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October 23, 2013

Questionmine: Ditch the Monologue, Join the Dialogue

Many people are familiar with the concept of interactive TV shows (the first that comes to mind is an episode of “Dora the Explorer”), when characters ask a question, wait a few seconds to hear the “audience participation” and then continue with the script. They pretend to make the TV experience an interactive one, and to children, it may seem like their input really is directing the outcome of the TV episode. For those of us that are older, we know TV shows are a one-way street. We may not be able to provide real-time feedback to dictate the outcome of the video on TV, but we can online.

Meet Questionmine, a provider of interactive marketing solutions through videos, ecommerce, surveys, polls and other lead generation methods. Questionmine was developed to help answer some of businesses’ most trying questions: who are my customers, and what do they want?

The only way to find out is ask.

I recently discussed the evolution of Questionmine and interactive video on the Web with Gary Spirer, CEO of Questionmine. His message was clear: “Most companies today are stuck in one-way broadcast, acting as a one-way commercial. Ditch the monologue and join the dialogue.”

To create a customizable, interactive environment for customers, Questionmine hosts videos for companies and offers three main levels of engagement:

  1. The first level of engagement features lead generation forms and calls to action right in the video, and timing those to any second in the video. Users can customize videos so call-to-action buttons appear and disappear when they want them to.
  2. The second level of engagement takes engagement a step further by overlaying the video with QA formats, such as surveys, quizzes, polls, assessments, certifications and trainings. When customers answer the questions, those answers can be tagged so you can segment them in real-time. Picking up analytics in real-time enables organizations to target their message to specific customers based on their responses, and also based on other factors, like how long they watched a video. You can target different groups of people based on how long they watched a video and really cater messaging to these specific groups.
  3. The third level of engagement is what Spirer calls video branching. Users can take a video and build it into clips so based on different answers, the video is feeding relevant information the customers need to advance their search for knowledge. Spirer also likes to call these “Choose your own adventure” videos because, just as customers are not all the same, the videos aren’t identical for every customer. An example of video branching can be seen in the video below.

Questionmine was born out of Spirer’s path of creating content. Originally a novelist and poet, Spirer took advantage of the Internet’s capabilities and started sharing content online. But, like many aspiring writers experience firsthand, nobody was coming to him saying, “Hey, we’re interested in your content.” So, he decided to put up a quiz on his site, and when they’d answer, they would receive their results by sharing their email address. Then Spirer moved on to webinars, as he had a passion for teaching and educating people. He looked at the quiz on his content, and he looked at webinars, and asked, “Why can’t we take the quiz and put it with the webinar and make it more interactive?” Eventually, people did come to Spirer – because they loved his technology.

I skipped some nuts and bolts in the development of Questionmine, but basically Spirer realized out of his own experience the need for companies to get answers faster, and about the most important part of their business – their customers. Being able to identify customers and determine what they want in real-time gives organizations valuable information they need to succeed, and creating a customized, interactive method for customers to find information improves satisfaction.  

In the future, Spirer expects to see experiences that mimic face-to-face interaction as close as possible using digital body language. Instead of touching or moving a mouse, we’ll be able to move our eyes across screens and trigger different call to action buttons – something we’re already starting to see today, but is expected to grow substantially over the next few years. Digital signage is also in this category, as it will be able to recognize customers and feed customized questions and information.

What makes this WebRTC?

Ok, this is cool, but isn’t WebRTC all about communicating in real-time over the Web? You know, two-way communication with a live person on the other end?

Questionmine’s levels of engagement can be added to real-time events, such as webinars and training sessions. It may not be a WebRTC engine, but it’s a value add to your WebRTC experience.

The solution works on any browser and device – including mobile. It provides instant two-way communication and interactivity on smartphones and tablets. Questionmine also provides its video engagement capabilities through mobile campaigns. For example, texting “Coupon” to 347-896-6767 will opt you in for a survey on a Diet Pepsi commercial for the chance to win a Diet Pepsi coupon. After watching the commercial and answering survey questions at designated time frames during the video, you receive a coupon code (this code is fake and only used for a demo).

The company has a lot of exciting news coming up the in the future, including integration with major CRM systems and a crowdsourcing product launch with IBM. Questionmine will be exhibiting at the upcoming WebRTC Conference and Expo, happening Nov. 19-21 in Santa Clara, Calif., with many other companies, including Google, Digium, HP, Ericsson, Oracle, Avaya, Sonus, TokBox and more. The event is an opportunity to discuss and learn about business impacts of WebRTC and different areas of focus, including standards, challenges, HTML5, development tools and other experience.

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