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Startup Outlook: Issue 3, July2012
 

Startup Outlook: Issue 3, July2012

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    Startup Outlook: Issue 3, July2012 Startup Outlook: Issue 3, July2012 Document Transcript

    • Presented By: Issue 3 - July 2012 Welcome to the third edition of Startup Outlook, 360i’s guide for how brands can better evaluate emerging technologies and platforms. This issue features five companies from the portfolio of Greycroft Partners, a venture capital firm investing in some of the world’s most notable digital media companies. To learn more about how Greycroft works with startups and how its companies connect with marketers, read our interview with Greycroft Co-Founder & Partner Ian Sigalow at the end of this report. If you have feedback, or if you represent a startup and want to be considered for a future edition, contact us at startup@360i.com. tweet thisMeet the StartupsEach Startup Outlook report measures five select companies against the evaluation criteria outlined in 360i’sStartup Scorecard. To suggest a startup for inclusion in future updates, contact us at startup@360i.com. StartupScorecard Here is 360i’s qualitative Startup Scorecard, presenting the four criteria to use when evaluating startups: Value: What consumer and brand needs does the Applicability: Which brands or verticals would find technology facilitate? If a consumer application, why the startup most relevant? Even the hottest startups would consumers use this, and why would brands aren’t right for every brand. Some startups are more even consider participating? If the value is high for applicable for a certain season, campaign or goal. consumers, brands will want to find a way to get involved. Prominence: How can the brand stand out and create Ingenuity: What is exciting right now? In some cases, its own experience? A rotating banner ad within a site a brand will seek out ingenuity because it’s looking to or application won’t give the brand a prominent hook, attract media attention and get recognized as an while sponsorships, white label offerings and product innovator. It’s also important to discern whether the integration will score high here. offering is truly unique, or if there are more established competitors with similar offerings that can better achieve a marketer’s goals. 1
    • Adly www.adly.com• Value: Adly provides a distribution channel where marketers can serve messages through people on Twitter with at least 150,000 followers. For instance, an advertiser can pay to have rap artist Snoop Dogg or television star Tori Spelling tweet branded messages on his or her behalf. Advertisers should consider this akin to a media buy, as marketers pay based on the reach of the promoters. Note that 360i does not advise buying into Adly’s messaging around calling these promoters “influencers,” as Adly should not be seen as a replacement for or component of an influencer marketing program. This is a pay-per-post model (sometimes called “sponsored conversations”), which may be effective in generating views and clicks – and perhaps even conversions. Still, it is far different from one-to-one outreach designed to generate earned media. Instead, the sponsored Adly posts are all labeled as ads, and they should be planned and bought as such.• Applicability: Brand marketers will be most interested in Adly, but for the right sale or product launch, it’s possible to craft promotions that will generate direct revenue along with clicks. Adly will generally be used to generate awareness, interest, and engagement. Sample Adly placement by hip hop artist Snoop Dogg for Toyota. - adly.com• Prominence: With Adly, ads take the form of a tweet, so the advertiser will be exclusive within a given post. Like any tweet, however, it will compete with all other Twitter activity viewed by a given user, including the increasingly frequent and prominent ads brokered through Twitter itself.• Ingenuity: Adly is arguably the best known and most established business focusing on sponsored conversations through Twitter. There are others, such as Sponsored Tweets by Izea, which has celebrities like Paris Hilton and Mario Lopez, but also lower-reach promoters. Adly’s selectivity of promoters should make it a safer bet for large brands. 2
    • Livefyre www.livefyre.com• Value: Livefyre, which calls itself a “real-time conversation platform,” is a commenting engine for blogs and websites. Instead of simply allowing readers to comment on content, posts on sites using Livefyre will incorporate public comments people share through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, with comments updated in real-time. People can also tag their friends from their social networks within comments, and share comments back through their networks. The Livefyre conversation platform aggregates conversations across platforms in one central thread. - GigOM• Applicability: Media and entertainment companies are Livefyre’s primary customers, but any brand creating content that incorporates comments could be interested.• Prominence: The enhanced Livefyre Professional version, which would be the likely choice for any major brand (as opposed to the free version), allows for various forms of customization. For users though, all that matters is that it works, and it has an intuitive interface that enables people to easily comment using logins from other properties such as Facebook and Google.• Ingenuity: There are many commenting platforms, with Disqus the closest competitor to Livefyre. The key differentiator for Livefyre is including live comments from social networks in line with other comments on the post. This in turn makes the site hosting such posts feel even more vibrant and current. 3
    • Media Armor www.mediaarmor.com• Value: Media Armor unifies data across channels, including mobile, online, email, in-store and catalogs. As such, consumers can then be reached through mobile display advertising that’s targeted to their profiles. This should appeal to marketers who have had a difficult time targeting their audiences through mobile channels and linking that activity to other online and offline behavior.• Applicability: Media Armor’s solution holds broad applicability across advertisers. Campaigns can be run for both retention and acquisition goals. The key metric it focuses on is return on advertising spend (ROAS).• Prominence: The goal for Media Armor will be scale, as media is bought on a CPM basis. In doing so, that means Media Armor will amass as much inventory as possible across a range of sources: direct publishers, supply-side platforms, ad networks and ad exchanges. Prominence thus is not the goal, though Media Armor does need to ensure its ads are noticed.• Ingenuity: Media Armor is addressing a problem that marketers probably don’t think can be solved. There are other approaches emerging to identify consumers across channels, such as identifying various devices using the same WiFi network. Some of those approaches often come into conflict with marketers’ privacy standards, so it’s important for marketers to fully understand how such technologies handle personally identifiable information (PII).Pulse www.pulse.me• Value: Pulse is a popular news reading application for mobile devices and tablets; it had 11 million users as of the start of the year and continues to grow rapidly. Pulse considers advertising just another form of content. On Pulse, news sources (generally from top publishers and blogs) appear in rows, and users scroll across the rows to read story thumbnails. Clicking a story opens it so that readers can access some or all of it within the app; some publishers direct readers to their sites to read the full story. Ads can appear like any other news story, with an initial thumbnail and headline that expands to richer content. Ads can be targeted to specific publishers.• Applicability: The ads within Pulse tend to be a better fit for brand marketers, as the best performing ads will likely be those that readers consider a welcome addition to the editorial content.• Prominence: Ads appear as part of the content stream, so the initial exposure is limited to the image and headline. From there, brands can create customized content that resembles other stories with text, images and video. Like other Pulse content, ads can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter, giving ads the potential for broader exposure. 4
    • • Ingenuity: There are other mobile news readers, but Pulse continues to win over fans with its intuitive design optimized for touchscreen devices. The big difference this year is that ads are now part of the content mix, with Pulse joining Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and others in offering native formats rather than standard banner ad units. As targeting, planning and reporting offerings evolve, this should benefit both Pulse’s advertisers as well as its readers. Pulse interface showcasing content across a range of publishers. - MashableuSamp www.usamp.com• Value: uSamp is a technology-driven market research company that can deliver surveys to an online panel of up to 8 million respondents worldwide. It also powers Instant.ly, a self-service survey builder with on-demand panel access. Using Instant.ly, marketers can create polls that are shared with their own audiences, whether it’s emailing customers or sharing the link socially. Marketers can also pay for credits on the site to get instant answers from specific demographic and geographic targets. Responses can arrive within seconds.• Applicability: Given that it’s a market research service, uSamp is used by a diverse array of brands spanning a wide range of verticals.• Prominence: Brands run their own custom market research campaigns. While brands can add logos to surveys, marketers will often prefer to remain anonymous, and the value here is the research itself.• Ingenuity: There are many online market research companies, including Google with its Consumer Surveys product. uSamp and Instant.ly aim to stand out with a combination of their ease of building surveys, speed of responses, detailed respondent information and reporting. There are inherent advantages with Instant.ly over Google, such as Instant.ly’s detailed panelist information rather than inferred data Google collects from cookies and IP addresses. At the very least, Instant.ly is a strong contender for market research needs as it is fast, robust and competitive on price. 5
    • Point of view:Ian Sigalow, Co-Founder & Partner Greycroft LLC A venture capitalist since 2001, Ian has spent his entire career working with early stage technology companies. He currently oversees a number of Greycroft investments, including industry leaders such as Buddy Media, Collective, Extreme Reach and NimbleTV. We spoke with Ian to get his thoughts on today’s startup landscape.• What excites you most about the startup space today? Mobility is the big trend today. You can have a full power PC with a dual core processor, touch screen (in any size you want), 4G Internet access, 250GB of storage and more – all for under $500. The ability to make both your computer and the Internet portable is quickly changing user behavior.• How do you identify promise in the startups you ultimately include in your portfolio? What are the key attributes you look for? We are old fashioned and judge mostly on customer traction and revenues. The day a company becomes profitable is the day that you can sleep better at night.• What advice do you give your portfolio companies when they’re seeking brand partnerships? What are some of the main challenges they have voiced in this process? I tell them to go direct to a handful of brands and build test cases, ROIs and whitepapers. It can take a long time to sell direct, but that is a rite of passage for all startups. The main challenge is that they will get have contact with agencies who ultimately want to own the vendor relationships, but that never works in the beginning. You have to be able to sell your own product before anyone else can sell it on your behalf.• What’s a great example (or two) of a successful brand partnership with any of your portfolio companies? What were the keys to success in these partnerships? The two best cases are Buddy Media and Tagman. Buddy Media was able to win a competitive RFP process to get a master contract with Unilever and P&G, and then upsold individual brands over time. Tagman has had similar success with Virgin in the UK, which unlocked many large brands as well as other competing airlines. The key is having an enterprise grade services team capable of helping with implementation and support. There is an antiquated model of software in Silicon Valley that believes that all software should be self-service, which means it is sold into the enterprise and then the company moves on. That doesn’t work in the marketing software space. With the new software approach, the work starts after you win the deal. You have to build your company with a significant number of people dedicated to client success. 6
    • • What are the top media and technology trends that marketers and agencies should pay attention to? 1. Over the next decade I expect the CMO/CIO will purchase more software than the CTO. This is coming from a large shift in PR budgets and paid media spend into tools and technology. 2. Consumers are more knowledgeable now than ever before. As a brand there is always an incentive to maximize profit by cutting corners in product development or using less expensive components. Unfortunately, people know what is inside everything they buy today. You may have a reputation for quality, but it only takes one inferior product to get stuck in the penalty box for years. 3. The large agency holding companies need to diversify their revenue base away from paid media and into other forms of value added services. As media becomes 100 percent digital it also becomes significantly more complicated, which will favor smaller companies and tech-driven enterprises. Sign up to receive monthly Startup Outlook updates at www.startupoutlook.com. If you represent a startup and would like to be considered for a future report, please contact startup@360i.com. 360i.com/insights blog.360i.com twitter.com/360i editor@360i.com © 2012 360i LLC. All Rights Reserved 7