Member Profile: onQ Takes Audience Engagement to a New Level

Share |

So much of today's publishing emphasis tilts towards engagement. We're so busy now that six-second video ads are apparently the new rage. I just wrote about ways to keep engagement going after an event, and how Harvard Business Review is experimenting with audience engagement. Their Dear HBR: podcast works off of questions from the audience and is seeing growth.

A recent article on webinars on MemberClicks suggested that new formats may have to save the day there—suggesting pre-webinar surveys and Twitter polls. "The more involved people feel before the webinar, the more involved they'll want to get during the webinar," Callie Walker wrote.

SIPA member onQ is way ahead of all this. Their platform can transform static video and presentation media into dynamic, interactive experiences and—here's that word again—engaged conversations. Or in the words of CEO Jim Marshall, it humanizes the digital experience.

Marshall brings more than 40 years of enterprise-focused experience, leading high technology companies to profitability and market growth. "We are finding tremendous product-market fit and sense that onQ is the tip of the spear in leading a market disruption," he said recently.

In this Q&A, Marshall talks about today's experience-oriented culture and the importance of getting more engagement from your audience.

SIPA: How did this all start for you?
onQ CEO Jim Marshall: Let's go back awhile to 1975 where we would get 5 manuals to read and then a test on Friday.  Welcome to our tech company. That was when I was at Burroughs. Then 8 or 9 years later there was training [with] different types of content, including video.  We were still watching video on IPDA insular, but it was just watching, static, no participation, only consumption.

And then what happened?
I was at Apple and recall a bunch of articles about the increasing insular nature of people's existence. Social tries to connect everyone but that's limited. Apple tried Google glasses but that just had people bumping into each other. I recall thinking, "What's the in-between? We have all this video content, but why can't I make it more engaging for all these different groups." So that's what we do—fill in the gap between passive, one-way and AR/VR. We add a layer of collaboration and interactivity to existing video and other media. 

Makes sense—video is everywhere today.
Yes, and it can be done with participants all over world. For whatever the length of the session you're in, you're seeing emojis, comments, moment-by-moment reactions. Users can provide their thoughts and feelings not only through text, but also by video, audio or images. 

Can you give a more exact idea of engagement with onQ?
We can look at the data from a session and see that at the 1:36 spot engagement really went off the charts. What content was it then? ...We also allow the content provider or facilitator the ability to insert engagement points during the video. These are points in the content that they want to amplify or emphasize for deeper group discussion or learning with the viewing audience. 

How big is your staff?
A little over a year ago, we were at 6 employees. We now are over 30 and growing. 

You're working with the University of South Florida. Can you describe that partnership?
We're working with a team at USF to scientifically test and validate the efficacy of our scoring models and analytics, all based on peer-reviewed science related to audience engagement, sentiment and learning. We have a deep history with the university; it's one of the top research institutions in the country and their decision science department is outstanding. The dean there has taken a keen interest in onQ. 

That's exciting.   
The whole solution is vested in engagement and learning, and then it goes beyond that to all types of communication, feedback, entertainment and having an in-person experience from your computer or phone. Your audience has a voice—are you listening to it? We're getting a lot of interest, so the market appears to agree that we're on to something.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
If not, you're missing out on daily strategies, tips, profiles and case studies that can build your audience and increase revenue. To sign up, please contact Nevena Jovanovic.

Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…