iVdopia, a video-based mobile ad network for the iPhone, has just added social features to mobile ads. Its new Talk2Me ads can be shared via Facebook and Twitter and offer various methods of response (call, SMS, email) and interaction. Ads like this that are specifically designed to be shared, in line with how we share Youtube videos or articles, are a pretty recent development.
For example, a soft drinks company has created a video ad for a Facebook facial profiling application that matches a photo of the user with other users who look like him or her. This has a strong viral aspect and users can share the ad directly via Facebook or Twitter.
According to iVdopia co-founder Srikanth Kakani, the campaigns that do best are the ones that embed social features. “People don’t buy stuff yet on mobile. They do a lot more than before, but we think the best way to capture people via mobile advertising is to get them to perform smaller actions, like becoming fans of Facebook sites or tweeting on Twitter.” Going viral is more important for lower-cost consumer products. A car brand might spend $1,000 to acquire a single customer. Consumer brands like Coke have to spend less money per customer, which makes the viral aspect more important. “Basically, you spend some money and it has to stick,” he said.
iVdopia, which currently reaches 30-40% of iPhone users in the US, previously introduced the clever idea of pre-app ads, which are served while an application downloads. The annoying thing about most advertising is that it interrupts an experience. Users are likely to be much more receptive to advertising which fills “dead time” like downloading. Pre-app ads remind me of an ad feature from the TV world where a banner ad is shown while a video is paused.
I asked Srikanth and COO Chhavi Upadhyay about the most effective ways to get consumers to respond to and interact with video ads. “Online, we have had a really good response with users filling out forms with the video ads. That has been very cost effective in the sense that it generates more leads than any other ad format. With mobile, we expect sharing to be much more popular,” said Srikanth.
iVdopia contends that the most important thing an advertiser can know is how consumers are reacting to a brand. Upadhyay adds, “Hulu has interactive ads where, for example, they show a video of a car, they give the user the choice to watch something about the car’s bumper design or about its interior. The interactivity lets them understand what people really want to look at. And they found that after looking at the video, people actually looked at the web site.” Feedback that comes from the advertisement itself is very useful, since it lets advertisers tailor ads to showcase the right aspect of the product to the right user.
In the future, Srikanth expects social advertising to become very powerful. He also forsees a major shift in advertising spend from TV to mobile.
iVdopia has offices in San Jose, Calif., and Gurgaon and Mumbai, India. It raised $4.7M in funding last year from Nexus Venture Partners.