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 ;). 

2012 in review at Brainient

It’s that time of the year again, to look back and marvel at how quickly another year has passed. And as the hard-core numbers buff that I am, I thought it would be a good idea to share some Brainient numbers that make me proud of what our small team has managed to pull off this year.

  • We ran between 50 and 75 campaigns per month for our clients. That’s up from 100 campaigns for the whole of last year.
  • We went from working with a handful of customers to serving 50+ agencies, brands or publishers including amazing brands like ASOS, Disney and Coca-Cola.
  • The average engagement rate for our interactive video ads was 8.7%, which is 8 times higher than the average click-through rate on a non-interactive video ad.
  • The total time spent with our interactive units across all our campaigns (so far) is 3622w 2d 2h 54m 15s. That’s about 75 years of free, earned media for our clients. You do the math…
  • We’ve doubled the size of our team from 12 people to 25.

It’s been a busy, challenging and amazing year on all accounts. I’m grateful to my team, clients, board, investors and partners for, well, being so awesome. I can’t wait to see what next year has in store.

Is mobile fit for brand advertisers?

By now, I’m presuming that many of you have seen this year’s Mary Meeker presentation on the state of technology, digital and the world. If you haven’t, do it now. It is breathtaking. Unsurprisingly, according to Meeker 2013 will be the year when the smartphone + tablet installed base will exceed desktops + laptops.

Also, it seems that 10% of the total media consumption time is now on mobile & tablets, but just 1% of ad spend is going into mobile. That means 9 out of 10 times we’re consuming media on a mobile, there’s no ad. So over the past few days I’ve been looking at campaign data we have at Brainient in order to see whether this discrepancy exists because mobile doesn’t perform or because it’s just a new medium and it takes time for advertisers to ramp up their spends across mobile.

According to a campaign that ran in Nov + Dec across a multitude of media owners online and on mobile, here are the brand stats that we’ve collected:

Mobile: 63.3% engagement rate, 1.4 engagements / user, 19.8% video completion rateOnline: 9.5% engagement rate, 2.7 engagements / user, 33.3% video completion rate

Now, this data is very interesting. Engagement rate is 6 times hire on mobile than online (touch, touch, anyone?), but there are less engagements per user and less viewers watching the entire video (probably because videos are slow to load over 3G). If the videos would load faster, I’m certain that completion rates would increase as well so as LTE / 4G technology will be released by operators in 2013, completion rates should increase. Combined with the amazing engagement rates we’re already seeing, it will make mobile the perfect medium for delivering brand-centric interactive video campaigns. Together with the fact that we’ll finally have the same number of mobiles + tablets as desktops + laptops, I think it’s quite obvious where advertisers should be putting their money next year.

Brainient is hiring

Following up on yesterday’s post, I’d like to write about the positions we have open at Brainient. We’re growing heavily so we need more brain power to keep our clients happy. So if you’re Awesome, love technology, video and advertising – drop us a note. We’re also offering a $500 referral bonus to those who recommend candidates that we end up hiring.

Business Development Manager (London, UK) – build up our publishers network for our BrainSocial product.

VP of Engineering (Bucharest, Romania) – manage our R&D team

Senior Web Developer (Bucharest, Romania) – work together with the rest of the team on frontend / backend stuff for BrainRolls & BrainSocial

Big Data Engineer (Bucharest, Romania) – create algorithms that power the deliver and reporting of our BrainSocial campaigns

QA Manager (Bucharest, Romania) – keep the developers on their toes and make sure we deliver beautiful, bug-free apps

To apply, simply email me your CV (emi at brainient dot com) and we’ll take it from there.

Using A/B testing in advertising

A/B testing is not a new concept. It’s been around for decades, and it was first used online, for website optimisation, by Amazon back in the ‘90s. The rest, as they say, is history. Or not, if you talk advertising. Because, believe it or not, there are very few e A/B testing initiatives in the advertising world, excluding paid search.

Back in November last year, together with the folks at SeeSaw, Brainient launched one of the first A/B testing initiatives in the UK video advertising market. We decided to let viewers decide which Hotmail video advert they wanted to watch, with a selection of three ads to choose from – each represented by a thumbnail. If they didn’t select one, we would choose one for them. We generated an average CTR of nearly 9%. That’s, um, nine times higher than the market average. And we did it by A/B testing, tracking and using data: we saw that Thumb 1 (corresponding Video 1) got 60% more clicks than the other two, while Video 3 got 30% more clicks to the Hotmail site than the other two videos. So by simply switching the video behind Thumb 1 with Video 3, we generated nine times more results than the market average. That’s a big return for such a small change.

While speaking to networks, publishers & agencies over the past few months, I’ve spotted a trend towards using data and A/B testing display & video advertising campaigns, but it’s not moving the needle just yet. It may be because more often than not networks & agencies don’t have time & resources to do it, and advertisers rarely get involved into the actual planning of their campaigns, not knowing how big of an impact an A/B test would have on their budget spend. But nine times higher CTR means, almost every time, a ninefold increase in campaign ROI, so maybe advertisers & agencies should revisit a concept that’s bee used in the online world for more than a decade.