Archive for January 2008

TV Week: SpotXchange Lands Investors

January 31, 2008

The company did not disclose the amount, but it said investors include Alex Bogusky, chief creative officer, Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Laurence Chang, former portfolio manager, Janus Worldwide Fund; Tim Hudner, former chief operations and chief technology officer, Janus Capital Group; Mike Lu, former portfolio manager, Janus Global Technology Fund; Kent Moore, former portfolio manager, Janus Capital Group; Blaine Rollins, former portfolio manager, Janus Fund; and Claire Young, former portfolio manager, Janus Olympus Fund.

The company will use the funding to expand business development and add features. The SpotXchange platform was launched in late 2006 to help advertisers and publishers buy and sell online video ads.

SpotXchange faces competition from a range of online video ad networks such as Tremor Media, Broadband Enterprises and others.

Link to article

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iMedia Connection: 7 tips for smart video buys

January 23, 2008

iMedia Connection, January 23, 2008, By Julie Ruvolo

Article Excerpt

Put sales people to work for you
Most sales folks in the digital space would be ecstatic to get clear direction from an agency. Instead what they see is a lot of bizarre inconsistency. One agency says a salesperson’s service is not of significance until it hits 10 million monthly visitors. The next wants to spend $250K on a pilot program with that same service. The third refuses to return their calls after initially expressing enthusiasm.

All they want to know is what you and your clients want. Take advantage of the fact that agencies are strapped for resources and that sales folks are eager to please (not to mention that the savvier sales folks know the competitive landscape better than many digital planners). When you encounter a particularly savvy and trustworthy sales person, put them to work for you. Ask them to come in and give a lay of the land — theirs and their competitors. Ask them to put together a joint roundtable with their competitors. Ask them to compile that Excel sheet for you.

Michael Shehan, CEO of video ad network SpotXchange, asks to be put to work in a different way — calling on agencies to ask for more accountability from emerging video services. How astute.

“I think agencies should standardize their reporting requirements. This is especially important when running on an ad network. These reports should include the performance of the video advertisement per site or per publisher,” Shehan says. “Many agencies today only require top level campaign performance, thereby relegating the media buy to a blind buy. Agencies should demand accountability on behalf of their customers. Ultimately, this type of transparency will facilitate faster adoption of online video advertising as it eliminates the risk of having an advertiser show up on questionable content. Additionally, I think developing these standard reporting requirements across agencies will take some of the experimentation and guess work out of planning and executing on an online video ad buy.”

Link to article

Alex Bogusky Interview

January 18, 2008

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What is the word in the ad world? This month SpotXchange CEO Mike Shehan talks to Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s Chief Creative Officer Alex Bogusky about the growth of his company and the past and future of marketing.

Michael Shehan: How did Crispin Porter + Bogusky grow so large, so quickly?
Alex Bogusky: I don’t think it really did. Our growth has generally been about 20 percent a year, which is wonderful so I don’t mean to dismiss that. But we’ve always been careful not to grow too fast and careful not to let it grow into something that we don’t love being a part of. So that has meant saying no to some really great opportunities just because we knew we couldn’t absorb the business and still keep up the standards.

There have been some decisions beyond controlling growth that I think put us on a tack to grow. The first was years ago we decided to become a small national agency instead of a midsize regional agency. So that meant we would take small national accounts over large local or regional accounts. It ultimately made it much easier for us to grow because as we began to attract the attention of larger national accounts our experience was in line with what they needed and the way they marketed.

Although I cant say it was actually a decision, the other piece that really helped us in the long run was we developed several philosophies about advertising that were distinct from most agencies and got pretty good at actually executing those philosophies across pretty diverse media. I think being off the beaten path of the major ad markets allowed us to think about our business without the middling influences that come from being too steeped in the current thinking.

MS: What has changed the most about creating and marketing a brand over the past 10 to 20 years?
AB: Jeez. That’s a huge time frame. So much has changed. I could go on about what has changed in the last five years for hours. But the fundamental move has been consumers gaining more choices and more control over their media consumption. And that has forced marketers to offer the consumer more in exchange for their time. It’s also made the content that you advertise in not just an ally but also the enemy for the battle to get attention. Used to be that when advertisers thought about the competitive landscape it was pretty forward thinking to believe that advertising outside your category was the competition. Now it’s all that plus any other piece of entertainment or news that is competing for a sliver of attention.

MS: What is attractive to you about online video advertising? What can you do with it that you can’t with TV?
AB: Well it’s new and developing rabidly in sophistication so that’s exciting.

But I guess within all the newness and innovation I see a new model that will actually become a stable and reliable way to reach people. I’m able to reach people in a way where I really know I have their attention because they just selected a piece of content. Now all I have to do is be smart and entertaining enough that they appreciate the sponsorship. That’s easier than the challenge on network TV right now. And the tools that are developing in way where I can find people in corners of the web that in the past were too difficult to deliver a message to. So I can find my demo wherever they are.

So I’m no longer stuck to trying to buy media on a small universe of sites like Yahoo.com and CNN.com to try to deliver my goals.

And we can fine tune the creative and the buy real time, which is absolutely nuts. That takes days to do with traditional broadcast.

Ad Servers and Online Video Ads

January 18, 2008

ClickZ ran an interesting article on the “state of online video ads” from the vantage point of ad serving firms like Atlas and DoubleClick. While SpotXchange is much more than an ad serving firm-we are, in fact, a full service video network that provides a marketplace for dynamically matching advertisers with available publisher inventory, in addition to providing the video serving, tracking and reporting functions associated with pure ad serving firms-I took an interest in this story.

Author Hollis Thomases identifies various barriers to broader video advertising adoption, particularly third-party video ad serving. The lack of standardization in reporting and measurement guidelines has certainly been a point of contention in the space, but I would argue that it has not been a fundamental barrier. Until the Interactive Advertising Bureau makes much more serious progress on standardization, agencies, publishers and service providers alike recognize that we must make due with the respective measurement and reporting that is available. Reach and CTR, familiar metrics offline and on, respectively, have shown to be those generating the most interest from advertisers. A number of more advanced metrics are available from some service providers, including SpotXchange, but I’m not convinced that advertisers have figured out how to best act on those metrics, so they remain a novelty to most.

Different ad formats, according to Thomases, represent another challenge to advertisers. I agree with Atlas’ Geoff Coco, quoted as calling this a non-issue. (SpotXchange has worked quite closely with Coco as members of the IAB’s third-party ad serving committee). Transcoding an advertiser’s original video commercial into the few formats that publishers need (more than 94 percent of the traffic across our network in December 2007 was FLV) is a commodity service that should intimidate absolutely no one. If Thomases and her colleagues do not see this happening readily, the problem isn’t that they are not asking “loud enough”, it’s that they are not asking the right question, or perhaps not the right person.

The more pressing challenge, as Coco points out, is “how the player interacts with the ad system and its content feeds…[and the]…interoperability…[of] the ad request and delivery formats.” I think this point may be lost on the author because she is mistakenly under the impression that, “with initial online video ad space in demand and inventory availability low, publishers could easily sell out their ad space without having to make any system modifications.” This may be true for ABC’s Desperate Housewives, or other “super premium” content providers, but it’s not the reality for the other 99 percent of publishers out there. Not only do they not have the “brand name” that brings advertisers to them, they lack the sales and serving infrastructure that would allow them to fully accommodate these advertisers if they did come knocking. Show me 99 different publishers and I will show you 99 different video player components and configurations that may, or may not, be compatible with advertisers’ preference for serving and tracking their campaigns.

Most publishers rely on multiple ad sources to fill their available inventory-generally a direct sales effort, as well as membership in one or more networks like SpotXchange. It’s the diversity of the various publishers and their player technologies, compounded with the diversity of ad suppliers, that make interoperability and integration the industry’s real bugaboo. Serving video ads is hard. Serving video ads from multiple sources (and creating the business logic to direct which source to hit at which time and under which circumstances) is even more challenging. Serving multiple ad units, including InStream (pre-, mid-, post-roll) and interactive overlay units (such as SpotXchange’s own InnerStream unit), from multiple sources is more daunting yet.

These complexities are why SpotXchange and other ad providers invest so much time and energy developing competency at ad syndication and integration-it’s one of the most significant assets we bring to the advertiser/publisher equation. If advertisers and publishers allow us to do our jobs correctly, neither of them should have to invest heavily in building their own capabilities in these processes.

Ask SpotXchange

January 18, 2008

We’ve been getting questions from readers on basic education of the online video advertising space. SpotXchange Insight is a perfect forum to answer those questions.

What is the difference between an overlay ad unit and an in stream ad unit?

Overlay-A rich media banner ad that appears at the bottom of the video player, over the video content. Often clickable.

In stream-A pre/mid/post roll unit with companion banners.

Post questions here or e-mail insight@spotxchange.com.