Interview with Shereta Williams, President, Videa

Shereta Williams
Shereta Williams

“The television industry’s hesitation is because there hasn’t been a technology evolution like this in over five decades.”

Tell us about your role at Videa and how you got there?

I started my career in the financial industry and that taught me how to value companies and investments in any industry. I then joined a strategic investments group at Cox during the first Internet run-up. It was here that I was provided direct exposure to all divisions of the company as I helped the executive team understand how the internet would impact traditional media.

From there, I joined Cox’s broadcast TV division to help TV stations build out their digital and mobile operations. The amount of rigor and research that local broadcasters use to provide quality local content and serve their communities is truly impressive and I earned a huge respect for broadcasting during my time in local TV. My last role with Cox prior to starting at Videa was in strategy and corporate development. While evaluating threats and opportunities for one of our existing businesses, the strategy for Videa began to take shape. Cox has been in the television rep business for decades, but we saw an opportunity to evolve that very hand-crafted business into one that leverages both automation and data to better serve both existing and new customer segments.

I am now leveraging almost two decades of experience to bring some of the attributes of digital – better measurement and frictionless buying to TV.

For those that don’t know, what does Videa do?

Videa automates the buying and selling of TV inventory, simplifies workflows and increases revenue for local TV ad sellers. As we like to say, Videa’s platform was developed by “broadcasters for broadcasters.” The platform enables media buyers to leverage automation and data to better reach target audiences with more speed, accuracy and transparency. By providing buyers with direct access to inventory and analytics as campaigns run, Videa helps agencies make smarter, more targeted television buys and more effectively manage results for their clients.

How is Videa different from other automated ad sales platforms? Why local TV?

Videa’s sustainable competitive advantage is anchored in the power of television itself. Local TV, despite the rise of digital counterparts, remains as one of the most powerful mediums for effectively reaching mass audiences at scale. We are currently the only player in broadcast to-date to transact – with significant dollars running thru our platform –  in a fully automated way.

If you look at reports from industry analyst firms like BIA/Kelsey, they’re stating that US local television advertising revenue will hit $20.8 billion in 2018, and Videa is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this robust market and expand its footprint.

What also makes us unique is our use of different technologies. The Videa platform is cloud-based and we leverage machine learning technology to provide media buyers and sellers with pricing and ratings for media inventory.

Videa also works with existing sales channels providing full order visibility for the full-schedule of inventory and was the first automated supply-side platform seamlessly integrated with both Mediaocean and FreeWheel Advertisers (formerly Strata).

How are programmatic advertising technologies impacting the traditional TV media buying behaviors? What lies ahead for this space?

The television industry, which has not seen market changes like this in more than 50 years, is in heightened need of an automated solution to meet new consumer demands.

Five percent of all TV ad spend in the US will be programmatic by 2019, according to research by eMarketer, bringing total spend from $640 million in 2016 to nearly $3.8 billion in 2019. While sales may not be 100% automated in 2018, advertisers and their agencies are attracted to automated platforms because of the data analysis features that enable them to get better value for their buys. For the first time in history, advertisers will be able to optimize TV advertising according to the detailed, almost immediate feedback it yields from audiences.

With that said, are you experiencing hesitation from those in the industry to change toward more automated platforms?

Whenever this amount of change is introduced into any industry, there is skepticism and reluctance. The television industry is no different and it’s especially true because there hasn’t been a technology evolution like this in over five decades. Primarily we see reluctance because we are not yet fully scaled with all stations on our platform, but as the buying increases, the stations continue to join in.

Part of the service we provide to our customers is centered around the idea of change leadership. Driving change requires helping people accept and acknowledge that there might be better, more effective ways of doing business. It also means helping to establish best practices so everyone understands how to leverage these new tools for their unique sales strategy.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

Minimize the number of standing meetings on your calendar and avoid meetings for meeting’s sake.  I will question what decision is needed for any meeting someone puts on my calendar.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

I am a big fan of Sonos but given Atlanta’s traffic, Waze probably tops the “can’t live without” category.

What are you currently reading? 

“The Better Angels of Our Nature” by Steven Pinker which makes the case that despite all that we see and hear about violence in the world, we are actually living in the most peaceful time ever.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Mountains aren’t climbed by standing at the bottom and seeing a clear path to the top.  It’s the result of extensive preparation and making the next best decision each step of the way. And to also remember that there are many ways up the mountain!

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

@tomgerace CEO of Skyword, a content marketing platform based in Boston.

Thank you, Shereta! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Shereta brings two decades of professional and industry experience to Videa. As President, Shereta leads the organization’s overall strategic and product direction. Shereta has over ten years of experience with Cox in various investment, strategy and development roles focused on digital media and broadcast television.

Prior to Videa, she served as Managing Director at a financial start-up focused on algorithmic trading, and she began her career in Mergers and Acquisitions at Lazard. Shereta is passionate about developing products and services that solve large scale problems. She has a degree in Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she served as president of the National Society of Black Engineers. Shereta serves on the board of the IRTS Foundation, a charitable organization focused on training and educating the next generation of media and communications professionals, and is also a mentor for the Female Founders in Tech competition.

When she is not leading the team at Videa, Shereta is most likely on a hiking trail or boating in north Florida.

VIDEA
Videa (videa.tv) is a supply-side platform that brings automation and data-driven targeting to the buying and selling of television advertising. Videa has partnered with leading television broadcast groups, advertising agencies, and rep firms to build an enterprise quality programmatic solution for the television advertising marketplace. Videa enables local broadcasters to participate in programmatic marketplaces with the controls, sales models and stewardship that exist in traditional television sales. We specialize in integrations with traditional television buying and trafficking systems, yield optimization and audience targeting.

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.

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