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Benjamin: Welcome back to the MarTech Podcast. This podcast is sponsored by Searchmetrics. Searchmetrics sets the standard for innovation in the content and search engine optimization industries. They support businesses who care about understanding both how to use content as a marketing channel, and how to improve their organic rankings in Google. If you're an enterprise level marketer, the Searchmetrics suite of software and services will help you optimize your existing content, understand what topics you need to write about next, and ensure that your writers produce effective posts. There are billions of Google searches happening every day, and Searchmetrics helps get your stories to the top.
Benjamin: Okay, today we're going to hear from an expert in the video advertising space. Brian has a really interesting background. He's charted the uncommon path of going from a surf and ski bum to a Silicon Valley digital advertising vet turned startup founder. His company, egami.tv, is a video advertising marketplace that uses a semantic engine to match publishers looking to monetize their properties with relevant video content.
Benjamin: Brian has a wealth of knowledge related to online advertising that is relevant to every company from startups to large enterprises. In this episode, he's going to tell us about his company, give us an overview of the current landscape of the video advertising industry, and help you understand what you can expect and how much you should pay if you're going to start a video advertising campaign. It's a great interview, and we're happy to bring it to you. Here's our chat with Brian.
Benjamin: Brian, let's start off, tell me the name of your company and what does it do.
Brian: Sure, it's egami.tv. It's kind of funny. Everybody's been asking me was it kind of a Japanese tech firm, and it's funny. It's image spelled backwards. And I joke with people it's the only URL I could find and afford.
Brian: But what we do is we provide web publishers with relevant video content. You know, oftentimes you'll read an article, it's just a written article. Publishers don't have the time, energy or resources to create professional, relevant video content. So what we do is we go find relevant video content that's produced by somebody else and include within the publisher's article. So from a user's perspective, not only do they get to read a great article about a specific topic, but also attach kind of a relevant piece of video content, so they can consume more content on a publisher's page, plus additional kind of monetizations through video advertising.
Benjamin: So walk me through a sample use case.
Brian: So let's just take a sports publisher. He writes an article about the Golden State Warriors, and it was about the game last night. He's got an image of Steph Curry, and then he publishes that on his page. What we end up doing is we read and understand title of the article, the text within the article, the metadata behind the article, and translates that into keywords and then go source relevant video content from, let's say, ESPN or CBS Sports, so it could be a 30-second highlight clip for the Warriors game last night. And we'll attach that to the article. So again, they'll see a big image, Steph Curry, text about the game last night, and then somewhere within the content well, we'll also put a video player that also promotes the content around that article.
Benjamin: So if I'm a publisher, right, I'm the person writing about the Golden State Warriors, do I just basically paste an iframe and let my content sort of surround that? Is this something that's built into like an advertising space? What's the actual dynamics of how it lives on the page?
Benjamin: How do you define your role at the company?
Brian: So founder, first and foremost, but everything from steering the ship to mopping the deck. We're a relatively small team, but you kind of become a jack of all trades. But my background's been a lot in online advertising, so I focused a good portion of my energy on what we'll call demand partnerships or ad partnerships, and then we'll also look for publishers, partners, so I'll call that supply. So we kind of sit in the middle and bring in supply and demand to publishers that don't have video content.
Benjamin: What are some of the places that you've worked, responsibilities that you've had, skills that you've developed that led you to found this company?
Brian: It's a pretty funny path, I think, when you look back on how you got to the point where you're at today. Twenty years ago when I was trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up, I started in high school, I remember it was fall of the Iron Curtain in Russia. My economics teacher said, "Look, if you want to make a lot of money, you should learn Russian. It's a top country, 90% plus education graduation rates. This is definitely the language you need to know." So I ended up going to college, studying in international business, with a Russian degree, moved to Moscow, froze my ass off, pretty heavy scene back in '95, lot of mysterious people in the background. Came back and I just said, "Look, I gotta figure out what I want to do when I grow up. I don't want to go do this Russian thing. It seems a little bit too gnarly for me."
Brian: So I started asking myself, "Hey, what do I want to do when I grow up?" And I like skiing and snowboarding and surfing and wakeboarding and basically sports that I really had a passion for, but I wasn't good enough to do it professionally.
Benjamin: And they didn't have that in Moscow.
Brian: No, no, definitely not. I mean, they definitely had snow, but, so I just said, "Well, what's happening in the space?" I bought a, what was then a high-end video camera from Sony, underwater housing, talked to a good buddy of mine. He was kind of a computer whiz back in the day. So we started a video action sport company. So we were producing action sports, snowboarding videos and surf videos and this was down in San Diego. So kicked off a company, made no money, got to travel all around the world. But I really started to learn more and more about kind of technology.
Brian: A lot of the companies that we were working for wanted us to develop their web pages. So we started doing that. So I started learning a little HTML. Then that kind of evolved into, they wanted to start promoting their site, so they wanted to buy banners, which were getting like a three to seven percent click-through rate back then. So I would call up AOL and Yahoo, which were kind of the leaders in the space back in the day, and I would buy 20 to 30-dollar CPM banners that would run on the front page of Yahoo and the sports sections of Yahoo. Not only were these guys that I were talking to on the other end of the phone making a ton of money, 'cause their stock was, you know, two to five hundred dollars per share at Yahoo, I think, at the time.
Brian: They weren't the best sales guys, so after talking to them for a while, I decided too good of an opportunity. I know the space. It's still in its infancy. Got rid of the action sport company, loaded up all the surfboards and moved up to San Francisco, and I was fortunate enough to get a job at Yahoo back in late '99 or early 2000s in ad sales. Did that for about 10 years, got to work with hundreds of different advertisers and to see the space really come from its infancy to a mature, now kind of dominant space within advertising.
Brian: After 10 years at Yahoo, wanted to roll the dice and give kind of the startup thing a go. I'd been at a big company for a decade. So I started doing everything from data management platforms to third-party data providers and really kind of broadening my experiences from advertising to software as a service to data, and that, I think, just gave me kind of a more well-rounded experience and knowledge of the space. So it got to a point, a few years ago, where the last company I was at was sold to Yahoo. Decided that it's now my time to kind of start what I think would be a profitable business. And that's when we launched egami.tv.
Brian: Yeah, kind of a funny path from surfing to software.
Benjamin: I was gonna say, it sounds like your classic international relation Russian studies to enterprising surf bum to ad sales exec to startup founder.
Brian: Yeah, kind of full circle, right?
Benjamin: Right, right, you've definitely kind of walked all over the map.
Benjamin: So tell me a little bit more about the company. You mentioned some of your products. Who are the customers that you work with?
Brian: So we have built several different types of video player execution. I just mentioned one where that image that we saw of Steph Curry in the article, we'll identify that image and we'll actually convert that real estate that was an image now into a piece of video content. So we'll put a video player in that space. The image will last about three seconds and then it will convert into a video player. So typically a pre-roll ad or kind of a TV commercial runs in front of the content. Then the content plays, and then we've got a couple of other different executions with a standard video player on the page. We have something called an outstream player, and the characteristics of that is, you'll scroll down in between two paragraphs, extend out the article, and a video player will appear, and then when the content is done, it'll collapse back up, so kind of collapsible video player. And we have something called the ESP, or egami sideview player, which is something that kind of pops out on the right and follows [inaudible 00:10:31] on the page as you scroll down.
Brian: So those are some of the different products that we offer. And then we'll work with most publishers. When I say most publisher, comScore top 500s, but we lean more towards publishers that we have a lot of content or video content access to. So that tends to be a lot of news, current events, entertainment, celebrity, sports, travel, finance.
Benjamin: People that are producing a lot of content.
Brian: Yeah, people that are producing a lot of content or have a million plus page views per month, that need help, right? A lot of the big guys, like ESPN, they've got a whole production army. They don't necessarily need our help. But there are, we'll call them the tier two guys, people that fall outside of, let's say, the comScore top 50, that just don't have the time, energy or, again, the resources to go out there and kind of create this on their own.
Brian: So what we're providing is at no cost to the publisher. As a matter of fact, we'll actually pay them for the real estate that they provide us on the page. Value for the publisher is free professional video content plus revenue or monetization from ads.
Benjamin: And then you're also paying the video creator. So you're paying both sides of the equation, which to me is a little confusing.
Brian: So if you think about it, content producers, so let's just take ESPN, produce a lot of content for their owned and operated sites, right, and so ESPN.com, et cetera. Once they place that content on the page, and they drive as much traffic as they possible to do it, then it just kind of sits there and they're not necessarily monetizing it. So what they've decided, they say, "Look, there's an opportunity to extend our content outside of our owned and operated sites, and we're willing to do that as long as we get some revenue." So that's the perspective of the content producer. That's why they get paid. They've gone through, obviously, the trouble of actually kind of producing the content. They're not gonna get paid as much as they're making, probably, on their owned and operated site, but it's incremental to them, right? It's additional revenue for them.
Benjamin: It allows them to lengthen out the shelf life of their content.
Brian: Absolutely. I mean, I don't think they're necessarily producing content and then instantly throwing it up within kind of this exchange, but if it's just sitting there collecting dust, it's not making anybody any money. Typical life span of an article is about 24 to 36 hours, so article's created, content's created, it's published. It hits kind of a spike, and then it just kind of dies off. There are other types of contents, like how to tie a tie, which is more evergreen, that can kind of continue kind of getting traffic. But the majority of content is kind of a recent event article, and that usually lasts 24 to 36 hours. So if there's another publisher that wants to add onto that or have that enhance kind of their article, from the content producer's standpoint, that's great.
Benjamin: So you're really focused on media companies or companies that are creating a constant stream of content that is meant to be current.
Brian: Our two main clients are publishers and advertisers. The content is kind of the glue that sticks both of those together. And the publisher's standpoint, there are publisher, all different types of publishers, from sports, current event and news, to companies like eHow, which are more evergreen content, like how to tie a tie.
Brian: So to us, we're pretty indifferent about the type of content that's produced or even the type of publisher that we're gonna work with. We have a [inaudible 00:13:56] over like six and a half pieces of kind of original, professional content that spans every single vertical. So we can, almost with any publisher that we work with, we can find a piece of relevant video content to place on their articles.
Benjamin: Run that by me again. You said you had six and a half pieces of content.
Brian: Six and a half million pieces of video content.
Benjamin: Sorry, I thought you said you had six and a half pieces of content. I was like, that doesn't seem like very much. That's a lot of Steph Curry videos.
Brian: Yes, exactly, exactly. No, so there are far more written articles than there are video content being produced, but six and a half million pieces, and then there's more content added to that every single day. And that's just gonna continue to grow and grow.
Benjamin: Talk to me about the advertisers.
Brian: The current state of online video advertising is pretty interesting. There's actually a lack of video content, or what we'll call supply, that's out there today, so there's more ad that need to get run than there is supply to run it on. Typically, you're seeing a lot of these pre-roll or kind of commercials that happen on your television. That's where a majority or a good portion of advertising is kind of spent today. But, as you know, more and more and more people are converting over and viewing their content on their laptop, even more so on their cellphone, so there's just been a big shift in how people are consuming video content. And there's a majority of these publishers that aren't able to create their own content. Therefore, there's a lack of what we'll call supply.
Brian: Advertisers have already, again, produced the pre-roll or commercials for their television, so how do they now kind of extend that audience online and get far better measurements from it, right? Online, you can actually get data that shows exactly how many people viewed your ad, how long did they view it for, what kind of demographic profile these people are.
Benjamin: Did they buy anything?
Brian: Did they buy anything? Right. So you can get very granular on the type of data and you can back up what you promise with data. The bad news is, if your bot traffic is 50%, advertisers shouldn't pay for that, right?
Brian: So from an advertiser's perspective, we're providing them now that additional opportunity to reach their audiences outside of the TV and where they're spending a majority of the time. And we're also providing assurance that their ads are gonna be seen in front of professional content. And I think that's the advantage, kind of, for the advertisers, and plus you can target everything from categories, domains, people, devices, time of day, so there's a lot more flexibility and targeting capabilities.
Benjamin: Talk to me about the greater landscape of video advertising. I bet I have a good picture of how you're helping people. Who else is out there? Where are people focused on video advertising?
Brian: Yeah, it's definitely a hot vertical kind of to be in. Just the money that you get from a video ad versus a standard kind of banner ad is 10 to 20x. So the money's there. The types of video advertising that you're seeing on apps like Snapchat are really kind of short, so they're five, 15 seconds, custom, kind of unique, so it's not just a commercial. They're creating kind of custom video content for it. So I think that's been an interesting shift. I just think content in general, and communication in general, has been shortened quite a bit. People want snip bits of everything from 142 characters to a 10-second recap of a whole game. So shortened video ads, I think that's one of the trends that we're seeing.
Brian: I think advertisers are finding platforms like Snapchat easier to connect with their audiences by running kind of shorter, mobile video ads. There's a lot of data on the users, so there's personalization that could be happening. So not only kind of with the short-form video, if you can customize your ad to include, let's just say a red Chevy truck because you know that you've searched for red Chevy truck and you've been to the Chevy site and you've actually built a Chevy truck, and if you can see an ad, and the ad showed that specific Chevy truck, that is red, you've got a much deeper kind of connection to it, right? So that's done through AI and just data that's out there. So how do you kind of glue together that information to customize the ad?
Brian: User-generated content, or UGC. Before, I think, five, six years ago, advertisers were steering away from it, but you're seeing today, there's just a huge popularity of YouTube stars, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat stars that are kind of coming out there and actually being quote-unquote sponsored, so an advertiser, let's do Chevy again, will identify kind of an influencer. He'll go out and create his own content that'll include a truck, and then socialize that with his 10 million followers. So that kind of user-generated content combined with what's called influencer marketing. So that's becoming more and more, and it's just another vehicle in which advertisers can connect and brands can kind of connect with their audience.
Brian: And then there's the whole kind of VR. That's coming, and it's how do you now incorporate ads and video ads within kind of a virtual reality experience? Those are some of the trends that I think I'm at least keeping an eye on it. There's a lot of other stuff's more on the technical end. There's something called header bidding, which allows you to make a single call to multiple advertising demand partners, and whoever returns the ad with the highest revenue or CPM to it, that ad gets placed.
Benjamin: Talk to me a little bit about that. I'm curious to know your thoughts in terms of what video advertising costs and how do people that are looking to advertise a product, service rationalize the CPMs for video as opposed to display and search and some of the other ad channels they can use.
Brian: Videos are more efficient at providing kind of a vehicle to deliver a more impactful message versus kind of the typical display ads. I think we've almost been trained to kind of look past those. So the efficiency of a display ad has decreased over time, whereas a video ad, people typically are willing to kind of engage and watch it in order to view the content that follows that. So you have a much more engaged audience than you would in kind of that display advertising world.
Benjamin: Talk to me about what video advertising, when you're doing it at some reasonable scale, costs.
Brian: Typical CPMs range from anywhere from 15 to 30 dollars, depending on the sites that you're on, targeting, et cetera. There's also cost per completed ad, so an advertiser or marketer is willing to spend a little bit more if the viewer actually completes the ad. So cost per completion is another kind of metric, too, as well. So I'd say those are the two ways in which marketers and advertisers pay.
Brian: There's been a big shift on how marketers are buying advertising, from direct, so they'll go to MSN.com to their finance property, and they'll buy an ad directly on kind of the finance property of the site, and they'll pay, let's say, a premium of like $30 versus what's becoming more and more popular, is kind of the programmatic approach, meaning that they'll buy ads in what's called an exchange. They'll basically bid to win that ad. So they'll set a price, a CPM price, let's say of $10, and if there's no ad opportunity that's greater than $10, they'll win that, and they'll be able to display their ads.
Brian: But more and more advertisers and brands today are kind of leaning towards that programmatic approach.
Benjamin: And who are some of the programmatic providers?
Brian: The big ones are obviously Google, OpenX, Oath, which is AOL, Yahoo, the DSPs and trading desks, which are other facilitators providing ads. Those guys are buying a lot of ads on behalf of brands and agencies through the programmatic approach.
Benjamin: Okay, there's this trend for social media advertising and there's more user-generated content. You mentioned that there's influencer marketing, and then there's going direct and programmatic buying. Where do you see your company fitting into that landscape?
Brian: I think we span kind of the gamut. I've been a part of very large, direct advertising sales teams, specifically at Yahoo, and they're very expensive, and it's very challenging to go kind of command these direct deals. So I think what programmatic's done is really allowed a lot of other smaller players, like myself, to enter the marketplace without have to going out and hiring a massive sales team. That's not to say that we're gonna turn away any kind of direct advertising budgets, but it allows me to kind of focus more on product or finding more supply publisher partners and then relying a little bit more on the programmatic side of the demand to obviously generate the revenue. So we definitely span the gap of direct advertising campaigns that run on our platform as well as leveraging a lot of the programmatic partnerships.
Benjamin: Who are the type of people that you're trying to bring onto the platform, and who are the people that are seeing the best results by using your platform?
Brian: So we're trying, again, supply and demand. On the supply side, it's just publishers that match the verticals that we have a lot of video content for, so that's one side of the business. And then, on the demand side, it's creating partnerships with everybody within the programmatic space, so everybody from the kind of exchanges, like AdEx and OpenX, all the way up to trading desks, DSPs, then directly to agencies and then advertisers. So when you think of it, it's kind of an inverse pyramid. Advertisers and brands are at top. They typically buy through agencies, which have an attached tech component, which is like a DSP or a trading desk, and then they buy through kind of exchanges, through that, down at the bottom, so AdEx and OpenX. So all the way down from the top down to the bottom, those are the types of relationships that we're connecting with on the demand side.
Benjamin: And on the supply side, you said the publishers or the content creators, and specifically are there any verticals you're trying to develop more of?
Brian: There's the content producers, which are publishers as well. That's a separate piece. We'll kind of look at it now as maybe a triangle. So we sit in the middle. On the top right, there's the publishers, so direct publishers who are writing articles, who need relevant video content. On the top left of that triangle, there are content producers, which again are also publishers, but they only create content. And then on the bottom triangle, we'll call those the demand partners. So we kind of sit in the middle and kind of connect all those up. When I talk about the supply side, I'm referring more towards just the publishers that have created text content that actually need relevant video to add to their text. We've got connections to over 700 plus content providers, so everyone from ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, Conde Nast sites, so we're probably not adding many more of those, and we're actually looking probably more for just publishers that are looking for relevant video content to place on their page.
Benjamin: So tell me about your goals for the company. How long have you been doing this? How big is the company? What are you trying to achieve next?
Brian: We've been around for a little over two years, which is great. Our team has definitely grown, but we're keeping it pretty small. We're the band of misfits. We're about, a little over 12 people now. A lot of engineering, definitely some sales, account management. What's been interesting is we've been kind of sitting in the middle between demand and supply. So this year, we're gonna start venturing out and actually creating a couple of websites on our own. So going out there and finding some verticals that we're finding a lot of ad demand for and then really kind of expanding out and building content around those and keeping that, now becoming a publisher ourselves.
Benjamin: So essentially what you're saying is you're gonna produce BrianBenjaminnettSurfing.com, take all the surfing videos from ESPN, and be able to monetize them on your site?
Brian: Correct, that's exactly it. That's one of the big focus that we have. There's always things that we can improve on our technology standpoints, so be on the lookout for a couple of new video player executions. I think there's an interesting sponsored content too as well, so a lot of brands are creating their own video content. We always have to constantly think about kind of the user experience. So really exploring ways in which we can provide users with some value that brands are providing. So an example of that would be Coca-Cola comes up with some new power energy water. So how can we know, go out and find a kind of relevant placements for that content that actually users are looking for, using kind of artificial intelligence to scan and analyze web pages and content, matching that with kind of a user description, and really customizing that message. And we talked a little bit about that earlier, but the more exact content we can provide a user to view, the better engagement rates that we have, so everybody wins in that, the brand, the advertiser, the publisher, the user. So that's the world that we're looking to create.
Benjamin: So what tidbits have you learned along the way that you could pass on for people that are early in their career?
Brian: I think learning for me, from being kind of an advertising sales guy at the very beginning, you know, going out there and selling ads to brands and agencies, was great. It was a fun skill to kind of learn and hone. And then, I think after that, what really started getting me interested in other things is just really asking a lot of questions, like how are the ads actually working? Like what's happening on the back end? Who are the people that are producing content? How are they producing content? What's the technology behind it?
Brian: So for me, I think the advice is not only feel passionate about and go after the career that is of interest to you, but be open to exploring different facets of a company. My most memorable moments in my career is going out there and just learning something totally new. And then you become just more well-rounded in what your passion is about, right? I mean, I can go into any advertiser and talk to them about not only how they can go out and connect with the audiences that they're going after, but what's the technical solutions that they can actually use to do it. And what's happening within the space.
Brian: So to me, providing people that you're selling to or working with more information and helping them, to me has just been extremely rewarding. That's probably the best advice that I can give is just being open to learning new things.
Benjamin: I think it's great advice. Is there anyone you're trying to meet or anything that we can promote? How can people get in touch with you?
Brian: Yeah, I think, as I stated earlier, we're going after publishers that just really need relevant video content. So if you know anybody out there, please send them our way. Brian@egami (E-G-A-M-I) dot TV is a way that you can reach to it. Our website's up and running with demos of exactly what we can provide, and yeah, would love to help out if possible if there's a need out there, for sure.
Benjamin: Great. Brian, thank you so much. I appreciate you taking the time to walk us through, tell us your business, and a little bit about your career arc. It's been great.
Brian: Great, thanks so much, Benjamin.
Benjamin: Okay, that wraps up this episode of the MarTech podcast. Thanks to Brian for joining us. If you'd like to learn more about video advertising or Brian's company, go to egami.tv, E-G-A-M-I dot TV. We'd also like to thank Searchmetrics for sponsoring our podcast. If you're looking to grow your online presence, go to searchmetrics.com to request a free tour of their software.
Benjamin: If you'd like to read the transcript for this podcast, we've published it on martechpod.com. That's M-A-R-T-E-C-H-P-O-D dot com. If you're a subscriber to the MarTech podcast, thank you. We want you to feel like a member of our community, so if you have any questions, comments or you'd like to be a guest on the show, feel free to reach out to me directly at podcast@Benjaminjshap.com. Or you can reach us on Twitter, which my handle is @Benjaminjshap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.
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Benjamin: That's it for today, but until next time, my advice is just focus on keeping your customers happy.