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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 415-670-9397.
You can also find out more about EnContext here.