AdExchanger: The agency creates the ad for the brand. Who do you work with, and who handles the customization of the creative?
OREN HARNEVO: We work with the brand, and we work with a media agency on execution. The ads are usually for TV, so the creative agencies don’t play a big part. The creative team approves it, but we do the customization.
We take the original TV ad and change stuff: We’ll change the price, and [the information will] come off a feed. The technology takes different pieces and renders the media, so we’re left with hundreds of thousands of videos in the cloud.
Where do you get those data assets?
There are two types of data. One is more around content. We know what item is being sold at what price at every Toys ‘R’ Us across the country. We’re connected with brand SKUs and websites. We get data about prices from the brands.
We get audience data from a number of places. We take the transactional, CRM data from the brands. Who bought what? Our tech gets location data. From location, you get weather, closest dealers, you get the ISP. We also work with a lot of partners like eXelate and BlueKai to get demographics and generic data.
You have an initiative in which you go to CPGs and try to get shopper data directly from them. When did that start?
It was very early on. We can’t show you the right product if I don’t have the data. We can’t personalize without data.
Do you ever work with the Dunnhumbys of the world?
Dunnhumby specifically does not share data. They use it for themselves, if I’m not mistaken. But we’ll scrape the site, we’ll take catalog information and SKUs, connect with ShopLocal, which has a lot of information. Every brand does its own thing. Sometimes the agency controls the data. Land Rover, the agency has all the data. Marriott, the agency manages their [data-management platform].
How about mobile and cross-device?
We’re about 20% mobile. We take mobile data and connect it into an ID for a consumer, so I can find you in your laptop and on your phone too. We work with data partners to do that.
Who do you work with?
We work with a start-up. [Eyeview is currently in negotiations, and declined to identify the company.]
We take so many different sources and try to create a consumer-level identification, though everything is anonymous. This person is a sports enthusiast in this area, interested in this stuff. Now when we work with Walmart, we can match that audience with all the different Walmart offerings.
When you ask the brands for their data, what value proposition do you offer in return?
Very simple: We’re going to show you a clear lift in sales from the people who saw our ads versus those who haven’t, much more than any other data partner. We’re the only ones who use such granular data. That’s it. They know it lifts performance. They use it with display companies and search companies. They just don’t use it with video companies yet, because it’s still a TV-type sort of thing.
Nobody makes video work like display or search.
How does that work with big-ticket items like cars?
There’s a different metric there. There are a lot of buying signs that lead to an event. Eighty percent of people who walk into a dealership visit the site first. Site engagement – and that doesn’t have to be a click, clicks in video are bullshit – but in the next 10 to 20 days after seeing our ad, have you been to the site? That includes downloading a brochure or setting up a test drive. We have pixels we’ve implemented on the site.
Second is dealership arrivals. We’re partnering with Placed to see if someone saw our videos and came into the store.
What are your key verticals?
Auto, retail, travel and entertainment.
Because we’re doing something so brand engaged, we don’t work with pharma or finance. We have to develop vertically specific products. For entertainment, we measure how many more people added a show to their DVR. We’re doing “Gotham,” for example, a new show on Fox. We’re working with MediaStorm to tell you what channel, what time, when they left.
Don’t you guys also partner with TubeMogul and AOL?
Not really. AOL is more about premium sites, so we’re not really competing. If you want to advertise on the AOL [owned-and-operated station], we can still personalize the ads. TubeMogul doesn’t add value to us. We’re competing with them. It’s important for us to do the audience matching.
Say TubeMogul does a campaign for Land Rover. They’ll take the TV ad and buy 25 to 45. That’s what they do. We need to buy people we know something about. Hey, this guy is four miles from the store and he’s in-market. Let’s buy him and give him this message.
We are our own DSP.
I didn’t know you had a DSP component. I thought you were focused on targeting and customization.
No, we do it all. We choose the audience, run the creative and show it works. If you work with AOL, they’ll pick the audience. They’ll pick people who are not even close to dealerships. They don’t know anything about them and all that’ll happen is they’ll present an ad to someone we wouldn’t even buy. It’s important to pick people we know something about.
So how do you work with media agencies? Do they execute the buy?
What is “execute the buy?” Media buyers are not actually buyers. They’re signing on a brand, choosing the right partner, deciding what kind of audience to buy and when. They make the plan. Our technology executes on the plan according to their decisions. They want to say, “These kinds of people at this time with this messaging.” They determine the creative. Our technology executes on what they want. A media buyer might use TubeMogul the same way they’ll use us.
Did you build the DSP in-house?
In-house. We’ve had it since 2012. In 2011 and 2012, we had only the data and creative part. We didn’t have the media part.
But media buyers said, “I want to do Eyeview and run it in BrightRoll.” Eyeview would make the ads different for sports enthusiasts, for mothers, for males, for females, then BrightRoll bought everything, and nothing we planned worked. If we’re not choosing the audience, the performance doesn’t happen.
BrightRoll just bought demos. We buy people who’ve been to the dealer before. We have the brand’s data on who to buy. You have to buy this person for 10 bucks because I know if you give him this message, he’ll go to the store. We figured we needed that arm of control, and since then, performance grew like three times bigger.
AOL buys Adap.tv and Yahoo might be buying BrightRoll. How does it affect your business when publishers buy video platforms you’re competing with?
LiveRail, which Facebook bought, is one of our biggest partners. We buy inventory across LiveRail. Though they’re not a DSP, they’re more of an SSP [supply-side platform].
Adap.tv is more of a programmatic execution platform for the trading desks. TubeMogul is more for brands. But we’re not really head-to-head, though. We offer personalized advertising. You still might work with Adap.tv and AOL. You still might have some spend there. I don’t need to take everything. But none of them have personalization.
If we do go head-to-head, I don’t see any difference because of the acquisitions. BrightRoll is a maybe [in terms of whether it’ll be acquired]. TubeMogul is independent. Videology is independent.
Why is there a lack of personalization in video?
It’s very complicated to do this. You search for shoes, you’ll get a local New York shoe store. You open a paper, you’ll see a local ad. For video, to make an ad for every location is so expensive. And the execution is hard. You need to take the brand data, you have to coordinate with the agency, work with the creative agency, have all these people aligned, then execute it.
Do brands care about personalization in video, or do they just want video?
Both. They’re very excited about the idea of bringing TV to digital. First, they wanted viewable video with metrics they know. The smarter ones have done that. Now, let’s personalize. But it takes time to move in the cycle. But the ones that have already bought into it love it.
Are your clients brands or agencies?
Kind of both. We’re selling to some agencies, but I’m not an agency platform. My value is in sales and personalization, and therefore the value is for the brand, and the tools are for the agency. But the media is an extension of the brand. The media teams are there to execute a strategy that’s good for the brand.
If you’re the media buyer, you want a tool that’s simple and works. The brand’s goal is to sell more product. My product helps sell more. It doesn’t make your life easier as a media buyer. Some platforms, for example, like a TubeMogul or Adap.tv, are tools for the agency to be better, to work more effectively, buy in scale, to reduce costs. I’m more performance-generating.
If Eyeview doesn’t make a media buyer’s life easier, though it’ll help brands sell more, what’s your sales strategy? Do you go to the media agencies, or do you go to a brand and say, “Tell your media agencies about this.”
Both. Good media buyers think of the brand first. They see something the brand will like, they take it in. Sometimes, we have better access with the media agency, or the brands say, “Talk to the agency.” Other brands love it and tell their agency.
Is programmatic TV ever going to happen?
When that happens, I’m having a party. I think that starts opening up in 2016. Our vision: By 2018, we personalize a Super Bowl ad