Matt Prohaska is CEO of Open Book Video, an early-stage digital video ad network.
AdExchanger.com: Can you talk a bit about how Open Book Video was "born"? How is the company funded? And, what happened in your previous role at Smartclip?
MP: Open Book Video was born after hearing from publishers and advertisers that there was a strong desire for more transparency from their ad network buyers or sellers, respectively. We are forming new partnerships and relationships with each group to bring more visibility and confidence into each deal.
Open Book Video is privately funded right now and we've had several investors approach us so we ideally announce both funding partners and breaking profitability by the end of this year.
Regarding Smartclip, after a few months of solid traction at the company where I was running North America, what I wanted us to continue doing differed from the board and the inherited team. So we decided to part ways, and I wish them well.
The Open Book Video website says you're the "most transparent digital video advertising network." Beyond the marketing hype, what makes Open Book Video "transparent"? Will you provide site lists, for example?
Yeah a bit bold there, I know, but we are confident about the statement. Think of Doubleclick pre-DART, when they and several others in the late '90s were top-tier rep firms. That's closer to what we are than the typical ad network. So we don't just show a site list to an advertiser and say here's where you will "likely" be running, like those who actually do show a site list when requested. We show you what we offer property by property, and your media plan pre-sale and delivery report post-sale reflect exactly that. Advertisers tell us that no one does that today as completely as we do.
Who is in your network of video publishers today and what's your strategy for expanding?
We will be announcing our first 5-10 publisher partners in the next couple weeks, keeping in mind we just started talking to them about Open Book Video, so it's early but our message has been very well received so far. Our strategy is to catch up to others on reach quickly by staying short-tail and going deeper with bigger publishers for now vs. automating and going long-tail. If we execute, we should have competitive reach with far fewer partners, also making it easier for advertisers to know exactly where their ads are running.
What proprietary technology do you have? Or will you license technology? Ultimately, how will you differentiate?
Since it's so early for us on the tech front if you look at the usual corporate strategy options of buy/build/partner, we are certainly going to leverage what others have done very well independently and partner to scale with great services out of the gate. That's why we announced the Lotame deal for solid audience targeting, and we'll have our ad server and product development partners announced in the next week or two. There are many super companies already out there that are very established and/or looking for ways to scale their offerings by connecting with premium publishers and advertisers faster.
Can marketers bring third-party data to your network? How about other ad networks and DSPs - can they buy from you?
There is definitely a BYOD opportunity, since advertisers can buy us by property brand, content channel and/or audience. And our Lotame friends are critical to providing that audience segmenting very seamlessly. The pendulum is certainly swinging a bit to audience-specific buying but we feel the combo of contextual environment and audience targeting is the even bigger win. I don't think it has to be either/or. We've had a couple ad networks reach out already to buy from us and we certainly know where the DSPs have been doing a great job as well, mostly in display to this point. If our publisher partners want us to offer their inventory to those groups as well to help with fill rates, we'll do that and actually be transparent about it, though our main focus is working with agencies and advertisers directly.
Can you see video ad exchanges or marketplaces, such as those provided by Adap.tv and Bright Roll Exchange, as helpful in providing inventory to the Open Book Video network?
Perhaps but again it's a little outside the playbook just like selling to other ad networks is not what we're about at our core. I really respect what each company is doing, and as someone that ran sales for a fledgling ad exchange back in the day, I get the value for publishers and advertisers. We're just looking to provide a different service by offering publishers' inventory much more upfront and almost as an extension of their own in-house sales team.
A year from now, what milestones would you like OBV to have accomplished?
Here are 4 milestones that I would love to hit in 12 months:
- Be one of the most valuable video monetization partners to publishers collectively representing at least 100 million uniques in the US
- Have earned the right to be in the automatic consideration set of top 3 online video ad networks for all key agencies and advertisers
- Be planting seeds with publishers and advertisers for multi-screen and global initiatives
- Maintain our core values laid out from day one.
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