There’s no point in being a me-too solution.
That notion is what prompted ConvertMedia to evolve itself from a display network to a supply-side platform focused on outstream video about two years ago. It was also a main driver behind ConvertMedia’s decision to sell to content rec engine Taboola this summer.
Once the ink was dry on the deal – the agreement closed at the end of August – ConvertMedia shut down its legacy display exchange business. The focus now is on helping Taboola develop high-impact video experiences that strike the right balance between good user experience and publisher revenue.
“There were two main challenges on the display exchange side, even though we were growing nicely,” said Yoav Naveh, co-founder and former CEO of ConvertMedia, and now the VP of video at Taboola. “One, we felt that the type of customers in the exchange weren’t, shall we say, the leading publishers, and two, there were already a lot of great display platforms out there. We were a little late in that sense, coming after the Rubicons of the world.”
The exchange model was also just a lot of work. ConvertMedia vetted each and every company on its exchange in an effort to keep out shady characters.
“Ad tech can add data and efficiency by sitting in the middle, but programmatic has also created a world where it’s easy for bad actors to do bad things, so it’s up to the exchange itself to build a safe environment,” Naveh said. “We spent a lot of time doing that, but we realized we wanted to do more for publishers, something more innovative than creating a clean environment they can trade in.”
That’s what Naveh is hoping for with the ConvertMedia/Taboola union. His new job puts him in charge of all things video at Taboola, and the first order of business will be about plucking the low-hanging fruit – plugging ConvertMedia’s tech into Taboola’s supply so publishers can add outstream video to their pages.
That part’s already done. According to Naveh, the integration process is complete. The more long-term plan will involve using data to personalize the experience.
“Video is high-impact, but the reality is that not everyone in the world likes watching videos online, and we need to provide the right experience for different types of people,” Naveh said. “We see ourselves as a discovery company. The world is changing from a place where people search for things they know exist to a world where we need to find the right time to provide users with new content we think they’ll be interested in.”
But outstream isn’t always synonymous with a good user experience, and users don’t always take kindly to sudden ad intrusions in an article they’re trying to read. And the scarcity of high-quality video inventory combined with buyer demand is leading some publishers down the primrose path to high CPMs – and bad UX.
The way a lot of publishers treat video today is a sort of hangover from what desktop display turned into.
“It was a race to the bottom because publishers needed more money. So, they added more banners, which led to more clutter and less attention,” Naveh said.
With video, though, less can be more, he said.
“Publishers need to show fewer ads and make more money, and video is actually a good opportunity to do that because it’s something advertisers really want and they’ll pay more for it,” Naveh said.
But that had to be done in a controlled environment. Videos shouldn’t appear on every page and they shouldn’t play 100% of the time.
“Publishers should only show a video when they’ve found the right user an advertiser is willing to pay for,” Naveh said. “It’s OK to show a user something that’s high-impact. The point is not to do it too many times.”