Renamed Connekt Technologies Adds Senior Sales Executive

Connekt said that it is rebranding itself as Connekt Technologies and has hired former Hulu and Conde Nast executive Steve DeMain as senior VP, national sales and TV partnerships.

The company said its new name reflects how the company is employing artificial intelligence-driven technologies to deliver smart ads, content and interactive and engaging experiences on linear TV via smart sets.

Connekt Technologies also provides proprietary data to advertisers, agencies and networks.

“With streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video impacting the way consumers watch TV, there is a massive opportunity for  marketers to disrupt TV advertising,” said Tripp Boyle, senior VP of Connekt Technologies. “Our solutions bring all of the benefits of digital to linear TV -- data, addressability and real-time performance insights, which are incredibly valuable assets to have in this ecosystem. Our AI-driven platform is also helping brands have accountability in the $70 billion TV advertising market.”

DeMain previously had been VP, video revenue at Conde Nast. He was one of the first sales people at Hulu.

“Connekt Technologies is at the forefront of TV advertising technology,” said DeMain. “The company’s solutions are uniquely positioned to make linear TV investments more targeted, engaging, transactional and measurable.”

In particular, Connekt Technologies has been building up its measurement capabilities, which draw on data from millions of devices in close to real time. The data can inform clients about who clicked and where and when they clicked, provide insights about demographics, networks and programs and how long people watched each individual ad.

Connekt has worked with LG, Sony, Nielsen, ABC and five of the top media agency holding companies.

The company teamed up with Chipotle on a campaign to get people to download the restaurant chain’s app that combined linear TV with smart-home connectivity, enabling consumers to engage with a live, linear TV ad without relying on a remote control.


Advancing Advanced Advertising: Q&A With Connekt's Tripp Boyle

Advancing Advanced Advertising: Q&A With Connekt's Tripp Boyle

by  , Op-Ed Contributor, 4 hours ago

 

The world of advanced advertising continues to innovate. Take the example of Connekt, which makes use of AI to dynamically insert interactive advertising in content and synchronize with T-commerce and ecommerce.

According to Tripp Boyle, the company’s senior vice president, sales strategy and business development, Connekt is also offering the first-ever voice-activated, national TV ad campaign, which was recently showcased at CES.

Charlene Weisler: What is your definition of advanced TV?

Tripp Boyle: Advanced TV is what defines today’s TV ecosystem.  The proliferation of connected smart TV devices (now active in 74% of U.S. TV households) be it through HD streaming content, TV everywhere technology, the advent of t-commerce, addressable linear and VOD opportunities and more means that TV is more advanced than ever and will continue to evolve.

Weisler: What are the most critical data points in advanced advertising?

Boyle: Factors vary campaign to campaign.  Right now in advanced TV advertising, we’re seeing data like location, HH demographics, and context bubble to the surface in terms of activation prioritization.

Enabling dynamic local messaging on top of national ad spots, highlighting different products from the same brand depending on household profile, or keying in on a specific offer tied to a precise moment on the television within ads or programming are some of the most common use cases.

Weisler: Describe your solutions for an ecommerce project.

Boyle: Our ecommerce solution is an outsourced, multi-channel, white label storefront that offers  clients a new channel of revenue without the traditional funds and manpower needed to set up an internal site.  Connekt handles the back-end technology, product development, merchandising, marketing, fulfillment of orders and customer service. For example, we recently announced the launch ShopABCTV.com.

With our ongoing partnership with ABC, Connekt’s platform supports every aspect of the network’s ShopABCTV.com by managing site hosting and web development. We also create official brand gear for its franchises, including apparel, drinkware, home goods and collectibles.

Once a viewer purchases a product, Connekt then fulfills the order, ensuring that the item is processed and delivered, and all customer service inquiries are met. Connekt is introducing a future where viewers will be able to purchase items with their remote or voice through our owned and operated ShopTV smart TV application, which is currently available on Sony, LG and Hisense smart TVs.

Weisler: Can you talk a little bit about your recent patent? 

Boyle: Our patented technology gives audiences the ability to interact with, research and purchase items viewed on TV and video, in real-time.  When an ad is displayed on screen, viewers can purchase directly through a wide array of devices, such as remote controls, phones and voice-activated assistants.

Weisler: Do you collect data? If so, how do you use it?

Boyle: The non-PII data that we gather is centered on viewership, attention, and engagement at the device level.  Our data helps identify who’s watching, what content, for how long, on what networks, and who’s engaging, at what time, to understand who is most receptive to a message.

We share that anonymized data back to our advertising partners to help as a planning tool. We also build audience segments around that data.


Will Walmart's proposed streaming service be a game changer?

Netflix, Hulu, gaming systems, network-based streaming apps. It seems as if everyone has a streaming service, but to date retailers offering streaming services haven't caught on. So why would Walmart be looking into such a development? I chatted with Connekt's Tripp Boyle to find out.

Kristina: When other retailers (i.e. Target) have failed with streaming services, why would Walmart jump in at this point?

Tripp Boyle, SVP, Connekt: The global subscription OTT market is expected to increase by 24% in 2018, according to eMarketer. Digital video is different than any other advertising medium in that it directly engages consumers. Walmart has the resources to spend on par with other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. It also presents Walmart with an opportunity to further engage and monetize its incredibly loyal audience base.

Kristina: We all know that video/content "on demand" is what consumers want, but what is in a service like this for brands and marketers?

Tripp: Walmart has a sensible opening for t-commerce integration through its streaming service. With the recent introduction and evolution of t-commerce, there's a big opportunity for Walmart and their brand partners to drive direct purchase of products featured in ads and content within Walmart's streaming service. Take for example, Gillette razors. If a Gillette ad is featured during content airing on the Walmart's streaming service, the commerce layer can be integrated directly into that ad and allow a viewer to click to buy razors from Walmart right from the TV spot.

Kristina: What is Walmart bringing to the streaming service sector that other brands haven't?

Tripp: One of the biggest advantages Walmart has is its access to smart TV inventory. Approximately half the smart TV devices purchased in the U.S. are sold through Walmart. Due to the dependence that the OEMs have on Walmart to sell their devices, the retailer has the leverage to help drive users to its streaming service. For instance, they could offer the streaming service as a free trial or at a subsidized price with the purchase of certain televisions, or offer a discount on models that already have the service activated.

More about Walmart's effort from the Wall Street Journal here.

Kristina: Do you think this new venture will be a positive for Walmart?

Tripp: Walmart will have to compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Disney, which is no easy feat. However, if they play the few cards they have right, I believe Walmart has the resources necessary through its access to TV inventory and a loyal audience base to succeed and outperform other retailers looking to enter the streaming services ring.


Q&A with Connekt & Sony as They Partner to Drive T-commerce

Sony Smart TV viewers will soon be able to use their remote control and mobile device to securely purchase directly from their televisions, thanks to their new partnership with tech company Connekt. Here, we speak to Tripp Boyle, SVP sales strategy, Connekt, and Nick Colsey, Vice President, Sony Electronics, to discuss what the future has in store for t-commerce. 

RetailTechNews: Can you explain how the new ‘buy now’ button works?  
Tripp Boyle: Connekt‘s platform is able to ingest multiple data sets tied directly to what’s happening on TV, in real time. Examples include, ACR data, object, logo, or facial-recognition data, sports stats, and audience excitement levels. Depending on the brand initiative, Connekt is able to deploy interactive experiences, including a ‘buy now’ call to action, linked to specific moments on TV. The lowest hanging fruit for brand advertisers is to activate commerce within their existing TV spots. When a user engages with the buy now button on the television, the brand can either drive a viewer to the ShopTV app on their smart TV or deliver a link back to the viewer’s mobile device to complete the transaction.
How is this exploiting changes in the ways consumers are shopping for their products?
Tripp Boyle: The technology, and resulting experience, enhance the value exchange between brands and consumers on TV. Enabling a transaction in a specific moment of heightened awareness and impulse can work to hasten the viewer’s path to purchase. We’re enabling cross-channel shopping experiences that haven’t existed in the past and feeding into consumer demand for instant gratification, regardless of screen or device.
What must retailers do to make the most of the opportunities offered by t-commerce?
Tripp Boyle: The first step into t-commerce is an easy one. It’s working with a company, like Connekt, to enable the interactive functionality within the already existing scale of their TV spots. Beyond immediately enabling commerce via traditional TV messaging, retailers grow consumer awareness of the capability; and our research has shown that even if a consumer isn’t shopping in that moment, their likelihood to buy at any point goes up. Beyond activating shoppable TV spots, retailers can build smart-TV-based storefronts through apps, like ShopTV, at minimal cost and start to understand consumer behaviours on the newest shopping platform.
What sort of items do you envisage consumers buying through your smart TV? Will it be a direct competitor to voice commerce?

Tripp Boyle: Early market research has shown that more than 75% of viewers would be moved to purchase household and packaged goods. Electronics came in second, followed by clothing and apparel, and home and garden items. Buying in the moment is intuitively going to see higher success rates with lower consideration items. That said, starting a consumer down the path on a higher consideration item, via interactive TV, has shown success in its own right.

We believe that t-commerce will be a variant of, and even a catalyst for, voice commerce. As more homes link through smart speakers, and voice capabilities are built directly into smart televisions, we can drive the t-commerce experience entirely through voice.

What is the future role of TV? How has this role evolved over the last decade?
Nick Colsey: In 2007, Sony launched the world’s first connected TV device and streaming video content partnerships. A little over a decade later, according to eMarketer, 168 million viewers in the U.S. are watching connected TV.

Today, Sony 4K HDR Ultra HD TVs with Android TV are not only the best screen in your home. They are also capable of being the hub for smart home control, compatible with leading voice-control services such as the Google Assistant and Alexa, and are ready for the next wave of t-commerce. Our collaboration with Connekt is proof of this.

Tripp Boyle: TV’s role will always be entertainment. Historically, that premium entertainment has been delivered for ‘free’ in exchange for commercial time. The traditional ad model is changing as TVs get smarter, enabling the delivery of more personalised, interactive, and measurable ad experiences. Connectivity on TV is opening new capabilities that will tie entertainment more closely to commerce over the next 5-10 years.

Two Big Reasons Walmart’s Streaming Service Will Succeed

By Tripp Boyle, SVP, Connekt

Do traditional mass market retailers have any future in the video streaming space? Walmart seems poised to place a multi-billion dollar bet that the answer is yes, despite the dramatic flameout of competitor Target’s video service just three years ago. Nonetheless, if I were a bookie, I’d say there were good reasons for the smart money to go with Walmart.

The challenges Walmart faces in the streaming market are obvious and substantial, starting with formidable competition from services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime—not to mention Disney’s looming venture. There’s no way the big-box retailer can go head-to-head against Netflix’s $8 billion budget for original content creation, of course, but the truth is, it doesn’t have to.

Walmart’s certainly got the resources to spend on par with the major TV networks to produce at least some original programming and to license plenty of other high-quality content, and that’s important. But what’s going to tip the scales in Walmart’s favor is the combination of its audience focus and its unique relationship with Smart TV OEMs (original equipment manufacturer). Those two factors provide the retail giant with a tremendous opportunity to integrate commerce directly into content, and a bespoke streaming service is the perfect vehicle to make it happen.

For Walmart, it’s always been about the audience. Walmart is a brand with a loyal core audience, and many of its target customers are not yet committed to a preferred streaming provider. Such an audience is predisposed to Walmart’s streaming service, and easy access to in-content commerce opportunities will likely be perceived as a valued add-on. A branded streaming service presents Walmart with an opportunity to tap into an incredibly loyal existing audience and capture an even greater share of wallet.

Perhaps most importantly, it is estimated that approximately half the Smart TV devices purchased by consumers in the U.S. are sold through Walmart outlets. The OEMs need Walmart in order to hit their sales numbers, and many are already building Walmart-specific models of their devices. That opens up a world of opportunities for Walmart to promote its streaming service and to position itself as a major player in the nascent t-commerce market. For example, Walmart could work with OEMs to have its offering featured as the preferred streaming service on Walmart-specific models. It might even be able to have its eCommerce payment system built into them.

Walmart’s dominant role in retail TV sales makes it easy to offer other types of incentives for consumers to sign up for its streaming service. It could offer the service free or at a subsidized price with the purchase of certain models. It could offer steep discounts on models that come with the service already activated. It could even tie the streaming service into other aspects of its business, such as by offering it free to customers who spend a certain amount of money on other Walmart products over the course of a year.

It will be easy for Walmart to justify such promotional expenses and to track ROI on them. Done right, a comprehensive program of this type would allow Walmart to own the user interface on millions of Smart TVs. Data input from a remote is a huge barrier to t-commerce, but owners of these sets would only have to set up their devices once. All their information would be saved, and opportunity to purchase becomes as simple as one click on the ad or in-content bug to add an item to the cart, one click to buy. The opportunities for Walmart to increase ARPU are staggering.

No doubt, the opportunities that exist here are just as attractive to other eCommerce retailers as they are to Walmart, but (with the obvious exception of Amazon) capitalizing on them through a branded video streaming service is simply out of reach. Eventually, other eCommerce players will be able to tap into the t-commerce market, perhaps by going through Walmart or Amazon, by partnering with TV OEMs, or by working directly with tech companies providing in-content commerce capabilities. For now, though, Walmart’s video streaming venture looks to stand alone among retailers in its prospects for success.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at Lynn@Cynopsis.com.


Connekt Inks Deal To Bring Interactive Shopping To Sony TVs

by  , October 2, 2018

The connected TV technology firm Connekt has signed a deal with Sony to bring T-commerce functionality to the company’s lineup of TV sets and Blu-Ray players.

At launch, Connekt’s ShopTV app, available through Sony’s app store, allows consumers to shop for clothing, electronics or other products through their TV or Blu-Ray player. Over time, the companies plan to add in-program purchasing. Buying a product as it appears onscreen, or during a commercial, as well as voice-controlled buying.

“Shoppability is critically important, and it is the low-hanging fruit when you think of being able to drive interactivity off of the screen,” Mike O’Donnell, Connekt’s CRO, tells Digital News Daily.

“It can sit with localization and it can sit with personalization. Dynamic ads bring new monetization opportunities by being able to deliver personalized messages to those consumers, and also able to localize them. That is not as seamless in a linear TV experience as it is in the digital world," he adds.

For smart TV makers and the makers of connected TV devices, the promise of T-commerce is significant. As competition drives the prices of hardware down, the need to find other ways to monetize increases.

“To be able to, as an OEM, to take a leading position in T-commerce, is valuable to them,” says Tripp Boyle, Connekt’s senior vice president, business development.

T-commerce is also becoming a focal point for retailers, which are looking to drive digital growth in a world where Amazon is dominant.

"A big part of our initiative is educating the marketplace, helping these brands take the first steps into the world of T-commerce,” Boyle says. “We are helping bridge the gap between what they are doing to make television smarter in TV content, and linking it back to the significant investment brands make in traditional television.”

“The message to a lot of these retailers: Don’t lose your space on the screen to the big guy,” Boyle says.


Sony will add in-program shopping to its TVs and Blu-ray players

It's about to become a little too easy to impulse-shop through your TV. Sony is partnering with Connekt to add a "Buy Now" button to its TVs and Blu-ray players. It'll start immediately through making Connekt's ShopTV app available through Sony's app store on Android sets, but you'll eventually see this extend to "in-program purchasing" as well as voice-controlled shopping. Yes, if you simply must own that hot outfit you saw in a TV show, you could theoretically buy it before the next commercial break.

You won't be hurting for selection. ShopTV currently offers access to "thousands" of goods, including from big-name stores like Best Buy and Macy's. The app is widely compatible and should run on most Sony TVs from 2013 onward.

Attempts to fuse TV and shopping aren't new, and this certainly isn't the only intrusion of raw commercialism into the TV viewing experience (just ask smart TV owners who've had to see ads in the main interface). With that said, it's not often that you see TV makers set out to integrate shopping on this level. And so long as it's optional, that's not necessarily a bad thing.


Connekt Adds ‘Buy Now’ Button to Sony Smart TVs, Disc Players

Tech company Connekt has made a deal with Sony Electronics to integrate its ShopTV application into smart TV sets and Blu-ray Disc players.

Viewers using those devices will be able to purchase products directly from retailers and brands they see on TV.

Participating retailers include Macy’s Best Buy and Fanatics.

Financial details of the arrangements with the retailers were not disclosed, but it is a combination of paid placement and a revenue share on transactions.

At first, viewer will be able to show from the ShopTV app, but the companies are working together to enable in-program purchasing and voice-activated commerce.

“Sony is committed to bringing value added features to our consumers,” said Nick Colsey, VP, business development at Sony. “Our collaboration with Connekt allows us to offer owners of select Sony Smart TVs the ability to engage and shop directly from the biggest screen in their home.”

TV commerce has been around for a while, but the ability to buy, say the sweater Rachel is wearing on Friends, has never been an overwhelming success. Connekt said it research shows more than 75% of consumer would buy products directly from their TV if they could. More than 70% said they use voice control to purchase products through their TVs.

Connect is working with retailers to create unique “only for TV” offers that should entice consumers to engage with their TVs.

“For decades, Sony has been a technology innovator,” said Mike Fitzsimmons, CEO of Connekt. “We are proud be partnering on this initiative to drive the convergence of television and commerce.”


Sony TVs And Blu-ray Players To Get In-Program Shopping

Want to buy that leather jacket your favorite TV detective was wearing? Sony wants to make it easier for you to locate and purchase said jacket. The company has teamed up with Connekt to add in-program shopping to its TVs and Blu-ray players.

This partnership immediately brings Connekt’s ShopTV app through Sony’s app store on its smart televisions. It will later extend to “in-program purchasing” through voice-controlled shopping. What this means is that viewers will be able to purchase items soon after they see them on TV. That’s not really going to be helpful for impulse shoppers now, is it?

Connekt’s ShopTV apps provides access to countless items that are available through major retailers like Best Buy and Macy’s. The app will be compatible with many of Sony’s smart TVs from 2013 and later. The app experience is fully customized for the connected home experience.

The company’s research shows that more than 75 percent of consumers would directly buy products from their TV if they had the opportunity. That’s in addition to the 70 percent who expressed their intent to use voice to buy products through the TV.

“Our collaboration with Connekt allows us to offer owners of select Sony Smart TVs the ability to engage and shop directly from the biggest screen in their home,” said Sony VP of Business and Development Nick Colsey.


Connekt joins with Sony for TV-enabled commerce

Dive Brief:

  • Connekt has formed a partnership with Sony Electronics to allow the use of Connekt's T-Commerce platform on their Smart TVs and Blu-ray disc players, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
  • Sony Smart TV viewers will be able to use Connekt's ShopTV application to securely buy products from retailers like Macy's, Best Buy and Fanatics. ShopTV is optimized for connected home environments, the company said. Connekt also has partnerships with many other electronics companies, retailers and media outlets including LG, Target, Amazon and HBO, according to its website.
  • Initially, viewers will shop directly from ShopTV's application which they can find in Sony's smart TV app store, said the press release. Eventually this capability will be extended to in-program purchasing, and then later, voice-driven commerce.

Dive Insight:

The convergence of smart homes, shopping from TV screens and voice commerce is getting closer. With Connekt's T-Commerce platform and devices like Amazon's Fire TV Cube, Echo Show and new Google products, consumers may soon be interacting with retailers' videos while making purchases.

The partnership between Sony Electronics and Connekt will speed this along. Sony has a 44% market share for premium TVs, while Samsung and LG dominate the lower price ranges, reported the Yonhap News Agency. The Connekt T-Commerce platform patent uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to allow viewers to engage and then checkout with retailers and brands seamlessly and securely, said the company's website. It combines consumer profiles with registration services that are pre-existing.

Connekt's research found that over 75% of shoppers would purchase items directly from the TV if given the chance, and 70% were interested in buying products by voice through the television, according to the press release. The company's ShopTV application strives for convergence of television, advertising and commerce by offering over-the-top (OTT) streaming video, apps and brand channel opportunities for the creation of interactive advertising experiences for TV viewers. This technology delivers overlay ads that relate to content appearing on a TV screen and then allows consumers to make an immediate purchase, explained Video Ad News.

"Our partnership with Connekt allows us to offer owners of Sony Smart TVs the ability to engage and shop directly from the biggest screen in their home," said Nick Colsey, VP, business development, in the press release.

Seventy-two percent of consumers prefer video to text for receiving branded marketing information, according to a HubSpot Research study. Shoppable video technology has been recognized as a powerful marketing tool for product and retail brands, and investment in the production of digital videos totaled $135 billion last year, reported video production firm Magisto.

A marker for the advancement of combined TV and voice commerce was the release of the Amazon Fire TV Cube in June. The Alexa-enabled product is a potent commercial tool for Amazon's entertainment offerings. Insofar as it ties into Amazon Echo devices and the various connected home products the company offers, the Fire TV Cube may entice more shoppers to buy those technologies. Amazon will compete with the Google Home line of smart display devices. Google will offer YouTube and YouTube TV on these units, while Amazon pulled those channels from Amazon video services.

A Capgemini survey predicted that 40% of consumers will use a voice assistant as an alternative to a mobile app or website within three years, and 35% have purchased products from the devices. Another study by OC&C Strategy Consultants reported that voice shopping will increase to $40 billion in 2022 from $2 billion today.

While a report by Voicbot.ai and voice platform developer Voysis acknowledged initial skepticism about consumer use of voice commerce, it is starting to gain momentum. Twenty-six percent of the owners of smart speakers reported that they have made a purchase by voice, and voice shopping on smart speakers has become a habit for 16% who said they make purchases monthly. Adjusted for the total population, 21% have tried voice commerce, according to the report.