Few people are loyal to a single screen. We consume content across devices — phones, computers, TVs, even gaming consoles — oftentimes simultaneously. And while certain demographics may lean more toward cable versus streaming versus digital video, most viewers’ attention is distributed among all mediums.
Stuck indoors for most of the year, the average American adult has been spending nearly 12.5 hours a day connected to some form of media, according to an August 2020 Nielsen report.
The rise of this behavior underscores the efforts of a few San Francisco-based companies at the forefront of shaping martech industry trends heading into 2021. They’re offering innovative solutions to reach consumers in precisely this moment — through convergence adtech, engaging AI-based videos and high-touch virtual events.
Adtech platform Amobee is unifying the buying of TV, digital and social advertising to reach audiences everywhere. Cloudinary, a dynamic video platform, leverages AI to create engaging and personalized experiences online. Meanwhile, ON24, a virtual event marketing platform, is maximizing value by gathering first-party data. Read on for a closer look at how these three businesses are accelerating very different, but critical, martech trends for this moment.
Convergence adtech simplifies TV-digital media buying
Brands have long segmented consumers, splitting their marketing efforts into separate teams for TV and digital media buying campaigns. The audiences and objectives often overlap, but the strategies and tactics associated with each are completely different. This has created silos, effectively wasting resources — and in recent years the industry is working toward convergence.
“They have to have converged solutions, they have to think holistically, they need to be more dynamic,” Smolin said.
According to a study by Sizmek, 28 percent of marketers want to reduce the number of vendors they use, while another 36 percent want to use fewer tools for their marketing activities.
It just so happens that Amobee offers such a solution: a single platform that consolidates TV, digital and social media planning and buying, streamlines collaborative workflow, using rich data to better target consumers and AI-led strategies for improving performance.
“It’s no longer about linear TV versus CTV, or premium reserved inventory versus programmatic bidding,” Amobee Chief Commercial Officer Jack Bamberger recently wrote in Adweek.
“It’s the and: linear TV and CTV and digital — including social. Marketers need to reach consumers wherever the message and experience can be most compelling and drive the best business outcomes based on their needs.”
They have to have converged solutions, they have to think holistically, they need to be more dynamic.”
In the uncertain era of COVID-19, brands may be justifiably skittish about this new approach, since ad spending is often a discretionary budget expense. Still, both Smolin and Bamberger have said the bottom line is that consumers have already converged their TV-digital viewing — and it’s up to marketers to join them.
AI-based dynamic video makes conversion irresistible
While convergence adtech is helping streamline media buying across platforms, AI-based dynamic video is proving to be a mighty tool in engaging audiences and boosting conversions.
“Brands understand the power that strong visual experiences deliver when it comes to user engagement, loyalty creation and revenue growth,” said Sanjay Sarathy, VP of marketing for video management platform Cloudinary, commenting on the company's 2020 State of Visual Media report. “The challenge is in delivering visual experiences quickly and consistently across all channels, locations, devices — and at scale.”
Cloudinary’s solution is to leverage AI and automate the process. It might not sound significant, but the simple ability to link to products alongside interactive videos so they become “shoppable” makes a big difference in sales for e-commerce platforms. And this year’s spike in online shopping has underscored the importance of strong visuals in educating and converting sales.
“Social media and online video will be key when it comes to looking at influencing purchasing decisions,” said Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, in a press release about Cloudinary’s growth fueled by demand for video.
Brands understand the power that strong visual experiences deliver when it comes to user engagement, loyalty creation and revenue growth.”
Cloudinary reported this month that its bandwidth grew 140 percent in the second quarter of 2020 as demand for dynamic videos surged, and the assets under its management ballooned to more than 40 billion.
“Our goal is to remove the challenges traditionally associated with managing video at scale; to make it as easy as possible for brands to harness the power of video, allowing anyone to create the most engaging content automatically delivered in the right size and format for a rich and seamless experience, no matter where their audiences are engaged,” said Head of Video Amit Shachak.
Leveraging virtual events to gather first-party data
With the massive shift to virtual events this year, companies have lost a critical opportunity to generate revenue or even sales leads. In fact, Digiday reports that industry experts say digital events are typically only a third as effective as in-person events.
However, virtual event marketing platform ON24 appears to have figured out a way to redeem the value of these events. The platform doesn’t just host webinars and virtual conferences. It’s leveraging what it calls its “record-breaking” business momentum (it says it’s on track to enable more than 4 billion minutes of engagement this year) to help clients create more personalized, interactive experiences that generate prospects.
How can we give audiences the opportunity to tell us their interests so we can optimize their journeys going forward?”
Essentially, ON24 is maximizing virtual events so clients can gather valuable first-party data to inform their marketing strategies, reducing the reliance on third-party cookies. Data gathered directly from virtual event attendees has the advantages of being more accurate, built on high-touch engagement and avoiding data privacy violations. Companies can use the data to determine buying intent and enable their sales teams to personalize lead follow-up.
“That is now the starting point of conversations with publishers,” said Tessa Barron, VP of marketing, in an interview with Digiday. “In a digital-first world, how can we give audiences the opportunity to tell us their interests so we can optimize their journeys going forward, either for ad engagement or ultimately to gain subscribers?”
ON24 is now beginning to take things a step further. The company recently launched ON24 Conversion Tools, a set of solutions to support insights into buying signals and enable sales teams to prioritize and personalize interactions with leads.