Ujjal Kohli is the CEO of Rhythm, a company that connects brand advertisers with highly engaged mobile audiences by selling and serving video, rich media and other immersive advertising formats.. Ujjal has over 25 years of experience in general management, engineering, marketing, strategy, M&A, and venture capital. He was CEO and a Co-Founder of Meru Networks and previously he was EVP of Marketing & Sales for AirTouch Cellular. The Makegood recently spoke with Ujjal about his role at Rhythm and the future of the advertising industry.
THE MAKEGOOD: Rhythm has a long roster of partnerships with top-tier video publishers such as NBC, CBS, and Warner Brothers for mobile video advertising. How did you build this network and why are your services so special?
With a razor sharp, exclusive focus on premium media.
Rhythm has partnered with more than 50 premium media companies, typically on an exclusive basis, and we have a portfolio of 200+ properties delivering meaningful brand advertising within the highest-quality content to targeted, relevant audiences. From the outset, we’ve kept our focus on premium in more ways than one. This focus extends to everything from which media partnerships we pursue and the consumer experience we deliver to our devotion to sophisticated video executions on every platform we service.
Special? Well, among the competitive set, we do stand out in a few key areas where others may still be figuring out their path. We are clear on representing the following:
- Mobile-first technology platform built specifically for premium in-stream video advertising
- Interactive In-Stream Video at huge scale
- Premium media partners: apps and mobile sites from top media brands
- Fully transparent delivery
The Makegood: Mobile and video are two of the fastest growing industries. What are the biggest challenges for marketers and what is your advice?
Marketers are faced with a three-fold challenge in mobile video—finding their audience in an increasingly fragmented world, finding content that suits their brand, and marketing to their audience when that audience is most receptive.
Engaging, timely ad creative wins, but the method of delivery is important too. Due to the distinct relationships consumers have with their mobile devices, marketers shouldn’t necessarily market to them in the same way they would with traditional media. In other words, why would an oil company want to have their ad seen between casual game levels or among friends in someone’s social media newsfeed? Context matters.
The Makegood: You help transform ad units into touchable video experiences. How does it work and which ads bring the best results?
One of the advantages of both mobile video and mobile rich media ads is that the creative is both fullscreen and highly immersive. This is highly effective because it allows consumers to linger, leading to astonishingly high engagement rates. Some points to consider:
- On smartphones, full page display ads have an average 4 percent to 10 percent engagement rate
- With the larger tablet screen, engagement rates average between a remarkable 18 percent and 25 percent
- Consumers respond to these units at an unprecedented rate, and the discrepancy is especially large when compared to online
- If you combine these ads with video they perform even better
- Full page mobile ads combined with video ads have a 15 percent increase in engagement rate
The Makegood: You execute mobile campaigns across applications and mobile websites from publishers. Can you give us an example of a project you’re especially proud of this year?
In 2012 alone, more than 200 top brand advertisers including P&G, Unilever, Disney, McDonald’s, General Motors, Ford, AT&T, Verizon, Macy’s, Marriott, and Wrigley ran campaigns with Rhythm and achieved unprecedented engagement results. As you can see, we work across all major segments. But, we’ve seen particular success with marketers who get the value of video ad engagement – and how that can be leveraged.
The Makegood: What will we see coming in mobile advertising and where will you lead Rhythm?
Consumers must be shown relevant, engaging ads in exchange for premium and valuable content. If ads are irrelevant, do not actively engage the consumer or most importantly, do not run natively in premium, must-watch content, fair value exchange does not exist. It will be our aim to help both buyers and sellers of mobile video ads understand ways in which they can most effectively communicate with their audiences on these nascent platforms.
The Makegood: Thank you Ujjal.