August 29, 2011 – 12:09 am
Peter Low is President and CEO of Ensequence.
What problem is Ensequence solving?
We make television content more engaging and powerful across all screens. We help programmers increase revenue by increasing tune in, viewership and time spent on channel. The result is ratings and CPM lifts spurred by the greater levels of engagement and accountability interactivity offers. For service providers, we increase local ad CPM revenue by enabling service providers to charge a premium for interactivity. We also help programmers and service providers offer content on connected devices that syncs to content on TV, offering a truly connected two-screen experience.
How has your go-to-market strategy shifted since the company's inception? Any surprises along the way?
Some of our biggest surprises were around the amount of integration with existing broadcast and ad sales infrastructure that has been required at the service provider and programmers’ operation centers to get interactive TV off the ground. We certainly hoped the market would move much faster than it has.
There appear several target markets for Ensequence. How do you break it out? Which is most important from a revenue perspective?
Programmers and service providers are our primary targets, and advertisers are our secondary target at the moment but their importance will grow.
Is there a significant enough scale in interactive TV today for Ensequence's product? What still needs to happen?
A platform that can enable interactivity – called EBIF – has reached critical mass. The six Canoe partners are aiming to have as many as 25 million households ready to run EBIF applications in the foreseeable future. To take advantage of that critical mass, we have to make the creation and deployment of interactive television simple and scalable across not only cable, but satellite, telco and connected devices – which is where Ensequence comes in. The connected TV market continues to grow, which drastically expands our reach and scalability. Television manufacturers will ship 138 million connected TV units worldwide in 2015, according to a forecast from DisplaySearch.
Smart phone and tablet penetration is increasing rapidly. 35% of U.S. adults own smartphones and that number is increasing every day. Tablet penetration is expected to double in 2012 – going from 26 million U.S. tablet users to 50.7 million tablet users in 2012 according to Forrester. That will be an important part of our business.
Looking at Connected TV and MSOs, what's the bigger opportunity down the road?
Connected TVs, which are also known as Smart TVs, and other connected devices represent a really exciting opportunity for Ensequence and our customers. We have great relationships with service providers and are the primary interactive platform in the industry. We expect that to continue.
Can you talk a little bit about what you mean by T-commerce? How is this different than what one might think of in terms of direct response television?
T-commerce enables viewers to instantly make a purchase with their remote controls. T-commerce allows marketers to present offers when consumers are most likely to make purchases and without requiring them to interrupt, or even end, their viewing. We’ve found that viewers respond better to offers synchronized with the content they're viewing. When a direct response commercial closes by sending the viewer to the phone or the web to complete a purchase, those purchases don't always happen. Even worse, if viewers leave the channel to place the order they might not come back. Viewers want a direct, two-way connection with products. If they see something they want, the easier it is to act, the better the chance they'll purchase.
Ensequence taps impulse buying behavior by enabling purchases from dedicated shopping channels, TV shows and 30-second spots. Ensequence precisely synchronizes offers with content and enables instant purchasing directly to maximize the relevancy of the offer. We power the largest T-commerce experience in the UK for QVC, and are readying launches for both QVC and HSN in the U.S.
What about international opportunity? Are any markets out there mature enough to interest Ensequence?
International provides fertile ground for Ensequence as our platform evolves to support connected TVs, tablets and smartphones. We are focusing most of our efforts internationally right now on key European and Asian markets and targeting our discussions primarily with television programmers and broadcasters. Certainly, we can also leverage our strong relationships with programmers in the U.S. to grow our business internationally where our clients have global reach.
How will content providers be affected by interactive TV in the future?
In the near term, the programmers are really excited to take advantage of both single-screen and companion device interactivity. In the future, I think we’ll see more and more programmers thinking about interactivity in the production stages of shows so that it plays a larger role.
August 29, 2011 – 12:09 am