Panache: Ad Delivery Standards Could Limit Creativity

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online_video_small.jpgADOTAS EXCLUSIVE — Online video is an important and innovative tool that advertisers and marketers are still learning how to utilize effectively. But with no current ad delivery standards set across all media players, advertisers are having trouble capitalizing on this technology. Panache is a company that is looking toward the future of online video and hopes to be an integral part of its evolution – Adotas sat down with the president and co-founder of Panache, Steve Robinson, to discuss how he plans to help Panache stay ahead of the curve.

ADOTAS: Hi Steve. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to catch up with you. Can you give us some background on yourself and your role with Panache?

STEVE ROBINSON: Thanks for chatting with me. I am the president and co-founder of Panache. I do many of the typical things presidents of start-ups do, which is guide strategy and operations, and helping wherever I can in order to empower the team to succeed. Prior to Panache, I was involved in building delivery systems for “over-the-top” ad delivery in television. We developed an ad delivery platform which delivered advertising that was separate (detached) from the encoded television video and then “triggered” the advertising to appear at the right time in the video. Before this, I founded Panache’s parent company Panther Software, where we developed high-performance data exchange software for Fortune 500 companies.

ADOTAS: Explain to our readers the role Panache has in the online video market and what they’re doing to change the way advertisers use video content.

ROBINSON: Everyone knows video content on the Web is expanding. Perhaps it will replace television one day, but at a minimum we know for sure that the Web is quickly catching up. The challenge that advertisers now face is how advertising works in our new digital world.

Both television and broadband are affected. TV is faced with the penetration of DVR technology. And online, advertisers are forced to navigate through stale formats and disparate technologies while vying to attract all of those eyeballs out there on the Web to engage more with interactive content.

Panache’s goal is to make this complicated world of monetizing digital video with advertising much easier. We provide publishers with a platform to deliver any ad format into any video from any ad server. By helping publishers maximize the value of their content, we in essence are helping them reach and engage with their consumers more successfully. Publishers are our partners, and we work with media buying agencies too. Panache helps publishers succeed and publishers help advertisers succeed. Hence Panache helps advertisers succeed.

ADOTAS: How does your business model work?

ROBINSON: Panache’s business is an Application Service Provider (ASP) model. We deliver ad formats into video. All ad formats, all types of video players. Panache’s platform provides a suite of technologies including the ability to visually overlay ad and content enhancement experiences on digital video, and an ad framework for building IAB ad units or custom ad units, and then target many delivery points and player technologies. Panache gives away all this technology and ensures the ads get to the video distribution point. For that we charge a fee.

ADOTAS: Currently, there are no ad delivery standards set across all video players. How does Panache address this? Is there anything the company is doing to change this?

ROBINSON: You are right. In fact, not only is each video player custom-built, but new players are coming out every day, further complicating the market. Every publisher builds their own player because companies like Adobe and Microsoft supply the “tools”. Panache supplies “instant-on” advertising capabilities into any player, no matter how custom, to trump the limitations and complexities posed by so many custom built video players and the abundance software players (i.e., AMP). It’s complex, we make it all simple.

Developing ad delivery standards is going to be hard, really hard. The problem is not developing the actual standards themselves but rather that, technically speaking, there is so much you can do with digital video, there are great creative tools for creating rich media, and so many bright talented people developing interactive ad formats that standards almost seem limiting. While the public is starting to see standard ad formats from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), we also see publishers wanting to be more dynamic in how they brand content, move forward and backward in video to brand and find new ways to showcase their products. The advent of new tools from companies such as Adobe and Microsoft are unlocking a world of creativity. We’re also partnering with the Rich Media format companies to make it easy for their publishers to monetize video. Again, big picture – it’s complex, we make it simple.

ADOTAS: What is significant about this partnership with Adobe? What does it mean to Panache and to video advertising?

ROBINSON: Great question. The obvious benefit is that we have a great niche in Adobe Media Player (AMP), and a fantastic partner in Adobe. AMP is doing great, with their product flying off the shelf (or should I say servers). We view the relationship as a big win for Panache and a great addition for Adobe. AMP has a scripting language called AMOD, but without getting too technical only a couple basic ad types work, it’s manual, and next to impossible to control sequentially placing ad overlays and positioning. With Panache, publishers can add any ad format, at any time in the video, within any area of the video screen creating unlimited content enhancements and advertising possibilities all visually (no coding) so we’re really helping publishers and Adobe get a big win.

Publishers recognize their best content is going to be distributed beyond their html players and they have to monetize everywhere their video plays. Publishers can no longer say, “Well we just put our video on our portal site, that’s it.” To reach consumers, publishers have to distribute to multiple places and get their ads into any and every player. Owning the last mile, so to speak, is critical. That’s Panache and that’s our win.

ADOTAS: How did the conversation for this partnership come about? Who approached whom and what was the motivation for it?

ROBINSON: While everyone is aware of the quality of Adobe’s products, it is really their people that make the company strong. The more time we spend with them, the more personal the relationship becomes.

As we started showing the Panache platform for publishers some time ago, we were introduced to a couple of the early AMP visionaries. We explained what we were doing and conducted a few demos and they loved it. Adobe knows the problem we solve well as they live in the flash authoring and video world, and they know this problem transcends all publishers and player consumption points. We started talking about AMP, long before the right solution was developed. But we saw an opportunity, jumped on board,and made it one of our key initiatives. We clicked with everyone at Adobe right at the start and it’s a real blast.

ADOTAS: What has been the most controversial aspect of the monetization of online video?

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