Curious about the next big thing in digital marketing? Check out these new companies that are changing the landscape.
How do you connect with startups?
That's the question posed by David Knox, CMO of Rockfish Interactive, in kicking off the Sneak Peek presentation at this week's iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Miami. Calling them the "canary in the marketing coalmine," Knox explained that startups are vital in that they are the best way to find out what's coming next in digital marketing. Because of this, and because startups are often "risking it all" financially, they deserve the most respect from the brands and agencies that often dismiss them.
"There's a real opportunity with startups for a win-win situation for both of you," Knox said. "They can dramatically transform your business and create new revenue models. Because these companies are at an early stage, they have the ability to change their business model to better accommodate what your business needs." With that, Knox -- who served as one of the judges during the Sneak Peek session -- introduced the four presenting startups that might just be "the next game changers in digital media."
Noah Beck, co-founder of TV Dinner, stepped up to the plate first. He presented an iPad application that will enable people "to share millions of hours of TV viewing experience every day." The concept was born from three factors: the remarkable popularity of television, the desire to share life experiences, and the paradigm shift to the "new TV." Citing Nielsen and Yahoo studies, respectively, Beck pointed out that the average American spends nearly five hours every day watching television, and 86 percent of mobile web users are on their mobile devices while watching television. TV Dinner has set out to take advantage of these trends.
"When you launch the application, you register and then choose your TV dinner -- the show you want to watch," he said. After getting set up, you get comments, questions, and screen shots, or "nibbles," that you share with your friends as your watch the show. Essentially, it is a way to experience television in which the brands involved will be participating -- rather than bombarding -- users with messages.
GraphEffect co-founder and CEO James Borrow was up next to explain how his company was basically "Facebook advertising on steroids." Founded in 2010, GraphEffect has already worked with the likes of Microsoft, IMAX, and Live Nation. Borrow explained how the company had developed a platform that enables it to show a brand's ads only to interested users who will "evangelize" the brand message.
GraphEffect is a Facebook advertising platform specifically developed to identify social influencers and increase conversions within the Facebook feed. The GraphEffect platform finds users who generate the most "likes" through Facebook ads and targets these individuals as the "types of people who generate viral growth." In the end, the company shrinks user acquisition costs and facilitates "engaging, repetitive, and monetizable interaction."
Elizabeth Zalman of MediaArmor wanted to answer one of the most pressing questions facing digital marketers today: What's holding mobile back from unleashing its power? With 293 million subscribers and 93 percent penetration in the U.S. alone, mobile "is the only advertising vehicle that's reaching consumers 24/7, and thus has huge potential for personalization." MediaArmor is here to help brands and agencies harness the full capacity of mobile by measuring ROI, analyzing and optimizing data, and unifying reporting. Fundamentally, Zalman explained, the company is a one-stop-shop for "unified reporting, analytics, and measurement in mobile display advertising."
Closing the Sneak Peak was Josh Hernandez, CEO of TapMe, an "engagement engine for games." Games are the second biggest content category on mobile, but "current in-game advertising doesn't work for anyone -- the player, the developer, or the advertisers," Hernandez said. TapMe integrates advertising into the game, a rewarding strategy that's proven successful; by the end of the year, there will be more than 10 million users on the TapMe platform.
Hernandez used bitFLIP, similar to Bejeweled, to illustrate how the TapMe platform works. Users who want to increase the speed of game can click on an ad for "Alice in Wonderland," the recent Tim Burton movie -- "because the white rabbit is always rushing." When they click on the ad, not only does the game get quicker, but they are suddenly playing to get rewarded with a half-off coupon for the movie at Target. By adding context to in-game advertising, TapMe transforms the ad from an interruption of the game to an integration into it.
Chosen by the Breakthrough Summit advisory board, these four companies, each in the early stages of funding, are changing digital marketing. The real question is: Will you be able to keep up?
Lucia Davis is associate editor at iMedia Connection.
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