ViewLift VP Michael Kohn On Monetizing Content, App Building

ViewLift is a full service video platform, allowing publishers and brands to distribute and monetize their content across 27 different device platforms, including Roku, Android, iOS and Amazon Fire. ViewLift helps publishers build apps so that they can reach their customers directly. VP of platforms and marketing Michael Kohn weighed in on challenges to monetizing content and app building.

Media Post: What's the most recent app you’ve built?

Kohn: We’re soft-launching a product today for The Great Courses Plus. They are a lifelong learning company who have made quite a name for themselves distributing lectures.  If you want to take astrophysics from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, that’s the company for you. They’ve made DVD’s, you can buy downloaded digital versions. They wanted to try a subscription version, so they came to us. We’re launching them on iOS, android, Roku, and the Amazon Fire tablet [among others].

Media Post: What are the challenges with monetizing content?

Kohn: It totally depends on the client’s business model. ViewLift is a toolkit, so whatever model they want to try—subscription, freemium services, etc, we can help them achieve that. Three things everyone has to have though are: a library of content, so when a user comes to one of the destinations they see it; the ability to refresh that library; the ability to retarget their audience.

(On analytics): You used to have to go multiple other services to get the information you needed. For each app, you’d have to go to a different dashboard.

Media Post: What does ViewLift do?

Kohn: ViewLift is a full end-to-end platform. It’s one dashboard to rule them all. You can program across devices—ingest videos once, enter metadata once, you can tie things together and optimize your marketing. From there marketers can figure “Maybe I should be spending more money to market short-form serial action content on Facebook, etc.” We give brands the freedom of a direct connection to their consumers. Previously, they could put it up on Netflix or iTunes, but there wasn’t much data available.

Media Post: Apple announced they were opening their new TVOS to third-party developers in a bigger way a few weeks ago. Connected TVs seem like they’re going to be getting pretty popular. Why aren’t marketers spending more in that space?

Kohn: A lot of brands are trying to figure out who’s going to “win”—Amazon Fire, Apple TV, etc. Roku for instance, the number of apps they have is staggering, and that’s what people now expect when they buy new devices. The big debate right now is whether a brand should spend the money to build the app themselves, or hire a service. Does it make sense to live on top of someone else’s framework and let your content do the talking?

People need to figure out how they want to manage it and what they want to be responsible for. They should be focusing on making the best content rather than all the technical aspects. There is a very strong appetite to be on all these devices, but they just aren’t going to have the same audience. Playstation and Xbox users are very different from a Roku users.

MediaPost: Where should the conversation in this space be focusing?

Kohn: It’s a convoluted space and it’s evolving very rapidly. Everybody wants to know who wins in the end. There are more intricacies than that. There aren’t one pair of shoes out there. I wish that when people talk about this industry—it’s not one thing. People want to be able to do what they want to do. They would like to say that everybody’s going to be on Apple devices, but it’s just not the case.

Each brand should focus more on where their audience is, not where they want them to be.

What Netflix is doing is super interesting, but that doesn’t mean what they’re doing is better than what you’re doing, or makes what you’re doing any less valid.


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