True[X] President Pooja Midha: Not All Attention is Created Equal

Pooja Midha will speak on the future of TV measurement at AdExchanger’s upcoming Programmatic IO New York conference on Oct. 15-16.

Founded in 2007, true[X] was acquired by Fox in 2014 for $200 million. Its president, Pooja Midha, has hit the ground running since she assumed the role in March.

“I was a true[X] customer before I worked here” at Disney ABC Television Group, she told AdExchanger. “I got to see the impact the true[X] tech could have on our viewing experience. I believe the industry is hungry for innovation, and true[X] pushes viewing experiences forward.”

AdExchanger caught up with Midha to discuss true[X]’s product and its measurement vision.

What is true[X] for someone who might not be familiar?

We’re a tech company that builds attention-based video products for consumers today and where we see the consumer going tomorrow. We got our start building what we call “engagement ads,” which are immersive, interactive ads that give consumers a better experience and publishers and advertisers a better return.

We work primarily with premium long-form video publishers across all visual platforms, desktop, mobile and connected TV. Connected TV, in particular, is huge for us. We’ve had nearly 7X growth in the number of campaigns we’ve built for CTV just in this past year.

What does a true[X] ad look like?

Let’s say you’re streaming an episode of your favorite show on FX or A+E. At the start, you might see a choice card that would give you an option to remove all the commercial breaks in the stream if you’re willing to interact with a brand upfront for 30 seconds. Or you might be given a similar choice to remove all the remaining ads in a single commercial break. If you encounter that, that’s our technology at work.

How does that benefit the advertiser?

It’s true opt-in attention in a premium environment that is audible and viewable. And while we guarantee 30 seconds, we find people generally spend up to a minute in these experiences.  

Even though true[X] is owned by Fox, what’s your relationship with outside clients?

We work with broadcast and cable partners across the industry as well as gaming partners such as Twitch. That’s very integral to our success, that these solutions have scale behind them.

How have true[X]’s services changed over the years?

We’ve been working with brands to build experiences in the engagement unit. We’ve done games, product explorations, voice activations, quizzes. … We have an in-house studio we call the Ad Studio and they have built well over 10,000 engagement [units].

One new product is Uplift, the cross-platform brand-lift measurement and optimization suite that we’ve created.

What’s the idea behind Uplift?  

Measurement is a huge challenge in the industry. So much of what we rely on in measurement is outdated or deeply incomplete. The currency of today is impressions, but if you only focus on impressions, your strategy will always tilt in favor of reach, and generally low-cost reach.

Our philosophy is attention is not created equal. You have to consider reach alongside effectiveness and impact. The quality of attention matters.

At the end of the day, the biggest question the advertiser wants to know the answer to is, “Did it work?” And if you’re putting your advertisement in as many places as possible just hoping it gets seen, that’s not about capturing top-quality attention, which ultimately is what makes advertising work.

Interview edited for length and flow.

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