• Interview with Field Garthwaite, CEO & Co-founder, IRIS.TV

    Continuing our series of periodic short interviews with industry thought-leaders about the the pandemic's impact, I'm pleased to share a Q&A with Field Garthwaite, CEO and Co-Founder of IRIS.TV. Read on to learn Field's perspective on how COVID has affected the video marketplace, why connected TV has benefited, what video publishers can do to better monetize their inventory and what the critical upcoming challenges.

    VideoNuze: How has COVID affected the video marketplace overall?
    Field Garthwaite: While overall, publishers are seeing large increases in user engagement across web, mobile, and Connected TV (CTV) there are also several additional trends unique to the pandemic:

    • Major publishers and broadcasters have seen growth of up to 5x-8x that of an average news cycle. While this can occur during a tentpole event like The Royal Wedding, a consistent spike of traffic like this—especially for news publishers -- is rare
    • Simultaneously, publishers are challenged with decreases in ad spend—in some markets internationally full rates dropped as much as 50-80%. Here in the U.S. there were double-digit drops in fill rates at the end of Q1 2020 and beginning of Q2
    • Verticals like Auto were among the most responsive in terms of shifting creative to adapt and begin spending again--in addition to some obvious CPG categories that have seen a huge surge in sales throughout the crisis
    • Marketers and agencies recalibrating their marketing are doing so with new creative as well as shifts to programmatic spending and use of data to maximize ad effectiveness and reach consumers in brand-suitable environments.

    Overall, Coronavirus has similarities to any brand safety crisis. Only instead of being isolated to a single event, or a 12-36 hour news cycle, it has carried on for months. The balancing act has been for marketers to find ways to still hit their reach and frequency goals while aligning their messaging to brand suitable content rather than blacklisting all content that references COVID.

    The biggest category winner overall has been CTV. However, one of the more challenging realities that have accompanied that is the lack of transparency in CTV advertising. We are working closely with the largest broadcasters and D2C apps to connect their content with leading data providers like Oracle Data Cloud and Comscore to create contextual and brand-safe data segments for media buyers.

    VideoNuze: How are brands addressing the ever more critical issue of brand safety across their video buys?
    FG: Suitability > Safety. Brands are being careful with where and how they buy video. Video is brand building, and since so much of video investment is about awareness, marketers, agencies and DSPs are focused on both protecting that investment from brand safety scandals and winning hearts and minds.

    Consumers expect brands to have smart placement and it has been proven that contextual placement in TV advertising can increase ROI by 35-40%. We're bringing this contextual placement capability to market with nearly 10,000,000,000+ monthly impressions across the open web and CTV with our premium publishing partners.

    We think this will continue to be important because the greatest scale of diverse premium and brand-safe video has always been in the open web. But to date  Fortune 500 brands have found it incredibly difficult to buy programmatic video at scale with the requisite contextual targeting and brand safety filters. Previously the default spend has been YouTube and now we're seeing that begin to shift to more diverse video plans and investments. This is also being accelerated by the growth of CTV.

    VideoNuze: What steps can video publishers take to better monetize their video content in this new era?
    FG: We recommend the following steps:

    1. Enable brands to target custom context and brand-safe data segments from their preferred data partners, SSP or DSP—the increase in transparency can now be done without the risk of putting your video URL in the bid-stream
    2. Take advantage of these new targeting capabilities to increase fill rates and CPMs
    3. Another best practice is to take a data-driven approach to video programming. This should be inclusive of videos ranging from those on the CTV app home screen to the web and mobile videos used for paid acquisition via Facebook or Outbrain.

    It sounds simple—but just knowing which videos / categories are driving the highest engagement and monetization can substantially increase yield. This is something that even some of the most successful publishers globally still don't do well yet for video.

    VideoNuze: What key challenges lie ahead for the industry?
    FG: ePrivacy legislation in Europe will close more of the loopholes and further consolidate that ecosystem and shut out 3rd party cookies. California's CCPA has had a grace period that really lasted until June 1, 2020 so that will also begin to have a greater impact. We’ve already seen bills in congress seeking to use that legislation to propose a new federal law called the "Online Privacy Act".
    Simultaneously—programmatic spending and CTV are on the rise and television budgets and upfronts are in the final one to two years of growth, primarily from the spot market. As this occurs, we believe the industry needs new privacy-first technology that facilitates data-driven advertising. We’ve created the IRIS.TV ContentID which creates a secure hash to pass through brand safety and contextual data segments to SSPs and DSPs while protecting important data such as "show title" or "episode title" for our publisher and broadcaster partners.

    VideoNuze: How will CCPA and a cookie-less environment affect the video industry going forward?
    FG: At this point, everyone must have a privacy-first mentality when it comes to maximizing the value of media presents a challenge to publishers who are also endeavoring to offer brands and agencies solutions that make buying and targeting their inventory easier.

    Many of our publishers in Europe had great success increasing revenue--in a privacy-compliant way--by elevating their brand-safe and brand-suitable inventory with contextual targeting.

    VideoNuze: Thanks for your time and stay healthy!