Sons of Romania

I’ve had this blog for about eight years and for the most part my posts have been all about my entrepreneurial endeavours. There’s very little personal content, as I’ve never thought my personal life is interesting enough for me to write about it.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I had a TV crew led by the wonderful ProTV news anchor Amalia Enache following me around London & Bucharest, speaking to my friends, family, team and clients. The result is a wonderful window into my life, family and especially into my work at Brainient. If you speak Romanian, I hope you find it informative and entertaining. If you don’t, I hear it’s fun to see anyway. You can watch it below.

Thank you Amalia and the ProTV team for your hard work in putting this together. I owe you lots of chocolate. 

http://www.stirileprotv.ro/lbin/video_embed.php?media_id=61606654&section=54&video_section_id=

#WPPSTREAM

For the past three years, I’ve been lucky to have been invited to WPP’s annual un-conference, WPPSTREAM. This year was by far the best STREAM I’ve ever participated in and, by a long mile, the best event I’ve ever been to. The video below doesn’t do it justice, but it gives a glimpse into what it’s all about: great people, great discussions, great fun.

The rise of second screen, in three graphs

I’m a massive multi-screener, and as it turns out so is pretty much everyone else in the developed world who owns a smartphone. It’s truly incredible how quickly this shift has happened (<2yrs).

Broadcasters love second screen experiences, because they drive more media engagement. Because of this, many big players in TV are investing second screen mobile experiences for their audiences. A good example is ITV with their XFactor and Britain’s Got Talent apps. 

Advertisers love second screen ads, because they boost brand recall and almost double purchase intent.

At Brainient, we’re experiencing the rise of second screen from the front line. ITV, UK’s largest commercial broadcaster has chosen Brainient for the delivery of all their second screen ads. The engagement rate on these ads is stellar, ranging from 30% to 300% in some instances.

So if you’re a brand, give second screen a chance. You may realise it’s actually the holy grail of advertising, because it helps brands generate brand awareness while enabling people to actually make a purchase (or express their intent to make one). 

Going for Europe

Ever since the German aristocrat Richard Nikolaus wrote the paneuropa manifesto in 1923, most capitalists have longed for a unified Europe. No borders, free markets and a unified currency has been the European entrepreneur’s dream for generations. Yet sixty years after the Treaty of Paris, winning Europe as a business is still not as straightforward as going for single-language, single-culture markets like the United States or China.

At Brainient, intrinsically a European company, we’ve been doing a push across the old continent over the past 12 months. We now have customers in 9 European markets and are expanding aggressively into Europe’s key territories – France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Nordics. We believe we’ve become good at winning Europe, and we’re looking for people to join the team. If you’re in one of these markets and would like to be part of a fast-growing technology company, visit our careers section or drop me an email.

Also, if you happen to be in Cologne for DMEXCO next week, stop by our stand and grab some chocolate. You can find us in Hall 6 Stand F-024. 

Growing up

As some of you may have read, we’ve recently relaunched our platform, our studio and our identity. It’s been a labour of love, sweat and tears, but we felt it was needed after almost five years of being in business. Our platform is now used by some of the largest media companies and brands in the world and they expect us to have the best product in the industry. We think we do, but to avoid banging our own drum we asked ITV, the largest commercial broadcaster in the UK what they think about us. Here’s what they have to say: 

As proud as I am of our new product, I’m even more excited about our KPIs. Here are some interesting stats, to go with our relaunch:
– 400% YoY growth since we started the company
– 600+ campaigns / year for customers
– 95% customer retention rate
– 3 out of the 4 top broadcasters in the UK are Brainient customers (ITV, Channel4, Channel5)
– the average engagement rate across all our interactive formats is 8%

Ad tech: what’s an engagement?

It used to be that a click was a click. Advertisers bought banners and got clicks to their websites, end of story. Today, advertisers buy banners, video ads, native ads, second-screen ads, mobile ads, and many more. For these ads, they get clicks, roll-overs and swipes. To makes matters worse, these clicks, roll-overs and swipes are not to their websites anymore (at least not all of them). They’re interactions within the advert itself – image galleries, share buttons, likes, retweets, with only few of them going to the advertiser’s website. Because of this, it has become almost impossible to compare the impact of the different ad formats used within the same campaign. 

In an attempt to standardise these results, there’s a new metric adopted by a number of companies in the advertising ecosystem, called engagement. In theory, an engagement is any click, swipe or roll-over happening within an advert, regardless of its type. This can be swiping through an image gallery, retweeting, liking, etc. But what we’re seeing as of late is that different companies in the industry are starting to have their own interpretations of what an engagement is. Some look at every interaction within an ad, some at all interactions besides the first one (for example to launch an image gallery within a rich media advert) while some include both the interactions inside the unit as well as the clicks to the advertiser’s site. 

There’s a major benefit of having a widely adopted standard for engagement: by making it easy and straightforward for agencies and advertisers to understand the performance of their campaigns, they’ll spend more money on all these campaigns (provided that the results are good, but that’s a story for another post).

So at Brainient, we would like to suggest a standard definition for what an engagement is: any interaction on any element within an advert, except the click through on the ad itself (because this type of click is already known in the industry as a clickthru). Therefore, an engagement rate would be the total number of impressions divided by the total number of engagements within the ad. We’re trying to get this definition of engagement adopted by as many companies in the ecosystem as possible, so if you’re one of them and would like to contribute to creating the standard, please get in touch. 

Brainient signs ITV, UK’s largest commercial television network

The news hit the stands this morning that Brainient has signed a partnership with ITV, the largest commercial television network in the UK and one of the largest in Europe. This is big news for us, for a few reasons:

Firstly, it’s a sign that what we’ve been preaching as a company for the past four years – interactive video formats becoming the default in video advertising because they deliver substantial increase in performance – is finally mainstream and broadcasters like ITV are doubling down on interactive formats. 

Secondly, it’s a testament to the quality of our product and our team’s ability to deliver interactive video formats at scale. In the first three quarters of 2013 we’ve delivered over 1,000 campaigns for customers in seven different territories. That’s a huge accomplishment for the small team we have here at Brainient. 

Thirdly and most importantly, signing a customer like ITV is a key milestone for the company and one that’s already created a domino effect across many other blue chip customers in the UK and beyond.

I believe a company is only as good as the people it employs, and I couldn’t be more proud of the team we have at Brainient. I am fortunate to be able to learn new things from my team everyday and feel very lucky to be able to surround myself with amazing people.

You can read more about the deal here, and expect more good stuff from Brainient in the upcoming months. We’re only 2% into what we think is possible in digital advertising and we’re very excited about the new stuff we’re working on.

How to learn everything you need to know about the mobile video space

Every quarter, Brainient organises a breakfast event called – evidently – Breakfast & Brains. It’s a forum for our clients and friends, where we discuss the newest happenings in the video advertising world and the next one (happening on May 1st) will be all about mobile: the technology, standards and tracking across the multitude of mobile devices out there.

We’ll have George Dixon (Manager – Mobile & Digital at MediaCom), Paul Lyonette (European Sales Director at YuMe), Simon Andrews (Founder of Addictive Mobile) and yours truly speaking about how to create, run and measure mobile video campaigns at scale. 

You can find out more about the event and register here. Tickets are free but seriously limited so go get yours now.

Video and Mobile for brands

Everybody in the tech scene is saying that 2013 is the year of mobile and I find that to be true in video as well. Since the beginning of the year we’ve already had 80% of our clients at Brainient ask for mobile demos of our interactive video ads.

We’ve been running interactive mobile video campaigns since 2012, and we’ve already seen serious uptick this year. But there are a few problems with mobile and video that brands and agencies should consider when planning their interactive video campaigns:

1. Mobile ad delivery standards are not fine-tuned. The main standards for delivering interactive video ads on mobile are MRAID AND ORMMA and Brainient supports both of them, but they’re not fully baked and often have issues (mostly in terms of tracking impressions, clicks, engagements, etc). Make sure whether results stack up right after you start the campaign.

2. Personalisation matters. What works online doesn’t necessarily work on mobile. We’ve had campaigns at Brainient that performed incredibly well online but poorly on mobile, because they were too “heavy” in terms of execution. We’ve also had mobile campaigns that outperformed the online version by an order of magnitude. Mobile interactivity needs to have a life of its own, not just be a replicate of its online version.

3. Make sure the media owners set the campaign properly (and support MRAID / ORMMA standards). Video ads on mobile is still quite a new concept and most media owners (think: apps & websites with mobile traffic) treat mobile video ads as display banners. That’s wrong, and you’ll have issues in tracking the right events. Ideally, do a test before signing a new mobile media owner.

All in all, with the right creative execution and the right audience targeting, we’ve seen mobile campaigns with stelar results in terms of brand recall and brand engagement. But it’s not as straightforward and easy to execute as it is online so make sure you get the right partner on board ;).