Amir Ashkenazi is CEO of adap.tv, an online video advertising marketplace.
AdExchanger.com: Let's start with a bit of background. Has adap.tv always been a video ad exchange or marketplace? You've been around for a while, correct?
AA: Yes. We developed Adap.tv OneSource, ad serving and management platform, that is being used currently by hundreds of publishers. We literally were wiring the ecosystem in a world that lacks standards and innovating very frequently on formats. We realized that the monetization of video is just extremely difficult without the right technology platform, so we decided to develop exactly that. In the process, we also learned that technology, or the wiring, is only half of the problem. The second half is actually in the process of buying and selling.
When you get two or three calls a week from buyers looking for more inventory, and we have almost daily conversations with publishers looking for more revenue, you understand that something does not work.
So we decided to take another step in solving the video monetization problem and develop the ideal marketplace for video buyers and sellers.
Are you concerned about others, such as Google, jumping in the space? Yahoo and Google have significant display ad exchange models, couldn't they just swoop in and grab your advertisers and publishers?
Can demand‑side platforms effectively manage cookie databases such that their display inventory can be mapped to the video inventory that they're buying? And if not, when, and how do we get there?
Absolutely. Demand‑side platforms are important in the evolution of media buying. And we are working with many of them, with plans to integrate all of them, to provide them with access to video inventory.
We provide APIs that allow them to access the publisher inventory and give them all the capabilities they need when it comes to targeting. So we found interest and great partnerships with many of them.
How do you expect the IAB's VAST standard to impact your business? If it didn't exist, would an ad exchange be possible for video, or a marketplace be possible for video?
Standards are very important, and we support all the VAST and VPAID standards. But, the thing is that those are the early days of video advertising, and we see rapid innovation coming from ad networks and ad agencies that cannot be captured immediately in those standards. This is why we think that having the platform across hundreds of publishers is giving us an advantage and making us uniquely positioned to provide trading platforms for buyers and sellers in video.
Are you thinking right now, for the marketplace, that initially it's going to be about buying and selling pre‑roll, but down the road it's in‑stream and other formats as well?
Yes. Our platform is extremely flexible, and very quickly we adapt to any format buyers want to buy and sellers agree to sell. So we are probably not going to be the innovators when it comes to formats, but we will quickly adapt our marketplace to those leading formats.
What do you tell video publishers who are concerned their CPMs are going to drop through the floor as your marketplace gets traction?
We actually believe CPMs will go up. This is a supply‑constrained environment, and what's keeping prices and overall monetization down is the friction in the process. So the fact that we open for sellers a world of opportunities, while keeping them in control ‑ control over pricing, control over the buyers they work with, even control over the campaigns they allow in, control over the way their inventory is presented in the market ‑ you take it all, together with the fact that buyers can now easily access a large pool of inventory, applying their own targeting data, and I think what you'll see is buyers finding online in‑stream video to be more extensible, more easily bought and, therefore, I believe they'll spend more. And as an industry, that's our goal.
What are video ad networks looking for these days when they work with adap.tv?
Ad networks like the immediate access to a large pool of inventory. They like the transparency and control that they get when buying through the platform. And they like the ability to bring their own targeting ‑ targeting data and algorithms.
Do you see audience buying in the marketplace today? Also, do you see a need for an understanding the content being viewed?
Yes. We definitely see an increase in using audience targeting, but within publisher or content‑quality constraints. So it's not the wild west of "Let's find this viewer, wherever he is." It's "Let's find the viewers within the context we feel comfortable with."
What sort of bidding parameters do you offer?
Buyers and sellers get up‑to‑the‑second information about market conditions. It is aggregated, it does not expose individual buyers and sellers, but it gives them the information and the tools that they need to make smart decisions.
From the publisher’s perspective, the market opens for publishers a stream of offers that is not on their radar screen. Even large publishers cannot be in front of every buyer and have every buying opportunity presented to them.
By opening it up, you basically gain visibility to the value of your site and the value of the content.
As noted in the Ad Age article the buying that is done is not in real time today. And if that is true, it is not real time, then how can a buyer truly see who the audience is, as in look at the cookie and in real time decide what to bid? How does that work?
Let me explain. We do facilitate now real time buying; not yet real time bidding, but real time buying. Meaning the buyer can make a buy or no‑buy decision in real time, given the cookie data and additional information about the view.
At some point, will real time bidding be a part of the marketplace, or is it even necessary?
I think the real innovation is not so much the real-time versus delayed. It is more about allowing buyers, whether those are ad networks, or demand side platforms, to leverage their targeting capabilities across a large number of publishers.
Softball for you -what do you think about online video as an opportunity for brand dollars?
Online video advertising is the Holy Grail. It combines the power of TV advertising with the interactivity, measurability and sophisticated targeting of online advertising. We are excited about our part in pushing this industry forward.
When you look back a year from now and see what has happened with Adap.tv's marketplace, what might a few key milestones look like?
I think in Adap.tv, and many of the other companies that work in this space are actually focused on growing the pie. It is not so much about the competition with other companies right now. It is about making online video scalable, effective marketing vehicle for the leading brands.