Videoplaza: Videowerbung im Multiscreen Universum

Videoplaza bietet einen Videoadserver, der es Produzenten erlaubt in einem immer komplexeren Geräte- und Plattform-Universum ihre Inhalte mit Werbung zu versehen. Gerade hat Videoplaza eine neue Finanzierungsrunde von $12 Millionen abgeschlossen um die Internationalisierung voranzutreiben und das Produkt weiter zu entwickeln. Es ist also ein guter Zeitpunkt um mit Sorosh Tavakoli, dem Gründer und CEO von Videoplaza über den Videowerbemarkt zu sprechen und seine Sicht auf die Herausforderungen der nächsten Jahren zu hören.

Videoplaza

Als Technologiedienstleister für Videoproduzenten konzentriert sich Videoplaza ganz auf die Sell-Side des Marktes und bietet Broadcastern und Publishern einen AdServer, der sowohl die Dauer eines Videos versteht als auch auf verschiedene Geräte, Inhalte und Umfelder reagieren kann. Vor allem die Möglichkeit auf verschiedene Videolängen dynamisch zu reagieren ist wichtig, da immer längere Videos im Netz verfügbar werden und Pre-Rolls nicht mehr ausreichen diese Inhalte zu monetarisieren. Somit müssen AdServer sowohl mit Werbeunterbrechungen als auch mit ganzen Werbeblöcken umgehen können und diese dynamisch an den Inhalt und das Umfeld anpassen.

Konkurrenz

Mit seinem Videoadserver konkurriert Videoplaza zum einen mit klassischen Display-AdServern und zum anderen mit spezialisierten US-Schwergewichten wie FreeWheel, die bis jetzt fast $30 Millionen an Venture Kapital eingesammelt haben. Indem Videoplaza in der Lage ist die Dauer von Videos, das abspielende Gerät und die Art des Inhalts bei der Ausspielung von Werbung zu berücksichtigen schafft es der AdServer 25-30% mehr Umsatz im Vergleich zu Display-AdServern zu erzielen. Somit ist Videoplaza für den Wettbewerb mit Doubleclick und Co. gut gerüstet. FreeWheel und Co. hingegen konzentrieren sich momentan noch hauptsächlich auf den US-Markt, was Videoplaza eine gute Ausgangsposition in Europa verschafft hat. Diese Position gilt es nun im Zuge der Internationalisierung auszubauen.

Herausforderungen im Videomarkt

Eine der größten Herausforderungen für den Videomarkt ist es laut Sorosh die zunehmende Komplexität an Geräten zu managen. Die Nutzer erwarten, dass sie Videos nicht mehr nur auf dem PC sondern auch auf dem Smartphone, dem Tablet oder dem Fernseher abrufen können. Dieser Trend spiegelt sich auch bei der Werbung wider: 2010 spielte Videoplaza 100% der Werbung auf dem PC aus. Ende 2011 wurde hingegen bereits 8% der Werbung auf Post-PC Geräten ausgeliefert und Sorosh erwartet dass dieser Anteil bis 2013 auf 50% steigt.

Hinzu kommt die Syndikation, in der Sorosh eine große Chance für Produzenten und Inhalteanbieter sieht solange sie die Kontrolle über die Werbeschaltung und das Inventar behalten und Werbetreibende nicht über Dritte einbuchen können. Interessanterweise sieht Sorosh im Video-Plattform Markt YouTube als langfristigen Gewinner. Er beobachtet vor allem eine Machtverschiebung hin zu den Content-Produzenten und mit der Strategie eigene Inhalte zu produzieren setzt YouTube voll auf diesen Trend und kann sich so langfristig etablieren wohingegen simple Plattformen Probleme bekommen werden.

Die nächste Herausforderung für Videopaza ist Deutschland. Nachdem Videoplaza bereits seit einem Jahr im deutschen Markt aktiv ist hat Sorosh die weitere Entwicklung des deutschen Marktes für 2012 zu seinem persönlichen Fokus erklärt.

Mehr zu Soroshs Einschätzung des deutschen Marktes, seinen Überlegungen zur Content-Syndikation und Videoplazas Erfolgsgeschichte im Interview.

Interview Sorosh Tavakoli

Which challenges does online video face moving forward?

At Videoplaza, we don’t talk about online video anymore. IP-delivered video was born on the PC and has now out of that environment to be device and platform agnostic. The audience expects their favorite content and services to be available on all their devices, be it on their TV, on their phone, tablet or PC. This expectation is increasingly being met as broadcasters and publishers build out their services on non-PC devices. This shift will be the key challenge for the industry moving forward – how do we make not only our content offering, but also our business work in the new multi device world?

What’s your take on the German online video market? Where do we stand in comparison to say the UK and France?

The German video ad spend market is the largest in Europe and is in many ways rich and unique. Smartclip was an early player who managed to sign up a huge portion of the inventory, using a traditional ad network model, but now it’s clear that the German sales house model has caught up.

While the French market is dominant in IPTV, the German market is more focused on HBBTV and Smart TVs and it’s already seeing a higher adoption of these platforms.

Where Germany is ahead is on the syndication side with a number innovative startups like Clipkit, Castaclip and Snack TV, all successfully building up attractive supply. The lack of supply has also in Germany led to a larger discussion around in-banner vs in-stream video and how/if they are different. Companies like Voodoo Video are active in the space with a focus on in-banner.

Netflix and Hulu see much usage occurring on Post-PC Devices like Tablets, Consoles & TVs. How much usage do you see on Post-PC devices?

All of our ads were delivered on the PC in 2010. As of Q4 2011, 8% of all the ads we delivered were on non-PC devices. We see huge growth here moving forward, as we are now live on more than 15 devices and platforms. By 2013, we expect more than 50% of our traffic to be on non-PC devices.

Videoplaza helps publishers to build a successful syndication business by enabling them to monetize their videos on 3rd party platforms like Dailymotion. How important is syndication for you and your publishers?

Having control over your content and inventory is key for premium publishers, something that historically has pushed them away from content syndication. You want to make sure that only you can represent your valuable audience in your context and make sure advertisers are coming only to you to buy it.

We believe the control and limitation of sales channels is key to maintaining value and attractive CPM levels. We empower publishers to syndicate their content to third parties and make sure they can sell, book and track their own campaigns directly from their Videoplaza account as well as figure out the different revenue share deals in place. This means even though your content is available on third parties, you’re still in control and advertisers can only buy from you.

The business of Base79 for example is completely built on syndication. They distribute their content to Youtube, Dailymotion, Facebook and many others and we make sure they maintain control over their inventory, regardless of property.

Few publishers have a clear syndication strategy today and can sometimes act too conservatively not understanding the actual opportunities available to them. There are clear unexploited revenue opportunities here, even if it’s not a fit for everyone.

With the rise of new devices and services, we are strong believers in the value increase of content. The Samsung Smart TV, Sony Playstation, Boxee, Windows Phone, Google TV etc. are all desperate to fill their devices and services with high value content. This will increasingly push publishers to build a sustainable syndication strategy.

You help publishers monetize their videos more efficiently. Can you share some numbers or a short case study on the impact of using a dedicated video ad server like Videoplaza?

This is one of my favorite topics, of course! The value we offer comes in three ways. 1- Increased revenue, 2- Increased operational efficiencies, 3- Long term strategic support. The actual value we create varies between different clients and their ambition levels. M6, one of France’s leading broadcasters for example have increased their revenues with 25-30% and decreased costs with about 10-15% after moving to us from Google DoubleClick.

There are many ways to increase revenues, but it boils down to helping clients either increase their inventory or the value of that inventory. So we work for example actively with our clients helping them to find the optimal ad load, answering the question of “how can we deliver as many ads as possible without annoying the users too much?” Here we look at best practices from other clients and markets while having a flexible tool to test what works and what doesn’t.

We also help clients develop their ad format strategy, offering a variety of formats, both standards and premium. This usually helps publishers differentiate themselves while achieving higher CPMs. The VP Premium formats, a part of our Videoplaza Format Family™ launched in December, are for example, being sold for 65 EUR CPM in some markets.
Non-PC devices is another area where we help publishers go to market faster. This is important not only to cover some of the wasted inventory out there, but also to help the publisher form a consistent multidevice advertising offering. In many ways doing this, they can further differentiate themselves from their single platform competition.

Why is your service more than just a feature of well-established ad servers like Doubleclick and AdTech?

Google DoubleClick and AOL AdTech are great platforms to manage your display inventory. They are strong on campaign management, targeting, forecasting and reporting but completely lack understanding and functionality for video. As a publisher, you need to build this functionality on top of these platforms.

As our platform is from the ground up build for video, we have built video capabilities into the core of our platform. We usually talk about our platform being Time Aware. This means our platform understands the video duration, the grouping of ads into commercial breaks, the sequence of ads and the ad duration. Time is built into the core ad serving functionality; into the campaign management, the targeting, reporting, and forecasting etc.

Secondly, our platform is natively Content Aware. It understands where you have sourced your content from, where it’s being viewed and in detail what genre or category it belongs to. This allows the platform to make decisions on this, set up ad rules and in other ways manage the monetisation and business rules around content.

Thirdly, we’re making our platfom Device Aware, something I’ll be able to tell you a lot more about in a couple months. But today we have client-side code simplifying integration and building intelligence into the video player, be it a flash player, an app or a mobile browser. All this makes the ad delivery more robust and offers increased capabilities in terms of ad formats, sequencing, measurement etc.

So the reason why we are not just another feature is that the key difference lies in the actual core, having designed it to understand the three dimensions that are relevant to video. This is not something you can just add as it complicates the functionality exponentially. The decision to show a static display ad on a web page is a simple one; how to monetise a 30 minute video over time on different devices is fundamentally different.

According to the OVK (Online Vermarkter Kreis) the German online video ad market grew 115% in the last year and is expected to do €184,2 million in revenues in 2011. What’s your growth story? What do you want to accomplish in Germany?

Videoplaza has been growing about 5x in ad volumes each year during the last 2 years. Not only is our existing client base growing, we’re also signing up new clients and continuously entering new markets.

We will soon celebrate 1 year in Germany and are here to stay. Our Country Manager Holger Schöpper has so far done great job and I’d say the feedback from the market has been beyond expectations. We started out with the ambition to educate the market around the opportunities publishers have to monetize video. We’ve now signed up our first clients and are involved in numerous discussions that we hope will transform into business in the coming months.

Personally the German market is my number one priority for 2012 and I expect to spend significant part of my time here. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to improve some of my language skills too!

Do you see much competition from LiveRail and FreeWheel or are they still mostly focused on the US?

We don’t see many US companies active in our space in Europe, except one or two in London. Our challenge is to convert the approximately 90% of the market that are still being served by conventional display platforms and their internal development team.

What does the future hold for Videoplaza? Do you plan to expand your service to an ad network and take a route akin to Adap.TV and Tremor Video providing both an ad server as well as a market place & ad network?

This is a common question I get asked. Our focus and market position are clear. We are 100% focused on the sell side, empowering broadcasters and publishers to maximize their ad revenues, nothing else. In a market that is increasingly polarizing, we believe in picking sides and aligning objectives fully with that. Being on the sell side, we are constantly looking at how we can best solve the challenges of our clients, be it helping them with direct sales, 3rd party relationships or something else.

Looking in the future how will the German/European market look like in some years? Will Netflix, Apple, Google/YouTube and Microsoft take over or do we stand a chance to establish one or two European video services that are able to compete?

In terms of the ad-funded market, I believe there are few surprises coming our way. The power will continue to stay with the companies that fund the content. Today it’s broadcasters doing that. Even if their content will be distributed on Youtube or on Apple’s properties, they will ensure that they are in control of the advertising inventory – anything else would be irrational long term.
Youtube is the only player likely to be in a strong long-term position in terms of premium long form content. They are already funding content production in the US but considering the smaller European languages, I’m sceptical they will fund content in let’s say German or French in the coming 5 years.

Thank you!

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