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Snapchat Intros Lens Creative Partners Program

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Snapchat has launched a global Lens Creative Partners program, designed to connect brands with augmented reality (AR) experts and Lenses creators. The program certifies 30+ creators, from large agencies to expert individuals, who’ve been building engaging, immersive AR Lenses for Snap since the launch of Lens Studio. In total, Snapchat expects to onboard 100+ creators over the next several months.

Snapchat aims to give brands easy access to expert AR ad creators, no matter their budget, brand, or location. By expanding its network of skilled creators, Snapchat is continuing to lower the barrier for brands to create and run sponsored AR, while simultaneously championing (and helping monetize) the creative AR community. These certified creators are experienced in developing quality AR, and have completed a rigorous course about the development process, creative best practices, ad policies and buy models for sponsored AR Lenses on Snapchat.

Within the Middle East, agencies such as Leo Burnett, TBWA and Saatchi & Saatchi have already come on board as Lens Creative Partners.

AR on Snapchat

Augmented Reality is a key part of the Snapchat app — over 70 million people play with AR “Lenses” on the app per day. Each of those daily users average 3 minutes doing so, which adds up to 500 years of daily AR play time on the app.

The Lens Studio ecosystem is also thriving. To date, over 250,000 Lenses have been submitted through the tool, which have been viewed by Snapchatters over 15 billion times.

This is because Snapchat’s home screen is a camera that invites users to create, rather than more passively scroll through a feed of content. That design choice helped Snapchat pioneer ‘talking with pictures’ (a core use of the app), and popularize augmented reality for the masses – like the famous puppy face or dancing hot dog.

Lenses became a viral hit for advertisers in late 2015, as millions of users began choosing to play with brand campaigns that turned their heads into tacos, dunked them with Gatorade, and so on. Lenses can massively boost awareness or sales for a brand, product, film — as the average user plays with a Lens for 10-15 seconds, and can then send that fun Snap to their friends, which is a powerful recommendation.

Snapchat has continued to evolve the format, launching 3D World (object) Lenses last year after the success of the famous dancing hot dog Lens. In April, the company launched ‘Shoppable AR‘, a new type of AR Lens advertising that in addition to boosting awareness, adds a button users can tap to browse a product page, download an app, or watch a movie trailer. This feature, combined with the Snap Pixel released for all advertisers in June, allows advertisers to measure the return on their investment by tracking the purchases made after engaging with the AR ad.

Adweek wrote on the highly efficient pricing and ROI this summer, now that Lenses have a full suite of targeting and measurement: “Advertisers can pay between $10 and $14 for 1,000 AR lens plays with no minimum ad buy. Another option is a Snap ad that requires users to swipe up to unlock an AR feature. Those are even cheaper, ranging between $3 and $5 per 1,000 impressions.

According to Nielsen Catalina, the campaigns seem to work. The measurement company—which recently expanded its partnership with Snap for increased ad-targeting—measured 22 CPG brand campaigns and found an average sales lift of 10 percent. Nielsen’s in-app polling also found that lenses increased ad awareness by 19 points while also increasing brand lift by 7 points.

“We are excited to be a launch partner for the Creative Lens Partner programme with Snapchat. AR offers us the opportunity to bring ideas to life in more unexpected and immersive ways, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Snapchat to bring their knowledge and expertise in-house across our region,” said Noah Khan, Regional Head of Digital and Innovation – CEE, Africa and Middle East, TBWA.

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Free Fire to Celebrate 5th Anniversary with Justin Bieber

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Free Fire’s 5th-anniversary celebrations are off to an exciting start as it launches a spectacular 5-part extravaganza to delight fans and players. The festivities are set to culminate on 27 August with several in-game content drops involving global icon Justin Bieber, who is headlining this special anniversary collaboration. The Free Fire community can revel and reminisce iconic anniversary celebrations over the years with the weekly rollout of 5 specially-designed chapters – Battle, Style, Map, Hero and Memory. Experience new in-game events, gain exclusive rewards, and enjoy Free Fire like never before. 

Free Fire will host its first ever in-game performance on 27 August, with Justin Bieber set to debut an exclusive track “Beautiful Love (Free Fire)” as part of the 5th-anniversary celebrations. Players can look forward to immersing themselves in an interactive set-up, groove along to custom emotes, participate in minigames and potentially even perform with Justin Bieber’s avatar on stage. A permanent in-game character modelled after Justin Bieber will also be unveiled and distributed to all players.

To commemorate this unique celebration, Free Fire will also give away the highly coveted Magic Cube to players, allowing them to easily redeem their favourite exclusive costume bundles and battle in style. Players will be able to try their hand at various daily and time-limited missions, accumulating tokens which can be swapped for exclusive rewards in the exchange store. With iconic costumes and classic guns available to unlock during these missions, players can expect a nostalgic and exciting experience every day.

Expansive, dynamic maps are iconic features of Free Fire and players can look forward to the release of a new map Nexterra, which has been enhanced with various elements to elevate and diversify the battle experience for players. There will also be new game modes for players to explore, including:

  • A new limited-time mode Free For All. Set against the backdrop of El Pastelo, it will simulate intense close combat point-based matches where up to 16 players will battle it out. Players will be able to select their own weapons and can obtain points by eliminating other players. Matches will be decided by the first player to accumulate a predetermined amount of points.
  • An exclusive 5th-anniversary mode Droid Apocalypse, which will see 12 players compete in each match, vying to become the ultimate droid. Players will get to select their own type of droid and convert as many humans as possible before the timer runs out. When only a predetermined number of humans remain, they will transform into hunters and have enhanced stats, as well as the ability to permanently eliminate droids. Points can be gained based on performance and the player with the most points after three rounds will win the match.
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New Malicious Campaign Hunts Discord Messenger Users

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On July 26, using the internal automated system for monitoring open-source repositories, Kaspersky researchers identified a malicious campaign dubbed LofyLife. The campaign employed 4 malicious packages spreading Volt Stealer and Lofy Stealer malware in the open-source npm repository to gather various information from victims, including Discord tokens and credit card information, and to spy on them over time.

The npm repository is a public collection of open-source code packages widely used in front-end web apps, mobile apps, robots and routers, and also to serve countless needs of the JavaScript community. Its popularity makes the LofyLife campaign even more dangerous, as it could potentially have affected numerous users of the repository.

The identified malicious repositories appeared to be packages used for ordinary tasks such as formatting headlines or certain gaming functions, however, they contained highly obfuscated malicious JavaScript and Python code. This made them harder to analyze when being uploaded to the repository. The malicious payload consisted of malware written in Python dubbed Volt Stealer, and a JavaScript malware dubbed Lofy Stealer, which possesses numerous features.

Volt Stealer was used to stealing Discord tokens from the infected machines along with the victim’s IP address and upload them via HTTP. The Lofy Stealer, a new development from the attackers, is able to infect Discord client files and monitor the victim’s actions – detecting when a user logs in, changes email or password details, enables or disables multi-factor authentication and adds new payment methods, including full credit card details. Collected information is also uploaded to the remote endpoint.

“Developers rely heavily on open-source code repositories – they use them to make IT-solution developments faster and more efficient and significantly contribute to the development of the IT industry as a whole. As the LofyLife campaign shows, however, even reputable repositories cannot be trusted by default – all code, including open-source code, that a developer injects into his products becomes their own responsibility. We’ve added detections of this malware to our products, so users who run our solutions will be able to identify whether they have been infected and remove the malware,” comments Leonid Bezvershenko, a security researcher at Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team.

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Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) Removed From Google Play Store and Apple App Store in India

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India blocked a popular battle-royale format game from Krafton Inc, a South Korean company backed by China’s Tencent, using a law it has invoked since 2020 to ban Chinese apps on national security concerns, a source said. Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) was removed from Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store as of Thursday evening in India.

The removal of BGMI, which had more than 100 million users in India, comes after India’s 2020 ban of another Krafton title, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). The PUBG crackdown was part of New Delhi’s ban of more than 100 mobile apps of Chinese origins, following a months-long border standoff between the nuclear-armed rivals.

The ban has expanded since to cover more than 300 apps, including popular gaming app ‘Free Fire’, owned by Singapore’s technology group Sea Ltd. Tencent held a 13.5% stake in Krafton as of end-March through an investment vehicle, according to Krafton’s regulatory filing.

Krafton shares slumped more than 9% on the news on Friday, later paring losses to trade down 4.5% as of afternoon trade in Seoul. The company said in May India accounted for a high single-digit percentage of its revenue in the first quarter of this year.

According to news reports, a Google spokesperson said it blocked the game following a government directive. In Seoul, a Krafton spokesperson said the developer was talking to relevant authorities and companies to figure out the exact situation regarding the suspension in the two major app stores in India.

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