Founded in the Netherlands in 2008, international music video platform XITE recently took a big step into the U.S. market by launching an all-new interactive streaming service on Comcast Xfinity X1. In addition to X1 customers, XITE reaches more than 16 million homes across Europe, Canada and the Middle East through linear and 4K music channels and an interactive service available on set-top boxes.
XITE aims to offer the best music video experience in the world, delivering the full catalog of music videos from every major and top independent labels, as well as curated and personalized channels and features.
We recently sat down with Cees Honig, chief revenue officer of XITE, to learn more about the evolution of traditional TV and OTT, how XITE approaches data activation, and what the company’s future holds.
So, XITE was founded back in 2008 — over a decade ago now. How did the original idea for XITE come about? What gap did you see in the industry that you felt could be filled with a channel like XITE?
Our founder and CEO Derk Nijssen came up with the idea. He saw an opportunity to create a new product that was focused entirely on music videos — the best way to experience and enjoy music videos in the world — and a user engagement that was somewhere between the lean-back experience of linear TV and the on-demand experience of searching for music videos online.
In the past decade, XITE has grown quite a lot and expanded from the Netherlands to Belgium, German, Qatar, and Canada. Why did you decide to expand into the United States next, and what does the future hold for your global expansion?
The U.S. is the biggest and most advanced entertainment market in the world, and obviously a driver of music and culture globally. We have always had a launch in the U.S. in our minds and right now seemed to be the perfect time for two reasons.
One, there’s really no service that is purely dedicated to and celebratory of music videos first and foremost — you’re either going to much bigger and broader video platforms or music streaming services that are more focused on audio. And, two, with the proliferation of OTT platforms, there are more opportunities in terms of partnership than there ever have been as well as fast-growing advertiser demand for OTT opportunities. Next? World domination.
Since XITE has been around for a while now, what are your thoughts on the transformation of traditional TV and the massive growth of OTT video globally? What challenges and opportunities has XITE experienced?
What are some of the biggest challenges that media owners, like XITE, face when it comes to audience data collection and privacy?
I think it’s keeping that balance between the functions we offer and privacy. We strive to offer a superior level of interaction and to create a personalized feeling when using XITE, and that goal has informed many of the ways we’ve evolved the product. But we are very respectful of our user’s privacy and always err on the side of caution when it comes to how we think about collecting and applying insights from user data.
How does XITE gain a deep understanding of its audience, and why is that so important to your business model?
It starts by looking at how an individual user interacts with content — what artists, videos, channels, and genres they like. Through machine learning, we apply those insights and everything we know about the XITE audience overall to deliver the right videos and playlists at the right time.
The experience is unique for every user, and each user helps us cultivate a better understanding of our audience overall. We look at everything from time of day to duration of viewing to type of device in creating the best possible experience around music videos. That’s how we’ve built a loyal audience that uses XITE consistently.
We employ a similar process with our advertising, using machine learning to deliver relevant advertising to each user. Brands who work with us know that they are connecting with highly engaged consumers at XITE.
How would you describe your ever-growing audience, and how is XITE helping brands reach this audience through targeted advertising?
The XITE audience is connected, culturally aware, and — of course — big into music videos. Our audience also includes young adults who, as brands know, can be tough to reach and even harder to persuade and activate through traditional media.
Finally, what advice do you have for advertisers about leveraging the right data to reach their ideal audience?
Data can be overwhelming. There’s certainly no shortage of advice out there about how to use it. From our perspective, the best data isn’t about tonnage, but quality.
When advertisers want to bring their own first-party data to a campaign, we work with them and bring our own data to the table to refine segmentation and targeting. Additional third-party data can be helpful, but we work to ensure that those data sets compliment the baseline rather than adding an entirely new dimension.
We’re in the business of growing awareness, familiarity, and consideration for our brand partners. But it’s important to recognize that sometimes over-targeting with data can be limiting. It’s a fine line, but one we’re having success in surfacing unique audiences and serving campaigns in tailored, effective ways — across categories xranging from CPG to lifestyle to beer and spirits.
Click here to learn more about the partnership between XITE and SpotX.