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Interview with Hamet Watt, Founder, NextMedium

Los Angeles-based NextMedium (www.nextmedium.com) is a company that is developing an online marketplace for brand integration and advertising. The firm just announced a second round of funding last week from Bessemer Venture Partners, Ascend Venture Group, and Globespan. Hamet Watt is the founder of the firm. We caught up with Hamet to hear more about the firm and how it's hoping to create an"Advertising 2.0" model. (Photo courtesy of Martin Schaedel)

Ben Kuo: What's NextMedium about?

Hamet Watt: NextMedium is an innovation company. We develop and manage a marketplace for brand integration and advertising. It's a brand integration platform that advertisers, media buyers, media sellers, and entertainment companies can use to do brand integration better. What we mean by that is for buyers, we are trying to present a new ad medium that they can leverage to better connect with their consumers, amidst a very challenging media environment. The traditional, 30-second spot is becoming less and less valuable, and they are pursing alternatives. For content companies, we want to enable a new revenue stream for them--we really provide a platform that will enable both sides to trade.

Ben Kuo: Tell me a little bit about your funding, and how long you have been around?

Hamet Watt: We first financed the company in February of 2005. We did that with Globespan Capital and Ascend Venture Group.

Ben Kuo: It sounds like you just launched your services recently?

Hamet Watt: Actually, in the early days, we were collaborating with Nielsen media research to understand what the pain points were in the industry, then and today, which restricts brand integration from being a principal part of the media mix for advertisers. One of the central themes with Nielsen was the lack of measurements and lack of accountability in this medium. Before we even funded, we were developing measurement tools to sell, with the Nielsen moniker on them. We developed an industry standard way for measuring brand integration and product placements. We had been collaborating prior to our funding.

Ben Kuo: What's your background, and how did you decide to start NextMedium?

Hamet Watt: I actually have always been passionate about alternative advertising and the impact of entertainment on consumer behavior. I would say that's been a passion as long as I remember. I used to be on the venture capital side myself, based in North Carolina, working for a fund investing internationally. My favorite area has been technology and media related companies and business models. I studied the phenomenon of entertainment as a market influencer of consumer trends, and the way it could spike consumer behavior around products. I wanted to understand that dynamic, and look at patterns to determine if there was a technology play in this space.

Ben Kuo: How far along is your marketplace?

Hamet Watt: We launched the product in May of this year. There has been an increasing concern around traditional forms of advertising, and the concern of media companies around their ability to maximize their servicing of customers. We talked to customers working with networks to provide them with a technology platform to better meet the needs of their advertising clients. We launched, and were very, very pleased with the fact that several major media buyers showed up. They really understood the theme--advertising moving from around the content to inside the content. What's we're really describing is an Advertising 2.0 model that we think will increasingly become more important, as more dollars have question marks around them.

Ben Kuo: What's your competitive position in this market?

Hamet Watt: We don't see any other transactional platforms in this space. There are certainly tons of people with listing services. A transactional platform takes out lots of the pain in the current process for buyers and sellers. It's a true marketplace, a true system that allows for more efficiency and creation of a new market. Product placement has existed for some time, but it hasn't been monetized to the extent that it should be, and it hasn't been organized and structured in a way that advertisers can truly get their arms around it--plan around it, measure outcomes, and launch in a synchronized way with their other media.

Ben Kuo: Is there specific kind of content you are targeting?

Hamet Watt: It includes television content, which also includes Internet video, and not just broadcast/cable. We call that television, broadly defined. It also includes film, videogames, and music. For music, that includes brand integration in songs, and bring integration in music videos.

Ben Kuo: How has the reception been so far?

Hamet Watt: The reception so far has been fantastic. Our approach is really to work with the industry to develop some standards that the industry can use. We are working very deliberately with the largest media buyers and advertisers to define what will make this marketplace optimal for both of them. The timing is very right, and we've made some very good investments in engineering talent, and done some very good thinking in this space. We're going to continue to do good thinking, listening to the industry, and come up with the best standardized platform for this space.

Ben Kuo: Thanks for the time!


 

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