Video and social are being combined and then incentivised for big brands. It’s just one example of how companies are finding new ways to implement the pay-on-performance model, companies such as SponsorPay, which is pioneering what it’s calling the value exchange model. 

We managed to grab a few minutes of Projjol Banerjea, vice president marketing and business development at SponsorPay’s, time shortly after his Engaging With Customers in a Multi-Platform World panel at a4uexpo Europe and asked him about his company’s ad proposition.

Are you Finding Growth in Desktop Revenue is Slowing?

Projjol Banerjea: It’s growing, but it does require a lot of effort to do it and the result is not necessarily optimal. We’re finding is that people are still spending time on desktops. However, the growth we were seeing on desktops about two to two and half years ago has all been taken over by mobile. Especially as we work primarily in the role of social and entertainment, both are heavily mobile focused.

What Sort of Rewards do You Provide? Monetary or Gifts?

PB: It’s monetary in the sense that it’s virtual, so it’s all money within games. For most of our publishers the currency is specific to the game or the app. It could even help you out in-game, for example some publishers allow you to jump levels with the interaction of an ad. Some publishers make it mandatory to enforce some form of monetisation before moving up levels.

Gaming has always been a leader of the flock when it comes to innovative monetisation models, which is why our growth was primarily in gaming for the first three years of our four year life so far.

Since last year we’ve expanded to texting and dating apps and those are gaining a lot of traction. The big opportunity for us is in media, so news and such where they’ve implemented paywalls that aren’t performing the way they’d like. Platforms such as ours are very effective at monetising users.

Users can use it as a way of sampling the premium content. For example, if they don’t want to pay, they can find out what it feels like to be a pay user by interacting with our ad a few times. If they like it, they can go on to become a pay customer. We’ve seen somewhere between 15 and 25% of people do that depending on the game or the app.

Is that generally conversion rates you’ve been seeing across the board?

PB: People aren’t always aware they’ll be rewarded. Quite often the triggers are just ‘watch this video’. For a lot of our games we try and place the brand. For example, with Coke we just place that icon in there and that in itself is eye catching enough to promote the engagement.

If the advertisers are successful in making the content engaging, then any subsequent user action is entirely the user’s prerogative and they do it. For example with a video, if you can make it engaging, people will share it and like it.

Where you place the ad is also important. One that we ran recently with Dominos involved a video trailer followed by a pizza order and we published it between 10pm and 4am, so very targeted. They saw massive conversions. One third of people went on to the retailer’s order page.

How do These Videos Compare to Other Video Monetisation Techniques Such as Coull’s Affiliate Proposition?

PB: To some extent it’s similar, but our product offers large interactive units. The video is part of a larger engagement that involves everything from social feeds to commerce. For McDonalds it was a trailer that enabled you to pull up a map application. Users could view the closest restaurant. It’s taking advantage of the various possibilities offered by the devices or the platforms.

How do Clickthrough Rates Compare to the Likes of Display?

PB: It doesn’t compare at all. In display you’d be seeing way less than 0.1% CTR. It would be unfair to compare. For example, in the Dominos campaign it was 36%. We ran a campaign with Coke in France and that was a video with a share and it was 67%. It’s always incredibly high compared to display because the whole interaction format and mechanism is different, which is why it makes for an unfair comparison because of the reward element.

What Sort of Conversions do You Generally Witness?

PB: It depends on what the brand wants to track. We work with movie studios quite. During the pre-release period we do the preview and the sharing on social platforms. Once the movie is released or close to release, we do in-unit purchases of tickets. Especially in the US there’s Fandango, which is this app that allows you to buy movie tickets for a collection of theatres. It can be anything between 12 and 40% of people going on to perform the next step. That’s actually not rewarded at all. It just makes sense that they might as well either share it because that’s the nature of the content or they watch the movie because they bought the ticket. It’s making sure that those actions are relevant.

What’s Your Publisher Network Like?

PB: We have a network of publishers, more than 500 publishers, across games, entertainment, texting, dating, chat, travel. We source the campaigns directly from the agencies or the networks. For the agencies we create the campaigns because it’s a slightly consultative process, then we place them in our publisher network.

How do You Compete With the Scale of Other Media Types?

PB: We don’t really go head-to-head with display because we’re more of a niche offering. The format is niche. The audience is more engaged than you would get from a larger selection of websites. It’s a much more high quality ad format than display because it’s interactive, it’s carefully put together. It’s entirely brand safe.

We go up against the video networks sometimes because they promise massive scale. We don’t have massive scale like video networks such as TubeMogul. They have their place. Ours is entirely different. It’s entirely in-app, it’s a branded unit, and it has a lot of social elements built into it. We can drive commerce and in many cases, customer feedback. Some studios use us to preview trailers to audiences to see how they react to it. Then depending on the one that gets the most positive feedback, it will be released to the larger audience. It’s a very flexible ad unit, which also means the sales cycles are a bit slower. You can’t buy massive volume like you would to put a piece of content out there. It’s a slightly different proposition.

Have you Seen Differing Performances Between the Two Main Mobile Operating Systems?

PB: You mean Andriod and iOS? It has been said, but we see it as well. Basket sizes and commerce transactions are much higher on iOS. Android just has more volume now. It compensates there, but average transaction sizes are lower. Mobile video is growing rapidly across both platforms. iOS consumption seems to be very high.

It’s interesting because consumption of mobile video is twofold. In many cases we see small the snack-size videos popularised by Vine are being used by brands. The advantage of our platform is that a lot of people also repurpose TV ads and such. Slots of 30 seconds are very natural and in some cases we get two to two and half minute video slots. Completion rates on these are lower. More people will watch a six second video through to the end than a two and a half minute video. They are two totally different mechanisms for marketers.

What Strategies do you Employ to Make Videos Convert Better?

PB: The goals of any piece of content you put out there is to engage the customer initially very quickly. For us, the entire piece of content has to be engaging. There’s more to the campaign than just the video. The video is the entry point to deeper engagement. You have to make the content engaging to get the users to do more and interact further. We often recommend that the video is kept short and as engaging as possible to drive the deeper engagement.

How do You Continue That Deeper Engagement?

PB: It depends entirely on the vertical we’re working with. For movie studios, there are these tactics that work well. A lot of products, electronic devices and companies use us to build social traction. We work quite closely with Samsung in the US. When they launch new devices into the market, they want to build momentum. That’s quite good for us.

We do work with retailers as well. For them, what works is having an offer right after the video that says 20% discount or something similar like a coupon. It flows very well with the post-video placement and drives conversion. If you have an offer that you’re running anywhere or a daily deal that you’re running elsewhere on the web, it’s very effective to put it after a video trailer and then run it through a platform such as ours.

What Does the Future Hold for SponsorPay?

PB: One thing we’ve done right from the start is to offer a pricing model that’s entirely performance based. If the user doesn’t do something, you don’t have to pay for it, which is the industry trend going forward. People are less inclined to make opaque buys. Even on Youtube now, if the user clicks out of the pre-roll, the advertiser doesn’t pay for it.I think we see this performance-centric approach to marketing becoming a big trend.

The one big thing is the expansion of the network. We’ve been entertainment focused and it has worked well for us, but there are larger publishers out there in more traditional verticals. We would like to take the platform to them. Retail maybe. Media is a big one for us with news. Streaming audio, video, a lot of these streaming music sites, radio and such. It’s very easy to have this freemium model where the user gets access to a certain level of services for free and then they can level up either by paying, interacting with ads or some other mechanism.

On the advertiser side, it’s a fairly flexible ad unit. To some extent I think the ad unit is quite mature. It’s now a question of what the advertiser wants to do with it. We are working quite a bit with media agencies. We continue to work with them because they’re great at what they do, but we are also actively reaching out to creative agencies because that’s even earlier in the process and they can plan campaigns around the ad unit rather than just choosing us one channel of many to buy inventory. The campaigns can be more tailored to a platform like ours rather than it being a post-campaign or post-production update.