Q&A with Gil Becker, CEO of AnyClip on brand safety, GDPR, and why contextualized ads will help clean up the industry
Discuss your thoughts on the state of brand safety in digital advertising? How does AnyClip play a role in cleaning up the industry?
Let’s first define what we mean when we say “brand safety.” It can mean many things, but here we are specifically referring to protecting online ads from appearing next to content not aligned with a brand’s values. Most consumers are unaware of the intricacies behind digital ad serving and hold the brand directly accountable for all placements. Numerous studies point out the damage a brand safety fail can inflict on consumers’ perception of the brand and purchase intent.
The industry does a fairly strong job delivering the needed protection for text content, but video content has continued to prove difficult. YouTube consistently finds itself in hot water as brands keep finding their messages on the platform tethered to unsavory content about ISIS, child abuse, and most recently white supremacy. Acknowledging the difficulty in managing this, the platform has pushed the responsibility back to the brands to find third-party solutions.
AnyClip is looking to change this and deliver on the promise of digital video for advertisers on any platform. Our patented AI technology analyzes the video files, not just images or text, to generate metadata in real-time at scale. Our proprietary models and taxonomies, allow us to quickly and accurately identify a host of brand safety issues, including Violence, Gambling, and explicit language. Once identified, we flag the videos and alert brands before any potentially damaging ads can be served.
How has the industry changed since ads.txt and GDPR, and where can marketers go from here?
The IAB Tech Lab rolled out the Ads.txt initiative in 2017. Standing for Authorized Digital Sellers, the text file allows publishers to clearly identify the companies authorized to sell their inventory. It has been a major tool and important initiative in fighting ad fraud from within the industry. Ads.txt has helped weed out bad supply sources, improve the reputation of publishers with better inventory quality, and increase the level of trust within programmatic.
GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, is designed to protect the privacy of the residents of Europe by shifting the control of data back to the people. Reaching far beyond digital advertising, there is a clear connection to the industry with several key articles within the regulation directly related to the industry. Many in the US are calling for similar regulations, with California set to launch its own privacy law in January 2020.
These two essential initiatives are going a long way towards addressing transparency and consumer privacy issues, but do not deliver much in the way of brand safety. Neither offer brands protection for consumers from odious content or brands from association with content that can ruin their goodwill. Marketers must find alternatives to their reliance on user data and better understand the content for both brand safety as well as successful targeting.
How can contextual advertising/targeting solve problems for brand marketers and help them thrive in the coming years? What data-driven techniques can they leverage to match brands with consumers?
Content intelligence is an increasingly important data point needed by advertisers in the wake of continued brand safety failures and the arrival of GDPR. By knowing the content, advertisers can ensure it aligns with their brand values to safely deliver their messages at scale with confidence. Targeting based on content data also insulates marketers from GDPR as it eliminates the need for user data while still creating high targeting opportunities.
However, contextual targeting delivers more than just GDPR safety. It offers marketers unique data points to create and connect with audience profiles based on user intent, not user data. For example, consumers who actively choose to watch gaming content are great matches for gaming console companies or those watching travel-related content are prime for an airline. In essence, the content allows marketers to create natural “lookalikes” to target their messages.
Citing specific examples, how can agencies and brands move from audience-based targeting to contextual targeting?
Computers, tablets, TVs and mobile phones are increasingly not “personal” devices, but shared ones. For instance, let’s imagine a teenager borrowing her father’s phone to watch the latest video from her favorite pop star. Clearly, serving ads based on her father’s user profile – avid sports fanatic, wine expert and car enthusiast – would be misguided at best but potentially inappropriate. Serving the ads based on the content being consumed, no matter who was using the device would be a much safer and smarter approach.
None of us has just one interest and we all explore content accordingly. Let’s take someone who likes fancy cars and vacations as well as camping and mountain biking. The best time to serve a hotel ad is while he’s watching luxury travel content and the best time to serve him messages for camping gear is while he’s consuming outdoor content. User targeting may be able to deliver the consumer the hotel, car, camping or mountain bike ads, but can’t do so in the right context with relevant content.
For years, we have heard the industry clamor about delivering “the right ad to the right person at the right time.” But really, no one has delivered on that last part (timing), despite claims to the contrary. Knowing and leveraging real-time contextual intelligence will deliver on the timing claim for agencies and brands. The result will undoubtedly be more effective campaigns and happier consumers with relevant and not just personalized ad campaigns.
Clearly, brand marketers need to pay close attention to brand safety, ads.txt, and contextual intelligence, but where do publishers fit in all of this?
Publishers create the meeting ground of content for consumers and marketers. With brands increasingly skittish on brand safety, it is imperative for publishers to provide them with brand safe environments. They must be mindful of this reality as they face increasing pressure on their revenue streams in the wake of users turning to the leading networks in search of content.
The ads.txt initiative originated from advertisers demanding more transparency on where their money was going. Confidence in the marketplace took a big hit as spoofing and other scams were siphoning off the advertising money. By embracing ads.txt, publishers have been steadily improving confidence in the marketplace as a whole. They need to continue finding ways to improve on this.
No matter if they are based in Europe or not, GDPR is definitely a concern for publishers. Just ask Google, who was hit with a €50 million GDPR-related fine or the hundreds of other cases brewing against US companies. At the same point, there is an increasing pressure on publishers to develop revenue as users turn to social behemoths for content.
How is AnyClip helping publishers mitigate this changing landscape and do their jobs more effectively?
We analyze all video content using our patented AI technology to create rich metadata in real-time. Publishers leverage this data and our monetization platform to diversify their revenue stream without relying on user data. We help them create engaging, brand-safe environments that are rich with video and drive incremental revenue.
Matching the video metadata with the page content allows us to deliver near endless streams of relevant and premium video content to our publisher partners. We can turn any publisher into a content platform and empower them to compete for readers with the YouTubes and AppleNews of the world. We help publishers create more engaging experiences and deliver increased time spent on site, turning readers into viewers for publishers.
About Gil Becker
Gil Becker has served as Chief Executive Officer since 2015. He is an accomplished Ad Tech executive with 20 years of experience in high tech. Between 2012-2015, Gil served as COO at myThings, a global leader in customized programmatic ad solutions. While there, Gil positioned the company as the market and technological leader in the personalized retargeting Ad Tech industry. Prior to myThings, Gil served as COO of Market.com, where he oversaw operations and product development, managed 120 employees in four countries, and made key contributions to sales, strategic planning, and business development. Previously, he served as COO at Safecharge and helped position the company for a successful IPO. He also held VP Product and Marketing roles at Metalink Broadband. Gil holds an MBA from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, and a B.Sc. in Communication Systems Engineering from Ben-Gurion University.