Interview with Co-Founder and CEO, Playable – Bob Hitching

Bob Hitching from Playable discusses the scope of data democratization in video advertising optimization and AI acting as a catalyst in this art to science conversion!


“Two big trends we see in mar-tech are data and democratization “

1. Tell us about your role at Playable?
Hello my name’s Bob and I’m good with computers. I work with Playable customers – marketers who want to improve their video marketing – and partners in the US. I’m the tech founder, so I built the first version of the product and help better engineers delete my code. I’m the CEO so I try to remove obstacles from the road before they block the rest of the team. And we’re just entering week #5 of the lockdown in California so I help my kids with their remote schooling.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I’m a video-tech guy. My previous company – Incoming Media – optimized video delivery over cellular networks, using lots of data, and machine learning.
Now, Playable optimizes the video content itself, use lots of data, and AI.
About 3 years ago I met the investors who’d been growing a portfolio of video-tech and email-tech patents. We tested a product concept and quickly won some early customers, so we decided the timing was good to build a business around those patents. That’s now Playable, the leader and pioneer in data-driven video marketing.

3. How do you think technology is upgrading marketing sector?

Two big trends we see in mar-tech are data and democratization.

Marketers have been using data such as personalisation, purchase histories, recommendation engines and A/B testing for years already. What we’re seeing coming over the horizon is new datasets being used to assist new parts of the marketing value chain. For example, Playable uses engagement data – clicks on videos in emails, or downstream checkout conversion data – mixed with data from computer vision analysis of video content, to learn what sort of video content works best.

Democratization of video marketing also uses that new data of what works best, plus AI to automatically create video content for marketers, and tools to empower marketers to quickly and easily adjust those videos without needing to hire their own videographers and data scientists.

4. How has use of videos empowered marketing as well as advertising professionals?
Video is the most effective content type. Our brains love video. We remember 90% of video content, compared to only 10% of text or images. Video engages, emotes, excites, surprises and inspires audiences, and drives more response.

And email is the marketing channel with the highest ROI, because it’s permission-based. Playable also loves email because it provides lots of data that can be used to work out what video is engaging who, where and when. That data can be used to improve the video content itself.

Video and email are both awesome, but they have never played very well together, until now. Building on those patents that I mentioned earlier, Playable has cracked the code of playing high quality video within all the major email clients.

5. How does your Video Email Marketing solution helps in making email marketing more efficient?
Playable works as a plugin to all the leading email systems – Mailchimp, Salesforce, Oracle Bronto, SendGrid, Emarsys, Iterable, Kaviyo, Adobe, etc. – so customer data stays safely where it is already, and marketers don’t need to change much to enjoy the benefits of video marketing.

Playable allows any video – uploaded from a computer, downloaded from Youtube or Instagram or Tik Tok, or chosen from the stock video libraries of Shutterstock or iStock by Getty Images – to be added to any email marketing campaign.

The combination of video plus email results in more engagement and more clicks. People buy more stuff.

6. What are you predictions about the future of video marketing?
More data and AI will be applied earlier in the value chain, to algorithmically create content, and constantly refresh that content to keep audiences engaged And this will be available to all marketers, large or small.

Imagine a marketer answering a few questions about her product and audience and subscribing to a service that automatically generates compelling video marketing content for her business, continually tests different versions of that content, and continually refreshes those videos based on the data of what is working best.

7. What features of your social media ads differentiates it in the market?
Our social media ads are generated by algorithms using computer vision analysis of what works best.

8. What advice would you like to give to the technology Start Ups?
Right now, my advice to startups is to Wash Your Hands properly, using the technique recommended by the World Health Organization.

9. What is the Digital innovation in sales technology according to you that will mark 2020?

A lot of sales activity will be focussed on simply surviving 2020, rather than adopting radically new digital innovations.

COVID-19 looks likely to accelerate the end of sales conferences, business travel generally, and the need for sales executives to “press the flesh”.

So my hunch is that 2020 will be remembered as the year that Zoom and other video conferencing technologies became the preferred way to close a sale.

Innovators may take note that the barrier for AI-powered sales agents has been lowered in 2020.

10. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
We’ve buried our guns in the Mojave desert, and we talk to the kids about what jobs might still exist when they are older. Probably not Video Editor or Sales Executive as we currently know those.

One aspect of an AI-Centric world that I’m looking forward to is fully autonomous vehicles. The positive impact on productivity, and on work/life balance, will be massive, comparable to the remote-first working that hopefully emerges once we’re through COVID-19, and most of all it means I will never have to go to the DMV again.

11. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
Thanks for asking that! One development I’d like to mention here is the free hand-washing videos that Playable has made available for any marketer to add to their email campaigns.

Telling people to wash their hands for 20 seconds while singing Happy Birthday was a good start. Next, and for a long time even beyond COVID-19, we need to educate people on the way to wash your hands properly, as recommended by the World Health Organization.

This is best done using video, and the video is available here for free –
We’re also building! Stay tuned for data-driven video creation and optimization for e-commerce stores.

12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
We are a small team of quality over quantity! Most of the team have been through multiple startups and have their own dataset of experience about what works and doesn’t work, and we all support each other with that experience.

13. What movie inspires you the most?
It’s A Wonderful Life

14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
Live shot of the workplace –

15. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone
“Inbox zero” fail –

Bob Hitching is CEO and co-founder of Playable, the leader and pioneer in data-driven video marketing. He has been a tech entrepreneur since my childhood of coding and selling computer games.

Playable is the leader in Video Marketing Optimisation. We use AI to change video marketing from an art into a data science, increasing video engagement and ROI by up to 10x for customers such as Warner Bros., Foxtel, Uber, ASICS and Red Bull. Starting with video email marketing because of its superior ROI and massive upside, and now adding social and web and mobile app channels. Partners include SendGrid, Mailchimp, Salesforce and Emarsys who together send over 50 billion opt-in marketing messages per month. AI stack includes computer vision, expert videography systems and machine learning, working together to algorithmically remix video content for optimal audience engagement.
For more information please visit our Website.

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