Mark Redgrave is Founder & CEO of OpenAmplify, an online advertising technology company.
AdExchanger.com: How did your experience at an agency (HHCL Group in London) prepare you for running OpenAmplify?
MR: I was lucky to work under some really brilliant client services and creative teams on some of the world’s most important brands. I learned to listen. I learned how to think strategically and tactically. I learned how to engage with people and how to focus on the end-game. All very useful skills when you are running your own business.
Who is OpenAmplify’s target market? And, please describe your revenue model? Any plans for a white label version?
OpenAmplify packages $15M of patented Natural Language Processing technology into one beautifully simple API. We deliberately created OpenAmplify as an open web platform as its potential applications are huge and we wanted to make our technology accessible, efficient and usable. Today, many of our customers, partners and users are in the digital media space. We have publishers, ad networks, agencies and brands all using OpenAmplify to better understand content that’s being created on the web. In the near future, we will no doubt see OpenAmplify used in the search, CRM, homeland security and mobile markets, to name just a few. In all instances, the basic revenue model is the same: we charge per transaction and the cost of those transactions depends on the required speed and depth of the analysis you require.
What is your view on ad exchanges? How will they affect OpenAmplify?
Ad exchanges will become a fundamentally important part of the digital media landscape. The concept of an open and transparent trading platform connecting advertiser and publisher is both wonderfully simple and utterly compelling. The exchange wave is coming. And when it does, we believe there is a huge role for OpenAmplify to play in 1) the advanced categorization of content, and 2) the targeting and segmentation of users and content in the exchange. We anticipate OpenAmplify being made available as a value-add to both publishers and advertisers in these emerging ecosystems.
After viewing your demo on YouTube, the video is persuasive regarding its semantic understanding of a block of text around SUVs, for example. Does this take into account “birds of a feather”? In other words, friends of friends who want an SUV? Will it someday?
OpenAmplify in itself has a very focused mission: to understand the meaning of text content. We intend to be the best company in the world at doing that. Social graph methodologies and technologies are therefore off-mission for us, but we are very much looking forward to adding value in partnership with the various companies in the space like Media6 who are leading the charge in these areas.
What are some of the key differences between semantic and contextual advertising?
To many users like you and me who have experience of current technologies in the market, the two terms can be considered one and the same. But at OpenAmplify we do make an important distinction: Semantic targeting involves ‘rolling up’ concepts and topics into higher level of semantically similar groups and categories. This categorization is where so-called disambiguation occurs i.e. the ability to tell Sprint the phone company from sprint a fast run. Contextual targeting, however, is all about understanding what’s actually going on in the text. What is the meaning of the text? What are the topics, actions and emotions being conveyed… and how are the different aspects of meaning inter-related? This capability enables precise targeting. In this construct, several companies could claim to offer Semantic targeting. But Only OpenAmplify offers Semantic targeting AND meaning-based Contextual targeting.
Just trying to understand the corporate structure with this question – is Hapax the holding company and OpenAmplify, a portfolio company? How does Hapax compliment OpenAmplify?
Hapax is the holding company that has developed the core technology and owns the intellectual property. OpenAmplify is a service built on Hapax’s technology core.
It appears you’ve moved from Amplify – to OpenAmplify. Any reason?
We wanted our name to reflect our open platform approach. We owned the OpenAmplify URL. This was one of the easier decisions to make!
Any plans for allowing advertisers to overlay their own data, such as intent data, with your semantic indicators?
OpenAmplify can deliver data points about content that are totally unique. Topics. Sentiment. Intent. Emotion. We are currently engaging with advertisers and agencies who themselves have access to some very powerful data. It’s early days, but we firmly believe that the combination of these data sets will enable logic that will give significant lift in advertising performance.
How do you see the ad agency model playing out in the next 2-3 years? If you were running an agency, anything you’d be doing today to prepare for tomorrow?
As the whole ad ecosystem becomes more and more transparent, Agencies are going to find it increasingly hard to justify fees. Pure creative agencies will stand and fall on their brilliance, but many media companies, SEO agencies, etc., who are earning fat fees for doing very little are going to get found out. They are going to need to raise their game significantly. And the way to do that is to invest and innovate. Add the fact that social media is changing everything and you have your answer: if I ran an agency, I’d be looking at technology innovation across the board, but with a special interest in social media.