VivaKi's Hecht Excited About Mobile's Dimensions
In August, VivaKi’s Nerve Center launched a new “lane” focused on tablets as part of its Pool initiative to develop new digital ad formats. Online Media Daily caught up with Nerve Center chief Curt Hecht, now based in Paris, who is leading Publicis Groupe’s R&D center. He discussed the tablet effort and his recent appointment to the Mobile Marketing Association’s board of directors.
OMD: You were named to the MMA board in December. How did that come about and why did you take on that role?
Hecht: I joined a few weeks back. I had been talking to MMA Global CEO Greg [Stuart] for a while, so it seemed like a good opportunity at the right time. Weve been running The Pool out of the Nerve Center for some time -- our collaboration on any kind of format in emerging areas at scale -- and we talked to him as we launched the tablet lane, and we’re working on our next, also around mobile. What we found is the more we stay connected to folks like the MMA and the IAB, the more it helps to create and develop standards.
OMD: It’s been several months since the tablet lane was announced. What’s happened since then?
Hecht: We had our first real client session in October, and we have 26 participating companies in this pool lane to date -- from Best Buy to Samsung and Verizon and Walmart. In terms of publishers, we have Yahoo and Microsoft and the Weather Channel and USA Today. It’s our biggest lane yet, in terms of participants. When we run these kickoff meetings, we’ve had something like 100 people show up.
OMD: When do you expect to begin sharing any results on testing of tablet ad formats?
Hecht: We really won’t release anything until 2013, based on the fact that we’ve got to do field trials and quantitative, and qualitative [analysis]. But what we’re seeing is the potential for social, video, rich media, in-banner, full-screen engagement -- a lot of different potential models are rising to the top. The collective pool in the group will vote on which models they think have potential to scale from the marketer’s perspective or publishers, and the ability to build, sell, serve and measure.
OMD: Can you say anything more about the other mobile-focused lane in the works?
Hecht: I can’t give too much away but Alexandre [Mars, CEO of Publicis’ Phonevalley] is helping drive the strategic direction. We’ve got a couple of companies confirmed as participants, so hopefully you’ll see some news from us soon.
OMD: Is this effort more focused on smartphones than tablets?
Hecht: More phone-focused.
OMD: Do you think tablets will come to define brand advertising in the mobile environment?
Hecht: It's a question around mobility. In the 20 years I’ve been in the business, and for the long time I’ve been doing digital, mobile has the potential to be the most complex and differentiating medium to date. You have the ability to tie into marketers’ systems, and the whole transactional side of it is truly exciting. You can’t do that when you’re buying banner ads. Mobile seems to be a real game-changer in terms of the services, technology and capability we can bring our clients. Whether it’s a tablet or a phone -- theoretically a PC can be mobile -- will depend. But we’re excited because it has a lot of dimensions.