Interview with Kai Henniges, CEO and Co-Founder, video intelligence
Tell us about your role at vi and the team/technology you handle.
I founded video intelligence (vi) three years ago, having run content platform Viewster for nearly a decade. With experience as a publisher ourselves, we knew the challenges, so the goal with vi was to find the best monetization platform for publishers.
We now have a team of 65, half of us engineers. We’re based in Zurich, Switzerland, with technology in Ukraine, and Ad-Ops in Romania. Our sales teams sit in the markets that matter to us, that is the UK, US, and Europe.
Our core product, vi stories, is designed to deliver video content and advertising to web publishers. This involves a constantly improving contextual matching machine learning engine, and a content team tirelessly working to get the best video from around the web.
So we work to ensure the product is best-in-class, our self-service elements deliver everything our users need, and that ad operations are optimized.
Why is DMEXCO the must-attend event for online businesses, especially from media publishing ecosystem?
DMEXCO is the annual chance to take stock of where digital marketing and advertising has come in the past 12 months. You get to catch up with people and share learnings, see new tech in action, and of course do some business. Some of our best clients are in the DACH region, so it’s also a great chance to catch up and learn.
What draws you to DMEXCO? Which sections are you keenly following?
Our business is video, so we pay close attention to the speakers on the Motion Stage, which is focused on the moving image. We love to see what other technologies are around too. We first introduced vi stories at DMEXCO last year, the conversations that take place there can really inform your business going forward.
Which key events in the OTT and Programmatic Advertising industry have had the biggest impact on your business and how?
Obviously, GDPR has been huge this year, as buyers lost the ability to use a lot of cookie and first-party data, we saw an increased demand for our contextual video solutions. Beyond just the regulation, the scandals around Cambridge Analytica, brand safety and adblockers, points to the fact that online advertising has neglected to consider some of its effects on people.
We really place the emphasis on user experience – so making sure our player feels native, ensuring the functionality matches a user’s needs, and of course delivering the highest quality content in the right context.
Which video tools and technologies must be in every CMOs’ stack? How do you fill the gap between expectations and deliverables for video technology platforms?
CMOs looking to distribute video campaigns must look at where their audience is. Reaching a youthful audience, for example, you’d have to be already using Instagram Stories, and keeping an eye on IGTV. For a B2B campaign, LinkedIn now has some powerful tools, and you know the audience there is in a business frame of mind.
Video has proven itself as a brand medium. Marketers shouldn’t expect to be driving immediate sales from video, but expect to raise awareness and educate. Using it to tell strong brand stories is where it’s at its most powerful. Video stories can have really powerful effects on our emotions, which marketers can use to their advantage.
It’s also important to know where video sits alongside other mediums, so learn to tell ‘transmedia’ stories, with a consistent message iterated across platforms.
And make sure you have a good relationship with the partners in your tech stack. Trust and transparency are really important; tech should add value.
How do you consume information related to the video industry?
I think this year, in particular, has been one of massive evolution for the video industry. Driven by social platforms, new innovations are coming out all the time. To keep abreast you must read email newsletters, websites and Twitter on a daily basis. But make sure you use the platforms themselves too – it’s not enough to just know they exist.
Most importantly though, look around you at behaviors. Notice what the public is doing with their devices, when and where are they consuming video. How do they talk about and share it? It’s important to remove yourself from the media bubble to look at this technology in everyday use to really ‘get it’.
How do you work with programmatic ad exchanges to maximize your sales revenues?
If I were a brand I would be asking my media agencies, DSPs and tech vendors about where the placements I’m buying are. The open market is great for scale, but it’s not necessarily the best way to reach people at the right time and place. I would try to establish PMPs, work with whitelists if possible.
That’s why our platform uses contextual in-stream inventory, advertisers know they’re appearing alongside content users are interested in, and that’s the magic point.
Thank you, Kai! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Kai has extensive experience in the acquisition and commercialization of New Media rights to branded moving image contents. He seeks to build a distribution network of leading digital platforms. He specializes in Rights definition & packaging, valuation, EU lobbying, and sports rights.
vi is a contextual video platform.
We connect publishers, content providers and brands through video storytelling.
Video inventory is lacking, and users are hard to captivate. So our tools use contextual matching to create compelling video experiences on desktop, mobile and CTV. vi offers a full suite of self-serve tools: a video syndication engine powered by machine learning, a video ad server and an SSP. vi is trusted by over 25,000 publishers to deliver millions of contextual video stories every day.
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.