Mark Trefgarne is CEO and Co-Founder at LiveRail, the leading publisher monetization platform for video. Currently over three billion monthly impressions (25% of all online video ads) are delivered via their platform each month. LiveRail was started in 2007, by Mark and Andrei Dunca. The Makegood recently spoke with Mark about the impact of video on advertising monetization.
The Makegood: Before founding LiveRail you were a consultant helping companies with their online advertising strategies. What motivated you and your partner to then found LiveRail?
At the time, online video was just in its infancy, but showed enormous potential. People were increasingly watching video via the web on sites like YouTube, DailyMotion and Metacafe, but also via video podcasts that could be sync’d to the newly released iPhone. We’d already seen the impact that the Internet has had on businesses like the music industry, and we were now seeing the first hints that the same thing might ultimately happen to television. With that in mind, we wanted to be part of what we believed would be the biggest disruption in media history. Advertising technology seemed like the obvious way we could contribute.
The Makegood: How does LiveRail accomplish their goal of helping publishers better monetize their video advertising?
It’s the combination of great technology with world class service. We invest really heavily in building out the best possible tools for publishers from a technical infrastructure standpoint; almost 60% of our company is in product/engineering. And because they’re 100% focussed on building for publishers, we’re able to innovate faster than anyone else. For example, we were the first company to release Deal ID for Video, a technical feature that enables publishers to deliver against pre-negotiated preferred deals with strategic advertisers. But it extends across our entire product stack, from yield optimization and realtime analytics to creative quarantining; we really have built an incredible suite of tools for publishers. When you couple that with a services team that really understands the needs of publishers, how their business works, and how to best apply the technology, you can generate some really amazing results.
The Makegood: What do you see as the greatest challenges facing companies utilizing video advertising? How has this changed?
From the sell side perspective, the biggest challenge right now is probably multi-platform audiences. Over the last year, the amount of video being consumed on non-traditional devices has exploded. Audience fragmentation creates multiple challenges for publishers, not least from an ad operations standpoint. Publishers can no longer guarantee that all their audience are coming via their website on a laptop; smartphones, tablets and connected TV platforms are all equally important from both an audience distribution and monetization standpoint. The second big challenge is probably the growth in programmatic demand. This year almost 20% of all video ad dollars are being executed programmatically, and that will grow to over 25% next year. Tapping into those budgets is crucially important – but doing so safely, without impacting existing pricing and relationships is critical.
The Makegood: Deal IDs make real time bidding more effective by adding a universal identifier to specific aspects of an advertising campaign. What does LiveRail’s implementation of Deal ID change for the online video advertising industry?
We’re really excited about Deal ID, because we think its incredibly relevant to the way people buy and sell video. Programmatic decisioning in display has traditionally been informed purely by performance metrics (like click through rate). That’s great when an advertiser only cares about driving direct conversion, but in a more brand-centric medium like video, the environment in which the ad plays is hugely important. Recognizing high quality environments, and the premium pricing they command, is something that Deal ID helps enable. It gives publishers the ability to negotiate preferred deals with programmatic buyers – ensuring they get recognized for their premium content, while giving large, strategic advertisers the benefit of their scale through things like preferred pricing or first-look access to inventory.
The Makegood: Mark, you have been working in video ad technology since 2007, what predictions do you have on the future of video advertising technology?
There are a handful of trends that we’re already seeing the beginning of, which I think will ultimately come to define much of the video ad business. The first is multi-platform delivery of “television” over IP – we’re seeing consumers shift more and more of their television viewing to on-demand Internet video and doing it on all sorts of different devices like smartphones, games consoles and connected TVs. The second is programmatic – the use of technology-based automation in the selling and buying of video advertising. The convergence of IP-video with programmatic sales is a powerful shift in paradigm for the television industry and will enable greater scale, efficiency and higher ROI for advertisers. The last is the various tools that are being introduced to bridge existing TV buying practices with digital – I’d count Nielsen’s OCR as a key example of that, since it allows TV advertisers to compare their television and digital reach apples to apples, making it easier to plan, measure and compare spend across the two mediums.
The Makegood: Thank you, Mark