ViewLift also helps clients understand ad availabilities across set-top boxes and mobile apps.
SnagFilms’ own applications are mostly ad-supported, so it can plug in pre-rolls, mid-rolls and post-rolls where applicable. On some platforms like Roku, SnagFilms runs clickable video ads that direct users to tailored experiences.
"We were able to fully flesh out a business model through direct sales, programmatic sources, and some network relationships" working across various native environments, Kohn said. ViewLift feels it can help other media properties do the same. “It’s still early, but we’re excited about the prospects and opportunity that lies within platforms like Roku for programmatic.”
SnagFilms’ Storied Origins
ViewLift’s technology comes from eight years spent perfecting desktop video streaming with SnagFilms.
SnagFilms was co-founded as an online showcase for documentaries by AOL vet and investor Ted Leonsis and producer Rick Allen. It is backed by Steve Case, former chairman, CEO and co-founder of AOL, New Enterprise Associates, Terry Semel, Comcast Ventures and others, and his wife, Jean.
“Quite a number of millions of dollars" were put toward the ViewLift undertaking.
“We had very smart people on our board who said three years ago [that] this explosion of devices and platforms will only proliferate,” Allen told AdExchanger. “[Media companies] have to aim for ubiquity even if it’s a significant investment because you wont be able to predict what platform will succeed and you don’t want to make it hard for consumers to find you.”
Amassing An Audience
Consumer interest alone doesn’t mean premium content can survive unbundled, Allen said, drawing on his prior experience as president and CEO of the for-profit arm of the National Geographic Society (one project he spearheaded was the launch of the National Geographic Channel) and senior executive at Discovery Communications.
“If you think about the impact on a cable channel when you’re unbundled, it can be a scary thing for content creators,” he said. “ESPN knew that it could survive an unbundling, but [from my time at NatGeo] I knew any small cable channel was terribly afraid that the move in to a la carte (viewing/pricing) would destroy them.”
From the marketer’s perspective, the unbundling of content represents significant challenges in addressability as well. It’s easy to get caught up in shiny toy syndrome, Allen said, but the most basic question is: Can I aggregate enough of an audience to have the impact I want?
While a consumer may have myriad new choices in which to stream content, “the chance you have as a marketer or advertiser to miss a significant audience or new delivery or distribution channel goes up because you’re making fewer effective bets in fewer places because there's more consolidation of where the ad dollars are going and because it's simply easier for the media buyer to manage," Allen said.