Nearly three-fourths of American households already have a television connected to the Internet. What’s less well connected? Some way to identify and tie those users to the video sources they watch, the devices carrying that video, and the advertisers trying to reach them.
This matters because the real revenue opportunities for publishers and networks aren’t on mobile. The big win comes on the bigger screen, even if what’s being watched these days may not be traditional network shows.
So how to get a viewer to follow a show or video they’ve discovered on their smartphone? And how do advertisers keep track of who’s watching where? That’s where Vizbee comes in.
Vizbee – a startup whose B2B software is already being used by big media companies such as NBCUniversal, Turner and MGM – is focused on automating the viewer changeover from mobile to big screen, setting up and signing in on the service where the video was running. At the same time, Vizbee tools also are mapping what Vizbee co-founder Prashanth Pappu calls the “device graph” for a home full of viewers.
The key, Pappu said, is enabling easy connections and smooth hand-off between mobile devices and the big screens in people’s homes. People are watching video in more places and on more devices than ever. But as they move about, they want segue smoothly and painlessly to the next screen they’ll be using
“Vizbee’s entire genesis was (that the industry likes to) think of mobile and the TV as two separate apps,” Pappu said. “We wanted the user to experience it as one app split across two screens. If you haven’t downloaded an app (on a new device), Vizbee will say, ‘Hey, I can do this for you.’ It launches the app, connects and plays the video you want. The experience is really seamless.”
The focus is on helping people transition from small screen to big one, because that’s where the real monetization opportunities are, Pappu said. And that seamless handoff continues every subsequent time a person moves from mobile to connected TV for a given service. The reason to eliminate that friction is very simple: We like to relax and sit back when we’re watching video, and we’ll do more of it when there’s less friction in the process of getting there.
“There on the mobile, you’ll just watch video for a few moments,” Pappu said. “Mobile has a lot of video consumption. But based on our conversations with everyone in the industry, it’s very difficult to monetize that experience. If we hand it off to the TV, you’ll watch at least 10 times longer. Ad CPMs are at least 2X. That’s simply because you have a much higher quality lean-back advertising experience on the TV.”
That handoff is handled by Vizbee’s Continuity product. As it is operating, a second Vizbee product is mapping the various Internet-connected devices in a home, at a level of accuracy that many companies specializing in analyzing vast streams of third-party data can’t achieve.
“This is extraordinarily valuable in the OTT value chain,” Pappu said. “The device graph is one of the most critical components to drive OTT advertising.”
The graph, tied to the individual devices in a home, allows for more specific and detailed demographics of the viewers in a home, and how they may be watching video at any given time. And because viewers have to opt in to the service to get the benefit of no sign-on, the company conforms to privacy laws such as the EU’s General Data Privacy Requirement.
“Mobile is an excellent medium for discovering and sharing content,” Pappu said. “We do see that mobile has a big role to play. If you watch Conan O’Brien and then don’t watch for a week, the provider can send you a notification (reminding you to tune in). The real viewing and monetization has to happen on the TV.”
Vizbee isn’t the only company trying to solve the video process. Most notably, Apple announced during last June’s Worldwide Developer Conference that it was launching what it called Zero Sign-on, which largely benefits traditional pay-TV providers trying to evolve their TV Everywhere initiatives for a fast-changing video landscape.
Zero Sign-on is one of several Apple efforts to make Apple TV a viable alternative to the traditional set-top boxes of traditional cablers while still accommodating TV Everywhere. Recent enhancements to Apple’s TV app (it now highlights suggested programs across multiple OTT providers) are another part of this evolution, as is its investment in more than $1 billion in original video programming, expected to stream free to Apple TV and iOS device users beginning next spring
Zero Sign-on launched with a small group of European pay-TV providers, with a U.S. debut coming “soon” with Charter Spectrum. That debut could come as soon as Monday, based on rumors that floated up on Reddit and specialty Apple news sites.
But, also predictably with Apple, the new capabilities mostly serve to keep people attached to the Apple ecosystem, because only their devices can take advantage. Zero Sign-on doesn’t do anything for Connected TVs and devices from Roku, Amazon, Google and other makers. Nor does it help with Android mobile devices, which comprise the majority of the world’s smartphones.
Vizbee’s approach crosses all the borders between devices and operating systems, giving publishers something they typically don’t already have, Pappu said: one set of tools to connect people to their content (and ads) that work wherever people are watching.