Tag Archives: GoTV

Digital Hollywood: Mobile Commerce & Content

Santa Monica, CA—Last night I attended an opening event at Digital Hollywood, namely the party celebrating nominees for the upcoming Mobile Excellence Awards. At the Loew’s Hotel on the beach, guests were treated to a spectacular sunset, a view of the neon-lit Ferris Wheel on the Santa Monica pier and, of course, drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Enthusiasm is high for the actual Mobile Excellence Awards, coming up on December 8th.

Today, I attended a panel on Mobile Commerce & Content, moderated by Steve Bradbury, GoTV vp of content strategy and business affairs and featuring panelists Cheng Wu, Azuki co-founder/chair; Brian K. Johnson, senior vp, Americas and Asia Pacific for mBlox; Larry Berkin, vp of ecosystem and corporate business development for ACCESS Systems Americas; Virgin Mobile USA director of brand development & partnerships Ron Faris and AirPlay Network chair/CEO Morgan Guenther.

GoTVs Steve Bradbury

GoTVs Steve Bradbury

At Loew's Hotel

At Loew's Hotel

Sorry to say I missed the first part of the panel but came in at a perfect moment: when the discussion turned to advertising. Moderator Bradbury asked panelists what advertising model will work in the next 6 to 18 months. “Now it’s the original model of TV: we’ll give you content to get you from one set of ads to the next,” he said.

Guenther agreed with the “TV model” assessment and pointed out that his company’s model was focused on the live event. “When there’s a pause in the action, you look at the mobile phone and match it up with what’s happening in movie theatre or TV screen,” he said. “It’s all abut pacing and what the customer is anticipating.”

Virgin Mobile USA’s Faris admitted that his company doesn’t have the scale, but instead has a niche focused on youth. “Reach and frequency are tenets of advertising, but to bring relevance we’ve had to bring depth of experience,” he said. “We’ve looked at different ways of advertising. When we launched Sugar Mama, a model where you watch content in exchange for free minutes, we didn’t thave the scale to be able to compete. We were up against Google, AOL and so on. We tried to bring in WAP banners and text blasts to bring up the numbers. They were great for reach, but for depth of engagement, which is what we’re using, we were reincarnating things that annoyed us on the web. The WAP banner is nothing more than a banner ad. Text blasts are nothing more than spam. Geo-targeting is great but why do I care? If I get a text blast for Nyquil and don’t have a cold, why should I care? From our perspective, you have to understand what’s relevant and create a deep engagement. I don’t want to keep going in this direction – we have to move into a sponsorship model.”

Berkin pointed out that everyone is in the early stages of mobile advertising. “I come from the download pay- for-application model. It’s a scale business.” He also revealed that ACCESS Systems Americas has created a widget platform that’s ad supported that will roll out on smart phones across the world.

Johnson noted that the text message ad-supported model has taken off. “We’re watching that carefully,” he said. “We see a big increase in free-mium, where you get something for free but maybe you’ll pay something more if you like it. Micro-payments are our biggest growing segment, for example to pay 99 cents to send someone virtual flowers. A mixture of micro payment and ads will pay for content.”

Azuki’s Cheng said that “the mobile ad ecosystem is completely fragmented and totally isolated from advertising.” “Mobile is different from desktop,” he said. “You can’t put 30-second ad for 30-seconds of content. Advertisers have an inventory of 30-second spots, so their resources aren’t fitting the mobile ecosystem.”

One panelist noted that “before we see a truly ad-funded content model, I’d like to see a flourishing one online. “We’re closer to having that scale in the online context, for music in particular,” he said. “There have been attempts for fully ad-funded models but the numbers don’t work. Content costs are steep, and we’re a ways off until we see truly ad-funded mobile content.”

The last word came from Bradbury who spoke about metrics. “Metrics in the online world stink. The numbers are inconcistent. Metrics have to be much more standardized and effective. The same thing in the mobile space, so you can go to a media buyer used to seeing things in a certain way and give them numbers they understand in order to justify putting money into a mobile buy. Then you’ve got a viable campaign. But, for now, metrics are still a big issue.”

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New on the Scene: Vringo

WHO: Vringo
WHAT: A way to share video clips between friends.
WHEN: Founded the beginning of 2006
WHERE: A U.S. company with offices in New York and Israel
HOW: Go to the Vringo website and sign up. They’ll ask for your mobile number, and then send you a clickable link. The buddy list, which requires a nickname and phone number, can be done on the website or mobile phone.
WHY: Why send the ringtone when you can send the music video?

Founded with two rounds of VC money and based on 26 patents pending, Vringo is based on the idea that friends send friends video. More specifically, “buddies” on Vringo can send ring-forward and ring-back clips. “Mobile phones have been traditionally designed so that a phone shuts down all applications when a call comes in,” notes Andrew Perlman. ” With Vringo, you see a clip that your friend has chosen for you.” That clip could be user-generated or licensed content; so far Vringo has over 1,000 clips-to-license from Discovery Channel, Universal Music Group, GoTV, Classic Media and others.

For user-generated clips, the user can record a Vringo from the Vringo application (“Record Vringo”), which automatically turns on the phone’s camera. A finished clip can be immediately uploaded and shared with “buddies” in the Vringo community.

Why haven’t video ringtones taken off in the past? “If you think about audio versus video, people have a tolerance of hearing audio over and over again but video gets tired more quickly,” says Perlman. “You can’t shuffle and see something fresh. Think about merging that idea with the best “recommender” on the planet — your friend. With Vringo, you’re shuffling based on the video your friend sent. It really becomes a community that’s socializing around video ringtones.”

Social networking is key to the Vringo business model. “We’re working our way more deeply into social networks,” says Perlman. “We started specing out our Facebook application, but we’ve tapped into other communities. We think a lot of the content will be user-generated, so we’ve partnered with communities such as Meez, an avatar site with 4 million registered users, that you can import to Vringo. People are already using avatars as a digital signature. We’re focusing on the way on mobile it would be natural to share an avatar.”

The Meez avatars move—they can wave and run—and the user personalizes them, choosing skin tone, features, attire. “It’s a phenomenon and a little bit addictive,” Perlman says. “The avatar is a discrete experience, but it’s a platform fo sharing.”

In the early beta stage, Vringo has “multiple thousands” of users,” says Perlman. What tweaks are they still working on? “We’re fixing it to make it easier,” he says. “The key is really simplicity and ease of use. The thing we really really think we’re good at but want to further improve is to make it as viral as possible. We’re focusing on elements of community and inviting friends based on the contact list on your phone.”

Right now, Vringo is free to users. For the future, Perlman sees the financial model as two-fold: the a la carte purchase of clips in the short-term, with “huge promise” in the ad-funded model down the road. That could be a range from a one- or two-second pre-roll, banner ads or even branded content. “Like BMW films, I think about a 20-second piece of branded content that’s being shared between friends,” says Perlman. “If we get critical mass, that’ll become a real part of our business. We’ve been approached by ad agencies, but this is a long-lead thing.

Vringo is expected to launch formally with at least one mobile carrier before the end of 2008 Q1.

Currently, any Internet-enabled phone can take advantage of Vringo, accessing it via the mobile browser where they cnan view, download and send Vringo videotones. But the full-featured Vringo–which includes installed client, automatic video ringtones and real-time Vringo synchronization, is only available on the following phones.

NOKIA
N70 N73 N76 N80
N81 (8GB) N91 N93 N93i
N95 E60 E61 E61i
E65 6120 Classic 6290
SONY ERICSSON
K610i K800i W850i W880i
MOTOROLA
Moto Q (8)
HTC
S620 (DASH)

Coming soon:
Motorola V3xx, V6, K3
Samsung Blackjack
Nokia N75, E62, 6110, 5500, 5700
What kind of network do I need to use Vringo?
You need a network that offers data (most of them do these days) and with reasonably good coverage. Vringo works best in networks with advanced data services and broadband-like service. This kind of service is frequently called 3G.

Right now, to be able to experience VringBack you must be on a GSM network (like Cingular or T-Mobile). We’re working on ways to extend this service to all types of networks.

Users on non-GSM networks like Verizon or Sprint can still use Vringo. VringForward will work fine, but you won’t get VringBack.

What kind of plan do I need to use Vringo?
You need to be on a data plan. Vringos are uploaded and downloaded with a data connection. The better your connection and your plan, the better the whole thing works.

Where can I get Vringo?
For the length of the private Beta period, you can get Vringo from the Vringo.com website. As we expand the Beta you’ll be able to get it from a variety of software vendors. Don’t worry, it’ll still be free.

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