Rendezvous with Industry Leaders – Will Richmond

Will Richmond, editor and publisher of VideoNuze, shares his take on the future challenges of programmatic video such as fraud and viewability, as well as the risks and implications of the shifts in video consumption on the future of the adtech industry.

Q: Industry players have been paying close attention to the gradual shift of advertising budgets from TV to online video. As a TV veteran, what is your take on this shift in budgets? At what point do you think the shift will dissolve and set a new status quo? and how do you envision the future of TV from that point?

The shift is occurring as a natural result of viewers moving some of their video consumption to online and mobile. But on a relative basis, TV ad spending still dwarfs online video ad spending. Increasingly though, savvy advertisers recognize that TV and online video are highly complementary and as a result, there’s a big trend around multiscreen campaigns that combine both broad reach and precise targeting. As the distinction between screens gets even blurrier, with viewers moving back and forth seamlessly, the traditional definition of “TV” will fade away.

Q: Programmatic video is taking over the adtech industry by storm, with even the latest adopters beginning to realize its inevitability. How do you foresee programmatic technology affecting the video advertising industry? What changes will we be seeing as a result?

Programmatic – meaning automation and data-enablement of ads – is playing a very big role in online video and is likely to further accelerate going forward, once particular challenges around brand safety, viewability, fraud and measurement are further resolved. As this occurs we’re going to see both advertisers and publishers become more comfortable with programmatic and spending increases will follow. As that occurs one of the big changes we’ll see is that data will be used more extensively to deliver more targeted and relevant ads. Even with all the progress in programmatic to date, I’m still surprised at how often I’m shown ads that don’t fit for me; clearly there is still a lot of runway ahead.

Q: Advertising effectiveness is key to the growth of the adtech industry – what insights can you offer on increasing effectiveness and elongating the vitality of adtech?

Improved effectiveness has been one of the big draws of online video advertising. But effectiveness is a tricky thing…the actual number of conversions or other KPIs that imply better effectiveness could be better than alternatives, but if there’s a perception that it took a lot of manual work, cumbersome technologies and/or non-standard ways of measuring, then the perception of actual effectiveness will be diminished. On top of that, if there are new risks – whether in brand safety, viewability or other challenges, then effectiveness will be reduced.

Q: Everyone discusses forecasts for 2017-18. Looking at the bigger picture, what do you envision for 5 years down the road – who are the main players? who’s calling the shots? what will be the most common video formats and how are viewers being exposed to them?

5 years down the road is an eternity in our fast-evolving industry, so that’s a hard question! But I think some of the contours of the industry are coming into focus. Digital-native media companies with massive scale in users/viewers are optimally positioned to offer precise, but still sizable digital audience segments, to advertisers who will demand increasing targeting and accountability for their spending. All of this favors companies like Google/YouTube and Facebook. But on the other hand, context will always matter to advertisers, and in this respect, providers of premium video like broadcast and cable TV networks, will remain very strong. Ultimately blending the best of both is the sweet spot. For formats, we’ll continue to see a lot of innovation, but, for better or worse, I think the pre-roll (likely with feature enhancements), will continue to be the industry’s workhorse.

Q: How do you see OTT devices (also called connected TVs) playing a role in the industry?

OTT devices are yet another critical industry trend, because they essentially level the playing field in the living room, allowing online video sources (whether ad-supported or not) to be accessed as easily as traditional TV for long-form viewing. Because OTT devices are both inexpensive and easy to set up, it’s no surprise that over 70% of US TV homes now have at least one TV connected to the Internet. For advertisers in particular, OTT devices are a very big opportunity because they offer the same lean-back engagement of traditional TV, with all the digital delivery and targeting of online video. We’ll definitely see OTT devices play a more important role going forward.


About Will Richmond, Editor and Publisher, VideoNuze

Richmond 160.jpgWill is an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience in the broadband, cable TV, content and Internet/technology industries. As an acknowledged thought-leader in our fast-growing online video industry, Will edits and publishes VideoNuze, a widely followed online publication which provides daily original analysis and curated news for online video decision-makers. Its companion site, VideoNuze iQ, is a comprehensive hub for video industry research data.

Will also hosts VideoNuze’s annual Online Video Advertising Summit and SHIFT // Programmatic Video & TV Advertising Summit, attended by thousands of industry executives over the past 7 years, as well as the annual two-day NABShow Online Video Conference in Las Vegas.

Will serves on the board of overseers and chairs the Emerging Media and Technology Committee of WGBH Boston, the largest producer of TV programming and online content for PBS. In addition, he is an adjunct professor in the Boston University College of Communication’s graduate program in Media Ventures.