Real Time Communications Featured Article

Rebooting Marketing with Real Time Communications

November 07, 2014

EngageSimply CEO Judy Shapiro is on a mission to reboot marketing from its dependence upon mindless Web impressions by getting real people back into the equation in real time.




Real Time Communication (RTC) is a means to get people and brands to engage more intimately.

"We are an engagement technology company that lets marketers, advertisers, and consumers interact with each other in a controlled fashion," Shapiro said. 

Web site marketing is currently geared to the concept of buying as many impressions—Web ad views—as possible and delivering those impressions to interested parties.  More often than not, impressions are delivered without any thought to where the viewer is and what they are focused on. There is a lack of context.

"What is an impression in today's digital world? Is it a person? A bot?" Shapiro asks. "It's not an easy question to answer... How do you have intimacy online? When you think on line, you think of big numbers. Facebook is 5 billion people.  We're looking to create intimate safe zones around topics that are community oriented.  We're looking for the 20,000 people that love women's football, who are passionately involved."

Contextual engagement brings the human element back to the table and gets away from the impressions number game.

"What we don't mean is you go to Gartner and read a white paper,” Shapiro gave as another example. “The following day, I turn up on my computer and end up on Facebook to look at new baby pictures.  I see a Gartner ad there.  How contextually relevant is that? Answer: Not at all. Platforms can push lots of impressions efficiently. But is it relevant in terms of the context in that moment? "

EngageSimply's marketing philosophy has three components: Use contextual targeting to reach a demographic based upon what they love - "We know app developers love magic and comic book," said Shapiro;  Contextual Ad serving, to deliver Ads around those topics of interest; and contextual engagement – which pulls everything together at one location - one far away place from the obvious to take a buyer.

"You could go to a corporate website, but it's not that engaging. People aren't going to enjoy it," Shapiro said. "You take the topics you've identified and create communities around them, letting people connect with each other and these brands."

Shapiro cited the growing elder care movement and their "Live, age, thrive" community as a powerful example of contextual marketing and the ability of RTC to enable a deeper dialog between consumers and advertisers.  People visit the domain to discuss issues with others facing the same challenges, participating in moderated discussions with a topic leader.   For deeper knowledge, the site can be staffed by a concierge that can coach and provide advice to users on how to make an aging parents home safe.

GENBAND's Kandy comes into play as the mechanism for advertisers to interact with consumers in a direct fashion. "RTC is very intimate,"  Shapiro said. "RTC is how I want to reach out to the world. It enables people to connect with each other as well as with topic curators.  RTC for us can really coalesce around topics in a community environment, that is safe, monitored, frictionless to the user. It elevate us out of a content site - into a true community for users that doesn't exist today."

Kandy is being integrated with EngageSimply's network of community sites to delivery RTC engagement of three types.  Users will be able to engage with topic leaders via audio or video on a one-to-one basis. A "concierge" will provide guidance when community users are looking to purchase items.  Community members will be able to obtain anonymous and private phone numbers when they wish to make contact with other members beyond text discussions.

"Online safety is still being worked out," Shapiro said. "Community is the way to provide that. We want to provide a safe zone.  We're being transformed into digital citizens in real time.  You have celebrities using stage names, people terrified about being bullied on line. We're still trying to find a balance between real and fake, with accountability.  In particular, if there's someone harassing you, you want a real name so there's some remediation or escalation. If people are using fake names, it's very hard to do that."

The marketing community is paying attention to EngageSimply's contextual engagement approach. The company is one four startups chosen by Heineken USA to present at the "Start-up Spotlight" event at the AdTech NY conference this week.

"Impression's don't buy, people do." Shapiro stated. " RTC gets people back into the equation.  Don't get me wrong, I love [tech] platforms, but you need to balance it out with real people – real human beings – in real time."




Edited by Maurice Nagle

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