might be served up to you, no matter which website you end up on. Automated buys really chase the audience, not necessarily the context, says John Montgomery, executive vice president for brand safety at powerhouse media buyer GroupM. In other words, those boots might chase you to places on the web the makers of those boots dont want to be seen as supporting.
Yes, marketers can work out a media plan that places ads directly on websites, pre-approving domains as they goa so-called whitelisted environment. But the practice is increasingly falling out of fashion. Josh Zeitz, vice president of communications at AppNexus, says automated media buys have clear advantages. If youre doing just a handful of campaigns and buying against 50 sites, you dont know whether youre reaching the users youre trying to getthey may well be using other apps and other sites, Zeitz says. Automated buying, on the other hand, lets you follow users based on what you know about them, rather than relying on the sites you hope theyll visit.
But Zeitz says ad-tech companies have another big responsibility: brand safety.
You have to be able to count on your ad tech partners to maintain some kind of marketplace quality, Zeitz says. Because if its completely unregulated, your clients ads could show up anywhere. Today, certain standards are well established. Most ad tech companies have policies and filters that block ads from being served against piracy, pornography, and graphic violence. But highly charged political sites and fake news are brand new territory for these companies.
Most ad tech companies punt on the issue of serving ads on Breitbart specifically. They say the decision lies with their clients: advertisers and marketers. GroupM doesnt see itself as a censor, says Montgomery. But what we do is invite our clients to advise us at any time if there are any media properties that the company wishes to avoid, for instance on the grounds of perceived political extremism. Google holds the same view; the search giant still currently serves ads on Breitbart, asserting that the site does not violate its own hate speech policy.
‘The attacks on us are politically motivated, and theyre specifically because weve been effective.’Alexander Marlow, Breitbart Editor-in-Chief
RocketFuel, meanwhile, put Breitbart on its blacklist in November, meaning its clients have to actively opt in to serving ads on the site. But the companys CEO says the decision hinged on creating a more efficient market by trying to anticipate where its clients likely didnt want to see their adsnot on judging Breitbart itself. Efficient markets require trust and transparency between suppliers and buyers, CEO Randy Wootton says. Thats how commerce happens.
Breitbart editor-in-chief Alexander Marlow calls boycotts of his site by advertisers and ad tech companies absolutely an attempt at censoring Breitbart News.
The attacks on us are politically motivated, and theyre specifically because weve been effective, Marlow said in an interview. Weve changed the news narrative time and time again, and weve changed a lot of hearts and minds in the process. Marlow denied that the boycott had any impact on the websites bottom line, and he said Breitbart has no intention of changing its editorial direction in response to the increasing number of companies blacklisting the site. We have tens of thousands of advertisers. We are a loyal community of 45 million readers a montha very powerful consumer group, Marlow said.
Where to draw the line between free speech and hate speech depends on who you ask. Google defines hate speech as content that incites hatred or promotes violence against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or gender identity. Other companies have adopted a similar definition. But how different companies apply those standards varies. Google says it found Breitbart did not violate its standards. AppNexus, meanwhile, says it decided to ban Breitbart after an outcry from employees. There was human judgment involved, says Zeitz. There are plenty of people at AppNexus who voted for Donald Trump, and probably plenty of people who read Breitbart. But thats not why we had to remove it from the marketplace. We determined that it violated hate speech.
Of course, plenty of companies just dont care whether their ads appear on a site like Breitbart. Direct sales ads, for examplethose junky buy now! ads that clutter fake news sitesare only about making that sale, not burnishing a brand. But for those that do, new tools are starting to become available, created by ad-tech companies themselves.
For instance, Integral Ad Science, an ad verification company, approaches the problem as a numbers game. It uses tech to comb through individual pages across the web, then rates them from zero to 1000, depending on how risky its algorithms determine putting an ad up against that content might be. DoubleVerify, meanwhile, has created a new category for its clients called Inflammatory News and Politics, which includes Breitbart as well as other hardcore conservative and liberal sites such as Rawstory.com, IfYouOnlyNews.com, and NewsBusters.org.
A new offering from the company also scans for fake news sites as they come online so advertisers and marketplaces can avoid them. The hallmarks for fake news sites are distinct, DoubleVerify CEO Wayne Gattinella says: no documentation behind stories or cross-indexing of stories; vague, generic bylines; no daily updates; and internal links that go to blank pages. Google still largely relies on a human operation to assess which sites should be considered deliverers of fake news, but its also started on an automated effort that can scale. For now, some have criticized Google for spotty enforcement. But the company said it was important to move slowly on the effort to make sure its new policy would be executed correctly.
Because the realm of fake news and inflammatory political sites is still such new territory for advertisers, best practices have yet to become standardized. Brands can choose to serve ads on these sites, then reverse-engineer a public explanation for their actions. Ad tech companies can excuse themselves from pulling ads immediately because it takes time to enforce a policy, and it takes time to scale the tech. And they wouldnt be patently wrong. But that also means, for now, these sites are raking in the ad dollars and spreading disinformation.
In the end, its up to consumers to apply pressure before the next #pizzagate escalates. Dont like that brands are advertising on a certain site? Let them know. And if software companies really believe tech holds the solutions to tech-generated problems, tell them to prove it. When I think of companies the size of Google, Facebook, and others like them, they certainly have the resources to build whatever technology they make a priority, Gattinella says. Ad tech companies themselves might not be as big, but they could still plausibly do the same. Certainly their clients would value such an effort. It all depends on whether brandsand the public they hope to courtmake it clear that no number of clicks is worth the damage to democracy.Continue reading
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New global rules forcing companies to report taxable activities country-by-country publicly have been called for by a group of 300 prominent economists.
In a letter to world leaders, the group urges the UK to “take a lead” in the push for more tax transparency.
Poor countries are the biggest losers from tax havens, they claim.
The letter’s signatories, co-ordinated by charity Oxfam, include best-selling author Thomas Piketty and 2015 Nobel Prize economics winner Angus Deaton.
The letter comes ahead of the UK government’s anti-corruption summit on Thursday, which politicians from 40 countries as well as World Bank and IMF representatives are expected to attend.
The economists – who include almost 50 professors from British universities – argue the UK’s position as summit host as well as its sovereignty over what it says is a third of the world’s tax havens makes it “uniquely placed” to take the lead.
“We need new global agreements on issues such as public country-by-country reporting, including for tax havens,” the economists write in the letter.
“Governments must also put their own houses in order by ensuring that all the territories for which they are responsible make publicly available information about the real ‘beneficial’ owners of company and trusts,” they add.
The letter comes in the aftermath of the Panama Papers leak, which revealed how some rich people hide assets, sparking widespread condemnation that the authorities had failed to act.
One of the signatories, the economist Dr Ha-Joon Chang of the University of Cambridge, told the BBC that he signed the letter because he shared “the view that tax havens serve no useful purpose”.
Dr Chang said: “These tax havens basically allow companies and certain individuals to free-ride on the rest of humanity.
“These companies and people make money in one country by using workers educated with public money, using roads, ports and other infrastructure paid for by the taxpayers of that country and moving the money to another country in a shell company which doesn’t really do any business there.”
Another high-profile signatory, Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, also told the BBC that tax havens showed “how the rich and the powerful really control the levers of finance”.
He said: “Even with the secrecy, we’re in a more transparent world so I think our governments are being pushed harder and harder to crack down on these abuses.”
However, James Quarmby, a tax lawyer at the international law firm Stephenson Harwood, argued that offshore financial centres play an important role in international finance and trade.
“The Panama papers had a number of people who used that jurisdiction for criminal purposes,” he said. “But you can’t just argue for shutting down of finance centres because some criminals use them.”
Mr Quarmby added: “There’s more money laundering going on in New York, Frankfurt and London than any of the finance centres and I don’t hear Mr Sachs arguing for those jurisdictions to be shut down.”
Oxfam said that more than half of the companies set up by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm in the Panama Papers leak, were incorporated in British Overseas Territories such as the British Virgin Islands.
“As long as British-linked tax havens continue to help the rich and powerful get away with dodging tax it will remain deeply damaging to the UK’s credibility as a leader in the fight against corruption and global poverty,” said Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring.
Last month, tax and law enforcement agencies in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain agreed to share data in a new crackdown on international tax dodging.
Under the deal, the five nations will exchange information regarding beneficial ownership registers, which show who really owns assets.
However, only the UK has so far committed to making this information public.
Registers or “similarly effective systems” will be introduced in UK overseas territories, but are expected to be open to enforcement agencies, not to the public.
Separately, it has emerged that there has been an increase in the amount of money flowing offshore from developing countries, in particular Russia and China.
Research carried out by Columbia University professor James S Henry for the Tax Justice Network found $12.1tn (8tn) had been shifted out of emerging economies.
Offshore accounts belonging to Russian citizens totalled $1.3tn, while Chinese citizens, including those in Hong Kong and Macau, had $1.2tn sitting offshore.Continue reading
South Korea is playing into Kim Jong-uns hands by closing the Kaesong complex
Its barely February but already 2016 is yielding a grim winter harvest of new dates that will go into future Korean history books, to be remembered and regretted.
So far it has been the North, predictably, that has made most of the running. On 6 January Pyongyang got the new year off to a bang with its fourth nuclear test, supposedly an H-bomb. A month later on 7 February the regime made it a double with a satellite launch that functions as a partial test of an inter-continental ballistic missile.
But now South Korea has got in on the act, adding 10 February to the list of ominous dates. After several days of rumours, Unification minister Hong Yong-pyo confirmed that the South was closing the Kaesong industrial complex, the last remaining inter-Korean joint venture completely and indefinitely. Heres what he said:
Despite our efforts to support the Kaesong complex, the factory zone is seen as being used for North Koreas development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles Weve decided to halt the operation of the Kaesong complex to prevent South Korean money from being funnelled into the Norths nuke and missile developments and to protect our companies.
South Koreas anger and frustration are understandable. Authorities watch and seethe as Kim Jong-un, like his father before him, tests nukes and missiles in defiance of UN resolutions and with seeming impunity.
But will closing Kaesong help? On the contrary, I fear it may backfire and harm the South.
First, will this hurt the North? That question has two components, economic and political. The Ministry of Unification said this:
Until now, about 616 billion Korean won [about $516m] has flowed into North Korea via the Kaesong industrial complex, with 132 billion won alone last year. It is crucial for South Korea to actively get involved while the international community discusses tougher sanctions [on North Korea] for violating UN resolutions and pushing forward with a nuclear test and missile launch.
That sounds a lot of money, especially for an economy as small and short of hard currency as the DPRK. But Yonhap, South Koreas semi-official news agency, puts it in perspective by citing unnamed industry watchers who suggest Kaesong earnings comprise just one percent of North Korean trade.
The DPRK government keeps 30% of what the South pays towards Kaesong, the other 70% presumably goes to the 55,000 workers as wages. Compared to the $2.48bn Pyongyang earned from exports to China last year, Kaesongs $111m (gross) or just $33m net is small potatoes.
But politics is key, on both sides of the DMZ. Seouls Unification ministry says the South has been forced press ahead with sanctions, but whats the rush? It could as well wait till the UN security council drafts a new sanctions resolution which is surely closer as the rocket launch concentrates minds. By acting unilaterally now, Seoul is making a conscious choice.
Is it the right choice? One thing is for sure, it is a complete U-turn by South Koreas president, Park Geun-hye. Just three years ago, new in office, Kim tested her by fomenting a crisis in March and April. Remember all that rhetoric, extreme even by North Korean standards? Or the Chaplinesque staged photos of Kim and his generals, poring over maps of missile flight paths targeting the US including Austin, Texas?
Mostly this was mere talk, but the North also pulled its 55,000 workers out of Kaesong for no discernible reason. Park handled this challenge brilliantly. She kept her head, and patiently negotiated the reopening. By September it was up and running again.
Wisely too, Seoul insisted on new management rules to prevent any such unilateral sabotage from recurring. In August 2013 North and South signed a five-point agreement on what they called the constructive normalisation of the complex. This bears reading in full.
The two Koreas will not make Kaesong suffer again from the stoppage of the complex They will guarantee the normal operation of the complex [which is] not to be affected by inter-Korean situations under any circumstances.
Not under any circumstances. The words are unambiguous, as is their implication now. What South Korea has decided to do is to break a promise, tear up the deal and go back on its word.
So what has changed? The latest nuclear and missile tests cannot logically be seen as a deal-breaker. Park negotiated Kaesongs reopening in 2013 in the shadow of North Koreas third nuclear test that February, preceded by a satellite launch in December 2012. If that wasnt a sticking point then, why now?
Parks slogan used to be Trustpolitik. That means working with North Korea as it is, while seeking to change it over time. Like Ostpolitik in Germany, which paid off in the end, this cannot be done overnight.
For sure, South Korea is more sinned against than sinning. One expects nothing better from North Korea, but the South should steer a steadier course. Park has barely two more years left in office. Did she lose patience or lose her temper or change her mind?
At this rate Park will leave North-South relations in a worse state even than when she found them. Her hard-line predecessor Lee Myung-bak kept Kaesong open, despite two more immediately deadly provocations in 2010: the sinking of the Cheonan, and shelling of Yeonpyeong island.
For the past decade, the Kaesong zone has turned a bit of the worlds most heavily armed frontier, impassable for half a century, from a front line into a front door. That in itself was revolutionary, as was Seouls intention. A few small and medium enterprises would make money but the main objective was to demonstrate the benefits of cooperation to Pyongyang.
The tragedy is that this was working. An article by regional expert Christopher Green claims that Kim Jong-ils last instructions to his son included one to move decisively to close [Kaesong] as soon as you see a chance.
Kim senior apparently feared the zone was a Trojan horse, daily exposing 55,000 of his subjects to the palpable superiority of the enemys system. Exactly. So why is the South shutting it down?
Will this be the end of hopes that the two Koreas might manage the pragmatic cooperation which has transformed ties between China and Taiwan? With no Kaesong, South and North Koreans will no longer be in contact anywhere on a regular everyday basis. That is a great leap backwards.
A version of this article first appeared on NK News North Korea newsContinue reading
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The shock auteur is back in US cinemas with his second and arguably most extreme film. He shares his thoughts on Trump, Spring Breakers and fake vomit
Hi, John! Where are you?
Im in Provincetown. This is my 52nd summer Ive been here. (1)
Youre about to rerelease a restored version of your second film, Multiple Maniacs, into cinemas to shock a whole new generation. It stars Divine as the crazed impresario of a depraved freak show. How do you feel it plays now 46 years after it originally opened? (2)
Maybe it works better now than it did then. I dont know! Well see. Ive seen it with one audience and it seemed to play pretty well. People seemed startled by it, and it was an audience that had seen everything.
This was my trainer wheels for Pink Flamingos (3). This was when I finally got my voice even though it was too loud and too long. Its making fun of hippie rules of the era, the same way that I make fun of political or gayly correct rules today. I think its exactly like what all my work has been like from the very beginning, really.
How did hippies react to your gonzo vision back in the day?
They liked it! Who came were bikers though. And crazy gay people. And speed freaks. People on LSD. They were all radical within their own community and they responded to it very well.
This was in the peak of peace and love, but it was also at the peak when everything fell apart like crazy. There was such a war going on then between the hippies and the straight world; and straight didnt mean heterosexual it meant you didnt smoke pot or you didnt think the revolution was going to happen.
I read the original negative of the film was kept in your closet before being moved to your attic. Had you even wanted to rerelease it and have it restored?
Ive been trying to get this released for a long time. Basically when the Lincoln Center had a big retrospective of my work and they showed the last 60mm print, the people from Criterion were there and they called (4). I had no idea what they could do with restorations what they could make it look like.
They asked if I wanted to keep it exactly as is, with every mistake in there. I said,
Are you kidding me? I never purposely had mistakes in there! I dont want the splice marks to show, I dont want the dirt in the lens! Make it look good! Now it looks like a bad John Cassavetes movie.
What do you make of Multiple Maniacs returning during the Trump-era?
Lets hope that its not the era of Trump. That would mean he wins.
OK an era during which a reality star can get this far in the race to become president.
Oh, I lived through Nixon. I lived through Reagan. They were all horrible. [Laughs] Would Trump be offended by Multiple Maniacs? Probably not.Continue reading
Lets face it, most of us dream of being in a careerthat give us lifelong memories and adventures, rather than water cooler talk and an unwelcoming cubicle.
At some point, though, we mayhave to putour dreams on hold and take that desk job were not totally in love with.
Were told its all part of growing up, and we have to decide between paying the bills, or exploring the globe and being broke AF.
However, thats not entirely the case at all. There are actually a lot of jobs out there that can keep your wanderlust genemore than satisfied.
If traveling is what your heart desiresat this stage in your life, here are seven jobs that wont make you give up your wanderlust in your 20s.
I have a friend who made a living out of writing about theme parks for travel sites, and Im extremely jealous of her.
As a theme park journalist, youre able to travel to all the new parks, ride every new ride, and sample new, fun food items before anyone else.
You basicallyget to have the time of your life, and writeabout your epic adventures so you can help readersout on their own.
If you miss the days of having a carefree summer at camp filled with nonstop activities and smores late at night, then maybe you should be a camp director.
Whats better than living at camp all summer long?You can truly become one with nature while you spend your days canoeing and swimming in the lake.
My family took a cruise to Alaska, and for one of the port excursionswe went on a ziplining course in the rainforest withAlaska Canopy Adventures. It wasdownright beautiful, and so much fun.
Our tour guides told us they work in Alaska during the summer months, lead tourists on ziplining adventures, and then go home for the rest of the year.
Youre basically paid to zipline and chat with different people from all over the world every day. Dont forget, this is all while youre casually hanging out in the treetops in a gorgeousrainforest.
This maysound unusual to some, but just think about it youre working on a cruise ship, living on the high seas, exploring different ports of call, and entertaining tourists all while making money.
If you love traveling (and cake), you could be a traveling wedding photographer.
Alot of people jet off tospectaculardestinationsto tie the knot, and need their professional photographer to jointo capture all of the memories.
Youget to witness true love, while soaking up the beautiful landscape surrounding you. Dont forget the delicious dessert spread, too.
If you want to travel, theres nothing better than being a flight attendant. Youre literally always going somewhere.
A few hours in the air working, and then youre in a new place you can explore before your next assignment. The best perk about being a flight attendant is, of course, the free flights.
If youve always wanted to go to Europe, but never had the means to go, a job is the perfect excuse.
Atravel companylike Bus2Alpsis perfect for anyone in their 20swho wants to make money, while also exploring Europe.
Bus2Alps is a tour operator for study abroad students who want to take weekend, day, fall break, and spring break trips to places throughout Europe.
You could be a tour guide assisting these students on their journeys, while also making memories of your own.
They travel to places like Interlaken and Prague – which, I dont know about you, but aredefinitely on my bucket list.
If your heart wants adventure, but your brain is saying you have to be making money, theres always a compromise.Continue reading