Conversational Media, Emoji And DEI With Holler CEO Travis Montaque

Travis Montaque spills the tea.Emoji have entered the lexicon.

Two of Holler CEO Travis Montaque’s favorites are the upside-down smiley face and the dizzy face with spiral eyes, new on iOS 14.5. He breaks out the latter “when I’m on Zoom calls for six hours.”

Although there was a time when emoji might have seemed like a facile, even trivial shorthand for expression, over the years they’ve become a visual language all their own – one that brands can use, along with GIFs, stickers and other forms of what Montaque calls “conversational media” to reach people in messaging apps and other intimate settings.

“Communicating with others is a key part of being human,” Montaque says on this week’s episode.

Holler uses AI technology to understand the context of a message in real time, so brands can make relevant content suggestions. A beer brand, for instance, can sponsor the sticker that pops up when someone pays a friend back for drinks over Venmo. A sports apparel brand could pop up with customized emoji when someone searches for football or basketball in a camera app.

With the death of the cookie and digital consumption on the upswing, “marketers have been looking for new ways to engage consumers,” says Montaque. “And a big part of their digital experience, especially [on mobile], is sending messages.”

Also in this episode: Montaque talks about co-founding Group Black, a media collective and accelerator formed this summer that’s focused on the advancement of Black-owned media properties.

“We saw a lot of energy and enthusiasm against solving the problem and driving equity in the form of commitment,” Montaque says. “But what I was concerned about was when I talked to black publishers and creators and other media brands that are black-owned – they were not seeing any of these dollars.”

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