By Mike Edelhart and Rohan Castelino
Traditional advertising -- the notion that corporate messages must be delivered broadly in tidy, uniform packets -- only came into existence because, in the past, it was impossible to get exactly the right information and experiences to exactly the right people at exactly the right time. Clearly, getting people just what they want/need at exactly the best moment would be both effective and delightful.
But how can this best be done? Sadly, first gen digital advertising hasn’t achieved this goal. Instead of effective efficiency, we have had an escalating array of monetizable ad units shoved in our faces. Even video, widely held as the best element of current digital advertising, has fallen far short of its potential. While there has been some innovation beyond pre-roll, there is just as much disruption to user experience via latency, buffering and invasive video ad units (Placing a video ad in the middle of an article a person is reading is not “native". It's just rude). Like pollution in the physical economy, this represents digital clutter and clumsiness.
What publishers and advertisers have been lacking when it comes to engagement is tact. Winston Churchill once said that tact is the act of telling someone to go to hell in such a way that they looked forward to the trip. Comparing ad watching to eternal damnation may be a tad hyperbolic, but the point is that when we interrupt someone’s viewing experience to make them watch something not of their choice, we better deliver a worthy benefit to them.
The key: relevance. People will happily watch video that provides them the information they need or simply hits their personal delight buttons. If content isn’t truly relevant, they won’t engage and if that content is obtrusive, they will react quite negatively. Hence the rise of ad blockers.
So, how can we get truly relevant video content, tactfully, in front of people? Branded video with its high production value, narrative structure, and the sensibilities of brilliant storytellers certainly presents an opportunity to deliver advertising in a way that is actually enjoyable to the user. But this content must be surfaced with great precision, with tact. Happily, innovations such as A.I., machine, and cognitive learning are helping brands and publishers to more smartly deliver video to users on a one to one level.
We call this Personalized Video Programming, the integration of expert systems and analytically derived best practices that enable publishers and brands to increase video consumption, user engagement, and retention by getting exactly the right video to the right person at the right time for the right reason.
Publishers have been challenged with the prospect of making their websites as sticky as a social platform. Publishers want to transition power back to their owned and operated digital properties with technology they can control. And with the use of tools such as the IRIS.TV Video Programming Platform they can. IRIS.TV allows publishers to create ad inventory that would not have existed otherwise by creating streams that target specific users. Before such tools, publishers were making playlists of content for millions of people hoping, without any real basis, that people would watch any video after the first clip. Now they can create millions of individualized playlists for millions of people on the fly.
Hundreds of IRIS.TV customers worldwide are now using Personalized Video Programming to translate their audiences from social platforms into real engagement and revenue on their owned and operated properties. They are owning the relationship with their audience, monetizing their content effectively, and are taking back power from the walled gardens of YouTube and Facebook.
Rohan Castelino is the Director of Business Development & Marketing for IRIS.TV. Mr. Castelino has over 12 years international experience working in the intersection of media and technology. He spent six years in Beijing and Shanghai where he helped develop and finance international film and television co-productions with China, Hollywood and Europe. Prior to joining IRIS.TV, Rohan worked with major media companies such as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, and Illumination Entertainment.
Mike Edelhart is the managing partner of Social Starts, one of the most active moment-of-inception venture funds in the US. A pioneering media and Internet startup executive, Mike became widely known in tech circles as the original Executive Editor of PC Magazine. Find Mike on Twitter @MikeEdelhart.