Partner Spotlight: WEVR

It’s no secret that Virtual Reality is growing in such a rapid pace, so much so that research firms expect demand for VR devices to reach 14 million units in 2016. This is one of the reasons why the IPG Media Lab made time during the craziness of Oculus Connect to meet with Ricky Ramsaran, Marketing Manager for WEVR – a Venice, California-based VR startup.

During the meeting the Media Lab had the opportunity to demo TheBluVR – originally developed for the Samsung Gear VR – but now on the HTC Vive. The second iteration called TheBlu: Encounter took full advantage of the Vive’s room scale system (the sensors on the headset) and joystick controllers, which allowed us to explore the aquatic environment and get up-close with the sea creatures and the 80-foot blue whale.

TheBlu: Encounter VR experience showcased the capabilities of the WEVR team and the possibilities of the HTC Vive. Because of the success of this experience, HTC decided to invest almost $10 million to enhance the HTC Vive VR content library.


Partner Spotlight: Twitch

With over 150 million monthly users, live-streaming platform Twitch unlocks massive audience potential for brands. Essentially a community-driven ESPN for gaming (though its offerings go far beyond), Twitch has the largest attention share of any online platform behind Netflix— and by far the largest scale of any live video platform.

Brands have been slow to adopt Twitch, owing to its gaming-centric audience and innovative live-streaming approach. However, now that apps such as Meerkat and Periscope are household names, Twitch needs to be added to the conversation that television and online video have occupied for years.

What is Twitch, and why do so many users visit it?
Twitch emerged from (one of the first live-streaming destinations online) when its creators realized gaming companies were, uniquely among content owners, actually in favor of users streaming their content. Fast-forward to last year, when Amazon purchased the network for nearly $1 billion.

How did that happen? It turns out gamers really, really like watching and sharing video games. Twitch essentially pioneered an entirely new user behavior, and millions of visitors joined in. The platform became known as the most comprehensive destination for the gaming community, including user gaming videos, e-sports tournaments, electronic music, and more.

Twitch has totally upended the way gamers consume content, but is diversifying into other areas as well. This month, HBO will air the pilot of its “Silicon Valley” property on Twitch before the new season premieres, and host Q&A sessions with the cast. Twitch is also pursuing premium relationships in music, film, and poker.

What should I know about Twitch’s audience?
150 million global users visit the platform monthly, with 6.9 million uniques daily. As its audience is so massive (and enduring — the average consumption is over 100 minutes per person, per day), Twitch represents an entirely new channel to reach young, male consumers in particular. Although gaming is at the core, Twitch’s offering goes far beyond, and the platform should be considered as a network in itself.

How can brands use Twitch?
Twitch is employing innovative advertising solutions: the company offers traditional activations (display and video inventory), but also native advertising and sponsorship (activations with its highly developed influencer network, sponsorship of e-Sports events, and social engagement).

Examples of native activations include the 7UP-sponsored Twitch stream of Ultra Music Festival, and a Mountain Dew platform takeover, which garnered 8.5 million views over six days. Along with HBO, Discovery has launched a property on Twitch and YouTube. Labels such as Rhymesayers have uploaded music on the site’s growing streaming library. And while an April Fool’s Day channel of Darude’s inane “Sandstorm” playing nonstop may not be so interesting, the 10,000 followers gained in that one day speaks to its centrality as a platform.

Image courtesy of Twitch

Partner Spotlight: 2015 Outlook Edition

2015 is going to be a special year for consumers and media, as detailed in the IPG Media Lab’s 2015 Outlook. We’ve secured thought leadership from some of the most innovative players in the emerging spaces that make up 2015’s landscape, and wanted to feature a few companies that are fulfilling our predictions and pushing the industry into the future.


One of the most prominent pieces of marketing hardware in 2014 was the beacon. Using Bluetooth Low Energy, these devices detect the location of nearby smartphones, and, if an appropriate app is installed, pushes a message to the devices.

Estimote, a pioneer in the space, is rapidly innovating both hardware and software. Their sticker beacons, or “Nearables,” are responsive to motion and temperature, and last up to a year. Recently, Estimote premiered a developer platform and management system that allows for better proximity data, and better insights about consumer behavior.

Users are finding that Estimote beacons can be used for wayfinding, mobile marketing, payments, and much more. Beacons help bring digital-level accountability to the physical world, and that is a powerful idea.

Beacons like Estimote’s are working toward a world in which technology responds to and anticipates user behavior, and facilitates a deeper connection between consumers, their devices, and their purchases—a part of the trend we call “The Internet of Thrills.”

Vistar Media

Vistar Media is contributing to a more accountable and aware outdoor landscape. The company compiles and refines a collection of data sources related consumers’ commutes. Once location is understood, it maps brand data to both time and place — understanding where consumers buy what, and when they do it. Then, Vistar targets (and retargets) based on consumer path — for example, the consumers from the shoe store see ads at the gas station.

The next step—the ability to contextually map marketer actions to the consumer journey—is rapidly approaching. Currently, Vistar Media is beefing up its data sources, most notably through a partnership with Airsagefor carrier data. The company has also just launched an ad exchange to coordinate outdoor spend.

One of our Outlook themes is Peak Distraction: the consumer is maxed out; there is no more white space for dumb interactions. So with the finite amount of time in a consumer’s day, the solution cannot be louder media, but smarter media. Vistar’s technology allows marketing spend to target consumers contextually. This leads to more than just better accountability on the bottom line — it facilitates better consumer experiences, closer relationships to their preferred brands, and less noise overall.


TouchCast enables interactive video creation via HTML. A traditional video is annotated with interactive elements — other videos, photos, new web pages — that, when selected, activate without leaving the original video. The compelling approach gets over five times the engagement of traditional YouTube annotations, and allows for more insights into the online consumer journey.

The best part of TouchCast is that it mirrors the way we consume content online; that is, nonlinear, omnichannel. Their platform can drive the video conversation beyond just completion rates. It pinpoints and activates moments of viewer engagement, and helps map time-spent toward measurable spend.

TouchCast shows the emotional significance of specific moments: not just where users care, but how they manifest it, an important part of our third trend, “Measurable Intimacy.” Solutions like TouchCast will drive more personalized and compelling media, allowing marketers to understand the consumer like never before.

CES 2015 Preview: Smart TV Partnership Spotlight

More and more people are buying Smart TVs — by some projections, there will be 66MM connected households in 2016 — and so the long-developing advanced TV space should finally achieve nationwide scale. Not surprisingly, then, they’re a major theme at CES 2015. With the trade show just around the corner, we are highlighting three of our favorite partners in the connected TV space. They’ll be exhibiting at CES, so stop by their booths and say hi.
BrightLine: Veterans of the ITV space, BrightLine is focused on building rich media experiences for TV. They’re helping brands enhance their content and advertising across linear and OTT (on-demand) platforms.
Samba TV: Samba uses ACR (automatic content recognition) to identify what TV viewers are watching. Their product suite ranges from real-time TV analytics to cross device retargeting. The latter is great for audiences that watch TV while using their  phone (nearly 58%, according to a 2014 report from Ipsos).
Cognitive Networks: An example of a ACR provider focused on first-screen, Cognitive Networks also recognizes smart TV content, and displays interactive content directly under the broadcast. That interactive layer can be used to increase engagement with either programming or advertising. Cognitive Networks just netted a pretty healthy Series B, so be sure to congratulate them.

Partner Spotlight: ADstruc

With the transition to automated buying and widespread digital signage, outdoor media is about to explode. IPG Media Lab Managing Partner Chad Stoller was quoted in the New York Times this week, noting “Outdoor is one of the most undervalued media” in the landscape, and MAGNA GLOBAL estimated earlier this year that outdoor would grow 4.8% to a $7.3 billion industry. That’s why we’re particularly excited by ADstruc, a comprehensive solution to out-of-home buys and analysis, which is on the forefront of programmatic outdoor media.

How does ADstruc’s platform work?
ADstruc optimizes outdoor RFPs toward its inventory, which currently constitutes several hundred media networks across the country. That way, a media buyer can scan inventory, calculate an ideal expenditure, and then execute a buy without leaving the desk. For vendors, it’s a totally free marketplace.
It’s not over once the buy is executed, either. Unlike traditional outdoor, which ends once the media goes up, the platform maps your spend and tracks location-based social mentions to determine the media’s effect. Finally, ADstruc’s goal is to be a full-service outdoor platform, so it helpfully interfaces with analytics and billing platforms that media buyers and vendors use.
How can ADstruc change out-of-home media?
Outdoor signage is becoming progressively more digital — it’s currently 32% of the out-of-home market, and will grow as static media gets replaced. Markets like New York are fully embracing outdoor digital: digital media will fund the massive public WiFi project set to take over 10,000 obsolete payphones. And as outdoor becomes more digital, it will become more programmatic. To be able to change outdoor media at a click’s notice — sounds like the future to us.

Partner Spotlight: ZEFR

ZEFR is a video platform that creates data-driven stories with YouTube content. When YouTube users create content involving a brand, ZEFR can identify it, analyze its impact, and monetize it effectively. Effectively, this uses the video giant as a social network, and creates engagement between brands and users.

That’s a big deal for advertisers, and explains why the company is reportedly valued between $250 million and $500 million, raising $30 million this year alone. And with the September acquisition of social influencer startup Engodo, ZEFR is now poised to expand beyond YouTube.

Why would I use ZEFR? Can’t YouTube tell me when my content is used?

There’s no shortage of content on YouTube, yet for every video from a brand’s official channel, there are ten more user-generated videos about that brand. YouTube’s internal Content ID system can look for ripoffs and copyright issues, but not how much people actually talk about a brand.

That’s where ZEFR comes in. Through its platform, brands can identify related UGC, analyze it, compare it to a brand’s competitors, and then monetize it. ZEFR understands who’s talking about a brand, how, and who’s listening — but also allows the brand to take control of its own story.

ZEFR isn’t just a social listener. Its marketing platform can launch a campaign toward those engaged users, enabling brands to buy against media that’s already related to them. That’s a moneymaker for brands like Universal and Sony Music, but more importantly, it’s a meaningful connection between a brand and its fans.

What are the implications beyond YouTube?

ZEFR’s platform goes beyond pure analytics. By evaluating content, ZEFR can show a brand which pieces of their content have traction, and what those fans look like. Brands can use that information to mold their content strategy across social to better leverage those conversations. By clearly identifying what fans respond to and where they spend their time, ZEFF enables brands to create better-crafted, better-received media campaigns at a potentially unprecedented level.

Lastly, through its acquisition of the influencer-focused Engodo, ZEFR can understand how brands’ video stories permeate across multiple channels — and vice versa. And once a brand knows the story, it can write the next chapter.

Image: TechCrunch

Partner Spotlight: Mojio

We’re excited about the emerging Connected Car space — it should be a big part of tech life in 2015. One of our favorite players in the space is Mojio. The app platform just released their Connected Car platform, which plugs into most cars built after 1996. The product interfaces via Mojio’s partnership with AT&T (US) and Telus (Canada), and provides valuable data and a totally new driving experience. Mojio just released its consumer platform this week on Amazon, and is already getting rave reviews.

Won’t I have to buy a new car to get it Connected?

You could! New cars are fun. But for the hundreds of millions of vehicles already on the road, connectivity is still possible. The solution is the onboard diagnostic port (OBD-II), which exists on most models made after 1996. Historically used by mechanics, a slew of apps are interfacing with it via Bluetooth or network dongles. This provides crucial information on diagnostics, distance, speed, location, fuel economy and other telemetric data. Your hatchback won’t be able to drive itself, but — call it the Quantified Car — this new technology will revolutionize the way drivers interact with their car.

What does Mojio plan to bring to the emerging Connected Car ecosystem?

Just released for consumers, Mojio can do all of the above, but also functions as a platform for developers. Richard Woodruff, Vice President of Business Development at Mojio, explains the vision: “Our mission,” he says, “is to be the ubiquitous application and service platform for the Connected Car.” The solution is an open “app store” for automotive tech. Richard thinks that automotive manufacturers will be reluctant to open their platforms, so it will be up to a third-party like Mojio to forge a standard.

What kind of opportunities does Mojio offer for advertisers?

The platform communicates with the user when it’s most relevant — and only then. “You don’t have to engage proactively with the applications,” says Richard. “You could! But Mojio enables the development of apps that engage only when you need to know something.” That strategy dovetails with Mojio’s partnership with advertising platform Kiip. Through Kiip’s “Rewarding Moments,” driving triggers random rewards. Example: if you drive, the app could send an offer for a free cup of coffee in the vicinity of the vehicle. It’s not a distraction, and could be a boon for conversion on-the-go.

Sector Spotlight: Quantified Health

One of the more interesting segments of the Quantified Self ecosystem involves health tracking. As platforms like Apple’s Healthkit and Google Fit begin to outline the new marketplace, Quantified Health could become a vital part of the connected self’s daily routine, as well as a new media channel through which brands can communicate with consumers. Here is just a small sample of health-tracking products going far beyond activity tracking.

What is Quantified Health?

Quantified Health is the sector of the market of wearables, apps, and sensors that monitor the way a user’s body and lifestyle perform on a daily basis. This creates data that can provide feedback on activity, leading to a positive impact on the way a person lives.


Sensoria is a line of “smart garments” with sensors embedded in the fabric. Socks can track common activities—step counts, speed, distance—but also can understand gait and foot placement to accurately analyze walking or running patterns. Its shirts and sports bras can function as an extension to a heart rate monitor. All of the products sync with a mobile device via Bluetooth.


Bellabeat is a suite of devices to intelligently track a pregnancy. The company offers a stylish wristband that tracks an expectant mother’s activity, stress, nutrition and sleep quality. Additionally, Bellabeat manufactures a non-ultrasound pregnancy monitor that can record and share a baby’s heartbeat, as well as send music to the baby in the womb. Rounding out the suite is a smart scale for both the mother and the baby.


There are a few meditation wearables on the market, but they usually come as part of a larger fitness package. Muse is the only meditation headband that we’ve come across — its sensors detect brainwaves, like a miniature EEG machine. The app provides goals for relaxation sessions, which are meant to reduce the intensity of brainwave patterns.

What opportunities does Quantified Health present to advertisers?

The advertising potential in Quantified Health products could open an entirely new channel to consumers. Apps can deliver branded content emphasizing fitness and health as users begin to integrate the technology into their lifestyle, and the surplus of data will present a more granular picture of demographics and user identities. Finally, the technology itself can be used to drive users toward purchase, with in-app marketplaces or deals.

Partner Spotlight: Roximity

Roximity is a leader in the emerging space of “hyperlocal retail”: using its state-of-the-art beacon technology, the company aims to understand consumer behavior and advertising effectiveness at shelf. In the past two weeks, Roximity has released a new generation of beacon hardware with greater range, battery life, and security, in addition to partnering with shopping app giant Ibotta, which will use Roximity tech to send proximity-enabled offers on nearby products. The platform has been featured in the New York TimesUSA Today and more, and has secured partnerships with everyone from Ford to the Brooklyn Nets.

How does “hyperlocal” retail work? Will people have to “check in” at every store aisle? 

Myriad hardware and software solutions are trying to maximize the relationship between brands on the shelf and the humans that buy them. “Beacon” technology—of which Apple’s’ iBeacon is the best known—uses Bluetooth to track the location and patterns of shoppers within the aisles. This level of tracking means that retailers can learn valuable data about their shoppers, and consumers can receive messages and offers based on where they are in a store.

How does Roximity’s technology work for advertisers?

For Alex Finkel, head of partnerships at Roximity, beacons close the attribution loop. ”Groupon might have an offer to your local restaurant, but your phone won’t know you actually went there. Beacons will be an integral tool for small businesses to have insight into their customers [that] they’ve never had before.” Roximity’s beacons link up with a consumer’s mobile device to send messages, deals, or calls to action at the shelf level. Retailers can understand the effects of their advertising campaign through Roximity’s platform as it tracks user activity within a store.

What advantages does Roximity hold for consumers?

Roximity sees hyperlocal technology as a return to a more intimate relationship between consumers and retailers. In big cities, Finkel says, “all the scale and density make it impossible to know your customers in the ideal version of the local small-town store we picture. That’s the relationship we strive for, but the urban economics make it difficult.” Beacons give retailers more information and more avenues to communicate with shoppers. It’s a futuristic version of the friendly handshake from decades past. For Roximity, beacons are “a step toward the personalization that used to exist.”

With beacons, consumers can make informed decisions at the shelf level. “If it’s contextual and meaningful,” says Finkel, “it’s not an advertisement for free pizza. It becomes a meaningful way to get lunch. That’s what I think of the broad vision and promise for beacons.”

Partner Spotlight: Unlockable

As a video ad platform that turns video content into games, Unlockable is using the idea of value exchange to reach users while rewarding them at the same time. The platform was just named a finalist at #NYCSTARTUP, co-sponsored by 212NYC and the New York Times, and will present at Ad Week on September 30th.

What is the Unlockable system?

Consumers aren’t always willing to pay for the content available on sites like Hulu or the Wall Street Journal, but with Unlockable, they can play a game to “unlock” it for free. The viewer clicks the Unlockable button (found alongside payment options) to play a branded game based on branded content—trivia, matching, or anything that allows the user to interact with the ad. Once complete, the content appears, at no financial cost to the user.

How does Unlockable have implications for mobile?

Unlockable also works on mobile games – if a player wants to buy more of something in the game (energy, gold, kittens), a branded game can be played instead of an actual transaction.

What is the advantage of opt-in games?

The key here is “value exchange”: give users something that’s worth their attention. Advertising is a happier and even welcome type of content when it gives the viewer something for their time. The user’s interaction with the brand’s game is a small price for premium content.