An Adotas Q&A with JP Nauseef, Chairman, Krush Technologies explores online tracking, transparency and keeping users happy.
Q: Why do you think that consumers need more transparency in the growing online video segment?
A: It’s a little bit chilling to think about what the industry was debating back in the olden days of the early 2000s, when DoubleClick bought Abacus and the world was turned upside down because someone could theoretically marry offline personal information with online browsing cookies.
Of course, today this type of practice is common and likely happens to each of us hundreds of times each day, hashing notwithstanding.
What DoubleClick ran afoul of back then is what the FTC has been telling the industry to focus on for the past decade: Transparency. As relatively benign as that old example may seem today, the approximately 100 million people who have opted to use ad blockers are communicating to the industry loud and clear.
As the industry innovates at greater rates to advance products and technology, it should also continually seek to become more and more transparent. An example which highlights the need for transparency is the growth of programmatic targeting, which is becoming a defacto standard for tracking consumers across the web for much of the display ecosystem. While programmatic delivers most mobile video ads today, a similar form of ad targeting may occur more frequently via digital television, and via ad-supported video chat products.
Q: So how do you try to make users feel less threatened by all the tracking technology?
A: At Krush we are providing a new kind of advertising channel, with ads embedded within the video chat on the ooVoo product. We make certain that, instead of hiding behind terms of service or claiming merely to be “dumb pipes,” an attitude many others project, we work directly with law enforcement to weed out bad guys and bring them to justice – thus protecting our users. In one recent case on Long Island, our team helped law enforcement quickly identify a bad actor which helped law enforcement make an arrest. I doubt other social networks, let alone video-enabled networks, are as vigilant as we are about weeding out bad actors.
Q: Since your chat app is supported by advertising and free to consumers, what kinds of ways can you actually enhance transparency for them?
A: When I say we work actively with law enforcement, I mean we engage from the start. Detective Alan Constantino of the Nassau County Police Department, was quoted saying, “ooVoo was more helpful in our case than any other social network we’ve ever dealt with.” This was after our Chief Privacy Officer and Director of Customer Support took less than 24 hours to weed out the stalker who had been hiding behind a false ID. “I haven’t been able to stop singing your praises,” continued Officer Constantino.
Have you ever heard of a social network working directly with local law enforcement to find bad actors in less than 24 hours after an event occurred? This is simply responsible corporate citizen stuff to us, and we feel that we have a responsibility to our users that also includes weeding out anyone under 13 who registers on our platform. That’s against our rules. And we take it seriously.
Q: Appnexus rid themselves of maybe half their inventory in the months after they admitted to finding a lot of fraud. How can our industry avoid, if not prevent, fraud that wastes so much advertising dollars?
A: A model that conveys transparency to consumers makes a lot of sense for advertisers too. The metrics tilt in favor of the advertisers if we adhere to the covenant with our users, and since these are conversations between and among people we’ve made a promise to, that’s something we take seriously.
In this, the era of bot traffic and 40% fraud rates consumers really do want and deserve to hear this kind of responsibility taken seriously. Let’s hope we see more of it as programmatic moves from the desktop to our mobile devices, conversations with friends and loved ones, and then permeates our lives and with the apps we interact with.
Q: What do you think corporate responsibility is in our industry today?
A: As mentioned, we hope Krush products provide an example of how provide an optimal level of transparency without compromising user experience or user growth. Any intermediary company not doing business transparently with its buyers and sellers runs the risk of losing business with both. And users appear to be voting with their ad blockers, which are costing some publishers dearly.
Q: What can we expect in the future?
A: That depends. Without the kind of corporate responsibility we’ve discussed here, the problems the industry faces today will seem trivial compared to what we’d see in the future – just like the AOL / Abacus matter seems trivial to us today. Consumers are identified and tracked many times during the course of their days – and it’s become a given in our society that we’re being tracked.
About JP Nauseef
JP Nauseef is Chairman at Krush, a tech and innovation company focused on building products and social experiences which leverage mobile video, artificial and emotional intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality.