Jean Maurice Touboul Makes Video Watchers Click-Happy – Interview


The following is an interview that I had with Kevin Wallach for Performance Marketing. This interview was published on August 22.

Performance marketing is all about change. While today’s buzz may be mostly about mobile marketing, tomorrow’s hot topic could easily be video. According to Borrell & Associates, “Online video spending is forecasted to account for more than 1/3rd of all online advertising in 5 years.” For marketing professionals 1/3rd of any overall advertising budget is a big number. So when I caught up with an old colleague, Jean Maurice Touboul whose company EnContext had broken into video marketing in a big way I had a lot to ask him.

Jean, first can you tell me a bit about your professional background leading up to this current venture?

I’ve come from a background of entertainment having gone to film school, working on a dozen or so film projects and with Disney in distribution. This is where I started using what we called New Media, video solutions in an industry where celluloid was it! Eventually the Internet started to take shape and I always had the feeling that media such as film and video were a natural for the Internet making it possible for anyone almost anywhere to be connected in some way and enjoy similar programs and with them feelings, desire, attractions. Today the technology has advanced so much and it is so accessible that this convergence is no longer limited by technical issue. Images, the Internet are all entwined into this new media that we watch and enjoy every day using all kinds of devices.

What was it like working at a media giant like Disney?

Disney is a household name in the US and throughout the world, and probably more so in countries like Japan or Taiwan and China so opening distribution for Disney in Asia was a blast. We were received like liberators arriving in an occupied country. Europe was much more challenging but overall working at Disney was like a dream and to some extent it was a dream since we were pushing the concept of a mouse that was entertaining, teaching, showing, goofing around.

How did the work you did at companies like Disney and Commission Junction help lead to the creation of your current project EnContext?

EnContext is a direct result of my experience at Disney and CJ or World Avenue for that matter, combining the ultimate form of entertainment, moving pictures, with the Internet and ultimately lead generation as well as the incredible power of knowledge that the Net can provide. Watching films and videos all day long and viewing things that actors wore or were using or places that I was attracted to made me wonder why I could not simply click on the image and get these items or information on what I saw. Quite a few years later, the result in EnContext.

Can you explain a bit more about what EnContext does for advertisers and marketers?

EnContext enables viewers watching videos to click on almost anything that is seen on a frame and be connected to a web page where information on that item is available and a purchase can be completed. The system uses geo-targeting and optimization to deliver the right web page to the viewer wherever this person may be. This in itself is a great advantage for advertisers. However what this technology does is to turn video, a passive media that we watch for information or enjoyment purposes, into what I call a pro-active media that invites people to know more about what they are watching or getting something that they see and like.

As a lead generator I’m always inclined to look at something from the perspective of my own business. In terms of B2C lead generation can you elaborate on how your company can help?

Videos like ads can be used (and to some extent are already used) to generate leads, however they typically contain only one link to an advertiser’s website. EnContext enables us to put as many links as we want in a video, so you can imagine a typical city scene with someone walking in front of a store while a car is driving by. We can link most everything this person wears such hat, shoes, suit, watch and so on as well as add a link for the store (let say Macy’s) and the car (Audi for the sake of example). The videographer or film maker can make deals with any advertisers that fits the bill for what the on-screen person is wearing as well as make a deal with Macy’s and Audi. Leads can then be paid by one of these entities when an action at their site is recorded. EnContext enables all this to happen from the encoding to the tracking and recording of clicks as well as action on the advertiser’s “action” page.

Do you serve mobile advertisers and marketers as well? Are online and mobile the same as far as your technology is concerned? If there are differences can you explain them briefly please?

EnContext is compatible with most Smart Phones and Tablets. As far as the technology is concerned there are no differences. However there are obvious limitations in terms of screen size with Smart Phones. This being said, Smart phones and tablets offer a new level of targeting that is unique since their geo-location can be better defined than simply relying on IP address. As a result, I believe that there is tremendous potential in that space for EnContext.

How well does your technology work in terms of creating sales? Is it typical that a visitor to a video makes a decision to purchase at a later time?

We are testing various solutions to enhance sales on video that are encoded with EnContext. For example realizing that not everyone would click on something when they see it, we are implementing an option to review/replay specific sequence of a video that features items that were offered but that may have been missed by the viewer.
Major video content owners like Disney seem like obvious fits for your technology but what about the smaller, viral video producers out there on YouTube and other video sharing sites?

Do you think your technology will spur the entry of people into affiliate marketing who previously had no experience with it for example?

Actually I believe that this technology can help the smaller and what you call viral producer much more than large conglomerates like Disney since it would provide 1) more depth to any program that wants to carry a message by linking the video to web sites that are relevant and contain information that complement the video. As importantly and 2) it could help independent producers who struggle with distribution and, indirectly, generating returns the opportunity to create revenue streams that could last for a long time. As a matter of fact they could also use this technology to enhance the SEO of some sites since it would be yet another way to attract traffic and links.

As far as providing this technology for entry-level affiliates, this is precisely what we are working on for the next generation of EnContext Advertising. The technology is already in place but we have to finalize the offering to users and how far we want to go as far as connecting affiliates’ videos to affiliate networks.

You’ve made a great case for advertisers to use your technology but what other uses do you see for it outside of the marketing world?

I really believe that EnContext is an ideal solution for enhancing educational programs. We have a perfect example on our website of an educational program explaining the discovery of the Atomic Nucleus that we linked to a many websites. Each website enhances the video by enabling the user to know more about the scientists that discovered the Atomic Nucleus and their work. The current research on Atomic decay and related research at the super accelerator at CERN in Switzerland, and so on. The possibilities are endless and could truly take video learning at a new level.

Seems like social media such as Facebook could really make use of your technology. I can imagine a Facebook user uploading a video of a wedding for example and tagging friends in the video. Any chance we’ll see big news in the future involving your company and one of the big social media players?

Absolutely, this is something that we see as well as that we are working to implement whereby someone could tag friends, items, things to get or send, etc.

If you had to name one thing that has been your biggest inspiration as an entrepreneur what would it be?

That may sound predictable but my biggest inspiration comes from my experience at CJ as a model for working as a team focused on being the best and with a very clear purpose. I also inspire myself from Google as a model for vision and quality before profits, something that I believe is paramount to any company’s success.

How can you be reached if readers have additional questions?

I’d love to hear from anyone who has a question or comment and can be reached via email at jeantouboul@encontextadvertising.com or by phone at 415-670-9397 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            415-670-9397      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

You can also find out more about EnContext here.

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Another “How To” About Lead Gen that Keep the Most Important Question Out!


I just reviewed the latest edition of “Website Magazine” and noted that they had what appeared to be a promising article on “Lead Gen” but realized very quickly that this was, yet again, an article about the basic of “What Is” but skipped the most important question “How to get Traffic to Convert Users Into Leads and Customers”.

The real secret of Lead Gen is not how wonderful you landing page should be or how easy it should be for a visitor to register. These are an absolute minimum requirement to the success of any Lead Gen campaign an d they are key. However the real success of a lead gen campaign is how to acquire traffic at a cost that enables the advertiser to make have a viable business.

This, in my view is the real secret of generating lead gen and the rest including improving landing page design, A B testing, optimization, etc. will follow. After all no matter how great your page look and how wonderful the product or service you offer may be, without traffic you will never be known.

We have tried to address this problem with our platform OnwardClick (www.onwardclick.com) and we think that we’ve come up with the answer on how to gauge the value of a lead relative to our cost of traffic acquisition, and so far we seem to be right on the money.

If you want to know more contact me at jtouboul@onwardclick.com

Here is the link to the article on “Website Magazine”: http://www.websitemagazine.com/scripts/sub/digital.aspx?issue=68&startpage=36

6 Keys to Harnessing the Power of Big Data


6 Keys to Harnessing the Power of Big Data – Published by Victoria Zagorsky:

For many years, organisations relied on surveys and other research methods to obtain insights into customers’ needs, attitudes, and behaviours. Traditional data collection methods, including face-to-face and telephone surveys were expensive and time-consuming, which meant that marketers dealt with a relatively limited amount of data. As online research gained traction, data collection became significantly cheaper, faster and less complicated. However, surveys measure only what customers self-report, and while an increase in volume of attitudinal data improved our ability to deliver deeper customer insight, developing a holistic 360 degree view of customers’ experience was still a challenge.

Big data represents a turning point in how customer insights are generated. We have an access to unprecedented volumes of streaming data from a diverse set of sources within and outside an organisation. Many of these types of data can be integrated with the primary research findings to develop a holistic understanding of customers’ needs, attitudes and behaviours. We can link customers’ self-reported attitudes and behaviours (captured in surveys) to socio-demographic information, as well as transactional/account-level and behavioural data. Customers’ movements across the web can be tracked, and their call center records can be analysed. We can listen to their conversations on social media to develop an understanding of their perceptions about brand and customer experience. Loyalty schemes may provide an additional source of data. All of these including other data sources (such as third party data) can be integrated to yield unprecedented insights into customers’ experience.

Organisations that have access to the granular customer-level data are best positioned to leverage the power of the big data. Retailers are well-known for using big data to enhance targeting and to deliver personalised offers and promotions, such as in Target’s often cited case of sending coupons for pregnancy-related goods to a teenage girl before she had a chance to inform her parents. Companies in the financial services, travel, hospitality, and telecom sectors also take advantage of the big data to improve customer experience/retention and to drive business growth. Other organisations are at the beginning of the journey and experimenting with the uses of the big data to explore how it can help them secure a competitive edge.

Data streams may vary across different industries; however, there are six common themes that should be at the top of the agenda of those businesses that aim to harness the power of the big data to deliver a deeper customer insight:

Redefine Industry Paradigm: From Data Collection to Synthesis
The role of market researchers will need to evolve from data collection to synthesis. Data collection has been at the core of market research discipline; however, when presented a business issue, we will need to think not only of the data collection methodology but also explore a variety of pre-existing data sets. We will need to combine primary research results with the other types of information, and perform an analysis in order to derive meaning from the data and to generate actionable insights that will drive more informed business decisions. For example, a customer insights team at the retail bank can marry the results of the NPS* program with the socio-demographic and account-level information as well other types of data (such as phone banking call records) to improve customer experience and loyalty.

Promote Data Sharing and Collaboration
As focus is shifting towards data synthesis, it is vital for corporate researchers to have access to data from a variety of sources and to collaborate closely with analytics groups. One of the greatest challenges that many organisations confront is the existence of barriers that impede data sharing across business silos. An emphasis should be placed on cultivating data-driven culture and promoting data sharing. Organisations should also integrate research functions with analytics groups and foster collaboration between the two in order to facilitate data synthesis and analysis.

Invest in Technology and Skills
To leverage the power of Big Data, the infrastructure must be in place to ensure that all data are stored in a common location and internal stakeholders have access to customer information for their decision making. Organisations need to invest into developing two sets of skills. First, technology proficiency is important to ensure that stakeholders can access and utilize customer information. However, data on its own has very limited value, and without skills to interpret data, an organisation has a risk of becoming data rich but insight poor. Human intelligence is needed to attach context and translate raw numbers into insight to tell a story that will help business achieve its objectives. It is therefore critical to develop data competence skills.

Manage Quality of Data
One of the guiding principles at the heart of market research is that quality of inputs is essential to producing meaningful results. It is widely known as “garbage in, garbage out”, and the effectiveness of big data initiatives is to a very large extent a function of the quality of data. No matter how sophisticated the analysis is, wrong data will generate misleading results. And while the responsibility for the quality of data in research programs lies primarily with the research teams, managing the quality of big data requires an organisation-wide commitment and coordinated efforts of diverse business units.

Define Objectives and Set Priorities
Any effective market research program begins with clearly defined objectives. Similarly the Big Data initiatives require a focused approach and a clear understanding of challenges that an organisation needs to address using data. Due to the abundance and variety of the data, it may be difficult to decide which data sources to use and how to synthesise data effectively to generate actionable insights. For example, to develop an effective customer retention program, retail banks may explore a variety of data sources including transactional information across multiple channels, web-tracking data, social media, voice recordings, correspondence and survey findings. Attempting to analyse and integrate all available data is an overwhelming task, and without clear set of priorities and direction, Big Data efforts are likely to fail.

Focus on Actionable Insights
According to estimates, 2.7 zetabytes of data already exist in the digital universe1, and every 1.2 years, volume of business data worldwide doubles. Despite data explosion, we have not witnessed similar increase in the quantity of actionable insights that can positively impact company’s bottom line. Research departments must focus on translating data into insights that drive business impact and add value to an organisation. Finding the story behind the numbers and delivering meaningful insights requires an adequate understanding of customers, market and wider business context. To maximize ROI, it is also critical to communicate insights effectively and to collaborate with internal stakeholders to translate findings into action plans to help business achieve its objectives.

Big Data is poised to revolutionise the process of uncovering customer insights. Synthesizing traditional research results with a variety of other data gives market researchers an unprecedented opportunity to develop a holistic, insightful 360 degree view of customers at the individual and group levels.

Victoria Zagorsky is Consumer Insights Manager at Citibank.

ComScore and Crackle Partner for Cross-Platform Video Measurement


ComScore and Crackle Partner for Cross-Platform Video Measurement – By Troy Dreier – Posted on Streming Media on March 22, 2013
In a first-of-its-kind offering, ComScore will provide a complete measure for desktop, mobile, connected TV, and game console.

Getting complete measurements for online video has been a challenge, thanks to the fragmented nature of online video distribution, but this week measurement specialist comScore announced a partnership with Crackle that will expand video measurement into new areas.

While industry measures are typically limited to one platform, comScore is making its first foray into cross-platform audience measurement, says comScore vice president Andrew Lipsman. This will include mobile devices, connected TVs, and game consoles. The first client for this measurement is Crackle, Sony’s free ad-supported movie and TV show streaming service. Starting in the second quarter of this year, Crackle will be able to show its advertisers thorough audience numbers for playback on all devices and over 20 apps.

The difficulty in creating cross-platform measurements is that there’s a lot of overlap to the audience. It’s simple to deduplicate the audience when measuring two platforms, Lipsman said, but not so simple with the fifth or sixth platform. comScore has created a method for doing so, but it requires big data, says Lipsman. Publishers send comScore direct information on video activity, which comScore combines with its own research. In order to work out the deduplicaton factor, it needs a sizable overlap for each platform, and that means enormous data sets.

“Right now we did this specifically with Crackle ,but certainly it’s something that could be used with other content providers,” Lipsman says.

Crackle also made news today when parent company Sony announced that the service’s movies and shows are now integrated into the PlayStation Store. That makes them more easily available to PlayStation’s network of over 110 million users. Compared to other free ad-supported movie sites, such as Popcornflix, Crackle looks to have more recognizable titles. Crackle also offers original titles, which should help it stand out.

Link to article: http://bit.ly/WZG93k

Live Webcast: Speed Analytics and Simplify Cloud with IBM PureSystems


Live Webcast: Speed Analytics and Simplify Cloud with IBM PureSystems
Join us for this LIVE Event on:
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
11:00 am ET / 8:00 am PT

IBM PureSystems fundamentally change the experience and economics of IT. These deeply integrated and tuned systems capture expertise from thousands of data center optimizations to make IT deployment and management faster and easier. Because these systems are built for cloud and tuned to specific workloads, our clients can balance performance and scalability for their critical computing and data needs.

Join this webcast on February 12th to learn from clients, IBM experts, and business partners how the latest PureSystems announcements can help you:

  • Accelerate big data analytics to gain new insights from the volume, velocity and variety of your data
  • Simplify cloud transformation and deployment for agility and cost effectiveness
  • Consolidate systems, applications, and databases to simplify management and reduce expense

Speakers:

Bob Picciano
General Manager, IBM Information Management

Jason Gartner
Vice President, PureSystems Product Management

Jeff Howard
Vice-President, Marketing, IBM PureFlex System

Register now by clicking here

Dummy Tries to Sale Domain


Here’s a funny anecdote I have to tell.

A short while ago I received one of these email offering me to buy a domain name “encontext.com” from some person that I’ve never heard of before.  Note that I own encontextmedia.com and encontextadvertising.com so a least the initial attempt to get me interested in this “root” domain made sense.

Typically, I ignore these types of email offers since I am not keen on spending any money for the sake of a domain name but this is a name that I researched a few months back and that was no available at the time.  Additionally, my company’s name: EnContext Media LLC is just fine and while “EnContext” would be cool to have, I did not care too much at this juncture.  Finally, and until now, I’ve never felt the need (and I hate the idea) to pay more than the 9.00 bucks or less for a domain name anyways.

Nevertheless, out of curiosity, and, since I had an initial interest in this domain, I decided to check out who was the owner now by looking up the “Who Is” on GoDaddy.  I logged on to GoDaddy, entered the domain “encontext.com” name and… Low and behold… It was available for purchase at the basic $9.00.  At this price, why not.  I made the purchase.

Thanks dummy for letting me know that this domain was available again.  This worked out better than any alert I could have set.

One word of advice to the dummy though. If you are going to try to con someone out of a few dollar, at least try to do it in a smart way.

Check out our new site http://www.encontext.com