Q&A with Mark Popkiewicz: Ad Fatigue, Viewer Engagement and the Future of TV Advertising

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What is Mirriad? How does In-Video advertising work?

The way consumers view content has changed, as the rise of SVOD and OTT platforms have ushered in a new era for TV. This is challenging the overall economics of video entertainment and disrupting the video advertising industry altogether, even though we are experiencing a renaissance in video entertainment on TV as well as online.

Mirriad offers an In-Video Advertising solution that addresses many of today’s video advertising issues.  First and foremost we are focused on delivering the best viewer experience by blending the advertising directly into the audience entertainment experience. We are taking the idea of content marketing to a new level, suitable for the digital age with a new type of advertising that allows distributors to derive advertising revenue from brands using their content.

In-Video Advertising delivers all the benefits of being in context with whatever is happening on screen, being impactful without being disruptive.  By delivering In Video Advertising as standardized ad units we can execute large campaigns across a broad range of content reaching large audiences, on demand.  Executing at scale means we can drive not only the marketing benefits brands to expect from association with great content but also benefits from frequency and reach typical of large-scale video ad campaigns and capable of driving purchase intent and other attributes.

Where do you see the future of TV advertising headed?

Less is more.  We are already seeing dramatic reductions in ad loads in the US, and as is common in the global media industry, is likely to be the beginning of a wave that will sweep the world.  Much depends on the sustainability of high production value storytelling. It’s expensive and needs to be paid for. So tensions will rise between subscribers paying for a sustained diet of rich content and those who are prepared to trade off cost for a balanced content diet including ads.

Audiences keep on telling us that they prefer not to have ads at all, and force-feeding never ends well.  So ads must become smarter and deliver more value, or at the very least not detract. Much is being done to create smarter, more palatable experiences including; very short ads, providing choice, or, as in our case making the ads part of the content.  What I’m certain of is that the ad formats of tomorrow and the technologies supporting them must move on dramatically from those of 30 years if the TV business model is to be maintained.

TV’s are becoming increasingly connected, and I think that the most exciting initiatives, apart from our own of course, are ones where the advertising experience can dynamically right size itself to the viewer.  ‘Want to know more’? – you can. ‘Want to see less’ – you can. Imagine AI-powered advertising that estimates who is watching and delivers the right experience without intervention, even without having access to heaps of privileged personal information.  Sound impossible? Its not.

What types of technologies does Mirriad use to match audiences with content?

We’ve created a platform that handles everything from understanding video content and the advertising inventory that lies therein, creating data pointing to the ad inventory and making all that available to advertisers at the touch of a button.  We then go on to deliver campaigns built off of ad units managed and verified for viewability even though each instance of brand, product or message is different. The platform is a single place for distributors, sales, and operations teams to manage and sell in-video ad inventory. As you might expect our solution uses advanced computer vision and machine learning algorithms to turn video into ad inventory to deliver highly targeted brand campaigns.

All this deep analysis of content coupled with typical audience data for broadcaster or digital platforms means that we can target audiences with precision.  This is especially the case when Dynamic Ad Insertion is applied to In-Video Advertising. Suddenly you can insert different ads into different streams of the same content on the fly and when coupled to ad serving infrastructure can deliver the right embedded ad, in the right content, to the right viewer, at the right time.  It’s remarkable.

Do you see Dynamic Ad Insertion becoming a growing trend in TV to deliver advertising?

Yes, there will be a day when linear ads are all delivered via DAI.  Sooner than many people expect. That’s because the audience experience is better and ultimately the costs associated with delivery are lower.  I’m seeing more and more platforms adopt the technology on TV networks as well as digital. In fact, we are deploying a large DAI project with a massive Chinese video platform as we speak.  Watch out for more news on this in the coming months.

How do you measure and track in-video ads?

When we started this project the art and science of measuring brand integration was fledgling.  Over that past few years, several businesses have developed sophisticated measurement techniques that attribute empirical value to branded imagery as it appears in content.  Companies like Repucom and Rentrak have now been acquired by Nielsen and comScore who are busy integrating them into a bigger infrastructure.

We developed our solution based on industry best practices and are now working with the majors on creating a standard viewability measurement for In Video Ads.  At the same time, we are working with established companies who track views. Building trust is key, closely followed by simplicity, transparency and low overhead.

Our  Visual Impact Score (VIS) builds on all those ideas and by using the latest machine learning and computer vision technology we have automated management of the ads, so that all billabe ads meet the requisite thresholds and ensure quality exposure every time.

About Mark Popkiewicz

Popkiewicz is CEO of Mirriad, a video technology company delivering in-video advertising by naturally blending brand advertising into popular entertainment content.

Previously a director at BBC Ventures, Mobile Media and Eicon, Mark has led several technology businesses, held senior executive positions at Lucent Technologies and spent more than half his career working with US-based businesses setting up global operations including BRIC and MINT countries. Throughout his career, he has focused on building technology companies into global leaders, and his experience includes media, advertising, and monetization of multi-channel video content. Popkiewicz has held several C-suite positions at companies including the BBC, Lucent Technologies, The Mobile Media Company, and Eicon Technology.

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