Contextual Targeting Will Benefit Both Advertisers and Publishers Says Videology’s Anne de Kerckhove

Anne de Kerckhove, Managing Director EMEA, VideologyThe display advertising world has been using contextual targeting for some time now, but many of the vendors are only just beginning to move into video. Videology, a video ad company, recently announced they’re working with TriVu Media to use contextual targeting to enhance campaign effectiveness and brand safety. VAN spoke with Anne de Kerckhove, Managing Director EMEA at Videology, about the TriVu partnership and about how contexual tools are being used in video.

You recently announced you’re partnering with TriVu Media. Could you explain how you expect to be using the tools?

Videology is all about ad decisioning through the use of data to find audiences, but in finding audiences it’s equally important to look at the context in which your ad is viewed. The first thing that comes to mind when you’re talking big budgets is whether the ads are going to be shown in a brand-safe environment, so you’re looking at whether the ad is being shown in the kind of player you were expecting, that you’re getting the same frequency of ads that you were told you were going to get, and in the type of positioning that you want. I would call these the ‘hygiene factors’ that allow you to make sure you’re you’ve got the basics right.

The second thing is that the same advertising message will be perceived differently in different contexts, so content matters greatly and can be used to boost a campaign’s effectiveness. For example, let’s say your brand has invested in an actor – take George Clooney’s partnership with Nespresso. You could actually decide as a brand that you want to show the ads in a context where fans are viewing content about George Clooney, thereby extending the value of the deal you’ve done with George Clooney. So this isn’t just about the hygiene factors or targeting the vertical you want, it really is about taking your advertising to a whole new level.

What kind of reporting features can advertisers expect?  Will they have access to data on every single impression?

We have access to data that looks at impression by impression, although what we share with each advertiser will depend on what agreement they’ve got with the agency/trading desk they’re working with. Some brands require that, for example, every campaign reports back on viewability and environment/context and performance in different types of environment. So the Videology platform tracks everything that happens on the system and it’s simply  a question of how much data an advertiser actually wants to see on their reports.

There’s always a risk of information overload, but we do everything we can to make sure the learnings get passed on. In France we use viewability to optimise campaigns on a day to day basis and don’t view it as a stick to punish publishers. Instead when we work with viewability tools it’s actually all about working with publishers so that if we see that they’re stats aren’t good on certain URLs, it’s usually something that they want to know about.

So it’s really about partnership and I think that the industry talks about verification as if it was some kind of exam that you have at the end of the campaign.  I think we should move away from that and towards a situation where we’re all working together. If I’m a publisher and I’m pushing the wrong ads to my audience, or if a page isn’t structured properly, or perhaps there’s a technical fault with my player I don’t know about – that all information I need.

A lot of the work we’re doing with these tools is around deepening our relationship with publishers so we’re giving them information in real time so they can become better publishers and create better sources of inventory for our advertisers.

One of the main reasons these tools are needed is the fragmented market. Which way is the industry going when it comes to fragmentation – are we going to see more or will we reach a point where the video market becomes more consolidated? 

It’s really interesting because you’re seeing both. On the one hand, there’s a democratisation of tools that allow for fragmentation, so a small publisher with a low number of impressions can access tools and sell their inventory. Equally, we’re also seeing large networks and exchanges who can aggregate the small guys and bring in demand. So you’re actually seeing both trends happening at the same time. Ultimately, publishers are looking for control over their own destiny, but once they’ve got that control, most don’t have trouble being part of a bigger world because it brings them more power and control.

I think we need to separate the two trends – the need to give more control to publishers, brands and agencies is a general trend. However, we’re getting more and more requests for campaigns that will run in 26 countries, so at that point a small publisher should want to be part of a bigger group that is capable of delivering for those advertisers. Buyers aren’t going to have time to make calls to check there’s enough inventory in Norway, the Czech Republic and South Africa. They’re going to want to work with a handful of partners who use rigorous technology and systems that can provide them with everything. So I think we have to differentiate between the desire for control and power over your own destiny, versus the integration into larger exchanges where there are economies of scale. Both are happening.

What about pricing? Do tools that hold publishers to account lead to higher CPMs?

It will definitely bring better granularity when it comes to pricing. Most publishers would agree that some inventory is more valuable than other inventory, and that advertisers should be charge according to what it is they want. So I think you’ll see more granularity instead of just having one price for all impressions. Whether that goes up or down or not will always depend on the quality of what a publisher is delivering.  It could be that the value of some mid-tier stuff goes down because it’s undifferentiated, so more specialised verticals could become more interesting because the context is so powerful.

One of my favourite examples is Horse & Hound, which is a tiny and very specialised publication, but they have mastered the art of using the incredible passion that their readers have. I think they quadrupled their revenue by using digital to tap into that passion, and I think you’re going to see similar success stories, while some of the undifferentiated mid-tier publishers will struggle. The publishers who can really target audiences, really prove brand safety, and really improve impact will have their prices go up.

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