Dare!’s latest series – “The Start-up Series” – explores the start-ups that are a part of Havas’s Accelerator programme and the agencies that work with them. This week, we spoke with Didier Mormesse, Co-founder & CEO, Contalto, and Weilin Ho, Director of Innovation & Experience, Havas Paris, to learn more about Contalto.
We’ve also launched a podcast series to explore these start-ups – so check back every edition to hear more!
Didier Mormesse, Co-founder & CEO, Contalto
How did the idea for this start-up originate and what was the process of bringing it to life?
Duncan and I held senior market research & insight positions on the media owner side for many years, so we knew that there was a lack of competitive intelligence for digital branded content campaigns. Our thinking was that branded content deserved specific analytics and tools to help creators and marketers deliver more meaningful and engaging content to their audiences. We were inspired by Eric Ries’s Lean Start-up principles – and rather than wasting time creating an elaborate business plan, we decided to put our vision to the test. We quickly designed a prototype UI with mocked-up content feed, dashboards and key metrics and reached out to a small number of global media owners in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Four of them were so enthused that they immediately agreed to sponsor the development of our service and give us advance payment. Just like that, we were in business!
Why did you decide to get involved with the Start-up Accelerator programme?
We found out about this programme at the right moment. We were in the process of launching Contalto and rolling out our platform to new geographies (France, Germany and Italy) and new market segments (agencies and brands). Havas was the perfect partner to help us accelerate our development in both directions.
What has your experience been like in this programme so far and has your business grown?
We’ve really benefited from the contacts across the Havas Group that opened up as soon as we joined the programme, and the pitch experience has been fun too. We have ongoing discussions locally with our sponsor Havas Paris, as well as with teams in Havas Media and Havas International. Once we have broadened the current USA + UK focus of our service to France and other European markets, we hope to turn these discussions into formal partnerships. With 3 years of data, 45K campaigns and over 8K brands covered by our English language service, we’re naturally keen to open discussions with Havas in the US and UK too.
Through your platform, you collect and analyse thousands of branded content campaigns. From your experience, how should brands engage in this topic and create the right content?
It’s true to say that we have a unique perspective on branded content campaigns. We publish newsletters with key insights and talk about best practices, all of which can be retrieved from the Resources section of contalto.com.
Most branded content campaigns play to the strengths of the medium in that they are content first, advertising second. Brands recognise that storytelling is often key to engaging consumers, and this means that the branding aspect of branded content can be quite subtle provided that the story is on-message and relevant to the brand’s domain, i.e., brand focus is secondary to story alignment.
Brands shouldn’t be afraid to join the conversation about today’s most serious and challenging topics, like climate change, diversity and inclusion, gender equality or other issues – especially if they can convey their positive actions and policies. In fact, brand activism is one of the strongest trends in branded content right now.
Other hot topics that brands are vocal about via branded content include ESG, sustainability, the circular economy, digital transformation, the energy transition, e-mobility, hybrid working, wellness, 5G and edge computing, automation, blockchain and crypto, as well as Fin/Insur/MedTech.
Weilin Ho, Director of Innovation & Experience, Havas Paris
Why is working with start-ups beneficial for your business?
Digital is an ever-evolving industry, so working with start-ups is crucial to understand the next big shifts, develop our production capabilities on next-gen technologies, and maintain an active network of innovative thinkers and doers.
How does Contalto’s expertise complement or enhance the work you’re already doing?
Contalto allows us to better understand brand content trends, best cases & recipes for success. Their groundbreaking features and ambitious development plan will provide a lot of value over time to anyone involved in digital brand content creation.