Podcast: Optimizing The Upfront Buy

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Two-year-old startup VideoAmp aims to help marketers unify the planning of their video campaigns across digital, mobile and TV.

It’s a gnarly data science problem, as the company’s 25-year-old CEO, Ross McCray, makes clear in the latest episode of AdExchanger Talks.

“When you have four people in a house – family or roommates – just because a TV is on does that mean someone watched it? What we found was 20% of the time they’re in the vicinity,” he says.

To address this particular pitfall, the company uses location data to suppress measurement of audiences who aren’t home when an ad or program is on. It’s just one example of the company’s engineering-focused approach.

McCray believes VideoAmp’s long-term opportunity lies in automating ad decisions for media negotiated and purchased during the all-important TV upfront season.

“These agencies and brands will get a large amount of units – it can be 10,000 in a given month,” he says. “Some brands will have sub-brands, and within those sub-brands will have different types of campaigns. How do you take your 10,000 units and allocate it accordingly? There’s no software that exists to do that.”

In this half-hour discussion, McCray also describes the company’s intense culture and work ethic, the current fund-raising environment and the market forces forcing more accountability on ad tech providers.

“If you’re going into any investor with an ad network or an arbitrage model … well, everyone’s caught onto that,” he said. “Founders and other companies that are still on those models don’t have a chance, and frankly they deserve to die because they’re not adding value.”

But, he adds, “Companies that are really working hard to provide software, companies that are being transparent … and enabling the marketers and media owners to have more value in the marketplace, there’s definitely appetite for that.”

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