Thanks to my job at Ejecutivos magazine I had, once in a while, the opportunity to interview some very important and interesting people. This was the case of my interview with Tyler Moebius, the CEO of Adconion. I didn’t recognized the name at first, and you probably feel the same way. Moebius is not constantly in the media, and Adconion is not a public-targeted company like Google or Apple, but a little research on Google helps to realize the importance of this company in the digital advertising market (one of the biggest platforms worldwide) and the interest in Moebius himself, a young entrepreneur who seems to have the right eye for anything related with communications, businesses and Internet.
That said, the interview was among the most interesting I have ever done. Moebius is an easy person to talk to, with a clear view of the marketing business and with no fear to talk about the future. He makes you feel like he is not holding anything back, and gives you his opinion about whatever you are asking him. In our case, we went a little of the corporate subjects the magazine normally talks about and run into a conversation about what can we expect about connected television, a market that has been growing in the past two years and that will change in the near future the way we consume contents, emphasizing the social aspects of what watching a TV show means.
Before starting with the interview, I want to thank Tyler Moebius and his communication team (specially my contact with their PR agency, Luis Rodriguez), and to the bosses from Ejecutivos magazine, for letting me to not only do the interview, but publish it off the official channel (you can read the interview as it was originally published -in Spanish- here).
Q. How would you present Adconion to Spanish PR and advertising agencies?
We launched Adconion in Spain 3 years ago, and we have become the market leader in digital advertisement in this country, particularly after the recent announcement of the acquisition of Smartclip. The acquisition gives us the reach of 80% of all on line video consumers in Spain, and then in terms of general reach in Spain we reach 7 out of 10 internet users in Spain. Globally, we reach 5 out of 10 internet users and have a total potential reach of 180 million users all around the world.
The vision of Adconion is to be the world’s largest digital distribution platform, being able to connect brands with a massive audience across multiple devices wether that’s PC, mobile phones, connected TV, etc. We are partners with the agencies and help them to market their costumer and deliver their campaign, from generating brand awareness or interaction to, ultimately, transaction.
Q. What are the objectives of Adconion in Spain in the short term?
We want to become the category leader in video within Spain. Right now we are second behind YouTube, and our objective is to be an alternative, or a complement, to YouTube for advertising agencies: being able to provide the same scale, the same innovation and the same service they are use to get from YouTube.
Also, we are also the only company that truly offers 360º solutions in digital advertising. Most companies are large in just one distribution channel (video, social, display, mobile…), but we want to be able to offer a multichannel solution concentrated in one point of contact.
Q. How does the process with the agencies work?
We have over 300 local sales and media experts around the globe, and what they do is digital consultancy for the communication agencies. We would meet with the head of the major brand and ask them what are they trying to achieve with their campaign, and then go back to our offices and work on how can they use digital media to better achieve their objectives. Then we would come in and make our recommendation: e-mail advertising, social advertising, video advertising across connected TV… we provide 360º digital advertising solutions for them.
It seems Internet is taking over all the other media…
It looks like it. I think the World is moving from being analogical to being digital. Right now it’s obvious particularly with television: in the last three or four years we have seen how TV came to the Internet, where people were using the web to watch shows; but over the last two years what we have seen is Internet coming to the TV: now you can connect any TV to the Internet either through a set-box device or through WiFi. Internet is definitely integrating into every device.
Q. About the Internet connected television, who is going to lead the market? Is it going to be content producers or TV manufacturers?
I believe that is the million dollars question. I think technology has to be in the roots of this market, so it will be a technology company, and that goes from companies like Sony or Samsung to others like Google or Apple. It’s impossible to know.
When you look at the US market, there the kings of content distribution are the cable and paid TV companies, because they own the last mile of cable, the copper going inside the houses. They have a closed network of subscribers and they distribute premium contents to them. What is going to happen now is that the connected TV manufacturer will own the last inch, the little piece connecting that network to the television. They are going to own the screen in the living room, and thanks to the Internet they can get around the cable companies and become the next broadcasters and media companies: they can buy the popular shows and include them in their platform, getting around the whole structure we know.
That’s where the battle is going to be, for that last inch to the screen, and it can be won either by those manufacturing televisions manufacturers or those developing the applications. Think about Apple: iTunes is so powerful against producers because they also control the devices.
Q. Will we end up watching TV through the mobile devices, like tablets or smartphones? Or will the big screen at home survive?
It’s very difficult to change consumer habits and behaviors, so if you have the option of watching television in your couch instead of in an uncomfortable chair or the laptop in your bed, I think people would rather watch it on the television. What I think it’s going to happen is that you are going to watch your show on the big screen but have a companion screen with you, like an iPad or tyour smartphone. Remote control will die, and you are going to use your iPad to actually interact with the content you are watching, and you and your friends may even have influence on how the show goes, maybe voting what’s going to happen.
Q. What’s the role of social media there in that scenario?
Nobody can predict. That is the beauty of this market, how quickly everything evolves. The social aspect will be the sharing and discovering of content. Search is dead, because the content is very fragmented and there is so much you are going to be overwhelmed by the results of your query, so you are going to discover new shows through recommendation. Your TV is going to be able to remember what have you been watching, know what are your friends watching and then tell you what should be the next thing you watch. Your Social Graph is going to make your search for you.
Q. May that be why Google is working on those fields outside the search engine, like Google+ and GoogleTV?
Well, I don’t now what’s Google’s strategy, but it makes sense. The amount of data that the Social Graph represents is extremely powerful, you can build whole new business models, applications and technology based on it, and I think it’s going to be one of the main influences in connected televisions.
Q. Doesn’t this structure bring up too many privacy issues?
It’s all going to be permission based, and what we are seeing is that younger generations don’t really care. Actually they are starting to think more like “how am I going to discover something new if my friends don’t tell me?”. Spotify, which is now fully integrated with Facebook, is an example of how Social Graph works for discovering content, and it’s actually how I know what music should I be listening to because I see what are my friends listening to. The same exactly is going to happen with television.
Q. But, following the example, Spotify is struggling to actually make benefits, is that going to happen to connected TV as well?
I think new economic models need to be define. It’s going to follow the lines of traditional television in terms of advertising, but it will be different. First of all, highly targeted, which is going to be the biggest difference, giving better performance to the ads by being more relevant to the audience. And it’s all going to be interactive, the audience will actually be able to interact with the advertising.
I think we’ll always have an ad supported model for television, it’s not going to be a 100% subscription model, but the economics need to make sense for everybody. What you might see is premium content for subscribers, for those shows with a big production budget, and then more unscripted shows, like reality TV, because it’s cheaper and it makes more sense with the Internet possibilities in terms of interaction.
Q. Are you saying we are going to see even more reality shows?
I think, particularly for the web, you are going to see not necessarily realities but definitely a lot of unscripted shows, because it’s too expensive to produce scripted shows, so the economic models of ad supported on the web can’t afford the scripted format.