Synched TV-Mobile Ads Are Coming to a Device On You!

By • Posted & filed under News and Press Releases

As more TV is delivered over IP networks, and as more mobile viewing takes place, the synched TV-mobile experience will soon become a more enriched unit for advertisers and a fun – yes, you heard that word! – way for consumers to enjoy ads. Again.

Approximately 84% of TV viewers are dual-screeners (according to Mary Meeker KPCB Internet Trends 2014), and that figure jumped 200% since the 2012 London Olympics. More significantly, those dual-screen viewers are spending 50% of their viewing time using a second device (Millward Brown Abreaction, ‘Marketing in a Multiscreen World, 2014). During ad breaks, 67% of the audience shifts to mobile (United Internet Media, 2014).

As contextual content – user-aware; location-aware content served to individuals – increases, the synched ad solution market will rise. Solutions from the EU 2nd screen market have, so far, led the way. Paris-based Sync (a spin-off from Visiware) conducted the first such unit placement during the half-time of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final. The perfectly synched spot, a rich animated interactive ad unit for smartphones and tablets in the app of L’Equipe (France’s top sports app, with more than 9 million downloads), highlighted the precision of Gillette razors, and included a contextual game, asking users to guess the precision of the shots during the first half, and instantly provided users with the live result. The unit, created by Sync’s patented Sync2Ad unit, which was developed by the Visiware studio, bridged the gap between TV And mobile advertising, between the brand and individual consumers. More than half of the top 20 French apps currently have installed the Sync2Ad SDK, and Sync is actively signing partnerships for Sync2Ad in other countries. The new ad format creates unique additional high-value inventory for publishers, and can be used for their own promotional purposes.

Sync2Ad, Sync, Coors Light, TV ad

In-app advertising is far more likely to gain the attention of viewers, who are well used to blocking ads on their desktop browsers. What will likely happen is an understanding of how gamification can reward the synched ad viewer. When Yahoo! streams the NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars from London on October 25th, the worlds of TV and mobile will undoubtedly collide. It will be interesting to see how Yahoo! and its ad agency and ad network partners view this experience. And, yes, how the NFL – no stranger to the 2nd screen world – sees the synched ad experience. So far, the U.S. market has seen small steps toward synched TV-mobile ads. Xaxis launched an attempt in this field in the spring of 2014, and NBC has made in-roads with, a Norwegian 2nd screen solutions provider. But, overall, the mobile ad shift has not lived in the synched universe.


Sync, Sync2Ad, TV ad

The hurdles overcome with user privacy surrounding Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) has hampered some of the progress in this arena. Also, critical mass is an issue for app publishers. Meaning, unless there is a solid audience using apps while TV spots are aired, or with devices that have apps live or open, the opportunity may be lost. This is where gamification lends itself to the experience. A synched spot needs to have true bi-directionality to really enhance the experience, where users could, in a game construct, lead to new levels of play or engagement. This is nothing that the SMS marketing world has not known for years, and has done with great success in the participatory TV genre that has included ‘American Idol,’ ‘America’s Got Talent,’ and other war horse shows that have, literally, taught the U.S. population to text.

TV as we know, and the ad units that support it, need to change just as live TV has changed radically in the past decade. When on-demand streamers such as Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix figure out how to engage viewers with synched spots, the arena will expand dramatically. And, one can only hope, create more fun for TV viewers.

Click on, people. Click on.

Nordic Showcase in New York Demonstrates the Power of Cohesive Innovation

By • Posted & filed under News and Press Releases

Pär-Jörgen Pärson, general partner at Northzone, and an early backer of Spotify and Bloglovin, welcomed guests to Scandinavia House in New York on a steamy Tuesday evening, August 25th to a Nordic Showcase of start-ups selected by the best accelerators and incubators in Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. His remarks said it best; the reason that the Nordics are kicking such serious ass in the EU, and global, start-up market is due to one word: socialism. Yes, the cohesion created by the Scandinavian model of state-sponsored education, healthcare, and – in the case of Sweden in the mid-’90s – home computing has yielded entrepreneurs better educated, better prepared, and creatively forged in markets where innovation is as much a natural characteristic as it is a personal trait. The driver for the success of large companies – from Ericsson to Kone to Lego – is also the driver for Nordic entrepreneurs.

Pär-Jörgen Pärson, Northzone, venture capital, Swedish, Nordic Showcase, New York, Scandinavia House

I coined the term “Finntrepreneur” in 2011, in the wake of Nokia’s implosion. It was initially used to market ex-Nokian entrepreneurs who had taken the plunge in the start-up world. Now, four years on, the Finntrepeneur is everywhere. She, or he, are creating seminal new technologies and digital media services at a frantic pace. It is no longer cool to work for a big company in the Nordic region: start-ups are the new vitality.


And, unlike the U.S., the Nordic start-up scene is infinitely more diverse. It was not a surprise, then, to see that 6 out of the 10 presenters at the Nordic Showcase, produced by Helsinki-based Slush, were women. Women from Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. In an era where female start-up founders are still marginalized in the U.S., the Nordic Showcase proved again the power of Nordic progressivism in action. The two Slush event producers, Eva Fogdell and Ghita Wallin, are not only Finntrepreneurs, but students. Yes, Slush – the dynamic, ever-growing conference that is the largest venture confab in the world – is completely run by students from the Aalto Center for Entrepreneurship. If a group of U.S. students attempted the same feat, it would flop around like a perch on a dry dock in blazing summer heat (sorry, just speaking the truth).

SLUSH, Ghita Wallin, Eva Fogdell, Jeremy Rougeau, Peter Vesterbacka, Julius Hietala, Nordic Showcase, Lemonsqueeze, Williamsburg, Brooklyn


For the record, the Nordic Showcase held this week may have made history, as the start-up incubators/acclerators and premier growth ventures from all 5 Nordic countries were represented. Erik Engellau-Nilsson, VP of Swedish e-commerce powerhouse Klarna, also spoke, but more as a quasi-mentor, displaying the kind of sangfroid that investors so relish: I’m here now in New York, and we have grown well, even after past mistakes. How refreshing, in this age of rocket-phase “unicorn” ambitions, to hear start-up founders and execs discuss operations and geographic expansion in mature tones.

klarna, Erik Engellau-Nilsson, e-commerce, Swedish, Scandinavia House, New York

One of the more illuminating opportunities of the evening was the chance to see Icelandic entrepreneurs present. Breakroom’s Didrik Steinsson and Tagplay’s Sesselja Vilhjalmsdottir displayed new paradigms for, respectively, workplace privacy and automatic web updates. Swedes in the house included Per Emanuelsson, CEO of Soundtrap, a mobile music education and production platform, and Sofie Lundstrom, CEO of Toborrow, a unique lending platform for small businesses. The Danish side included Thomas Helms, CEO/founder of Vaavud, a smartphone wind meter, and Gulnaz Khusainova, CEO/founder of EasySize, a personal fashion e-commerce platform. The Norwegian contingent included Jeanette Dyrhe Kvisvik, CEO/co-founder of Villoid, an app that enables users to follow fashion trends and buy the latest fashions, and Ivar Sagemo, CEO/founder of AIMS Innovation, an IT performance analytics platform for large enterprises. The Finns were well-represented in the persons of Jenny Wolfram, CEO/founder of FaceForce, a brand reputation and ad performance tool, and Katariina Rantanen, CEO/founder of Cosmethics, an iOS app that scans bar codes and cross-references ingredients with a database that enables users to make smarter product and health decisions.


The historic nature of the Nordic Showcase will be borne out in the coming months and years: more young entrepreneurs will hear of the various U.S. successes of these start-ups and accelerate their moves into the massive American market. And, yes, Slush 2015 (November 11-12 in Helsinki) will be an even more immediate barometer of how fast the Nordic venture ecosystem is growing.


In the region where the sun shines least, cohesive innovation seems to burn brightest.




Chris Pfaff in the News: Austin American-Statesman, ‘SXSW Influence Still Growing in Gaming World’

By • Posted & filed under News and Press Releases

SXSW influence still growing in gaming world

Organizer expects gaming expo to draw at least 55,000 people.

Mark Anthony, 13, plays a virtual reality light saber simulator made by Sixense at South by Southwest Interactive’s gaming portion at the Palmer Events Center on Friday. The convention kicked off at noon and features tournaments, demos of new game technology and booths for gaming enthusiasts and developers.

Finnish video game publisher Mika Laaja had never been to Austin, or Texas for that matter.

But he’s here now for South by Southwest Interactive to drum up publicity for his company’s mobile racing game, “AG Drive.”

“It’ll be a bit of a new experience for us,” said Laaja, who is fresh off the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco earlier this month. “Austin is a very cool town, from what I’ve read or heard.”

Video games have long been a part of SXSW, but their presence continues to grow. Whether it’s to make a splash or to network, developers continue to flock to Austin to be a part of the conference’s critical mass of tech industry movers and shakers.

Last year, the gaming portion of SXSW drew about 48,000 people and filled the parking garage of the Palmer Events Center in an hour. This year, the festival’s gaming project manager, Justin Burnham, said he “conservatively” expects 55,000 attendees.

“We’re growing faster than we can staff,” Burnham said.

On Friday, scores of independent developers showed off their games to onlookers who packed the gaming expo at Palmer Events Center.

Robert Dougherty, who runs a gaming company out of Boston, was walking attendees through his spacethemed card game, “Star Realms.”

“It’s our first South by Southwest,” Dougherty said. “We just want to show as many people as possible the game.”

Another product, SymGym, looked more like a piece of fitness equipment. It required users to move their arms and legs to control the game on- screen.

“The idea, it’s combining the exercise and the gaming all in one,” said Glenn Susz, as he helped an attendee use the device.

This year at SXSW, gaming panels run the gamut from talks by programmers for the Intellivision console to a speaker who wants to use gaming to forge peace between Israelis and Palestin- ians.

While SXSW has dabbled in gaming for years, Burnham was brought in four years ago to grow the gaming segment. In addition to panels and featured speakers, the gaming portion has stages devoted to e- sports, comics and other nerd culture pursuits.

“(Gaming) is under the Interactive umbrella,” Burnham said, “but it’s like the baby that can almost walk on its own.”

Burnham credited the growth to being a part of SXSW, which is one of the largest festivals in the country. That leads to not only hardcore fans showing up, but also casual attendees dropping by, he said.

“I think it’s just a perfect blend of everything,” Burnham said.

The growth of video gaming at SXSW comes as the industry continues to be a growing part of the Texas economy.

The computer and video game industry in Texas grew by 15.9 percent from 2009 to 2012 and added $764 million to the state economy, according to a study last year by the Entertainment Software Association. The number of video game establishments in Texas increased to 127 in 2012 from 80 in 2009, according to the study. That’s continued to increase since 2012. Last year, the Entertainment Software Association’s Tom Foulkes told the state House Select Committee on Economic Development Incentives that Texas has moved ahead of Washington state and is just behind California in video game production. He said the state’s 200 game developers employ about 5,000 Texans at an average annual salary of $90,000.

Chris Pfaff, who owns a New Jersey based tech marketing firm and is working with Laaja’s company, said SXSW is a good way to get attention for a new game and also to network.

“The gaming scene in Austin is pretty robust, so we’re looking to hook up with like-minded folks, but also partners on the advertising side, the branded entertainment side,” Pfaff said. “It’s a good way to introduce not only the game, but also the chops that (the company heads) have to a new audience.”

Pfaff said he thinks SXSW is now known more for the Interactive portion than anything else — even music.

“People go to South by Southwest to learn and network and take a pulse on what’s happening,” he said. “And (people) know that if you want to be in the nerve center of creativity and really aggressive forward thinking creativity, you kind of have to be there. It’s one of the few events where you’re really conspicuous by your absence.”

Chris Pfaff In the News: Måttet är rågat, ‘Bubblor,’ YLE (Finnish Broadcasting)

By • Posted & filed under News and Press Releases

I appear in the U.S. segment of this YLE (Finnish Broadcasting) program analyzing what they saw as a then-current global financial bubble, particularly relative to technology and new media ventures. Pekka Palmgren, producer with YLE, shot this interview with me in mid-September, 2011, in the park across from the old AT&T building at 32 6th Avenue.

I appear at the 14.39 mark.