Our second Zephr Coffee Club followed a slightly different format. In the spirit of iteration, we flipped it from being an open discussion to having a couple of lightning talks with a Q&A at the end. This means the sessions are now more informative and interactive, ensuring valuable content and conversations are happening and easy to capture.
First up, we had a talk from the GM of Mantis, Ben Pheloung. Mantis is an AI collaboration between Reach PLC, publisher of The Mirror and The Express, and IBM Watson, the AI natural language processing and understanding arm of IBM.
In essence, Mantis is a “safety platform” which uses artificial intelligence to check and understand whether content is appropriate to appear alongside advertising. The problem is, when working off a standard keyword block list, this may stop ads from being shown on legitimate articles that aren’t related to the reason the word is blocked. For example, when the Manchester Attack happened and was added to the block list, this would stop ads from being shown on football articles that talked about Manchester (City or United) attacking.
Rewind 3 months, if an advertiser had a standard 200-word blocklist (which is typical), this meant that on The Mirror alone they couldn’t show the ads on 30% of the content. Fast-forward to March 2020 and things have been super busy for Mantis around the hot topics of Covid-19, Coronavirus and Pandemic. Previously, if the goal was to monetise these content areas then the revenue potential would actually be near zero as so many advertisers would not want to appear alongside distressing or upsetting content.
However, by applying Mantis, the publisher has been able automatically to understand and codify the difference between the various types of Covid-19 content. One aspect might be unfortunate deaths (hard and potentially inappropriate to monetise), but another could be positive stories about human endeavour and kindness, or simply more informative and educational material (straightforward monetise).
Next up we had Julian Thorne, Owner of The Big Wheel Consultancy. Julian is a specialist in recurring revenue and has a wealth of experience at brands such as Dennis Publishing, Saga Media and Dovetail.
Julian’s talk focused on LTV (Lifetime Value) and actually what it is! He talked about how you calculate LTV accurately.
Image: Boston Consulting Group 2017
Further to this, he talked about the ratio of LTV to CAC in terms of a healthy business - if you didn’t know a healthy ratio is 3:1 (a great little tip!). There were lots more snippets of very useful information, all of which we’re going to dive into and explore in the new Zephr Podcast Sessions (coming mid-April 2020). And, if you want to take one more priceless piece of advice to take away from a session packed with insight and value then it’s this: the onboarding period is the most important part of any customer journey...
More on that and many of the other topics raised in due course but, for now, we’d like to say a huge thank you to our two speakers and all of the attendees - it’s great to be running these weekly sessions!
We’re on the lookout for other lightning talks to plan for the weeks ahead, so if you’re interested and think you have something that might be useful then please get involved and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org - we’d be delighted to have you join us!