Q&A: Rhythm NewMedia’s CEO on Mobile Video & The Future of Advertising

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ADOTAS — The mobile platform is fueling the online video industry. Once seen as a hindrance for content providers to overcome, the smaller screen size actually drives people to consume more multimedia like videos over text-based searches and web browsing. With companies like Hulu, ABC, FOX and Netflix already investing heavily in their mobile video viewer apps, video pre-roll has reached new heights, but now there is a need for further refinement in targeting and frequency control options for advertisers.

We recently reached out to Ujjal Kohli (pictured), CEO of the mobile video ad company Rhythm NewMedia to get his thoughts about the burgeoning industry.

Q: What does Rhythm do?

A: Rhythm connects brand advertisers with highly engaged mobile audiences by selling and serving video, rich media and other immersive advertising formats.  We are focused on helping publishers and advertisers build and scale business success by monetizing and scaling the most strategic ad formats for their audiences.

Q: How many publishers does Rhythm work with and what is their reach?

A: Rhythm has partnered with more than 50 premium media companies, typically on an exclusive basis, and we have a portfolio of 200+ properties delivering meaningful brand advertising within the highest-quality content to targeted, relevant audiences

Rhythm is a publisher-first organization. We believe that premium content is the core of our business and major differentiator. We deliver advertisers premium content that consumers active pursue on their mobile devices. The environments are brand-safe, and consumers are lean forward and in pursuit of content. It’s not a surprise consumers are responsive to the ad messaging they receive on publisher sites.

Q: Talk about the problems facing mobile advertising and how it differs from desktop?

A: The primary problem here is our collective ability to understand how a consumer’s mindset differs across environments – and then tailor our marketing accordingly. There is a value exchange that has to happen. Consumers must be shown relevant, engaging ads in exchange for premium and valuable content. If brands deliver irrelevant ads that do not not actively engage the consumer or even more to the point, do not run natively in premium, must-watch content, fair value exchange does not exist. And it’s a total disconnect.

Secondly, digital marketers often make the mistake of simply porting over their desktop executions to the mobile environment, a move that sells short the whole opportunity represented by mobile.

As a company, we are very clear on the differences between the desktop and mobile environments and advocate or enable solutions to help brands and publishers take advantage of that difference. Buyers and sellers of mobile video ads must realize ways that they can most effectively communicate with their audiences on these nascent platforms. Video is ideal because of the visual engagement opportunity.

Avid mobile users have short attention spans, so advertising messages in this environment have to be clear and eye-catching in order to appeal to and generate any effectiveness in that context. These users expect to be the initiators of any activity on their devices. And, they expect a level of control. So, smart advertisers think and develop beyond the one-way communication of their everyday static ad and develop new ways to engage these audiences in a multi-way, multi-stage interaction in order to effectively engage them.

Q: What are the successes of mobile? How does video fit into the picture?

A: Well, as discussed, the mobile environment is unique – given its format and then the consumer mindset that prevails there. Further, video is uniquely poised to take advantage of this, especially when thought is given to strategic ad formats for mobile video. So, we see the two very much working hand in hand to deliver success. Here are just a few things that we see in picture:

  • More advanced targeting: It’s now possible to do more sophisticated audience targeting on mobile, using audience tools and the like. But, also on a really simple basis, frequency capping, a convention that most marketing and media folks are accustomed to, within digital, is possible on mobile too.
  • Precise frequency control: Don’t want your ad shown more than three times to the same viewer? No problem.
  • Really taking a closer look at video, and the part it plays, one of the great things we see is notably high completion rates with no ad skipping. With completion rates above 80% and no ad skipping to speak of, mobile video’s full-screen immersive experience means consumers are actually watching the ads—not just fast forwarding through them on the DVR or skipping ads. This is huge.
  • The ultimate interactivity is achievable. Mobile video advertising allows for engagement beyond the video, with the ability to tap to websites, social media channels, branded content, and anything else marketers can imagine.
  • Superior success metrics. Success metrics for mobile video ads are real-time and detailed, as opposed to the delayed survey-based metrics we used to have to accept. Mobile video ad success metrics can include completion metrics, engagement metrics, brand lift metrics, and in some categories even purchase attribution metrics.

Q: What is the future of advertising?

A: Short-term future, continued focus and enhancement on mobile’s core areas of advantage, as I mentioned earlier: Sharper targeting, precise frequency control, super high completion rates with no ad skipping, interactivity, and superior success metrics.

The long-term future of mobile will be very dramatic as it will absolutely become the first screen for consumer content consumption, and advertisers must follow the consumer and innovate ways to engage and impact their brand perceptions.

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