Interview with Dave Gullo, Co-Founder and CTO, VideoAmp
On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role and how you got here? What inspired you to start a video advertising technology innovation company?
I am the technical co-founder at VideoAmp. VideoAmp Co-Founder and CEO Ross McCray was originally my client at my past company, which was doing high-level technology staff augmentation and R&D for post-series A startups and ad-tech companies. We were both inspired to start VideoAmp to solve the problem of fragmentation between digital and linear.
MTS: Given the changing dynamic of engagement with online customers, how do you see the existing viewability and on-target audience benchmarks for video advertising evolving by 2020?
We look at these two metrics very differently. Existing viewability metrics are a reaction to an industry that got too cozy with low quality and often fraudulent traffic sources. In the next two years, more Video will be bought directly, using automation and data. This changes the dynamic of how the industry should measure viewability – if you are getting guaranteed fill from verified sources, other metrics should matter more.
On target audience as a notion is also changing rapidly. The digital and OTT markets should not just move to a GRP-style buy, it doesn’t serve advertisers or media owners well at all. If the goal of a campaign is to reach SUV buyers, there are much better targeting methods than Adults 25-54. We firmly believe in the rise of advanced currencies: taking first party data and/or verified offline data and use that as your audience proxy. How many of those people did you reach at a 1:1 level? What were the business outcomes that those people delivered?
MTS: Tell us about how VideoAmp created the functional set of TV viewership attributes to drive tune-In lift?
VideoAmp leverages a combination of methods to create the custom audience segments to drive maximum tune-in lift. Through our unique partnership with comScore, we have facility to map their massive footprint of 75M set top boxes (STB)/households (HH) to our proprietary device graph of cookies and device IDs that seeds the viewership data for the addressable custom audience segments. VideoAmp also directly matches Smart TVs with our user graph, through a partnership with TVADSYNC & Vizio, that creates bespoke audiences based on of the industry’s most robust Automated Content Recognition (ACR) seed data. With the largest footprint of seed data, the ability to create custom audiences, and working with our partners on measurement reports, we feel this is the most advanced offering in the market.
MTS: How should advertisers leverage audience attention and conversion analytics to optimize viewability and combat ad fraud challenges?
Fraud is a game of cat and mouse. Whatever metrics we go and chase, fraudsters will find an effective way to spoof these events. We’ve inflated performance benchmarks and scale based on these fraudulent numbers and the industry needs to change that. There is more fraud than is ever reported. Viewability, Clicks, Site Analytics visits, landing page visits, brand surveys etc. are all spoofed.
The industry has to try to look at the conversion metrics only and what’s driving those with a real sale. Additionally, advertisers have to not trust the numbers that look too good to be true and think beyond perceived safety by Excel report.
MTS: With the growing prominence on delivering programmatic capabilities, how does VideoAmp provide true automated buying to its customers?
Unlike other platforms, we do not take a position on inventory or arbitrage in any way. When our customers are buying programmatically, they are truly buying against the market and not another intermediary.
MTS: How does VideoAmp bring to businesses the precise audience measurement analytics across Linear, VOD, OTT, Desktop, and Mobile content?
We have taken the long approach to truly uniting the TV and digital markets. That has to be done with data, and that means combining various ecosystems. We have worked with several key partners such as comScore, Mediaocean, Experian, LiveRamp, and Neustar to scale link TV viewership and ad exposure with digital content and ad behaviors. This ends up in the VideoAmp user graph, which is actually a consumption graph. This allows us to generate analytics using the digital targeting proxy across all these screens. It’s a work in progress as items such as changing IP addresses, and non-consistent device IDs in OTT make it challenging to graph.
MTS: What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make their media decisions deliver seamless execution across digital and mobile screens?
CMOs have a difficult job. It’s evolved into them being the largest purchaser of technology, and of course, the large-scale budgets on advertising across all mediums. The pressure to show ROI on the tech and media investments is intense. This means they are likely investing in understanding their customers, and target customers, and turning them into digital signals (via a DMP). Now CMOs and their teams have a way to unify how they plan across mediums. Is there an effort to upsell to existing customers, then there should be a separate campaign that should have specific creative and a forecast of how to reach them. Another tactic would be to conquest new customers from a competitor, so let’s suppress the existing customers, and add in targeting for conquesting, and do a forecast and creative tactic for that. Being able to run these types of campaigns and execution across mediums is a requirement for CMOs. Agencies and technology providers must be able to deliver this, or the CMO will quickly move on, they don’t have time.
MTS: What startups are you watching/keen on right now?
While not a startup per se, I am very bullish on what Hackers & Founders is doing to launch “Hacker Coin.” We are also closely watching the evolution of blockchain technologies and their impact on transactions for premium video and TV.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Our integrated TV operating system for advertising consists of two major sides: digital and linear. On the digital side, we incorporate a sizable cross-device graph giving us visibility into users and all of their devices, and we have integrations with all of the major video supply sources, and marketing cloud/DMPS. We have proprietary pre-bid solutions which enable us to optimize on viewability, brand safety, and eliminating sketchy or suspicious inventory.
On the linear side, we work with massive data sets which tell us who watches what across the US, and for which we join to our graph. With this, we are able to deliver use cases which index both directions from digital to linear. This gives us incremental digital plans based off existing TV buying plans, and conversely TV buying plans based off first-party digital data. We also have the only API integration into the Mediaocean National TV systems, this is critical to not disrupt the workflow of allocation, billing, reconciliation, and in closing the loop on performance.
MTS: Could you tell us about a standout digital campaign? (Who was your target audience and how did you measure success?)
Tied to our new Tune-in deck revamp, below is the new case study slide that answers how we measured success which obviously centered around tune-ins along with viewability, VCR and lift. We didn’t have just one successful campaign, but a client across a handful of campaigns so we reached their target audience but that varied by show.
- National broadcast turns to VideoAmp to drive tune-in for entire fall line-up.
- VideoAmp leveraged it’s exclusive TV data partnerships to create custom audiences based on historical viewership of shows similar to the broadcaster’s fall line-up. Using highly qualified and accurate TV data, coupled with a proprietary cross-device graph, VideoAmp helped the broadcaster reach their target audience anytime, anywhere. Advanced video DSP capabilities – such as impression level fraud and viewability integrations, verified player size targeting, and multidimensional inventory optimizations – ensured each impression was impactful.
- The result: Amazing digital video metrics, fantastic lift, and a ton of tune-in.
This Is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
My life is simple. For talent procurement and BD, I use Chrome, Slack, Github, Lever, Gmail and all Google Apps. For technical R&D, I use the Linux terminal, the vim editor, and all command line forms of database tools and diagnostic tools.
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
I’m on the phone all the time, so tools like the former “Sunrise Calendar” or MinMax to send multiple options for booking calls is invaluable.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
I am currently reading “Crash Proof 2.0”, by economist Peter Schiff who accurately predicted the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis. As far as information consumption I watch tons of technical and economic information on YouTube, usually at 2x speed.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
For Business: “Only a fool would start a company without an exit strategy.”
For Engineering: “Nothing is foolproof because fools are so ingenious.”
MTS: Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
I disagree with the term “Jack of all Trades, Master of None”. I believe in being a Jack of all Trades, and a Master of Some. In my case, I still actively enjoy programming and systems engineering, and I’m always doing some kind of R&D.
When it comes to recruiting new talent, I reach out as a “Hacker… NOT a recruiter”, and by appealing to engineers as a peer, have been able to direct-hire the vast majority of our team.
MTS: Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Tom Chavez – Co-Founder and CEO of Krux
MTS: Thank you Dave! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Dave Gullo is a hacker and serial entrepreneur who has remained hands-on with engineering for the web since 1994. Over the past 22 years he has worked across industries such as interactive media, publishing, online advertising, careers, telephony, automotive, ed-tech and has hacked things like optimizing in-flight entertainment systems, ski-resort rental software, a facial-blindness memory game, an interactive shopping mannequin, web browser automation pipelines, “tracking the trackers”, and countless other projects. From 1998 to 2008 he operated snowboards-for-sale.com which was a specialty online snowboard shop which was decimated by the 2008 economic crash.
Since then he has volunteered in the Silicon Valley for 500 Startups as a mentor, with the 106 Miles community, as an EIR at Chapman University, and as an advisor to Hackers & Founders.
Dave is currently the Technical Co-Founder at VideoAmp, a video advertising start-up enabling advertisers and content owners to transact across all screens in our new multi-device world. VideoAmp has raised over $17m across two rounds within 11 months and is known for its reputation in data science being one of the first companies to build their entire stack on Apache Spark.
VideoAmp is the world’s first integrated TV operating system to enable advertisers and media owners to transact seamlessly across devices. Our software and data solution enables advertisers to plan, buy, and measure the success of de-duplicated and precisely targeted campaigns that reach linear TV, VOD, OTT, and digital audiences. The linear suite allows for the first time the ability to use digital data for the planning and allocation of upfront TV commitments within existing workflows. This extends to scatter and cross screen initiatives, all within the VideoAmp operating system for buyers and sellers. VideoAmp is backed by European TV giant RTL Group and six other top venture capital firms. For more information, visit www.videoamp.com or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.