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Company profile: Cavai

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Mobile Marketing Magazine meets Sophie Gunyon, Sales Director at Cavai

Mobile Marketing: Can you tell us about Cavai; for instance, when was it founded?

Sophie Gunyon: Cavai is a global, conversational advertising cloud, working closely with brands, publishers and agencies to enable conversational experiences through its proprietary ad cloud technology. The Norwegian company was founded in 2018 by Steffen Svartberg and Tommy Torjesen, and has offices in Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, London, New York and Singapore.

We help marketers deliver conversations in programmatic buys in the same way as they would normally deliver banners and video ads. Our clients are already experiencing ROI increased, ten or twenty times over, through conversational advertising campaigns which leverage non-interruptive ad formats and enable two-way dialogue. We are on a mission to help advertisers significantly improve the performance of online display thanks to conversational ads, and currently work for clients such as VISA, Santander, HP and Unilever.

MM: What is your background?

SG: I joined Cavai after a period as Business Director at TI Media, where I worked across GroupM. I have worked largely on the agency side and now, I’m helping those agencies to onboard our platform, and also delivering campaigns, always with an eye on ensuring that the experience is as good as it can be for the end consumer.

My role was created to drive understanding and uptake of conversational advertising across UK media agencies and in-house trading desks; reflecting the fact that the conversational advertising cloud has now achieved scale, and advertisers are starting to think about more native integrations. Our mission is to deliver optimal experiences that boost personalisation and engagement within one of the most innovative advertising formats currently on the market.

MM: What is the vision behind Cavai?

SG: We describe our platform as a ‘global conversational advertising ‘cloud’ and we are working closely with publishers, brands and agencies to enable conversational experiences using ad cloud technology. By engaging users in a two-way interaction, we find that user dwell times in display ad units increase and advertisers are able to qualify interest in their product or service; before linking end users to the most relevant part of the website, resulting in a significant boost to conversion rates and level of insights generated.

After all, cookies are on the way out, segments can be inaccurate, and brand safety is an increasing concern, too, with many brands and audiences tired of interruptive – and often ineffective – advertising. Advertisers are still able to use audience targeting for conversational advertising campaigns, but can also start to move away from a reliance on this. When you talk to someone for the first time, you don’t know their interests; you learn them. Through dialogue with your audience, a brand can discover who this person is and what they want, without splitting them into predefined or assumptive segments. Then you converse with them on the topics they care about at that given moment and how they relate to the advertiser’s product or service, raising awareness, qualifying user interest and having a real and tangible effect on bottom line sales.

MM: Has the idea or offering evolved at all?

SG: The technology is developing rapidly. We are incorporating video, social and insights, creating a full service conversational cloud.

There has also been a rise in conversational advertising over the past few months. Advertisers have taken advantage of the conversational advertising mechanism to help users get the information they need at a time of restrictions when there are lots of questions that needed answering about how people can access products and services. Particularly at a time of crisis, it is important to move away from static brand monologues and to show your customers you are listening. By deploying conversational advertising, you can do this.

For example, during the pandemic, some brands managed to be helpful, answering questions and concerns and imparting useful information, thanks to conversational mechanics. For some, this helped to avoid having customers waiting for hours on the phone at a time when there are lots of questions that need answering about how to access products and services.

MM: Why is Cavai’s offering relevant today?

SG: In recent times, as a result of the Coronavirus crisis, large parts of the economy have had to shift almost entirely to digital, both in terms of the services they offer and their internal infrastructure and ways of working.

What’s more, conversational advertising is particularly useful for any service where there is a lot of pre-qualification. So financial products, for instance, sit very neatly with the conversational format. Governments, too, have a very complicated and evolving message to impart to citizens, which means there are lots of questions that arise, based on who the user is. All these questions are not easily answered in traditional display formats, but a rolling conversation is very effective for disseminating relevant information for a user 

MM: What makes Cavai different?

SG: Cavai is all about delivering a creative technology solution for advertisers to enable them to have a real experience and dialogue with their customers.

The technology is developing rapidly, encompassing conversations across display and social ecosystems, with dialogue and video, to create a full-service, conversational cloud.

Our form of conversational technology utilises a decision tree mechanic. As such, the user remains in control of the direction of the conversation, but does not veer too much away from the desired advertising outcome.

Today, too, an always-on conversational strategy is key. It’s critical to evolve using the insights and data from the conversational activity that you invest in. So view this as an advertising channel that can grow, winning new customers and learning in real time from their input.

Unlike much other advertising, this is not about a static brand message being pushed out in a broadcast fashion. Instead, Cavai enables interactions that are closer to human dialogue. The creative execution changes in real time, allowing for genuinely personalised ad experiences. The real value proposition is the quality of the user engagement; the sharing of information that increases the likelihood of conversions and generates unique audience insight.

Currently, advertisers have acute concerns around fraud and accidental clicks. Conversations differ drastically in this regard. Fraud is negligible, because bots are trained to click a banner once and then move on. They’re not able to navigate a conversation with multiple interaction points. When a user does click through, it’s after an engagement that points to an interest.

MM: Who are Cavai’s key clients?

SG: We have a varied client base, from HP to Coca Cola, Nordea to Daimler, and Nissan to Unilever, all using our proprietary ad technology. Publishers, brands and agencies are coming to us to enable conversational experiences which boost audience engagement and deliver a seam of rich insights. 

MM: How can clients use your offering on mobile?

SG: Mobile is an interactive, highly personal channel in which audiences really ‘lean in’ if you capture their attention. Ensure the conversation has enough back and forth interaction. Let audiences respond and don’t make it a one-sided deluge of information. This will ensure user interest remains high and gives you the chance to gain key insights.

Conversational design is crucial. If an audience doesn’t realise you want to talk then they’re not going to interact with you. Conversational advertising is a pretty new idea to most people so it’s important to make sure the invitation to converse is made clear. Don’t make your ad unit boring.

MM: What are your thoughts on the state of digital marketing today?

SG: Coronavirus is reshaping our approach to media, and brands must innovate to stay ahead. The most digitally advanced brands have performed well this year, despite the challenges facing all of us. But most brands will need to leverage innovative advertising formats in order to stay ahead. Brands need to be practical and helpful to their customers at this time, answering their questions and concerns.

Conversational advertising is one of the new frontiers of advertising; as yet largely untapped and at times misunderstood. There is so much potential for brands to boost engagement and connections with their audiences. 

MM: What are the company’s future plans?

SG: Conversational advertising is a burgeoning channel. We are going through a period of significant growth, having opened a number of offices in recent months. This steep growth trajectory reflects the fact that advertising has to work harder than ever in order to drive revenue. Consumers arguably have less patience with interruptive formats, but, at the same time, many have welcomed new digital channels into their lives – whether increased use of chatbot technology, perhaps to avoid long waiting times on the phone, or increased use of smart speakers or web conferencing. It’s true to say that our habits have changed dramatically.

Advertisers must stay on the front foot in this altered landscape. Conversational advertising is one format set to grow as it focuses on engagement over a crude measurement of click rate alone. And, with adoption rates of smart speakers still rocketing, people are now comfortable with brand interactions that were previously thought impossible. Vocal recognition technology even allows for insights into what a person is feeling.