Friday, March 5, 2010

The TV of Tomorrow

I was asked to be on the panel of Tracy Swedlow's TV of Tomorrow Conference in San Francisco. It was a lot of fun but I realized that I had a tough time connecting with some of the other attendees. Turns out that they are all traditional TV / Cable folks that actually know what EBIF and tru2way mean, while I'm just an Internet guy with an idea and a passion. What was really cool was that Tracy was able to get all of the interactive internet video providers into one room onto one stage. (This is her passion as well, and kudos to Tracy for pulling this thing off).

On my panel were Brian Rogers from EvenHere, Nick Alt from ConciseClick, Baba from VideoClix, Shana Steele from Tremor Media, Michael Fink from YouTube Annotations, myself, Abe from Clikthrough, Scott Bloomfield from Veeple and Rob from content creator Rob Chad and Matt. It was pretty interesting to see everyone's demo and to hear everyone's thoughts. I've always wanted to drive interactive video because I believe that we are not working against each other but actually should be working together. The great thing is that each company had a slightly different spin with a slightly different target audience. Here's the rundown:

Evenhere - They drop items into a timeline that appear in a video. When you are watching you have the option to purchase these items. They charge on a CPM / CPA basis. Target audience appears to be professional content - currently implemented on

Conciseclick - They are clickable video with popups that show up when you roll over something. Came from an agency and I think they are still targeting those clients. Not sure how they charge, but nice implementations with Hotwheels and Mattel.

VideoClix - They've been around for 11 years now and have a nice interface for professional content creators that track objects within their video. Then the creators go in and create content for each tag. They had a nice sizzle reel.

TremorMedia - Aren't they an ad network? Not just. They also have an Acuedeo tool that furthers interactivity for their brand partners. Pretty cool. They provide buttons and overlays that easily plug in.

Clikthrough - They target the music industry and have a really comprehensive system that gives the viewer anything from ratings to ecommerce to social media. Pretty nice interface.

YouTube - Small company attached to a small search company. Even Michael said that annotations was pretty low-tech but what's interesting is the adoption of annotations. (They've also released what Michael describes as wiki annotations). One out of every six has some type of annotations. He's no longer working on the product anymore.

Veeple - They are targeting the pro-sumer and corporate users including GoDaddy. Pretty interesting how they've allowed users to put PDF, Word, PPT files into a video.

Rob - Funny guy who is part of a trio of comedians from LA. They do a lot of cool things with interactive video including choose your own adventure.

And then there was me. I told my favorite story about our favorite movie (Miss Pettigrew) and the audience got that. I was also able to fit in a story about In The Heights and how its a different game than Miss P and why it worked better. And then time was over. Wow that was fast. We even had to postpone the click awards. So apply for them, and email me if you'd like to apply. On my way now to go meet up with old friends from Google....

Bowling Not Wii

So on Wednesday night, I checked out the Flybridge VC bowling event in NYC's Bowlmor lanes. It was pretty interesting event as I'd say the top NYC entrepreneurs were there. It got me thinking about an ongoing debate about entrepreneurship and whether entrepreneurs could be created or were just born. I've read a bunch of posts on the topic but I've come to a few realizations....
(BTW, our team was pretty awesome - i think we should have won - Baveo's Ari Greenberg, Bill from Goodwin, Stefan who just got funded, Alex and myself). Actually it's really one realization. Should an entrepreneur have a breadth of knowledge or a depth of knowledge?

I think the answer is breadth. I look at guys like Jeff Stewart (Mimeo, Urgent Career, Monitor110) and realize that his companies span many different industries (printing, sales, information). What resonates in my mind though was what Rich Forman from said at a recent M&T event.... He started as a wedding registry and it turned into a domain registry. Wow. Imagine that he was working with a bunch of folks with depth in weddings, gifting, and / or retail? They would not have been able to turn on a dime. That was cool. Speaking with Jeff, he said the same thing. Get a bunch of generalists first until you have a definitive idea on business model, product, etc. Essentially have a bunch of McKinsey entrepreneurs (breadth smart), that were former athletes (never say die), that are crazy (everyone needs some craziness) and there's your team.

Now do just do it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Notes from the First Stamford Tech Meetup

On Wednesday February 24, a group of techies got together at Tigin Bar in Stamford, CT. We had a semi private room and although we could only use an S-Video cable to a PC connection, we got the first Stamford Tech Meetup (#STeM) off.

We had four presenters that all provided an aggregation type theme, although a few of them fell into the travel niche, one fell into theater, and one into food.

The first brave soul that demonstrated was David Marcus from Routefriend.

Routefriend's elevator pitch (IMO) was Kayak for non-air travel. It worked pretty awesome. There was a lot of great Ajax on the site that made for quick loading and user friendly controls. David's got a ton of content that he was able to scrape from the sites themselves and is now working on a way to provide travel displays to the various city owned train stations.

CommutePlan was the second demo up. Nik Ran the CEO and founder wowed us with five minutes of his work. I'd say the elevator pitch was Drupal for Transportation Hubs. CommutePlan was still in the alpha stage but I could see where Nik was heading with it. He demonstrated the content management system and showed where he was going. Perhaps Nik should team up with Routefriend's David and CrowdFusion (that demo'd last night at NYTM).

TheaterAdvisor was next up. I'd say it was Yelp for Theater. Great presentation by the founder Andrew Asnes as he covered a lot of the things that I was going to ask about the site. What was really cool was the integration with NY based Hunch where a user could come to the site, answer some questions, and a Broadway recommendation would be given to them. I'm looking forward to this launch of this site as I saw a great show this past weekend that I'd like to review.

Last but not least was RecipeBridge. Bill Brennan the founder presented what I'd call Google/Yelp meets Recipes. A robust interface and on the target search results provided me with an awesome way to probably construct something with all of the random ingredients in my refrigerator (chocolate sprinkles, BBQ sauce, garlic, chicken wings, beer).

Overall, this was a great first meetup for STeM and I can't wait to see what is next in store...!

Sign up for Stamford Tech Meetup!

Games, games everywhere, but which one?

Cross posted from Klickable.TV

I like to talk about the gaming concept mashed up with video a lot. I think that it's a great way to build engagement with your viewer, especially with online video. As we know, the video game industry is growing daily while Hollywood (sans Avatar) is shrinking. Furthermore, at the same time, video engagement rates (abandonment) decrease (increase) as the video plays on (from our friends at TubeMogul). We talked about using Klickable TV as a great way to captivate an active viewership that is front of their computer (active) by using a medium that traditionally has been passive (video). One such example is the easter egg hunt. I love the story about the film trailer that skews 30-40 female but once sent to 20+ year old guys that know that there is a hidden easter egg where they can win free movie tickets, their interest in the film increases greatly. We've also discussed creating different "versions" of the same video where a viewer can watch the "Joe" version and then if they want a different experience, they can watch the "Nick" version of the same exact underlying video. Shoot once, capture different audiences forever....(almost).

There are so many different types of gaming experiences that we can create with this platform and a reason why I'm reluctant to provide too too many examples. Once you see how others use Klickable TV you almost feel like this is the ONLY way to use it, which is definitely NOT true. However, I want to get your creative juices flowing and help you find the best way to use the platform that is in line with your goal. As we see from the Tubemogul article, audiences have short attention spans. One user recently put together a mash up of gaming with video using the Klickable TV platform. Their goal wasn't to sell anything, it wasn't to even build awareness; the goal of the video was to collect email addresses of people that they thought might be interested in their product and to have them watch the ENTIRE video from start to finish.

So what type of puzzle did they choose? Easter eggs are a great way to get repeat watches of a video but a lot of the success is based on where the hidden spot is located. If the spot is located near the beginning of the video, the rest of the video may or may not get watched (also dependent on how skillful the viewer is). They actually chose a "puzzle." The viewer had to find different pieces within the video and the sum of all of the parts yielded the answer that they had to send in via a form (with their email of course).

Did it work? You bet. They had ten pieces in the puzzle. And on average the number of clicks per view was 9.5. Pretty darn good. Email your success stories to