How Prizma Uses Product Chats to Keep Our Whole Team Thinking About the Product

Successful teams execute best when they understand the product they are building, selling, and marketing. Understanding a product comes from having a specific worldview—a way of interpreting and synthesizing information about how people behave and what they care about. At Prizma, that worldview basically says, "show people what they're interested in and get out of the way." It's not complex, but building a video engagement platform with industry-leading engagement metrics isn't possible without having some simple ideals to work from. 

One of the main ways we get our entire team thinking about the philosophy that guides the product, besides our designed-in-house product training, is to regularly engage everyone in an interactive lecture series called "Product Chats." The idea is simple: everyone comes with something to share about a topic (provided about one week before the chat), and a moderator helps synthesize everyone's commentary.

The basic idea is to get everyone to think critically about other products, to encourage a mode of thought that can then be applied to discussions about our own work. We use other people's products for these chats as a way of removing the endemic startup blinders and seeing what else is going on the world of software (or sometimes, not even software). Sometimes, the topic seems orthogonal to our product—like mechanisms for accepting user feedback—while others are much more clearly tied to what we do: "Gimme More," an exploration of interfaces that encourage you to watch another, listen again, or read more touched on what is pretty much Prizma's bread and butter. 

What's nice about the Product Chat format is that it encourages everyone to think like a user, even if it's just once every couple of weeks. It means they take the time to determine when a behavior feels frustrating or seamless, and we work as a group to determine why. The "Product Chat," crucially, does not ask someone for a specific solution to a problem they identify, but rather asks them to cultivate a mindset where they can cogently speak about problems and work in a group to solve them. Additionally, by having these chats about other companies' products, weary product managers can sidestep being told what to implement in their own product, or what specific problem to solve, while still getting vaguely real-world feedback. The result is an organization that thinks about product in a valuable way for the product and development teams, but that doesn't produce a laundry list of feature requests. 

Here are some steps for producing a product chat for your startup:

Identify an area of interest

Don't stress about picking the perfect thing for your first chat, just think about a problem you've been pondering over recently. Maybe it's forgotten-password experiences that have been bugging you recently as you keep forgetting your Squarespace password (or perhaps I'm projecting), or maybe you really dig how Square Cash is a pretty relentlessly single-purpose app. The connection to the product you're actually building doesn't have to be obvious—the beauty of having an hourlong discussion about an interesting topic is that a lot of useful things can emerge from places you don't expect.

Email your team the topic & a request for materials

About a week before your chat, send out a message to the group you intend to chat with. Depending on the size of your organization, you might even want to run some separate chats, eventually, but for now, just see if you can get a nice cross section of participants—business development, marketing, software development, and data science make for a nice mix.

Provide them with a fairly vague topic and request some screenshots

Here's the email from the aforementioned "Gimme More":

"We'll be chatting about situations where you are: prompted to read another article, answer another question, watch another video, and so on. Let's examine interfaces where you can explore content (or anything else you might binge on a screen)—which apps or websites make it really easy or addictive? Who doesn't do it as well?

Please send me your screenshots by 11am on Tuesday, May 19."

Assemble your presentation

Take those screenshots and put them each on a slide. See if you can identify any themes that are already emerging. For "Gimme More," maybe some submissions show products with feeds that autoplay, others illustrate interfaces that require user interaction, and so on. Start thinking about these ideas and be prepared to speak on them.

Run the product chat!

Here's how I like to run the product chat:

  1. Share my presentation with everyone via screenshare (we're a team split into two geographies—LA and San Francisco)
  2. Do a loose outline of the presentation, touching lightly on some themes I've already pre-identified
  3. Pull up the first product (not my own example), and just have the person who provided that one talk about what they liked or didn't like about it
  4. Invite feedback from other members of the group—what surprised them about that, whether they've used it, etc. You'll spend a bit more time on this first example to get everyone involved and thinking critically about it. You won't necessarily solicit feedback from everyone in future slides, but this is a great way to get folks involved from the beginning.
  5. About halfway through, present your own slide. The reason I don't go first is that I'm already leading the discussion and doing some brief framing at the beginning, so I want to avoid providing an exact template for how someone else should go about presenting theirs. By waiting until partway through the Product Chat, I can avoid that and have my portion seem like it's just another example—which it is.
  6. After everyone's presented, have them run through some themes themselves. What surprised them? What products are they eager to try? Do they see any connection to the product they're working on? Furiously take notes during this part.
  7. Thank everyone for participating and encouraging them to have an A-okay day.

Share the deck and your notes

Spend some time poring over the notes you took and making a bit more sense of them. This is maybe the most important part of the Product Chat, for you, the person leading it. Reorganize the slides, insert new ones providing new context for what follows ("as pointed out during the chat, the next few slides are all examples of products that ask you to rate your experience before moving on—something no one was particularly fond of because it required mode-switching"). Or even add other example products that weren't part of the original chat ("other examples of websites that have converted to the feed model embraced by social media sites are theonion.com, seeker.net").

This will help you, the product person, think more about what it all means and really see what lessons you can draw from it. And if there's nothing directly applicable at that time, it doesn't matter—you now have a complete deck with solid notes you can refer to later. We did our first product chat last year on user feedback, as a low-stakes way to get into product chats as a team. Initially, all it accomplished was to prove the format: everyone enjoyed the discussion, even as nothing in it would be directly applicable anytime soon. Now, however, we're drawing on those findings significantly to launch a new in-video survey product, one that helps viewers get what they're interested in and then gets out of the way.

Have you tried product chats? Do you have something similar at your company? We're always eager to tweak the format and try new things, so comment below with your experience!

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Get More Video Views with Prizma for WordPress 2.0

Prizma for WordPress is the quickest and easiest way to add high-quality video recommendations to your WordPress site. There's no better way to keep viewers on site longer, learn what kind of content they care about, and serve them than Prizma. And today, with the release of the biggest Prizma for WordPress update ever, that's easier than it's ever been. And it can get you way more video views.

Monetize, Analyze, and Recommend embedded videos like you never have

Before Prizma for WordPress 2.0, the typical process for adding a video to your WordPress pages looked like this: 

  1. Grab the embed code from YouTube
  2. Embed the video in your post
  3. Never make money on the video, or know how it performed, or even guarantee that the videos after that one were of the same careful selection and taste

With Prizma for WordPress 2.0, the first two parts of the process look very much the same, but now Prizma will automatically convert Youtube videos to the Spotlight format, which means you get:

  • Monetization with your own ad server or Prizma's own premium programmatic, to make money on previously unusable space
  • Analytics for on-page video plays you never had access to before, allowing you to answer questions like: "How many people actually watch the videos embedded on my pages?", "How much more do they watch?", and "What kinds of embedded videos perform well with my audience?"
  • More video views from recommendations via our extensive and high-quality Prizma Partner Network (or your own videos). Before, you couldn't guarantee that the next video played in a YouTube embed would be on-brand, high-quality, or relevant to your viewer. Because Prizma for WordPress 2.0 now automatically converts all YouTube videos to Spotlight, you get the best-in-class video-to-video recommendations that are Prizma's bread and butter, and the bump in video views that entails.

Anywhere you want it, that's where you need it

The original Prizma for WordPress plugin would display the Prizma widget on the spot on your page where our research and performance data suggested. Starting with version 2.0, however, partners have full flexibility in determining where on their pages the widget should appear. Every site is different, and now it's fast and easy to account for that!

And plenty of other fun updates

Version 2.0 features a cleaned up interface and better tips for best practices. A video engagement platform should make your life easy, delight your viewers, and most importantly, increase your video views. Prizma for WordPress 2.0 is the most streamlined, delightful, and video view-boosting version of the platform yet.

Not a Prizma partner yet?

Are there features you want in the next version Prizma for WordPress? Or maybe a plugin for your CMS? Sound off in the comments below!

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Make Your Videos Interactive with Prizma CTA

Introducing Calls-to-Action

An engaged viewer—one that actually watches your content—is one that's interested in what's happening in the video. Prizma helps ensure your viewers are seeing the right content exactly when they want to. And starting today, you can allow your most engaged viewers to act on their interest using Prizma Calls-to-Action.

Our research shows that in a given month, more than 50% of web users aged 18-44 use video to inform purchase decisions, and around 45% of web users report actually clicking interactive elements within those videos to act on them. Prizma CTA provides a way to build highly contextual CTAs for a variety of use cases—purchases, yes, but also Facebook likes, subscriptions, Twitter follows, and a number of others. Any content creator can engage their viewers better using Prizma CTA.

Prizma CTAs are designed to be contextual to the video. This means they need to be specifically associated with the videos for them to be meaningful to viewers. To be clear, Prizma CTAs are not advertisements in the traditional programmatic sense. They are instead opportunities to engage viewers in a very specific manner that is unique to the video. To better understand what that means, let's take a look at some examples.

Examples

Subscription page

Have a channel, service, or newsletter for viewers to subcribe to? After they've gotten a few seconds through the video, offer them the opportunity to subscribe to the specific content that's relevant to that video. To frame it differently, if you're Media Conglomerate X, you'll want your CTA to be for subscribing to Specific Show Y, not the Media Conglomerate X account. Best practice is to always serve the user a CTA that makes sense intuitively. 

Here's a Spotlight video from Wait But Why featuring a subscription button:

Product page

This is a video that describes a certain product. When the user reaches a certain point in the video, we're able to assume a level of interest (because they haven't yet skipped it). At this time, Prizma serves them a CTA linking to the product page that goes with the video. Rather than a genericized advertisement for a product like the one in the video, Prizma shows viewers a link to the exact product in the video. That's not an advertisement—that's a considerate convenience.

Here's a video outlining the Top of the Rockefeller Center tour, with a link to get tickets:

Twitter Follow

A particularly engaged viewer could, in fact, be a follower just waiting to be converted. Serving a CTA calling out the relevant Twitter profile is a great way to foster that relationship. Viewers that just want the content can stick around and watch the video, but viewers looking for more of what's going on in your video are given the resource they need to continue that research themselves. At its heart, CTA is about empowering viewers in a non-obstrusive way. (Read about Twitter's web intents—they're super easy!)

Here's a great Simpsons clip with a Follow CTA: 

A new approach to interactive video

Adding specific, contextualized calls-to-action to your video is a pretty different way from how most companies are thinking about making your videos interactive. Prizma CTA allows you to add buttons to your videos that are inherently respectful of your viewers.

The current surge in ad blocking demonstrates that web users want the respect of the sites they visit: they don't want to be tracked in ways they find creepy and don't agree to, they don't want their experience to be slowed down by bloated ad serving, and they don't want ads to be obtrusive and get in the way of their visual experience. 

Prizma Calls-to-Action are not advertisements. They are not designed to be. But they accomplish the same goal that any good ad should: they allow viewers to get closer to the things they care about.

We've outlined a few exciting use cases for CTA here, but they go on and on, and we're very excited for Prizma customers to use the feature to find new ways to engage their viewers. Here are some other ideas:

  • Article pages: if you're syndicating your videos, you don't know where it will appear. If you have a good article on the topic, you can link out to it. Hopefully you're also using Prizma's Video Discovery product on that page, so you can keep your viewer on your pages longer.
  • Polls: does your video content debate a hot-button issue? Link to a poll page on your own site so you can actually see how people are responding to the content.
  • Facebook fan or Instagram: have your viewers follow the personality featured in your video right from it! No separate searching required. 

And we're sure there's all sorts of other uses for it. As our customers start doing new and cool stuff with it, we'll post new examples on the blog. Any cool ideas you want to share? Sound off below!

Header image from this great Pardot post about crafting strong Calls-to-Action.

 

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Introducing Spotlight

Our customers love the quality of the content in the Prizma Partner Network and the ability to seamlessly add post-article recommendations to their websites. In the past, we have not provided tools for content creators to include top-notch, engaging content recommendations directly within their posts and articles. We're excited to announce a new format for embedding Prizma content and recommendations directly within your articles. It's called Spotlight.

You can play with it above—by default, a Spotlight video uses beautiful typography to put content front-and-center. Spotlight is designed to be friendly and inviting for your site's visitors, and easy for you to incorporate with your content.

Use Cases

Here are a some different scenarios where Spotlight is helpful:

  • Writing a post with several videos related to a topic and want to embed them in the same page: This format of post has grown quite popular on the Web, and Spotlight allows you to keep tracking performance across your library using Prizma's robust analytics while embedding multiple videos on a page.
  • Writing an article about a specific video you want to appear at the top of the page: Doing a write-up on a speech, a TV clip, or an interview? Spotlight enables you to add a video directly to your page and ensures continued engagement with your video content using our End Slate recommendations, which roll after a visitor finishes a video.
  • Embedding a product video somewhere on your site: While the Prizma grid, right rail, and single-row formats provide highly engaging motivation-based recommendations to your visitors, they don't allow you to guarantee which videos appear for your users. That's by design! However, that meant that before, you couldn't use Prizma at all if your page called for a certain video. Now, if you want to showcase a product, for example, you can use Spotlight to show that first video, and rely on our technology to recommend additional videos when the visitor finishes the first one.

Using Spotlight

If you're a WordPress user, you can embed videos in each post using Prizma for WordPress right from the post editor. Log into WordPress and update your plugin and you'll see the new feature.

  embed Spotlight videos directly from the WordPress editor

embed Spotlight videos directly from the WordPress editor

If you're not on WordPress, no worries! Embedding a video is still just a single JavaScript copy/paste, just as easy embedding a YouTube video. The full Spotlight documentation is here.

<script>prizma({
  partnerId: "foo",
  videoURL: "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqLGAtvnMLU",
  title: "Hooray for Everything"
});</script>

Don't have Prizma at all yet? Click below to get in touch and learn more.

Love Spotlight? Want to make it better? Comment below or email us at product at prizma dot tv.

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Prizma for WordPress

We're excited to announce a new way to add video content to your site for users of the popular WordPress content management system. The Prizma for WordPress plugin enables a simple plug-and-play experience for adding a Prizma widget to your site. If your site, like over 25% of destinations on the web, is powered by WordPress, this plugin is available to you today right here.

Fast and Simple

Install the plugin, enter your prizma partner id, and you're off to the races. Out of the box, there are no other settings you have to configure—your video recommendations will just work. Automatically, the widget pulls in the most engaging, relevant video content on every page where it appears, from your own library or the prizma partner network. (Not augmenting your library with our hand-curated partner library? You should be! Click here to learn more about becoming a Prizma distributor.)

Still Highly Customizable

Our plugin affords all the same options as our embed code does, but without requiring you touch any JavaScript at all! You can still determine exactly how and where your recommendations will appear with a simple interface—all within the WordPress CMS. You'll still view your analytics and export performance information from your Prizma Dashboard.

Using Prizma for WordPress you can:

  • Change fonts, borders, text sizes, and more with CSS
  • Determine whether your videos autoplay
  • Edit the default title above the prizma widget
  • Select which layout the widget should use
  • Determine whether recommendations should be shown in the main article area, the sidebar, or both

The best part of all? Even the master settings screen doesn't lock you into those choices. Have a page, such as "Contact Us," where maybe showing videos isn't desired? You can turn the widget off on just that page! Have a few posts that are holiday themed? You can use separate styling and language for the prizma widget on those pages on a case-by-case basis.

 These settings can be changed on a post-by-post basis, as well as set globally. Pictured in the upper-right on  a post by yours truly about the future of video .

These settings can be changed on a post-by-post basis, as well as set globally. Pictured in the upper-right on a post by yours truly about the future of video.

Constantly Improving

Prizma for WordPress is developed in parallel with the traditional Prizma product. As we create new layout options or other interface customizations, we'll let you know there are new updates to the Prizma for WordPress platform. Plus, because Prizma for WordPress separates how content looks from the rest of our technology, you'll automatically receive any updates we make to our patented recommendation engine or our powerful video player, without even pressing a button!

We're really excited about Prizma for WordPress and the straightforward way to engage your audience it makes possible. Still, we know there's more to do! Are there features you'd love to see in the next version? Sound off in the comments below, or shoot an email to product at prizma dot tv.

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