Ed Note: Apologies for the delay in getting this up — we’re scheduled for every Wednesday but it was completely my fault. Also, apologies for being post silent for the last three days. I’ll be back tomorrow for sure. Thanks!
The Rev2 Cabinet is a weekly investigative series at Rev2 where we take an in-depth look into some of the leading companies, startups, and services. Along with a podcast interview with our associate editor Zach Sims (embedded below and in the RSS feed), leading executives and CEOs offer insights into their startups and services which we analyze with an in-depth writeup. If you’re interested in being profiled, please contact Zach.
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Online advertising is no joke. Recent estimates peg interactive ad revenues in 2007 at $25.5 billion, a 27% increase over 2006’s approximate revenues. The quick moving segment currently makes up approximately 6.1% of the global ad market. An IDC report sees a general pattern that “companies are redistributing advertising dollars from traditional media to online media.” That trend is visible almost everywhere, and what really excites analysts are the prospects of the future. Kelsey Group analysts predict that interactive ad revenues will grow to $147 billion in 2012, and that interactive media will comprise 21% of the global media market.
As companies rush to get in on what is veritably the internet’s own gold rush, there have been winners and losers. Early on, it’s clear that Google is the commanding leader of search advertising, and the company’s AdWords and AdSense dominate contextual advertising. With control of more than 60% of the search market, Google has begun to assert their dominance over other areas, like video. Their $1.6 billion purchase of YouTube has brought them deeper into the video market and introduced a new advertising product for video. As the company grows, so do its ad initiatives. Despite its best efforts, the company’s market share of the advertising market dropped half a percentage point between 2007’s third and fourth quarter to 23.7%.
Google’s Famous Sponsored Links Beside a Search for “Digital Media”
Other companies, seeing unfilled niches and opportunities for innovation, have jumped to fill the void left by Google and its competitors. MixerCast was one of the first companies to fuse together the interactivity of the internet with advertising to create an entirely new field. I spoke with CEO Jen Cooper to learn more about the company.
Social Marketing Solutions
MixerCast has its hands in several different areas of media production, with tools for both the consumer and the enterprise client. In attempting to define the company’s aim to me, CEO Jen Cooper said that MixerCast was meant to help “publishers of digital content” in new innovative ways. She calls the new creations social marketing solutions. In a way, some of MixerCast’s consumer offerings compete with other slideshow creators like Slide and the previously interviewed RockYou. MixerCast’s core product is a widget canvas, allowing users to easily include media from dozens of websites in one easily embeddable object. For example, one could make a MixerCast pulling in photos from Flickr, videos from YouTube, and additional photos from MixerCast partner Getty Images, all synched to music from Pump Audio, another one of the company’s many partners.
Scores of Options Are Offered for Sharing MixerCasts
The partnerships the company has truly set them apart from other widget producers. Their CEO, formerly of Yahoo! and a variety of other web companies, brought previous connections aboard to participate in MixerCast. Some of the more famous participating companies include National Geographic, Universal Music Group, Virgin Records, Warner Music, Warner Home Video, and more. These key partnerships allow consumer users to mix commercial content into something completely new. It’s not quite remixing the songs or pictures themselves, but it’s compiling them in new and different ways.
As with most companies, use cases determined the path of MixerCast. After a while, they discovered that it wasn’t just consumers using their terrific mashup tools. Instead, larger media companies had been using the tool to form interactive advertising campaigns. Noticing this, Cooper changed the company’s focus and began targeting larger advertising projects. The company is currently working with New Line Cinemas on Will Ferrell’s new movie, Semi-Pro. The MixerCast Semi-Pro widget, shown below, is an excellent example of the company’s future. It pulls together promotional content, like the official music video, with a new contest. Users download the music they need to make their own remixes from within the widget and then can re-upload their modified music video back through the widget. Those that interact with the widget can then view the submissions of others. All of this is contained within a large widget that can be easily embedded on dozens of different websites, all to promote the movie.
MixerCast’s New Semi-Pro Widget, Produced in Coordination with New Line Cinemas
For this particular project, MixerCast worked together with New Line’s ad agency, who created the concept. MixerCast helped the agency to make the vision a reality, and the widget is now embedded on dozens of different social networks. As soon as a new video is uploaded, each of the widgets have access to the new content as well.
A successful experience with New Line has provoked MixerCast to look into targeting “social marketing solutions” for the enterprise market as their number one area of business. They currently have “projects with every huge movie studio,” said their CEO. The widgets to come, promised Cooper, will be more advanced than what was seen early on with the Semi-Pro widget. Real time interaction is only the first step. She imagines MixerCast used with political campaigns as well as with the entertainment industry. A partnership with Entertainment Tonight has taken their widgets in another direction. The ET news widget brings the latest photos, text stories, and videos together in one cohesive widget experience that can be embedded on any website. The possibilities, emphasized Cooper, are endless. Users are often given the option to “remix” some of the established widgets to their own liking as well.
Entertainment Tonight’s MixerCast, Incorporating Photos, News, and Video
The company’s initial experiences have led them to place more effort into building the creative and advertising areas of the company. A new branch for creative engineers is being established during the first quarter in order to respond to the creative needs of the media companies working with MixerCast. The company’s current focus is on supplying solutions to these new enterprise clients. Normal consumers can still use the tools provided by MixerCast, and can insert advertisements into mixers in order to revenue share. The big change, however, will come with MixerCast’s redesign at the end of the first quarter. The goal of the project is to “make the experience easy to use” for every customer, and to make it “more distributable,” with new ways of tracking interactivity.
A Onetime Pioneer Prepares to Blaze Trails Again
Down the line, the company plans to have a fleshed out pipeline for new widgets and lots of deployments. Their virtual team, located around the world in India, Belarus, Minsk, and elsewhere, will continue to work on the product. The company’s CEO, Jen Cooper, was one of the first evangelizers of streaming media at VXtreme, a company later acquired by Microsoft and made part of Windows Media Player. With time as Yahoo’s Executive Director of Business Development, Cooper brings a wealth of experience to MixerCast. She’s been part of the first online video revolution, and I’m confident that MixerCast will be an integral part of the burgeoning field of interactive marketing and social marketing solutions.