TechBytes with Josh Pressnell, CTO at Penthera

TechBytes with Josh Pressnell, CTO at Penthera
TechBytes with Josh Pressnell, CTO at Penthera

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at Penthera.

Penthera’s mission is to allow viewers to watch the video whenever and wherever they want. We provide Software Products that facilitate the delivery of Video content over wireless networks to mobile devices.

Our platform enables our customers to remove the friction that users experience due to network and connectivity issues, by ensuring that the content they want to watch is available locally on their device and is consumable in high quality and without an internet connection. Penthera has been focused on the challenges mobile customers experience when consuming video for nearly a decade.

How have Video platforms and technology evolved in the last 18 months?

For quite some time, it was enough for video and media companies to compete entirely on content. Individual content owners have been transitioning into a world where delivery is highly distributed. The traditional content aggregators (cable and digital TV services) still exist, but it’s become standard operating procedure, and expected in the marketplace, for content owners to offer their own content as a subscription service. Now, it’s possible to subscribe to highly targeted niche content directly from the people that create it.

This represents a unique opportunity for companies that may not traditionally have seen themselves as “streaming video” companies. Companies in the health and fitness space have recognized this and have begun offering curated workouts, yoga sessions, and more to their customers via video streaming services. Field Sports companies, frequently relegated to unknown cable channels, are now offering compelling user experiences directly to their customers. This shift in the way users expect to access content is driving tremendous opportunity for any company with a passionate user base and video content that those users want to engage with.

It’s not enough, anymore, to just offer the right content. More and more, users are expecting the user experience they get with that content to be compelling as well  Features, such as Download2Go, which were once dismissed by Netflix and other industry leaders, are now industry standards. It’s important for companies who want to meaningfully engage with their users to consider the full user experience and to provide features that make engagement with their content as friction-free as possible.

We’re beginning to see shifts towards this direction. Netflix recently released a new feature, which they called “Smart Downloads”, that automatically keeps new content available locally on a user’s device as older content is watched. As more users become accustomed to interacting with video as part of their daily lives, the companies that innovate and bring more creative user experiences into the market will emerge on top.

What are the highlights of your current technology roadmap in streaming and mobile video? 

For years we were focused on perfecting our mobile video download solution. Now we’re taking that technology and using it as a foundation to develop new products that remove friction and improve the user experience. Earlier this year we launched mobile download for AVOD, the first product in the market that lets ad-supported video providers offer their users offline viewing. It’s similar to our flagship Download2Go product, which is used by subscription-based services like Showtime, Starz, and CBS All Access. Working with ad platforms like Google, Freewheel, and SptoX, our solution attaches ads to downloaded videos and refreshes the ads regularly, so that when a user ultimately watches the downloaded content, the ads are always current and monetized.

In recent months, we’ve released several additional solutions as well: Fastplay, which eliminates startup buffering from the streaming experience, Dispatch for Marketers, which helps brands leverage video in their mobile apps, and Subscriptions, which lets users have their favorite episodic content automatically download to their phones (similar to the Smart Downloads feature I mentioned earlier).

What do marketers need to know about the streaming and mobile video opportunity?

Video is becoming a part of people’s everyday lives, particularly in younger generations. Kids don’t follow step-by-step guides to learn about their world anymore. They look up video tutorials. Plus, nobody pays attention to banner ads or click-through ads that just get in the way. But there is an opening in this new connected world for brands to communicate with their most loyal customers in an ongoing and meaningful way.

When marketers can identify the means to have a conversation with someone without getting in the way of good user experience, engagement with your content will rise, which will directly contribute to brand loyalty. Today’s consumers hate ads, but they are open to hearing from you if you can give them a valuable reason to listen. Penthera’s platform is designed to help you communicate with your customers.

How can Penthera’s product strategy transform the way modern brands use video to market

As consumers are on their mobile devices more and more, marketers are coming to realize that mobile is the best place to reach both new and loyal customers. That’s why so many brands now have mobile apps. Penthera’s products make it easier for consumers to engage with video on mobile, and we’ve actually created a product specifically for brand marketers, called Dispatch, that helps them leverage video in their mobile apps. This solution lets brands download videos to users’ devices and send push notifications about the content. Then, by removing the network from the equation, we allow customers to access that content no matter where they go.

Are you an outdoor recreation company? Deliver relevant videos about the latest equipment that can be watched out in the wilderness. Are you a health and fitness company? Deliver specialized workouts that customers can access at the gym or hotel, where connections are notoriously sparse. People these days always have their phones with them, but they don’t always have a strong connection. We help brands give their customers value in ways they weren’t able to before, so they’ll stay engaged and keep coming back for more.

How do you analyze the performance of your solutions for your clients and partners, to ensure you are positively impacting their business outcomes? 

We provide our clients with in-depth reporting on how our solutions are performing in their app. In terms of business outcomes, we take a customized approach to how we view the data based on various clients’ priorities. For example, some clients are more interested in seeing growth in the number of users who are downloading video across their subscriber base each month. Others prioritize looking at how frequently the average user is downloading videos. There are many other metrics that can be used to gauge success depending on an individual provider’s unique business goals.

What exciting developments or trends do you see in the next few years in the streaming and mobile video space — particularly relevant for those looking to better monetize or market?

I think the increasing popularity of ad-supported video is particularly exciting. With so many media companies releasing new subscription-based services, the OTT industry is starting to see really intense competition. There’s a prediction that users are starting to get subscription fatigue, and will only pay for a limited amount of content. AVOD presents a more consumer-friendly revenue model, as they can get free content (or discounted) in exchange for ad-viewership. That’s why we’re so excited about our Download2Go for AVOD solution. Plus, according to conservative estimates, a download feature can bring in a quarter of a million dollars in additional revenue each month for providers.

I’m also interested in seeing how video’s growth is continuing to expand to new verticals. As I said earlier, video content is no longer being produced solely by media companies, and you’re now seeing huge video programs from education, brands, CME, health, travel, and other industries. This is not only diversifying the video content available to viewers but also showing how video is revolutionizing how companies are reaching and engaging with consumers.

Joshua Pressnell is the Chief Technology Officer at Penthera PartnersJoshua Pressnell joined Penthera after a long career as a military contractor developing integrated sensor systems and standards.

Pressnell brought extensive experience in embedded systems, signals intelligence, sensor data fusion, and real-time software to the mobile software development industry, and quickly built a stellar reputation as an independent developer of top-ranked and top-grossing iOS mobile apps. Pressnell joined Penthera in 2011 as the iOS Team Lead, eventually taking on the role of Director of Engineering, and now Chief Technical Officer.

penthera logo

Penthera is on a mission to transform how the world accesses mobile video. By focusing on making video friction free and discoverable, we ensure audiences can view all kinds of video content how, when, and where they want it.

If you’ve ever watched video content on a mobile device, we have probably helped you. Founded in 2005, Penthera is an international software company that develops and deploys software products that facilitate the delivery of video content for global video content providers.

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