On Channel News Asia today to talk about Kiosked

I was on TV today! It was a minor appearance on Channel News Asia, the region’s leading business channel, on Tech-Know, an excellent Tuesday morning show.

cna interview

I was invited to speak about Kiosked, a tech company out of Finland that’s raised $13 million in funding. One of its principle investors is Kaj Head, chairman of Rovio, which of course created Angry Birds.

Kiosked works with publishers as a way to monetize their content. The company overlays ads on top of websites’ images that act as virtual storefronts, featuring products relevant to that content.

For example, you might be reading an article about the latest James Bond movie at the Oscars, and the photo accompanying the article will feature a carousel of related products you can buy straight away: like the clothes worn, the movie itself, etc. Orders are fulfilled by the various e-commerce partners working with Kiosked.

I’ve actually written about something similar before, and was and is a fan of this type of advertising. It’s much more user-friendly than display ads and probably more effective too. It’s a trigger to spur you to buy what you always wanted but weren’t compelled enough to act on.

It won’t convince you to buy things you don’t want — even if your curiosity is piqued, chances are you would leave the website to research the item, its competition, the best price, the best delivery, etc. I’ve seen Kiosked-type ads for expensive items like TVs and haute couture heels; I can’t see anyone spending $1000 on the spot just because an image prompted them to.

Kiosked-type ads work best for impulse buys, for low priced items that consumers already want. With transacting made easy, these ads can act as an effective trigger.

This is one step forward into a future where one day we will no longer have banner ads. I understand why they exists — display advertising has broad reach, are simple to execute and something media people already understand. But banner ads and pop-ups are broken. Users learn to ignore them; ROI is actually low; there is low brand appeal; and publishers looks bad if there’s too many of them.

In the interview, I gave an analogy with video cameras. The first “movies” were essentially video cameras placed at the back of the theater recording a play; but that was not cinema, that was simply theater on film. It wasn’t until directors realized cameras can be an active part of the story that cinema grew into its own.

So it is with display advertising — it’s something we took from the print world and simplistically applied to the digital realm. We can definitely do better.

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