Connecting content owners and video providers with tech solutions and services, all in the name of helping media and entertainment companies monetize content, has been the name of Vubiquity’s game since its inception.
And in the process of connecting more than hundreds of content companies with more than thousands of video distributors worldwide, the company’s had to adapt to the near-constant changes in video tech today, whether leveraging the cloud or tackling advanced advertising.
Vubiquity CEO Darcy Antonellis sat down with the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) to talk about some of the company’s case studies, content and service provider priorities and thinking around what can be characterized as one of the most dynamic and innovative times in media.
MESA: Now, obviously don’t want to violate any NDAs, but can you point out a couple of Vubiquity case studies that illustrate the kinds of solutions architecture that’s required to support video monetization?
Antonellis: Sure, happy to. I suppose the first tenant is that Vubiquity has always been a digital company and has continued to evolve along with consumer behavior changes and how those changes have impacted consumption and revenue conversion.
The focus of the organization has been to establish a holistic end-to-end set of solutions providing platform and services access to our clients along with the flexibility to access only the capabilities which they require. These solutions span programming strategy and content licensing to content and metadata management, distribution, performance and analytics and an extensive UX supporting a number of consumer-facing web services including a white label product that’s customizable to meet a client’s unique needs.
In the areas of advertising enablement, we’ve seen dramatic increases in requirements and activity. Exclusive deals, newly created avails models and compressed or overlapping adjacencies around all forms of distribution have spurred increases in ad unit sales and placements in current and downstream avails.
MESA: Following up on that, just in a very short period of time in the last couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of leaps and bounds in terms of advanced advertising, targeted advertising, and reaching the right audience with the right content. Expand on that a little bit. How far have we come, and what else do we still need to do better?
Antonellis: With respect to personalization and highly relevant personalized advertising, as an industry we’re still in the nascent days of understanding what factors drive an individual’s engagement with a brand at a particular moment in time and for a particular reason, whether consciously or not.
Awareness (via various forms e.g. all forms of marketing, buzz, trusted recommendation, etc.) and access drive higher CPMs and the content creators and distributors are taking advantage of expansion in both of these areas to drive ad dollars.
MESA: There comes the next natural question after that. Big data and analytics are proving to be more and more important for content distributors and owners, but what’s the balance with consumer privacy, making sure we’re not taking too much information from the consumers. Basically, avoiding being creeps. What’s the balance there?
Antonellis: The platforms themselves, and I’ll caveat it by saying “today”, proffer different perspectives on behavior, consumption and at the end of the day, what translates into accretive revenue. There’s no lacking of the great work that data scientists are doing to refine how we understand and leverage in real-time how we interact with video. While platform differences drive some of these distinctions today, as ubiquitous approaches to accessing content continues, in the future there will be less distinctions and therefore rules about how and when you can promote to a consumer.
The screen, the device, and the viewing environments may be seen as more agnostic – especially as moving content between these environments becomes second nature to the masses and the per capita daily device usage increases from roughly four devices to seven over the next few years.
On the privacy front it’s a bit tricky and we all experience it – like being offered up a recommendation that has absolutely no relevance to what I’m interested in now or otherwise.
There’s a balance just as there’s a balance around advertising overall but machine learning and predictive analysis are just a couple of areas transforming what we’re exposed to in video and what we’re likely to engage in. Innovation and continued investment in video-related analytics is expected to see a 24%+ CAGR in spend over the next five years reinforces this.
MESA: You mentioned your white label offering earlier. How important is it to keep the technology pliable, and basically open for widespread use, instead of building up your own walled garden? And secondly, how important is use of the cloud today, especially when it comes to your services?
Antonellis: Using cloud technologies is commonplace now. The IP which sits around and orchestrates how to utilize the cloud is where the value is captured. We have made significant investments in this area over the last few years, and established a set of cloud and co-located services linked to various forms of automation and decision engines. The scale of what our clients have come to expect and looking ahead with them on future requirements continues to drive this roadmap.
Distribution agreements and terms have increased in complexity. Content creators shouldn’t have to think about how the distribution piece works. They should be able to focus on the creative process and assume access to global footprints and revenues structured by business terms and not technology restrictions. Video distributors likewise want to be able to focus on their brand and user base and how to create a great user experience around great content to drive revenues.
MESA: The very term white label suggests openness and being flexible with the technology. How important it is to have that mindset when it comes to distributing video?
Antonellis: I think we try to be very pragmatic about the reality that one size does not fit all. That said, having architectures that can leverage common components supporting those portions of a solution which are bespoke to a client’s needs is valuable. The diversity of consumer-facing experiences and services, which will only continue to evolve, made sense to us across 121 countries and 80 languages.