Exclusive: How Keshet's Mako is innovating the second screen with 'Drama Hacking' and synched advertising

Over the past several years Israel's Keshet Media Group has transformed itself into a leading supplier of programming formats (including Showtime's popular Homeland series) while also becoming the leading source of digital content in Israel.

All of Keshet’s digital activities fall under its new media platform, Mako (short for "ma koreh," which means "what's up" in Hebrew) which was launched in 2008. Their offerings include the Mako web portal (which gets 168 million page views per month) and Mako TV online video platform, Israel's largest online video platform with over 20 million views every month. 66% of their users access Mako via their mobile app or mobile website.

Mako has developed some amazing strategies and platforms that the global TV industry should be paying attention to. Here are details from Keshet on their impressive digital offerings followed by an interview with Mako CEO Uri Rozen, SVP of Products & Marketing Eldad Weinberger and Head of Cross-Media/Second Screen Ofer Naor about their innovation.

Second screen: As well as being a standalone destination for online content and a catch up TV service for Keshet Channel 2, Mako is also home to many off-screen extensions of onscreen TV brands.

  • For example, Mako is home to the app associated with the hit interactive talent show, RISING STAR and viewers must download it from the portal in order to take part in the show’s real-time voting.
  • Other programs’ play-along apps are also housed here, such as the one for the colorful, tension-filled game show BOOM!, the trivia game show in which a family can win a new car, TRADE UP and the competitive reality show Help I Can’t Cook.

SYNKO: An added benefit for advertisers of the synergy between Keshet and Mako is its SYNKO function. The channel and portal’s advertising is synchronized on both screens so that if a viewer is active on a second screen during a broadcast, advertising is not only not missed, it is interactive so that a viewer can click on the second screen for more detail/to signal interest in a brand/buy a product. SYNKO gives advertisers a complete solution, shortening the conversion of raised awareness to online sales.

Drama Hacking: Keshet identified that viewers are just as keen to engage with their favorite scripted shows during and in between episodes, as they are to play along and interact with non-scripted content. This led to the launch of a new innovative Mako app which perfectly complements the drama viewing experience.

  • The “Drama Hacking” app allows viewers to “hack” the phones of their favorite characters and get closer to their world.
  • It was developed around the recent Keshet comedy Imported, which is the story of an Israeli soccer player who is spotted by Manchester United and moves to London.
  • The app allows viewers to read characters’ text, email and what app messages is and view their social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
  • The app also presents commercial opportunities for advertisers. It incorporates “spots” which can lead viewers to relevant e-commerce sites – for example, clothing for women on the phone of the girlfriend of the soccer player in Imported, a flight booking service on the father’s etc.
  • This proved to be successful for advertisers with more than 20% of users clicking through to the advertiser’s sites/apps.
  • Since it launched a month ago the Imported “hacking” app has generated more than 100,000 visits and 1.5 million page views
  • Its page has received close to 1.5M views and almost 50% of users are returning
  • Of the number of users, 22% go on to use the e-commerce sites/app of advertisers which are integrated into the hacking activity.

FR: What is Mako? What is the relationship with Keshet and what platforms is it on?

Uri Rozen: We’re very different from the websites of most of the broadcasters around the world because most of them would have separated the sites for different subjects (like NBC.com and MSNBC.com for example). With Mako we have a single site and a single homepage that tries to cover everything. We of course have sub-sections but we decided to have it in a single application and a single site and it works.

People come to see the news and also enter a lot of content about the shows they watch and then VOD. It’s a single entry point in the application with two main functions. One is the content application that includes both news and TV related content in addition to content on cars, fashion, economy, sports and so on. The second function is solely for VOD.

Regarding second screen activities, if you want to play along with Master Chef or Big Brother or Rising Star you can do it actually in both the content and VOD sections but normally you would do it in the content section in Mako. We somehow succeeded in combining all the relevant worlds very nicely into the same site and same application.

Currently our audience is divided exactly 33% for each platform. It’s 33% desktop, 33% mobile web and 33% mobile application and it means that 66% of our traffic comes from mobile which is a relatively high portion.

FR: Are you seeing the same trend of, especially younger viewers watching less TV on TV?

UR: Yeah. We’re very glad that we manage to have the biggest and strongest brands in digital video watching. In Israel we ran a survey where we asked when you watch TV on the Internet. We were neck by neck with YouTube, it was about 25% or 26% answering that they go to YouTube and the same percentage that they go to Mako.

FR: Are you experimenting with Vine, Instagram and Snapchat?

Ofer Naor: We haven’t used Vine a lot here in Israel, it’s not that popular. We use Instagram for activities like send your photos or your short videos to us and you can win a prize, mainly around the TV shows that have contestants like Master Chef. For example, we ask viewers to show us the best meal you can cook or something like that. So, Instagram is mainly a good platform because everybody has it to share images but most of our digital interactivity is done by activity that we generate ourselves.

Eldad Weinberger: in Rising Star we had one of the phases in the finals saved for people who sent their 15 second audition that they did at home through Instagram. One of them was picked to go on stage and participate based on their Instagram activity.

FR: Can you tell Found Remote a bit more about the second screen platform you recently developed and any plans to use it internationally?

UR: We do feel that Keshet International faces some kind of demand for using our experiences, the things that we did in specific shows like Rising Star, like our dramas. We have a very nice second screen platform that can enhance dramas. So when Keshet International sells the specific shows, they can use the things that we do for those shows for the second screen but I’m not sure yet if Mako as a whole or the strategic moves that we’ve done with Mako can be replicated in other places so easily.

ON: To further elaborate we developed a platform that is generic, we could use it for any kind of show – drama or comedy. The user chooses a character from the show and then it’s as if you’ve hacked the character's phone and can go to various applications that the character has on the phone like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Mail, Calendar, Notes, whatever. It has all the basic applications that everybody has and we have specific content writers that write for it and update it daily so all of that content for each of the characters is current and up to date. We just tried it on the first sitcom that we have here and there are great numbers. It’s a huge success - 50% are returning visitors, people coming back every day to follow the new updates.

We are now working on the second drama that’s going to be aired in August. It’s a very intuitive tool that we’ve developed and are thinking of selling it to others. We also see a lot of commercial potential, like putting commercial apps inside the character’s phone or advertising inside their Facebook and Gmail apps so brands can be implemented inside the content and not just an advertisement.

FR: Did you develop the platform internally?

ON: We designed it internally and then outsourced programmers to develop it but all of the design and the calculations were made internally.

FR: How have you innovated in the offerings you can provide to your advertisers?

UR: For Shazam for TV, in 20 seconds you have to find your phone, open it, find the Shazam application, click on it, wait for it to open, and then recognize the sound of the commercial. We solved this problem in a very different way because we’re so strong in the Israeli market. What we did is we connected a commercial playlist between Keshet TV and our Mako advertising system. Every time the commercial is aired on TV, it gives the viewers a specific offer. With the Mako advertising system if you open the Mako application in the next 3 or 5 minutes, you would get the same commercial and offer that you saw on TV.

So, for example, we had a very big commercial with the IKEA on Big Brother, and then they would say go now to the Mako application or whatever and you’ll get some specific offer and then it would open the Mako application and they would get the exact sane ad and it doesn’t need to be in exact 20 seconds that the commercial aired on TV. It can be done in the next five minutes because it’s selected server side and not client side. There’s no audio recognition. The numbers we got using this technology was really great - we’re able to do this because Keshet has such a large share of the market.

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Natan Edelsburg

I help run the Shorty Awards (http://shortyawards.com) and Muck Rack (http://muckrack.com). I also watch a lot of TV and write about it occasionally. http://linkd.in/nedelsburg

All by Natan