Tremor’s Anthony Risicato on Videohub’s Euro-Launch, RTB and Tremor’s Strategy

Anthony RisicatoTremor Video have just launched VideoHub in the Europe, starting with the UK and German markets. VAN caught up with Anthony Risicato, Tremor’s MD of Media Platforms, to find out more about VideoHub and what it’s going to bring to the European video advertisers and publishers. Anthony also discusses Tremor’s long-term strategy, their position on real-time bidding (RTB) in video advertising, and the future of the ad network model.

What is VideoHub?

VideoHub is an analytics platform for publishers and advertisers and it serves two purposes. Firstly, it provides transparency in the video marketplace so that publishers and advertisers both understand the performance of advertising.

Historically those two groups have lived in a state of conflict at worst and détentes at best, so one of the goals for the platform is to bring those two groups together to help drive forward the video ecosystem. So people should know where their ads are running, how they’re performing and know what’s not performing so they can take action.

The second main goal of VideoHub is to serve the brand marketer’s goals. The digital side of the industry has been obsessed with creating new metrics and we’ve done a great job of confusing the market by coming up with lots of metrics that don’t mean anything to the brand marketer.

So we’re really focusing VideoHub on the upper funnel of branding, so we’re looking at reach, engagement, brand health and time spent with an advertising unit. That’s the number one request we hear from the Fortune 1000 clients we work with is, “Talk to me in my language as a marketer”.

What platforms is VideoHub being used on. Is it just for use online or can it be used on connected TV and mobile?

We are a three screen company, so VideoHub serves online, mobile and connected TV. However, the depth of analytics that you can get on mobile and TV is a little bit more limited because the technology hasn’t caught up on the mobile and connected TV devices, but I think that’s a transient problem that will be sorted out as the devices mature.

But our view is that you should view your video initiatives as video initiatives, not as “device initiatives”, because there are some common learnings you can take from each. Brand health and measurement are valid across any device you put the ad on, including television.

Why would someone use VideoHub for analytics when third party ad servers often provide reporting features?

If all you’re interested in is clicks and impressions, you shouldn’t license an analytics platform. But if you’re really interested in understanding the content of the videos that your ad appears in, who is engaging, why are they engaging, what times of day tend to drive more performance from a certain ad on a certain group of publishers.

VideoHub also has an ad server but we don’t see that as the value proposition. It includes an ad server and if people want to use it, great, but if you want to use bolt the analytics onto DFA or any other ad server you’re using, great.

But are there specific features that most video ad servers can’t provide?

Most ad servers don’t do analytics. They don’t do brand health. They don’t analyse the stream of the video someone’s watching, so you have no sense of the content your ad will appear against. An ad server also has no sense of where on the screen in the browser window your ad appeared – for example, was it off the screen, was it viewable,  was it 100% viewable?

For that kind of verification you have to go and hire another company to do that, so our view is that we’re creating the video stack: serve, measure, analyse, optimise, brand health, verification. We’re doing all of those because we believe video is a fundamentally different medium from the previous digital mediums. You have to measure it and analyse it in a fundamentally different way.

Is Tremor’s network RTB-enabled. And if not, why?

RTB isn’t currently part of our platform. We do believe that buying media should be as easy as possible and as efficient as possible, but that isn’t the ‘R’ in ROI that we’re pursuing. The ‘R’ that we’re pursuing is the effectiveness of the campaign, not the efficiency at which you bought it.

Now someone would argue that there’s a line where those two converge and that may be true a little bit further down the road, but we think the hyper-focus on buying efficiency is actually commoditizing the marketer and the messages that they’re trying to deliver. We believe the real value of marketing is the messaging and the dialogue, not what you paid for the media.

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen display ad networks either in decline or trying to find new ways to add value. As Tremor’s core business is as a video ad network, would it be fair to say VideoHub represents a shift away from the ad network model and a move towards become more of a technology company?

It’s a good question and that’s actually true. Most people know Tremor Media – and I’m happy that they do – as the largest video ad network in the space. There isn’t a bigger pure play video advertising company out there. And that’s great.

But as the medium of video becomes more and more sophisticated as we’ve seen over the last five years, it became increasingly clear that we have to provide tools to our partners and publishers and marketers that allow them to analyse and measure. And in some cases it has been the same tools we use internally to run campaigns.

So a year ago we created VideoHub as new division of the company, and it’s separate and distinct from the media business. We talk to a lot of the same clients, but in many cases VideoHub has clients that we don’t have any media business with, so they’re not running any media on our network and they’re just using our platform to measure everywhere they run.

Ultimately, the long-term win is bringing marketers and publishers together using a common language, measuring common metrics and allowing the brands to extract the value out of the medium. And whether they do that with our media team, or they do it with our VideoHub enterprise team, I’m happy either way, but we do operate as separate and distinct entities.

You’ve just launched in the UK and Germany. Which other markets are VideoHub looking at working in?

We did a good job of rolling this out in the US and made the US marketers have been the guinea pigs and it has gone very well, so the next step for us is to come into Europe, starting with the UK, which from a connected and digital TV standpoint is a very sophisticated market. We think those folks will be very receptive to how we’re looking at the video business, measuring brand health, measuring engagement etc.

We’re eager to bring more of the broadcasters into the fold with our publisher side of the platform and we’re happy to bring both media buying and strategy agencies into the mix on the advertisers’ side of the platform. The next market we’ll be going into the German market, which in dollar size is actually larger than the UK and we think there’ll be a significant opportunity there. We’re also looking into moving into the Asian market right now.

Can users also buy media using VideoHub, or is it purely about measurement?

VideoHub is a platform and advertisers and the analytics portion of the advertiser part is not about media buying – it’s about the effectiveness of your buy, whether it’s working, whether it’s not working, in real-time, what are your Nielsen GRPs, what are your demographics etc, and it does a very good job of that. But we’ve created a product called VideoHub marketplace which is a self-service buying engine for pre-roll video.

So you can go in and choose, say, Australian inventory, or UK inventory, or German inventory and then choose categories in which you want to buy it and we can then fulfil that.

But the marketplace is really focused towards regional marketers, early-stage video marketers who are just starting out with video advertising, so those users can get comfortable with video via the marketplace and then you can come up to the VideoHub to access the advertiser’s full analytics. Because you’re not likely to be measuring brand health for the first video campaign for the first campaign you run online.

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