Vidible’s Co-Founder Tim Mahlman Talks Challenges And Solutions In Video Advertising

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Tim Mahlman, the co-founder and president of Vidible, is directing a company with an expected 300% growth this year. Over the summer,  Vidible served over 2.5 billion video impressions in August and averages 3,000 videos ingested into the platform per day.

The company currently houses over 250,000 videos in its system with more than 150 content producers across three continents (U.S., Europe and Asia) and 12 categories including arts/entertainment, business, tech, culture, news health, and sports. After being ranked number 11 in ComScore’s August 2014 Video Metrix Key Measures report, Mahlamn took a moment to sit down with Adotas to talk about the ever-changing video adverting market.

Question: With video streaming gaining popularity, what do you think this means for advertisers and publishers looking to tap into the trend?

Tim Mahlman: The online video business is rapidly making its way toward something that brands can bank on as an advertising strategy. It’s quickly becoming enterprise level. That said, syndication online is still very much in its infancy. Now is the time for marketers to test, develop their success criteria and define their metrics, and identify the partners that can help them make online syndication ad buying as big of an opportunity as TV syndication is. The same holds true for pubs. They need to be thinking about capturing real estate off of sites they own and operate and develop tech solutions and strategies that allow them to sell beyond their own sites’ walls.

Question: In your experience, what would you say are the growing pains facing that of video content exchanges?

Tim Mahlman: The single greatest challenge in growing the video content exchange, like any truly disruptive software, is inertia. There is always inertia with publishers when you present to them a software that asks them to analyze an existing process and business model. But for those that dive in early, they develop a tremendous advantage. Look at RTB – there are some major media companies that made significant investments in tech and people early and are riding a tremendous wave of ad dollars as marketers move budget into digital. Content syndication will follow the exact same trajectory, and because this is a land grab, we are seeing several of our publisher clients get very serious about their syndication business very quickly.

Question: What are some challenges that Vidible faces with their video content solutions? How have you overcome them?

Tim Mahlman: Again, the biggest challenge is that we’re changing the way a transaction occurs. We’re making it possible for media companies to develop and manage their own syndication strategies. That means moving away from middle men who manage the process for you and take a non-transparent margin for the service. It’s nice to simply get a check from a middle man without doing much. But as we saw with RTB, as soon as the marketer figures out that the pub isn’t maintaining control of an ad buy when it leaves their 4 walls and is syndicated, the strategy of outsourcing your syndication is in serious jeopardy.

We overcome the inertia problem by designing tests that are small and very focused. For example, we’ll help a pub strike deals with 3 or 4 sites directly for syndication at a price that’s typically 20% higher than what they’d receive from their network partners, but still much cheaper than what the pub usually pays a network for syndication. Then have those sites blacklisted from syndication networks. If the networks, deliver significantly less volume, then we’ve demonstrated that the network wasn’t adding much value and doing so at an unwarranted markup. Not surprisingly, we’ve found that these syndication networks run the gambit. Some have very limited distribution and rely on a handful of sites. Others have built a great network of sites and are charging a totally fair rate for distribution.

Question: How do you think the industry will evolve and change over the next few years?

Tim Mahlman: The media companies who invest in developing syndication networks that they operate will be able to capture huge share of video ad budgets. I think the importance and growth of video online is pretty obvious at this point. These companies will be able to invest in creating great content and delivering a seamless experience for their advertising clients across the web. The pubs that don’t invest in their own syndication networks will still have the opportunity to create great content but their ability to capture ad budgets will be outsourced to the companies that operate the large syndication networks. We’re seeing that the media companies who invested in RTB early are the same companies who have adopted many elements of our technology. So, if you felt like you’re coming late to the programmatic revolution, you’re likely missing the changes in content syndication as well.

Question: Now that you’ve hit one billion monthly video streams, what are your goals for Vidible?

Tim Mahlman: Firstly, a small clarification – we view the 1B impression number not as Vidible’s volume, but rather the volume that our clients are driving using our software. Secondly, our main focus is to continue to help media companies develop better syndication networks in house and continue to change the mindset that content needs to live within your own four walls to be relevant or monetizable. (I think I made up that word) Thirdly, because we built our tech from the ground up to enable for online video or mobile video, we’re really excited to learn with our clients about how mobile content consumption and syndication should work and how the mobile strategy is different from online.

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