Human Creativity: The Next Dimension

VidMob Partners with Amazon to Tap the Power of Machine Learning for Content Creation, Optimization, and Discovery

This is the start of a new chapter for VidMobthe launch of the Agile Creative StudioTM.

We have spent the past seven months building a first-of-its-kind creative insights platform to enable marketers to understand, at a deep level, which creative choices drive business goals. Up until now, marketers have been limited to “asset level” performance data, e.g. Asset A did better/worse than Asset B. No data to explain why, and thus, nothing to take action on.  Guesswork is so 2017. We are building a complete set of tools to give brands a comprehensive understanding of how specific creative attributes within videos impact campaign performance.

Not sure where to place your logo?
Wondering which color pairings drive view duration?
Curious as to how a celebrity spokesperson impacts conversion?

We can tell you.

Want to know if showing the puppy boosts ROAS?
Need to prove to your boss that giggles drive more leads?
Interested to know if drum beats generate higher ROI than violin melodies?

Easy.

The Agile Creative Studio is about knowing which creative characteristics move the needle on the KPIs you care about. It doesn’t end there, because, what good is knowing cool stuff if you can’t act on it?  Our creative analysts and expert creators are at the ready to deliver optimized creative assets based on insights while campaigns are live. This means your creative keeps getting stronger and your campaign performance improves with time.    

Over the course of the next few months, we will unveil the full toolset, but we don’t want to keep you in suspense. Here is an overview of what we’ve got cooking.  

If you want to learn more about how Agile Creative Studio can work for your business, drop us a line at agile@vidmob.com.

 

Using AI + Data to Drive Better Creative

In the past, to understand what drives creative performance, there’s traditionally been two ways to break down a creative execution into its elemental pieces:

1.   You can eyeball it. This creative featured the dog and performed better than that creative that featured the cat.

2.   You could manually code the creative for the presence or absence of specific elements of interest—such as whether or not there was a voice over, a product shot, or human presence, among other things.

The problem is, eyeballing it isn’t an exact science, nor is it very granular. And coding remains an extremely manual, often prohibitively expensive, process that requires you to:

(Step 1) Brainstorm

Identify all the creative elements you think might have had an effect on performance (don’t miss any!).

(Step 2) Create Data Structure

Construct a code frame to organize and capture the elements.

(Step 3) Manually Enter Data

Find someone with a lot of time on their hands to pore over every ad multiple times and fill out the code frame for each individual ad you’re curious about.

(Step 4) Review

And, finally, analyze performance and interpret the results.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

But, what if we could eliminate eyeballing all together AND skip right to Step 4?

At VidMob, we’re building solutions that utilize the latest advances in computer vision, optical character recognition, and human-in-the-loop to allow marketers to gain a near real-time understanding of how key creative characteristics differently drive audience engagement. With this insight from our Agile Creative Studio (currently in beta), marketers can make data-driven creative decisions and more rapidly put into market beautiful ads that will resonate with their audiences.

Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report Is Here

If you can’t find the time to comb through the nearly 300-page deck containing Mary Meeker’s much-anticipated 2018 Internet Trends, we’ve got you covered.

Below are some of our top takeaways about what’s in store for video and advertising, plus a few pointed findings that affirm our mission here at VidMob.

1. Tech Will Unlock Human Potential

Meeker headlines the 21st century’s growth as one lead by the power of technology coupled with human potential. This prediction particularly hits home for us because it encompasses both the how and why we built VidMob—to harness the power of technology and deep learning in order to enhance (rather than replace) human creativity’s endless possibilities.  

2.  Tech Is Driving Surge in On-Demand Job and Career Opportunities

We see this playing out as video creators continue to apply to be a part of our network. Our creators love the opportunity to put their technical skills to great use, work with incredible brands, and live life on their terms. They don’t have to hustle for their next job and all administrative hassles are eliminated. They get to do what they do best and leave the rest to us.

3.  Video Is Changing Career Development and How We Learn

Similarly, technology also is driving accessibility to video content that helps users solve problems and drive lifelong learning. Per the report, 50% of freelancers updated their skills within the past six months compared to only 30% for their non-freelancing counterparts. That’s in no small part a result of this new drive for self-education through video platforms like YouTube.

4.  Mobile Spend Is Lower than Mobile Media Consumption.  

There’s a big opportunity here for brands—a $7 billion opportunity to be exact—to catch up to consumer media consumption and get ahead of competitors. Mobile, especially, plays a big role in this opportunity with a 29% boost in adoption.

5.  Communications Are Evolving to Video. Brands Who Want to Talk” to People Cant Stay Still.

As consumers spend more and more time on mobile, they’ll inevitably spend that time in-feed and watching video. Which, it turns out, is a great place for brands to get in front of consumers while they’re in a discovery mindset—more than half of respondents said they’ve made a purchase resulting from social media and a whopping 78% noted those discoveries happened on Facebook alone.

6. Data, When Done Right, Improves the Consumer Experience

Data has quickly become a hot topic and for good reason. Meeker notes that, when privacy is taken seriously and used wisely, companies who tap into their data treasure troves to better serve their consumers—whether that’s creating smarter ad content or delivering custom promotions—will continue to create better and repeat shopping experiences for consumers in 2018.

To quote (and mirror) Meeker at the end of her presentation, “We’re living in a period of unprecedented change and unprecedented opportunity.” As seen from the snippets above, we couldn’t agree more and look forward to what that change will bring.

 

 

Why Should Brands Care About Agile Marketing?

VidMob CMO Stephanie Bohn Breaks It All Down for AdWeek  

Have you ever wondered how the engineering concept of agile software development became the new framework for content production in digital marketing? Well, when you look back to the television of the 1970s and compare it to the mobile device of today, the answers start to take shape.

In the past, one hero idea dreamed up by a highly reputable agency was typically enough to cover all the bases. One great idea for one placement and one general audience.

Today, however, brands must overcome the challenge of connecting with many audiences across many social platforms and digital placements. Not only that, they’re expected to reach highly specific audiences with targeted, personalized content at the right place, right time, and with the right message. Oh, and to do all that in near real-time.

Luckily, agile development was created to solve big problems and solve them fast. Adopting the agile development formula of launching small, strategic experiments in order to receive bigger and faster wins, helped brands reimagine the way to successfully approach creative while saving time and money.

As brands and marketers stay in this constant loop of production, discovery, and optimization, they’ll never have to worry about producing the elusive, one-size-fits-all campaign again. Because, as Stephanie Bohn mentions in this AdWeek piece, “what is the point of building unique customer segments if everyone gets served the same ad?”  

 

An Operating System for the In-House Movement

Last week I wrote about the tension between the Old Agency model and the emerging New Agency model. New agencies have smartly recognized that their clients’ needs are evolving and have made strides to adapt to the changing times. To do so, they have shown a willingness to work with 3rd party solutions providers, in a recognition that by focusing on the things that they do really well, and turning to partners for things that can be done better elsewhere, their clients will ultimately win.

But in far too many relationships this recognition has taken too long, and the resultant pain and wasted cost have led to a growing wave of brands moving large swaths of the production needs in-house. From last week’s post:

It seems like the wave of brands cutting, or severely limiting the scope of their relationship with their old agencies is growing by the day. Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen announcements like this one from Chobani, from a host of other companies including, P&G, Unilever, Pepsi, ABI, Diageo, L’Oreal, Wayfair, Allstate, StubHub, Sprint, Booking.com, Starbucks and BMW.

When we talk to some of our clients who have taken the leap into in-housing, there are a few consistent themes behind their choice to do so:

•   Agency cost-structures don’t match their needs of social transcreation.
•   Old agencies are still very TV focused and seem to be largely ignoring TV’s steady demise.
•   Digital “Test & Learn” approaches are an anathema to the old agency creative process, despite being proven to work.
•   Creative talent can be found everywhere — no longer monopolized by traditional agencies.
•   Making performance data actionable in real time drives huge results, but only when they can connect the loop between data and rapid response production.
•   Brand employees know their product better than the inexperienced talent at the traditional agencies that would be staffed on their project.

But moving things in-house has proven to be far more challenging than many brands assumed. The reality is that agencies add a ton of value to the process, and pulling back on their usage has created a number of challenges:

•   Brands don’t know the best practices of the myriad online platforms that they should be advertising on.
•   Finding world-class creative talent isn’t easy.
•   Managing/paying a wide array of creative freelancers is a pain and carries legal risk.
•   Managing creative assets is a universal problem and will only get worse as more versions of each campaign become the norm.
•   Collaborative review among key internal constituencies is a messy process.
•   Asset approval times lead to missed deadlines.

These are real problems, and solving only one or two of them doesn’t really help brands get where they need to be. In order to be truly useful, a single-point solution is needed that accomplishes at least all of the following points:

•   Affordable — To go from producing a few video assets to producing thousands, production has to get a lot cheaper. Period.
•   Built specifically for “Test & Learn” — A properly deployed process of testing and learning leads to dramatic increases in campaign efficacy. But this isn’t as mindless as simply changing the colors of cars in ads.
•   Curated pools of talent that are pre-vetted for each job — Every job is different and the talent needed to succeed on Pinterest is very different than what is needed for Instagram Stories. Finding the right people every time is the first step to success.
•   Fully connected loop (data → production → publishing) — Data without the ability to act on it is useless. The new tools need to connect these three components into a seamless loop so that brands can see what’s happening, create new materials accordingly, and then put those new materials to work the instant they are done.
•   Empowers brand employees to drive the results they want — Every brand has different needs. To be useful, the new tools will have to allow brands to specify the specific KPI’s that matter to them and then optimize around those exact points.
•   Helps brands understand the specific best practices for each platform, as they evolve — Each platform has its own set of best practices, and what’s working today may not work tomorrow. Given that content creation isn’t instantaneous, this puts even more pressure on having continuously updated best practices.
•   A single point of payment and legal agreement — Brands want to create at scale. They don’t want to pay vendors at scale!
•   Archival and robust asset search enables instant access to everything in a brand’s library — As brands produce more and more assets, their library will grow exponentially. Being able to find everything that you already have instantly and easily becomes increasingly important as a lever for cost efficiency and speed of production. Machine learning can be used to help here, but it needs to be connected in a way to enable easy extraction and manipulation of the selected library assets once you find them.
•   Collaboration software will need to make multi-stakeholder projects easy —When rapidly shifting cultural moments make producing content “in the moment” ever more important, timelines have to be compressed as much as possible. To do this, technology needs to play a role in managing all aspects of ideation, production, licensing, and approval in one seamless system.
•   Tools to not only learn what creative is working but why Data is reactive and tends to look backward. Data tells us what worked. In order to improve our creative processes and hit-rate, we need information not just about what worked but why. Creative insights are key, and when creators are given access to systems that can deliver real-time creative insights during the production process, learning cycles can be compressed significantly.

At VidMob, we’re laser-focused on addressing each of these points as part of the technology platform that we offer our brand clients as part of our Agile Creative Suite (TM). In doing so, we think VidMob can offer a solution that behaves like “an operating system for the in-house movement.” Change is never easy. But a great technology platform built on a foundation of respect for human creativity and a true alignment of interests can go a long way towards accelerating us all towards a better marketing future.

View story at Medium.com

VidMob Raises Additional $6.4M to Build New Data & Insights Tools

Marketers experience so many obstacles when it comes to digital and social advertising and it’s been our mission these past two years to remove every creative barrier. Brands, large and small, hire VidMob to help them navigate the increasingly fragmented ads landscape and tell stories that feel personal and native to each platform. Our clients like Michael Kors, Mondelez, and Birdwell Beach Britches have seen tremendous success capturing consumer attention and compelling them to take action because, done the right way, a :06 vertical video ad is extremely powerful.

But is one :06 ad all you need? Sadly, nope. Marketers are realizing that no matter how much consumer research has been collected, it’s impossible to predict which creative execution will resonate most with each audience segment.  You have to pre-test, iterate, test some more…and on and on. Consumers are fickle, ad formats and best practices change constantly, and new ideas become stale in days (sometimes hours). That’s why we have spent the past six months building a suite of creative analytics tools to get marketers “unstuck” when it comes to creative testing. We recently raised an additional $6.4 million to pioneer a technology platform that will empower marketers to precisely identify which creative attributes in a video impact performance. We can’t wait to tell you more.

Oh, and guess what? We opened a London office! James Bacon, Google’s former Head of Premium Content Solutions EMEA, joined VidMob to lead European sales operations.   

More exciting news to come, keep checking back.

Sir Martin Eyes a Comeback

Ever the overachiever, Adweek reported yesterday that Sir Martin Sorrell is eyeing a comeback. In roughly the same amount of time it takes to set up a service call with your cable operator, Sir Martin has seemingly been able to extricate himself from the old agency model with sufficient distance to be able to proclaim that he “can see much more clearly” where the traditional advertising model’s strengths and weaknesses lie. His new agency, presumably, will focus on the former and eliminate the latter. I couldn’t help but chuckle as I read this, and all I could think of was the famous horror scene from When a Stranger Calls where the protagonist is alerted that the results of the trace are in, and “the call is coming from inside your house.” Queue the terrifying music. All due respect to Sir Martin, but his £70 million salary and everything that it represents IS the weakness.

At VidMob, we’ve had a front-row seat to the struggle between the old agency model and the new agency model that is rapidly emerging in its place. And make no mistake about it, struggle is the operative word. The old model was great for certain audiences (Sir Martin) and not so great for other audiences (everyone else—clients and employees alike). But when the people in charge are vested in the current system, innovation is hard to come by.

So we knuckled down and started building a path to a new model, one that we believed would be better for all involved. We believed, and still believe to this day, that VidMob can be a powerful platform for agencies to more efficiently produce certain pieces of marketing content for their clients. We are not a good fit to make Super Bowl ads, but as companies shift from needing a few pieces of video per year to now needing many thousands of pieces, VidMob is a good fit for a surprisingly large percentage of that new content need. And since we tend to do it for a fraction of the cost, and in a fraction of the time, we figured that if we could just explain how it works to potential agency partners, they would adopt VidMob as one of the tools in their arsenal to help deliver better services to their clients. When we heard that many digital campaigns were severely limited by the paucity of assets created specifically for digital channels, and how much agencies struggled in creating the wide array of custom formats needed to get the most out of these powerful (and increasingly important) channels, that only served to further our optimism about the fit. After all, more efficient production means more content, more agency ideas coming to life, better campaign performance and an overall better return on client’s marketing investment. It’s a win-win-win. What could stand in the way?

It turns out the answer is ‘a lot.’ The most common response we heard from the old agency set was that their production groups really liked using their traditional methods because they got really nice lunches on post-production days and it meant being out of the office all day—sort of like a vacation.

The first time I heard this I couldn’t believe the person who said it still had a job. The 30th time I heard it, I couldn’t believe the industry still existed.

Needless to say, this type of client-last thinking has strained the relationships between a lot of top brands and their old agencies. It seems like the wave of brands cutting, or severely limiting the scope of their relationship with their old agencies is growing by the day. Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen announcements like this one from Chobani, from a host of other companies including, P&G, Unilever, Pepsi, ABI, Diageo, L’Oreal, Wayfair, Allstate, StubHub, Sprint, Booking.com, Starbucks, and BMW.

They say that necessity is the mother of all invention, and as the wave of brand in-housing of creative grows, we’ve seen an acceleration in the development of new agency models. I’ll have more to say about this in the coming weeks, specifically as it relates to how VidMob can function as a sort of operating system for this new client-first agency model, but suffice it to say that the new system reverses the priorities.

The companies that will be relevant and thrive in the new agency world will be those that are quickest to come to terms with and address these 4 realities.

1. Production — Agencies are not and cannot be scaled for production in today’s multi-platform, always-on, always-innovating mobile social ecosystem. The “produce only the great TV commercial model” doesn’t scale in a mobile social-ecosystem that requires multiple adaptations on a theme, and when the cultural moments that brands must respond to pass in days or hours, not weeks or months. Adapting to the new production reality means finding creative ways to expand the supply chain.

2. Platforms — For most emerging consumer groups, not only is TV watching down, but their gateway to mobile or digital is through apps, like Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram not a browser on the web. New agencies will re-think their over-reliance on cheap, easy programmatic advertising and convenient display ads and move to and understand the platforms and formats their audiences engage with.

3. Performance — Loose proxies for performance, like a gut reaction or reach and frequency, no longer suffice. Today’s CMOs are data-focused both pre- and post- production. Relevant and successful agencies will be those that integrate rigorous multivariate (not just A/B) testing and an unwavering focus on actionable insights, driven by deep learning.

4. People — Consumers are (geographically) everywhere, as are brands. The old agency model placed a premium on geographic location—to participate in the old agency creative process, being geographically located in New York, Chicago, or LA was a prerequisite. New agencies will leverage networks of creative which lets the best idea and execution/ not just the best location/ win.

The mythic marble offices in the Madison Avenue skyscraper may be depowered in the new agency model, as well as a thousand other extravagances—including those special sushi lunches at the production offices. It won’t be great for those things and it won’t be great for a handful of people—their £70 million salaries probably won’t be part of the new agency model.

But it will be great for all of the other employees, and most of all, it will be great for marketers.

View story at Medium.com