Even as technology-based programmatic video advertising gains momentum, real-world, human relationships are still crucial. That was the message at an innovative event that LiveRail hosted Tuesday afternoon in NYC during Advertising Week. The company, which focuses exclusively on publisher side programmatic video ad management, held a "speed-dating" event to help forge new relationships between buyers and sellers.
I attended part of the event (observing only) and was impressed with the buzz and energy in the room. There were 80+ attendees, including 22 premium publishers, with each having a table-top around the perimeter of the room. Publishers included Conde Nast, ESPN, CBS Interactive, MLB.com, Scripps, Viacom, Univision, BET and others.
There were also 22 buyers represented, who would spend 4 minutes per table, and upon a whistle blow, would rotate on to the next table. Buyers included Advertising.com, Google, Turn, Cadreon, Accuen, TubeMogul, Tremor and many others. LiveRail even distributed scorecards so that publishers could note for each buyer their specific interests (e.g. premium, mobile, international, guaranteed, custom, etc.), which will be tallied and shared subsequently. LiveRail executives told me that many of the relationships formed were brand-new.
To get a sense of how significant the market opportunity for programmatic video is, prior to the speed-dating, LiveRail CEO Mark Trefgarne did a quick attendee survey which revealed strong buyer interest (see below). Note that 29% of buyers believe they'll spend over $50 million this year on programmatic video, though 79% of publishers believe that they'll generate less than $10 million from programmatic video and just 3.6% thinking it be over $50 million. LiveRail sees this gap as evidence of a big opportunity ahead for publishers to layer on programmatic.
A prevailing question at Advertising Week is whether premium publishers that have traditionally relied on a reserved, direct-sales video ad model can/should pursue programmatic? From numerous conversations I had during the week, the answer appears to be that even premium publishers always have some quantity of inventory that would get a higher ROI if sold programmatically.
Balancing which should remain reserved and which should be available for programmatic is a question many of the premium publishers at LiveRail's speed-dating event are currently working through. The information they obtained through speed dating will no doubt help them determine their strategies.