Second Screen Theme Emerges at Warner Media Camp

August 6, 2014 · Posted in Uncategorized 

By Chris Tribbey

BURBANK, Calif. — The start-up media and entertainment businesses featured at Warner’s second annual Media Camp accelerator program all had something different to offer: facial recognition that can insert users into digital stories; an UltraViolet-centric HDMI dongle; an e-commerce platform for video.

But while each had something unique to offer, the six companies — who were on the Warner Bros. lot Aug. 4 to pitch their ideas to industry executives and investors — all had one thing in common: the second screen will play an important part, if their business models gain wide acceptance.

The brainchild of Warner’s sister company Turner Broadcasting, Media Camp pairs studio executives with the people behind the start-up companies, with the former offering the latter mentorship and advice to the latter. More than 50 Warner executives participated in this year’s Media Camp accelerator program, and Debra Baker, SVP of global business development for Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, said the start-ups all have the potential to “drive engagement around the brands our consumers love, and solve business challenges.”

Here’s what this year’s six Media Camp companies had to share:

• Julian McCrea, CEO of U.K.-based Portal Entertainment, wants to use the second screen to scare the hell out of you.

“To be honest, what we do is a little creepy,” he said, smiling. “[We] scare the pants off iPad owners.”

His company produces original, app-based episodic content for tablets that uses technology to enable an interactive entertainment experience, one that responds to a user’s facial reactions and leverages a device’s features to add a real-world component to the story. Using a Portal Entertainment story, you may be told by characters to turn off the lights before the next chapter. You may get a phone call from one of them too.

Last year Portal Entertainment launched its first app-based story for the iPad, “The Craftsman.” Told in real time over a five-day period, the story makes the user the main character, and the app promises no two users will have the exact same experience.

Two more projects are in the works with Warner, and new projects are also being planned at other studios, McCrea said.

• It seems like studio marketing departments have a new platform every month that they need to figure out. Wisemetrics wants to make that process less of a burden.

The company data-mines millions of social media interactions to find consumer trends, and uses that information to find the best ways — and moments — to make brands stand out.

Wisemetric’s focus in the media and entertainment sector is to help “free them from mundane tasks,” according to company CEO Stephane Allard. That means tools to help test social messages before they go out; an auto-flow feature that can repeat messages with minimum overlap; and a data-driven system that finds optimum times to relay a message.

• What Bubbl does — allowing users to capture and share short clips from premium video, using mobile apps — already has Jack Walker, executive director of global products for Warner, excited.

“When it’s used properly, it takes our fan engagements, and turns them into eyeballs [for content],” he said.

Mauhan Zonoozy, CEO of Bubbl, said the goal of the mobile and Web-based video editing tool is to improve the likelihood of premium content reaching more people on mobile devices. “Our goal is to improve premium content on mobile, allow the audience to drive consumer engagement.”

Bubbl works by allowing users to edit and share short snippets of video. But not just any video: all video. The goal with Zonoozy’s company is to have audiences drive their peers to premium content, using just a nine-second clip shared across social media. Two major studios and one pro sports league are looking into adopting the service, he said.

“We want to win this market,” Zonoozy added.

Sidevision is a new e-commerce platform that allows content owners to pair their videos with relevant merchandising.

At Media Camp, Sidevision’s founders showed off an online trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and while it played, discs, toys and other consumer products scrolled to the right of the video. Viewers can click through to merchants selling the product, and drag and drop products they’re interested in below the video.

Sidevision promises it can be fully integrated with every major digital video provider, and more than 10,000 online retailers. Products are automatically paired with video based on metadata.

“It focuses on engaging the audience more with video,” said company co-founder Ying-Ying Lin. She pointed to statistics that show that more than 50% of video is consumed on mobile devices today, “yet the mobile audience isn’t engaged,” she said.

• Adam Tom, CEO of Incoming Media, has one goal: get people to spend more time with mobile video. And that’s hard to do when it takes forever for content to load, there’s little high-def opportunities and consumers have no patience for anything less than an optimal experience.

“This is about making the mobile experience as great as the TV experience,” he said. And that could mean big money for content owners.

Consider: this year advertisers are expected to spend nearly $7 billion in TV advertisements, but only $1.5 billion on mobile. With approximately 50% of all videos being viewed on mobile, there’s untapped opportunity, Tom said.

Incoming Media uses behavioral data analytics to deliver mobile content more efficiently, pre-positioning video content for mobile devices. That means making the billions of mobile devices an integral part of today’s content delivery networks, using consumer analytics to pre-position (or “push”) content to devices. By anticipating what consumers want to watch, Incoming’s technology can streamline the experience, Tom said.

Mobile video app developers and content providers are the targets for Incoming Media’s product.

• The best may have been saved for last at Warner’s Media Camp.

Adam Johnson, co-founder of Toggle, has a concept he believes can boost adoption of UltraViolet, the cloud-based digital content ownership platform launched by studios and retailers in 2011.

Instead of consumers relying on any one service from a studio (like Warner’s Flixster) or a retailer (like Walmart’s Vudu), consumers can instead buy a cheap, WiFi-enabled HDMI device that can stream all UltraViolet content — regardless of where consumers bought the content — to any TV with an HDMI input.

Johnson’s idea already has a lot of support: Warner has already invested in the product; David Bishop, former president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and Mitch Singer, former chief digital strategy officer for Sony Pictures Entertainment, are members of Toggle’s board of directors (Singer is also president of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, the industry consortium behind UltraViolet); and a major retailer is ready to start selling Toggle devices (for as little as $20) later this year, Johnson said.

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