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Houston startup has created a less intrusive video advertising experience

Houston-based LogoBar has created an advertising model that doesn't annoy the viewers. Getty Images

Steven Jones knows people dislike ads. Actually, he reasons, it's less that they dislike ads, but more that they don't like having those ads interrupt what they're doing.

"They want to be in control of their experience," he says. "And we've nearly always had things that allow consumers to skip ads – the remote control, where you could change the channel; now there are DVRs that let you skip them. That's all about control."

Jones knows, however, that consumers do want the information ads contain. And he thinks one of the best ways to give that to them in this splintered and ever-changing media environment is for advertisers to concede that concept of audience control. That's what LogoBar aims to do. Where a traditional commercial on television or before an online video might be 15 or 30 seconds, LogoBar features a company's logo or a product it's selling at the bottom of the video. The ad or logo will also appear when the viewer hits pause (or some other engagement) on the video. The viewer, if interested in the product can then choose to engage with it by clicking on the offer that's being advertised or on the product itself, which would then take that viewer to the advertiser's site.

The goal, says Jones, is two-fold: get the products and services in front of potential buyers, and allow those buyers to be the ones who determine if they want to engage.

"It's not intrusive at all," says Jones about the concept. "It allows a brand to be seen, which can spur interest. But keeping control in the hands of the intended audience is the key. This allows advertisers to think about their brands as a call to action. And this method of delivery aligns with the experience the viewer is already having."

Jones realizes that many people view ads as interruptions. He says that one of the reasons Google began making three-second ads right about 2015 was to capture on the shortening attention span of viewers who, he says studies show, were looking to skip ads the second they appeared.

LogoBar created digital technology that allows its clients to create its own ads. LogoBar installs the tech and then the client's team can build on it. But LogoBar can also create the advertising from end to end as well. The tech plugins work across multiple platforms including Brightcove, Kaltura, Flowplayer, and native iOS/Android players. By building that compatibility into its technology, Jones says that LogoBar can be easily and widely used.

"I think of us as still being an early startup," he says of the company. "But we have a strong team of five here, and I see us growing the business and the team across the next few years."

LogoBar has worked with ESPN+ and other local and national clients. And he believes LogoBar is poised to create what thinks of as a win-win for consumers and advertisers alike.

"Firms are still creating 30, 60-second 'stories' in their ads. Those aren't going to go away. And people will watch them – when they want to, on their own time. What we're offering is something that complements traditional advertising and gives consumers both an interactive experience and control over their viewing and time."

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Building Houston

 
 

5G could be taking over Texas — and Houston is leading the way. Photo via Getty Images

Based on one key measure, Houston sits at the forefront of a telecom revolution that could spark a regional economic impact of more than $30 billion.

Data published recently by the Texas Comptroller's Office points out that as of last November and December, Houston led all cities in Texas for the number of so-called "small cells." Small cells are a key component in the rollout of ultra-high-speed 5G wireless communication throughout the Houston area and the country.

As the Texas Comptroller's Office explains, small cells are low-powered antennas that communicate wirelessly via radio waves. They're usually installed on existing public infrastructure like street signs or utility poles, instead of the big communication towers that transmit 4G signals.

The comptroller's tally shows Houston had approved 5,455 small-cell sites as of the November-December timeframe. That dwarfs the total number of sites (1,948) for the state's second-ranked city, Dallas.

"Houston is in the vanguard of small cell permitting in Texas, and not just because it's the state's largest city; advocates have lauded its proactive approach to 5G. Other cities, particularly smaller ones, are lagging well behind," the Comptroller's Office notes.

According to CTIA, a trade group for the wireless communications industry, 5G holds the promise to deliver an economic impact of $30.3 billion in the Houston area and create 93,700 jobs. The group says industries such as health care, energy, transportation, e-commerce, and logistics stand to benefit from the emergence of 5G.

"Maintaining world-class communications infrastructure is a requirement for success in a rapidly changing global economy. Small cells and fiber technology are the key foundational components for network densification and robust 5G. Cities like Houston that have embraced the need for this infrastructure will see the benefits of 5G faster than others," Mandy Derr, government affairs director at Houston-based communications infrastructure REIT Crown Castle International Corp. and a member of the Texas 5G Alliance, tells InnovationMap.

Derr says leaders in Houston have embraced the importance of small-cell technology through "reasonable and effective" regulations and processes aimed at boosting 5G capabilities. Three major providers of wireless service — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon — offer 5G to customers in the Houston area.

"More small cells and fiber provide greater and faster access for the masses, enabling the connectivity that is essential to our businesses today — whether it's accepting payments on a mobile card reader, completing a sale on the go, or reliably reaching consumers where they are," Derr says.

In a blog post, Netrality Data Centers, which operates a data center in Houston, proclaims that Houston is shaping up to be a hub of 5G innovation.

"Houston has always been on the frontline," Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a 5G roundtable discussion in 2019. "It is who we are. It is in our DNA. We are a leading city. We didn't wait for somebody else to go to the moon. Or to be the energy capital of the world. Or the largest medical center in the world. But you don't stay at the front if you don't continue to lead."

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