April 13, 2010
 

John Cecil, The MadAve Journal Interview

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The MadAve Journal 3-Part Interview Rolled Into One

By Wendy McHale, Publisher

Part One

Meet John Cecil, a former "Yahoo Brat" from the pre-web 1.0 era. Since then, like so many of his Yahoo Alums, John has spent the last five years of his time and experience into nurturing his own powerhouse; the next-gen web 3.0 company known as Innovate Ads, or i-ads (TM) for short.

As CEO, John has turned i-ads into one of the hottest online video advertising firms in the country.

With i-ads having divided and conquered the direct marketing space, John is now taking MadAve by storm with his "out-of-the-pre-roll-box" video solution. Located in Orange County, within the footprint of LA, John casts almost as many actors and actresses as "Video Spokespeople" than American Idol screens contestants. No doubt "Idol" may soon be turning to John for tips on spotting talent, if not using Innovate Ads to promote tune-in to one of their programs.

Producing web-centric video content for a number of top tier companies, including Canon, Chemistry.com, Service Magic, Napster, a former presidential candidate and virtually dozens of direct marketing companies, John's company now offers a series of world-class online video solutions in - as John calls it - our "post pre-roll world." Examples: Innovate Ads.

You should meet him. Recently I did.

Mr. Cecil and I worked together to "co-produce" a video unit, separate from AMC, which promoted MAD MEN's recent "win a walk on roll" video audition contest. We did it all for you, our MadAve Journal readers and for aspiring actors everywhere. The MadAve Journal wrote the script. Innovate ads did the rest. If you haven't seen it yet, click below:

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Wendy:: How's it going?

John: It's going very well!

Wendy: Before we discuss Innovate Media and industry trends, tell me a little about your background. You were at Yahoo!, right? Where did you go to school?

John: I attended San Diego State. I originally thought I would pursue a law career but found that speech and marketing were much more my calling. Once I graduated I joined Comcast Local Cable in sales.

Wendy:: Selling local cable is great training for a sales career! LOL

John:: (smiling) Especially back then. My next move was into national cable. I went to work for A&E as their west coast rep. All this time I had been watching the Internet. It was still very early. AOL and Yahoo! were the two main properties back then. I pitched a sales position at Yahoo in Los Angeles and the rest, as they say, is history!

Wendy:: Cool.

John:: It was great. As the company started growing, the deals started growing. Still we were essentially selling a new medium that people didn't know much about. It was so much fun! It was best business experience I had up until that point.

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Wendy: How long were you there?

John: From 1998 to mid-2001.

Wendy:: Definitely a great time period.

John: Back then Yahoo! was very hot. Most of the dollars that we were getting in advertising were VC-based. I called on several studios. We would have meetings there and they'd be like, "We think you should pay us, for having the content on your site."

Wendy: LOL!

John: It was interesting. That was the result of those meetings. I would close low 5-figure level deals with them. We'd get objections like, "Once you start selling tickets online, we'll buy it from you." That's how early it was.

Wendy: What did you do after you left Yahoo?

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John: I checked out a number of firms. I'm a big surfer so I've always been attracted to the action sports industry. Eventually I got my first taste of being an entrepreneur. I founded a sports marketing firm called "Gherkin Ruckus."

Wendy: That's an interesting name! What does it mean?

John: I could give you the long story, but in the interest of time it was a term my friends and I used when we were in high school. Think food and cafeteria!

Wendy: LOL! Double secret probation, I guess.

John: That's all I'll say! In actuality, Gherkin Ruckus was a media services firm that was geared towards introducing the Internet and digital programs to the action sports industry. After taking that as far as I could by myself, I talked to Bob Allison, who was both a friend and mentor of mine.

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Wendy: Interesting.

John: Bob told me about a company called Innovate Media. It had video production business that appeared to have great potential, so they spun it off and created Innovate Media. It was originally a company called Video Scape, which was a victim of the dotcom downfall. It was a company before it's time. It was a video teleconference company.

Wendy: What happened then?

John: Long story short, Bob put together Innovate Media and Gherkin Ruckus, the outcome of which is what we have morphed into today. Under Bob's direction the video production business had established contracts with companies to shoot their videos for delivery over the web. Bob introduced me to Dave Winters and his team. Dave is a film school-trained cinematographer. He's a guru on how to shoot video for delivery over the web. He and his team are experts in online video over the web. They are are responsible for the creative / technical growth of the company.

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Wendy: Sounds like an interesting group of guys

John: They are. Between Dave's experience on the online video production / creative, side and his team under the Innovate Umbrella, combined with mine on the advertising and marketing side, we're now in our fifth year in business. His team has produced hundreds of videos for delivery over the web and work with a variety of different technologies.

Wendy: Congratulations!

John: Thank you!

Wendy: Let's talk about the industry. There are other companies also doing video online like Eyeblaster, EyeWonder and PointRoll. Do you put yourselves in the rich media category?

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John: Yes and no. We use flash which I guess puts us in the rich media classification. However, that's where the similarity ends.

Wendy: How so?

John: We're in the online video production business. We focus on the human touch, not technology. As you know, our specialty is producing video spokespeople. We work with the advertiser, from concept to launching it on the web. That means selecting the right actor. Writing the script. Creating the graphics, shooting it in our own studios, making sure it meets a variety of standards critical to the net and then launching it and serving it.

Wendy: Wow!

John: The other Rich Media companies are really in the technology business. Put any one of their programmers and designers in front of a MAC and out comes a Rich Media unit.

Wendy: True.

John: Online video has changed the game. There are a number of variables that sets it apart from Rich Media. It requires experience in media, in production, in motion graphics, in understanding the complexities of creating video and how to push/serve "large file" videos.

Wendy: It sounds a lot like television production.

John: It's more. The difference is we have the ability to provide state of the art metrics.

Wendy: Right.

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John: And it's on the web, which is invariably different from TV. Companies are now just beginning to understand that. We're on the cusp of change. There's still work ahead, such as hammering out new specs for sites. That's inevitable. Online video is quickly establishing itself as another advancement on top of Rich Media.

Wendy: How do you price yourselves?

John: In terms of the serving, the same as PointRoll does. The difference is that we can "pre-bundle" the production cost and the delivery costs together.

Wendy:

John: If the dollar amount is large enough on the delivery of the videos, we'll make it easy for an advertiser. Let's say a company comes to us to develop an ad solution. We'll concept it, shoot it, launch it, serve it and measure it, all under one house, based on a CPM.

Wendy: Sounds great!

John: And it's all done under the expertise of our video production / technology team.

Wendy: Let's talk about metrics. Is this very similar to launching a video? Let's say I'm running a pre-roll video...

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John: We're different than pre-roll. Once a pre-roll ad ends, there's nothing left to invite a viewer to take action.

Wendy: What about your metrics?

John: Since the videos are running off of our servers, we have the same sort of variables that other rich media company would offer a client. A new variable for online video is "percent viewed." We have the ability to measure the length of time it was viewed, the number of people who viewed it, the number of people stopped it, and of course the click through and click through percentage on the product.

Wendy: Cool.

John: We can schedule it to run at a specific time. We're a great solution for "tune-in" ads. When you watch TV now, you see the networks overlay their video spokesperson during sports breaks or even in the middle of programs Our technology has the ability to do a 5-10 second max, no sound, full motion video play that launches on the sites you buy at say, 4PM, for the upcoming program in prime later that night.

Wendy: Let's talk about how you're selling it. You know how much I love the Mad Man video spokesperson that you did on this site. The first time I saw it, I thought this was the coolest thing and I told everybody, "Oh you have to go here and you have to see this." And they had the same reaction. When you go to pitch this to brand or agency, what reactions do you find? Does everybody love it? Does everybody think that this is something that next gen?

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John: Up until now, direct marketers and online marketers have been the low hanging fruit for us as an organization. We know that from A/B tests that the video spokesperson product increases conversions 90% of the time. They get it.

Wendy: How about brand marketers and agencies?

John: We're just now taking it out to them. As an organization we're small. We're flexible which means we're easy to work with. There are still lots of work ahead of us. There's the education curve, but once a marketer takes a look at it, it sells itself.

Wendy: Okay, say I'm a marketer who gets it and wants to work with you to produce their campaign. Now what?

John: We listen to their objectives and what their competition is doing in the marketplace. From there they go immediately into casting to select an actor. We have numerous to choose from. Those who speak English and/or Spanish.

Wendy: Where do you find your actors?

John: We're more based in Orange County, California, so we're in the footprint of, obviously, LA. We find our actors by doing auditions there. We'll do a casting call for a web video product. During those auditions, we typically have 200-300 actors and actresses show up, for our auditions. Typically, the B-level actors and actress audition. They may not be celebrities but they are immensely talented.

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Wendy: Do clients go with you to the casting call?

John: If they really want to, but it's much easier to go to our site and choose from the dozens of actors who have submitted video auditions. They upload snippets and clips of their work to our site. The client goes to the site and watches them. They choose what actor they want, based on their preference of talent. Or they can they can provide their own actor. We can also go out hire a specific actor for them, whatever they want to do.

Wendy: Interesting.

John: Once they just go through the process that we have of choosing actors off of our site. (See talent site: www.innovateads.com/talent.php), ask the client to make a first draft of the script. They know their business a little bit better than us. We give them our script template and then once they're done they review it and tweak it if needed, based on our understanding of what works best for this medium.. We have a diverse team of copywriters here who know both direct response and branding scripts.

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Wendy: Then what happens?

John: Once the actor and script is finalized, and any other graphics that are needed, we go into our production facility and load the script into the teleprompter and do a number of takes, which can vary slightly based on Dave's creative eye. From there we go into our post-production facility here and add the graphics if the client needs them to tell their story.

Wendy: Okay.

John: After that, the client approves it. Then the video goes right into our system, which generates a line of code. The client puts the line of code on their webpage, wherever they want the video to appear and the line of code essentially instructs the site to launch the video as it is downloading its own content. It's actually being served from the Innovate servers, though to the consumer it appears as if it is served by the site.

Wendy: I just read the other day that almost one out of every two Rich Media ads are video. Most of that is pre-roll. What do you think of pre-roll?

John: Like any advancement, pre-roll had its moment in the sun. Our clients come to us because they no longer feel it's the best they can do. A good portion of pre-roll spots run versions that were originally used for broadcast. They don't really work though. For one there's no chance to take action. The interactive marketing universe will soon be a "post pre-roll" world.

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Wendy: You're right.

John: Our videos are made specifically for the net. There's no issue of having DRM (digital rights management) issues with our talent. The contracts that we do with our actors are for the web only.

Wendy: Hmmm... I think you're one of the few that's figured that out. What else can you tell us?

John: LOL! What else would you want to know?

Stay tuned for part two as John discusses video spokesperson-based research from Stanford University, online video in a "post pre-roll" world, his three online video products and what it was like to produce a video spokesperson ad for 2008 presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, among other things.

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Part Two

By Wendy McHale, Publisher

Yesterday we began PART 1 of a 3-part conversation with John Cecil, whom we call "the Innovator," not coincidentally due to the fact that he is the CEO of Innovate Ads.

That in and of itself would be enough. However, this executive, who started his digital career at a company called Yahoo!, is part of a special "Yahoo! Alumni" crowd; those who grew up as the business was still in its adolescent stage. Many of them such as Mark Cuban, Dominque Vidal, Dan Rosensweig, Lorna Borenstein, Cammie Dunaway, Steve Mitgang and Mercedes DeLuca among others earned their digital bones there. Since then they all have gone on to bigger and better things. Obviously, something special was in the air back then, and still must be, based on Yahoo!' impregnability even from the likes of arch-rival Microsoft.

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If you wonder why we refer to John as the Innovator? It's simply because his company has created the newest "post-rich media" TV production-quality solution on the planet. Other companies which try to compete with Innovate - or iAds as John's company's referred to - offer personal service as their primary USP. Innovate Ads offers personal technology.

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Is John worried that a hot new rich media company is going to come in and trump iAds? He says, "Well, you always have to worry. But they'd they'd have to bring a TV production company along, have a team of online video directors on staff, enjoy great relationships with the actor community in Hollywood and hundreds of direct marketing case studies." Then he followed, "They'd also have to have the campaign we did with you and the MadAveJournal in support of MAD Men's recent promotion." I thought, "Hmmm... he's on to something."

In part 2 of this interview, we try to get to what was in that Yahoo air, if not in the neighborhood that has gave him and so many of his Yahoo alums the ability to move the digital business to a higher ground.

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Wendy: During your time at Yahoo!, did you ever consider moving up there? There were so many other Yahoo Brats that you worked with, there surely must have been a temptation.

John: Yeah, but I'm addicted to the ocean. I'm a big surfer and the Southern California lifestyle is in my blood. I always felt lucky when I was working with Yahoo! that I could be part of the dot com era and still live in LA. I think Southern California is an excellent part of the country to keep on top of what's going on in our business, which is why I still here today.

Wendy: What was going on the west coast that enabled so many of you to keep up with the pace of lightening speed change? Silicon Valley?

John: I worked out of LA, but the Yahoo culture certainly introduced me to the buzz being generated out of the Valley. However, I learned early on from working at Yahoo! that Stanford University was - and continues to be - the heart and soul of digital media. Even though we're in Orange County, we always have an eye on their research and innovation.

Wendy: Stanford? Big deal. What other companies today can point to Stanford for their success other than Yahoo!, Apple, and Google?

John: LOL! You're funny. You'd have to ask a cultural anthropologist for an answer to that question. For us, it's Stanford's commitment to R&D which we've made sure has rubbed off on our product.

Wendy: Tell me about it. Whose work have you followed?

John: Professor Byron Reeves.

Wendy: I don't know him.

John: Byron Reeves is a Professor at Director of the Stanford Center for the Study of Language and Information. He co-founded the Media X Program that brings together industry partners to work on innovations in interactive technology. He's published numerous papers and books on the physiological responses to media, attention, memory, and emotion to all sorts of media. One of the books he's co-published is "The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Television," and "New Media Like Real People and Places."

Wendy: Impressive.

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John: One of the projects he's worked on that caught our attention was his findings in a study titled "The Benefits of Interactive Online Characters." It points to the fact that automated characters, or in our case, Video Spokespeople" increases the trust that computers have with a person's online experiences.

Wendy: Why?

John: Well, the elevator pitch is that they make online experiences easier for computer users.

Wendy: What do you mean, easier?

John: Okay, let's say there ar 5 ways that absorb information. First is the most distant. They watch TV. Now, let's get closer. Being with a group of people. Being in class or at a show of some kind. It's more personal than a TV since it's live but it's not one to one. Okay, now let's get closer. Your computer screen.

Wendy: Okay, that's three.

John: Right, the next two are the most critical. Being face to face with someone. Dinner, coffee, talking on the phone. That's four. Now according to STanford, the most effective way to communicate on the computer is with what Professor Reeves calls Automated Characters. We call it Video Spokespeople.

Wendy: Interesting.

John: Stanford's research shows that automated characters, or Innovate Ads for short takes you as close to one to one as you could ever get with your computer. Think about it. Imagine an iAd video spokesperson walking out on to the screen, to talk to you personally instead of reading a static page.

Wendy: What else does the research say?

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John: Reeves has distilled it down to two specific points.

Wendy: What are they?

John: First, that human-media interactions are fundamentally social. One example online of course is the explosion in social media, right?

Wendy: Sure, what's the other?

John: Well, in research-speak, Human character interfaces bring social intelligence to online interactions.

Wendy: Okay, now explain that in human terms.

John: He's referring to the fact that the ability to be socially competent is critical for teaching, for doing commerce and for interpersonal relationships.

Wendy: Not in my family.

John: LOL!

Wendy: Go on.

John: When people interact with media - and especially with computer-based media - the more the presentation is social, the more the interaction is going to be successful.

Wendy: Right.

John: Adding interactive human characters to online experiences is an effective method to gain control over the presentation of social intelligence.

Wendy: Okay, I get it.

John: Social intelligence in automated interactions is good business. More than any other platform, social characters can benefit from new technologies than any other form.

Wendy: Why is that?

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John: Because new tech is going to make video spokespeople more practical, more real.

Wendy: Let's talk about your Video spokespeople.

John: Well, the research says that they make social responses inevitable. What rich media can promise that their format will make response inevitable?

Wendy: Not sure. What else?

John: Video spokespeople are perceived as real social actors. Everyone understands that computer generated characters are not real people in the flesh, however they do know they are real people in the computer can still cause automatic social responses as if the characters know how to communicate with the user.

Wendy: Okay.

John: This interactivity increases the perceived realism and effectiveness of characters. Just look at the response with got with MAD MEN.

Wendy: Definitely.

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John: Video spokespeople increase the trust of the information they give. You know how important trust is. It's everything. The presence of a character can increase and sustain trust. Video spokespeople can benefit from the same emphasis on social responsibility.

Wendy: Right.

John: The i-Ads Video spokespeople you can choose from includes an ever growing group of actors that represent brands. In turn, they give your brand personality, especially if it is something technical that has no life form.

Wendy: I know some people who work at a few agencies who act like that.

John: (smiling) Video spokespeople can communicate social roles. It's not just what you say. It's the way it's said. The inflection a person uses in their voice is incredibly important to the context of the message. They express emotions.

Wendy: You mean like when I ask my daughter the first time to shut off the TV versus the third time?

John: LOL! Yes.

Wendy: Anything else?

John: Perfect lead in. Video spokespeople very effectively display and communicate important social manners. Something that printed content has no way at all of doing.

Wendy: And finally?

John: Maybe the most important. Our characters are well-liked.

Wendy: Ahh, the secret sauce.

John: That's not exactly how we look at it.

Wendy: Can you send me Professor Reeves' white paper?

John: Sure. If you buy me a Big Mac.

Wendy: Deal!

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Part Three

By Wendy McHale

Over the last two days of our 3-part conversation with John Cecil, CEO of Innovate Ads, we've covered numerous topics, including the differences between his company and companies in the Rich Media category, as well as some pretty impressive research from Stanford about the superior communications value of online video spokespeople on the user's experience. Here are links to PART 1: Yahoo! and PART 2: Stanford

In our 3rd segment we get down to the nitty-gritty. How has John been able to produce successful work with direct marketers, who by all counts are known to be extremely finicky about how they brand is portrayed?

And finally, what would a 360-degree discussion about digital marketing be without focusing on how Mr. Cecil's organization ties in with the internet's most powerful company (Hint: it begins with a "G") and makes it an even more powerful marketing tool - if that's actually possible - for almost every marketer investing in search.

Wendy: You've produced hundreds of online videos. Creative is such a touchy subject, especially when you're working for a client who's built their company from scratch. They have certain ideas about how they're company should be marketed. How do you satisfy the "look and feel" or personality that's led to for their success; while at the same time make sure the video is effective?

John: We do have stipulations in our contracts that we get to make the final decision with regards to production. That includes both the small and big stuff. Our policy is in their best interests.

Wendy: Give me an example

John: If a client requested that the actor have their hair pinned up and then on the set it just didn't look good, we have the final say to make the best decision. That's obviously a nitpick. That's in the contract, but it really never becomes an issue.

Wendy: That's an easy one.

John: It is and it isn't. We've been doing this for more than a few years now. Our work speaks for itself. There's a lot of leeway clients will give you when there's a foundation of trust in the relationship. We are online marketers and a lot of our clients just let us roll with it. We just say, "Hey, we know how to do this. We know what works." At the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding.

Wendy: That's refreshing.

John: Yeah, but if there is one thing I think deserves some focus here. As compared to other online video companies. Our situations are well within our clients' price range. We don't get hassled on price because our solutions can be well under $10,000 from concept, through production to having us the online video serve their iAd thousands and thousands of times.

You have different unit sizes, right?

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Sure. We give our clients a choice. So far we've focused largely on our walk-on video spokesperson. However if a client prefers to work within the confines of an IAB unit, that's fine. We do it in leaderboard, skyscraper or rectangles. And fully compliant.

Wendy: What's the third?

John: The 3rd we call a "video snack."

Wendy: LOL. Sounds appetizing!

John: It's a custom video clip that fits nicely on a site with what you might call a "short and sweet" message. The length is not the point. It can sit on a page and not be so intrusive that the viewer is distracted at all, if they were interested in something else. Plus, its user activated so it's what the industry calls "polite."

Wendy: You do all these in-house.

John: Yes.

Wendy: do you consider these pre-roll?

John: Absolutely not. We just took the spokesperson and we place them inside a standard ad unit. They have all the charisma if you will that the Stanford paper talks about. They are all based on using a spokesperson within it and help our clients take their site-based online video ad on to other sites. They have the opportunity to have consistency and conformity of message. In many ways, having the same spokesperson come to life in difference size units gives that ad a more interesting branding. The consumer response is like, "Hey I know you."

Wendy: There's no doubt.

Wendy: Okay. Real life situation. Let's say a creative guy in an agency who likes the idea of an iAd but wants to do it themselves.

John: That's fine. If someone else wants to produce the product, no problems. We'll take the tape and put it through delivery mechanism and let's just do business. But if you can get someone to help control it from the start to the finish, typically you'll see a better product.

Wendy: For both direct marketers and brand-based agencies?

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John: Absolutely.

Wendy: Do you work with the mother of all digital media companies?

John: I think I know who you mean? That's Google.

Wendy: Exactly.

John: I'm glad you brought that up. We have killer Google applications.

Wendy: Really. How does it work?

John: Okay. Let's say for example that you're interested dog grooming. You go to Google, you type in "dog grooming" and you get number of link ads. You click on an ad and all of a sudden you end upon the home page of some dumb dog-gone-wild site, right?

Wendy: Right.

John: No connection to what you were searching on... Now here's the same scenario with our product. You google "dog grooming" and click on a link for our client. You're directed to a special landing page where an iAd video spokesperson comes out and says "Welcome to Doggrooming.com. We know you are looking for information on dog grooming. You've come to the right place and here's why...

Wendy: Okay, but that's not rocket science.

John: Except for the fact that the online spokesperson repeats in the dialogue the actual key word that the person's clicked on. Intimate addressability. The reaction with consumers is an automatic increase in interest, based on the thinking, "Wow, they know what I'm here for."

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Wendy: Wow! That's great stuff.

John: It makes sense, right? No other company offers that type of intimacy. And the cost is simply having the online video person use each specific word in their dialogue when we shoot the client's online video. It's also a great way to test different talent and different message offerings

Wendy: Sure.

John: We're taking it to the next level. An example is that one of our video conferencing clients is sending Google traffic to five different landing pages. The landing pages are all the same, though one of the videos is a blond female, one is an older male, one a sexier brunette.

Wendy: Hey, I'm a blond.

John: Present company excluded. The client can testing with five different landing pages, with different iAds, different spokespeople and we see the different responses. We have a client in the home improvement industry where we shot two variations of the iAds: one young model giving the pitch and the other with an older gentleman.

Wendy: Who won?

John: The older guy. A client is able to understand their potential customers' humanistic behavior. And they can keep their message fresh. When the potential buyer returns to the landing page, we can present a different presenter, by simply cookie-ing them.

Wendy: How frequently?

John Up to eight times.

Wendy: That's fascinating, Back to my agency question. So you get a call and they say, you're iAds not working. "My click through rate stinks."

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John: Okay. We talk about it. Let's look at how the online video is working with their site style guide. Let's test different site fonts, different colors, and different headlines. The video spokesperson can't do all the work. The total screen experience must all be firing on all cylinders. Once a client has several executions worth experience - and again, without breaking the bank - the right mix soon emerges.

Wendy: Okay. So you're advantage is price?

John: It's always about money. But we're not talking about ours. If a client is spending a million dollars a month in advertising, driving traffic to their site, we can add video products that can increase the conversions be 30%. That means they're going to get an additional 30% of return of that million dollars. And then if they can take it to the next step and shoot five different variations of the video, test them and be super aggressive, we've seen that iAds helps a client get to know their customer more than any other kind of creative unit can. They'll find that one version may increase that to a 35% increase in conversions. That 5% increase in conversions out of a million bucks is worth it.

Wendy: Interesting.

John: That's why we're so excited. It works. It goes back to my Yahoo experience. It was just a matter of time before the studios started using the Internet. It's just a matter of time before online marketers are going to use some variation of our product. Our challenge is to stay ahead of the copy cats.

Wendy: IT probably doesn't hurt that almost 80% of homes right now by next year will have broadband. Expectations by consumers are only going to grow. People don't remember what it was like, not to have search. They don't remember.

John: Yeah. It hasn't been that long.

Wendy: No, it hasn't. I mean, you think about it and I remember that having to try to remember that url. You don't have to do that anymore. Most people don't they just put in the phrase or what ever. So I think its going to quicker. That's my glass half-full view

John: Yeah. Totally.

Wendy: Okay, second to the last question, what was it like working with Mitt Romney?

John: Governor Romney was great. Professional all the way. First class guy. He flew in, did the spot and then flew out. We edited it only slightly and then worked with his campaign to launch it in the areas that he was targeting.

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Wendy: He obviously didn't win. What feedback did you get?

John: Well, the Boston Globe and among others ran an article about it, which was extremely favorable. We think iAds would be perfect for almost any type of political campaign there is. Other than visiting people where they work or making house calls, there's no other form of communication that let's someone running for office get as close to a potential voter as the iAds unit.

Wendy: What advice would you tell someone just getting out of school about choosing a career in advertising? What kind of people do you look for? I'm not talking about actors and actresses.. but people who work at your company? Do you hire right out of college. Do you have interns?

John: We have an internship program. I've had great luck working my contacts, particularly from Yahoo!. We look for people that understand the Production space or are used to banging on doors and understanding that this is a developing technology. We're still a small company and can offer the right people a golden opportunity to get in on the ground floor and do some really great work.

Wendy: Is there a difference between interning on the production side versus on the sales support side? Are you teaching them the whole business?

John: I'm not sure that's really possible. If they have an interest, sure. An of course each side needs to know what the other is doing. But there are actually two different people. There's the video production guy and there's the advertising, ad sales guys, just like our businesses, production and delivery. So it's really two different people. Generally people with an interest in production are more introverted. As you know, to be successful in sales, you have to be an extrovert.

Wendy: What advice would you give to someone just getting out of college and is considering a career in digital marketing?

John: Most of the young people I talk to are just talking about getting into "marketing" or working with an "ad agency." My advice to them if they are interested in marketing / media is to focus on the digital space and not go "traditional." There is a need for talent/expertise in this space and if they can get educated on what we are doing, there is a great opportunity for a job out of school and a career in the future.

Wendy: John, this was great. Thank you so much!

John: It was my pleasure, Wendy.


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