When Videology put itself up for sale earlier this year, the company drew strong interest from a number of parties including an alliance of European broadcasters, but the eventual winner was Singtel’s ad tech outfit Amobee. In this Q&A Amobee’s chief operating officer Domenic Venuto explains how Videology fits into Amobee, and how Amobee is now positioning itself in the video and TV space.
There was an annoyingly persistent urban industry myth that Videology didn’t have its own technology. This might be a good time to put that to bed – could you explain what you Amobee bought and the role it’s going to play in the Amobee stack?
That’s the first I’ve heard of that rumor! The reason Amobee acquired the Videology assets is because of the industry-leading tech and outstanding team. Over the past decade, Videology built the industry’s most advanced software platform for the convergence of TV and video including linear TV, over the top, connected TV, premium digital video and mobile content. Scott Ferber, Videology’s founder and CEO–and now Amobee’s Chief Innovation Officer–is a true visionary and tech innovator who understood, early on, marketers’ desire to tie digital performance metrics to television. They empowered advertisers and broadcasters to use data to optimise campaigns and spend across digital platforms and television.
Portfolio management, optimising and allocation for constrained supply, yield management, buyer and seller interfaces, all live within Videology’s UI. It was and still is the most advanced technology platform for the converging TV and video market.
Amobee already has a very compelling tech stack, when you look at the ability to unite social and programmatic; by adding Videology, we are unique in having a full complement of services. There’s tremendous value in connecting the buy and the sell side together; Videology has proven to have managed both sides quite well and it’s a sticky product. When I talk to customers all over the world, they reiterate how much they love the team and product. We will build on that loyalty, and advance Videology’s mission to be a leader in the transformation of TV and accelerate its product offering for premium broadcasters, agencies and brands.
To what extent are brands bringing their programmatic media buying in house? How ready are they to manage it themselves?
We see a wide spectrum. Some clients have the capability to build an in-house team to support that track and others prefer a hybrid model and work to find the right balance between what they take on and what they rely on the agency for.
One of the areas we get consistently high marks in is our investment in client service, whether it’s supporting an agency and helping them bring their teams up to speed and providing ongoing support, or a brand direct relationship. It’s something our clients value from us.
Is Amobee primarily focused on agencies, on working directly with clients, or both?
The two are not mutually exclusive and we think they are compatible. We have a two pronged approach: we work directly with agencies and provide them with the tools that they need and we also address the needs of brands directly.
Agencies are a valuable part of the ecosystem and we’ve invested heavily in resources to build out our agency business in major markets. The agency operating model is robust and has a healthy outlook, and the value agencies provide to their clients is material, and it’s a space we need to be in to cultivate those relationships. In addition to resources, we’re continually building tools to help their business as it transitions to a next-generation model.
So the sell-side component is probably more video and TV focussed?
There’s a well publicised pivot to video from major publishers across the globe. These businesses are going to require the technology to help them succeed and we believe that we’re best placed to help them achieve their goals. As we connect the various functions in the Amobee platform, we’ll be in a position to assist these business in their activation and commercialisation across all their channels, and in a converging world that’s a powerful proposition.
What role will Videology’s technology play within the Amobee stack?
Videology helps complete the stack and elevates our value proposition. We have a comprehensive end-to-end marketing platform that can execute across all media channels and into the silos within those channels. Furthermore, with the onboarding of the Videology technology, we have a connected TV product augmented with the capabilities and knowledge that Videology brings across the markets.
The inclusion of Videology’s technology platform, intellectual property and other assets—including upfront reservation capabilities and unique broadcaster relationships—further boosts Amobee’s omni-channel platform, helping marketers meet growing consumer demand for premium video and Advanced TV content.
When you consider that TV remains the pre-eminent marketing channel in terms of both effectiveness and revenue investment, the fact that you can now plan and activate TV in the Amobee platform, along with your other media channels is game changing.
Is AI still a good way for businesses to differentiate themselves?
With AI, much of what’s being discussed in the industry is traditional machine learning or deep learning, and it will have a transformative effect. Some of the most important applications of AI will revolve around helping marketers do their job smarter, better and faster. But while these tools are highly effective for automating mathematical analyses such as media performance optimisation, it’ll take a little longer for it to scale in creative-based functions such as messaging, and creative or content design. And much of the dependency, quite simply, is about feeding in the right data v building a better algorithm.
In a few years time, AI will be everywhere we look, but its use and outcomes will only be as good as the data being fed into the learning algorithms. Data will continue to be the differentiating component.
Among myriad other applications, Amobee’s platform uses AI to help automate day-to-day tasks, so the marketer is free to focus on strategy. Our data science team has built an ensemble of algorithms that provide feedback and take action in real time, allowing marketers the ability to significantly improve and optimise their campaigns in-flight quicker and more effectively. By leveraging AI to ensure the data coming in and data going out is more accurate and predictions are better and more precise, marketers will inherently drive better ROI for their clients.