Smartclip’s Prohaska Discusses Company’s Video Ad Network Model

Former AOL Vice President Matt Prohaska was recently hired as CEO of North America by Smartclip, an online video ad network. Read the release.  How would you characterize Smartclip’s online video advertising network business model?  Is it like a site rep firm?

MP: It certainly is. Old-timers like me and many of our publisher and advertiser partners remember what DoubleClick was like pre-DART, as the top rep firm in the display space in the late ’90s.  Smartclip is positioned to be a bit more old-school like DoubleClick was by working with pubs and marketers fundamentally different than other U.S. video ad networks in several ways. First, we are additive to an in-house sales team, not combative. Second, we work with exclusive inventory (or semi-exclusive with their in-house sales team) from almost every publisher we have on the roster today. Third, we provide transparency to buyers around where ads are running and analytics to know what is working and not working in meeting their objectives. We certainly leverage more than just our solid sales team, such as our proprietary tech and partnership with Eyewonder, to provide value to publishers. But we are not in the business of simply arbitraging inventory in a black box and cutting checks to publishers with few insights as to how that revenue was driven and earned.

In conversations with publishers who have available video inventory, how do you convince them that you will not create a conflict with their direct sales channel?

We fundamentally do not start conversations with advertisers by saying, “We can get you on premium site X but $1.00 CPM cheaper!” That doesn’t help anyone long-term in providing real value. We carve out inventory appropriately so everyone knows who has what and communicate actively with white/black client lists if needed to protect against conflicts. Many of us have worked at top publishers before so we understand and respect their position in this dynamic ecosystem of online advertising. We just want to make sure Smartclip is a video partner that is helping drive revenue and creating solid experiences for their audiences and our marketers.

Smartclip is late to the game in the U.S.  How can you compete with more established players in the U.S. online video advertising market?

There are two major reasons why we can compete against the major players in this space: First, if you remember, Google was “late” to the game on paid search, and has been doing pretty well, from what I hear. 😉 That said, second-mover advantage can exist in any business and we think in our space as well, since it’s so early in the evolution of digital video. Second, since we were founded in Germany and have offices doing very well across Europe including France, there is the cheesy analogy I’ve been using internally.  I feel like we’re racing in the Tour de France, starting about five stages late (since we’re only five months old in the U.S.), but have been blessed with driving a BMW instead of riding a bike. The fuel comes from the momentum we have globally thanks to more than two years of success throughout Europe. This should help us catch up here in the U.S. if we pick the right partners and communicate and deliver the right value propositions efficiently and effectively. This is just my fourth week on the job and we’re looking at a major pipeline of new partnerships and customers and seeing some great results in a very short time.

By John Ebbert

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