Beachfront Exec Explains How They Are Enabling Programmatic Buyers
According to Mary Meeker’s “Internet Trends” report released in June, the adoption and growth of programmatic ad buying has ballooned from 10% ad spend in 2012 to 62% in 2018.
One company plying its trade programmatically and adding on to those numbers while aiming to offer ad buyers more value is Beachfront, a video ad tech company.
The video SSP and ad server manages the video on demand (VOD) inventory for top-10 MVPDs, unlocking that VOD inventory into a real-time biddable digital ad buying marketplace.
Daniel Church, director of programmatic at Beachfront, sat down with us to explain how they are enabling programmatic buyers.
Can you please take us through your job, and what it entails?
I run the buy-side account management team working closely with our DSP partners. I also work closely with the product team including on some of the new TV stuff that we’re doing. I do a bit of demand supplementation with the agency side, too. So anything where I can kind of create value on the demand side is where I look to fill in.
It’s refreshing to work for such an innovative and vibrant company like Beachfront. That’s one of the reasons I decided to make a change in my career when I came over from FreeWheel. I wanted to get closer to the product side and dig into some of the issues that brands are having trouble solving. Beachfront has great technology and a team in place that really looks for a challenge. We’re not about keeping the status quo.
How are you marketing Beachfront’s brand value?
It’s more about driving the adoption and evangelizing the message out to the buyer’s side about our unique product and positioning. It’s a possibility that they haven’t heard of us before, so we have to educate them on exactly what it is, how it works and why they should be buying it.
What is the hardest part for creating value on the demand side? What are some of the key problems that you’re trying to solve?
SPO — especially for supply-side companies. It’s most acute on the demand side of the supply-side companies. We’re taking a small SSP that has been profitable for a long time, one that has great technology but a lower profile on the sales side, and basically taking that and proving the value beyond what the traditional SSP entails. The challenge on the supply side is to create that value, especially as buyers have slimmed down the number of partners that they’re using. The way that we’re doing that is by enabling TV inventory that has never been programmatic before. We’re bringing exclusive, premium and brand-safe TV outside of the longer sales cycles and into the programmatic DSPs to be more efficient for buyers. It gives us a unique advantage — in addition to all the other great supply we have.
Where does Beachfront fit into the current programmatic picture, and where are you headed?
Up until CTV, television had been exclusively handled by separate teams from digital. Beachfront is taking legacy TV systems and bringing them into the digital ecosystem. It could get a little fuzzy on where we fit in and how we should best approach the market, but that’s a problem we’re embracing with actionable solutions. Our goal is to provide buyers a single platform to run their campaigns on every device along the consumer journey, whether that is mobile display, CTV, Set-Top Box VOD, or even linear broadcast TV.
Why are you optimistic about the traditional linear TV space?
It’s a market that has had a void of programmatic offerings. There have been a lot of companies in the space working to increase automation around buys. But they’ve only scratched the surface. So you’ll have an offering that will shorten the time to get the insertion orders together, or better automate the sending of the creative. All of these are basically working in the old system and trying to shorten the time it takes to execute.
As a programmatic-first company, we look at it from the other side — which is — ‘how do we extend the value of programmatic completely into these legacy systems?’ We have a good amount of the technology already built for VOD. While we look at traditional linear, we see a lot of opportunity there as well. But unlike a lot of players, we’re not looking to make it a little bit better. We’re trying to completely pull it into the programmatic ecosystem, with all the benefits of that.
What are your thoughts about the problems in ad tech?
There’s a lot of challenges right now in the ad tech ecosystem, brand safety being a large one. A lot of the TV currently purchased programmatically doesn’t tell you what content you’re actually serving on. It only provides channel names at best. So from a brand safety perspective, you don’t know whether you’re serving on content that you would or would not want, and if it is aligned with your brand. That’s something that our VOD product allows them to do — to actually see the show’s metadata before they place a bid. So they know exactly where they’re running.
There’s also a lot of data regulation going on around the industry, with GDPR, and the California version, CCPA. There’s a lot of people working to adjust data and targeting to fit within these frameworks. But we don’t know if it’s going to end up completely removing the ability to behaviorally target down the line. We do know that being able to contextually target and know what you’re serving on will remain valuable. As we move more toward the TV side, and enable more metadata, and data about the actual inventory that they’re viewing, it becomes crucial to protect the data of people who are consuming the programming.
We’ve seen the brand safety issues YouTube has dealt with over the last few years. Do you think TV might be dealing with brand safety issues? Or are you guys trying to solve the problem before it even starts?
One of the greatest things about traditional TV is that it’s all broadcast cable, so the standards are already very high. It’s not like YouTube where someone can upload a terrible piece of video and your brand might be shown on it. All of the content on TV is pretty above standard. But the question is, say, as a car advertiser to be serving on a show that doesn’t cater to your audience. Will that be a good fit? Being able to actually target the content, even if you’re still using behavioral targeting, will just further increase the yield that you’re going to see from advertising campaigns.
Beachfront recently partnered with Frontier Communications. How is this partnership allowing you to reach more addressable households?
The partnership we have with them is the first step into that side of the industry. They’ve been great partners for us. We’re helping drive a lot of new technology and content together, and targeting premium inventory that’s never been available programmatically. While you could still execute campaigns within the Frontier footprint, a lot of the buyers who do not use the traditional sales channels have never really reached these households on TV. For us to be able to package these up programmatically, we can enable it for digital buyers that previously didn’t have access.
How is OTT going to disrupt programmatic? Are platforms like Netflix, Hulu and soon Disney+ going to one day feature advertising?
Many OTT offerings have both ad-supported and subscription-based models which is great for consumers. I think that we’re starting to reach too much fragmentation and will hit a point where people are going to see that as more of a problem. You want to be able to access any piece of content at any time. But if you have to go out and pay 15 different companies a subscription to access it, that’s going to be a problem. Ad-supported models allow people to continue to reach the content without having to subscribe to so many different services.
Do you think VOD supply is growing and monetization is getting slightly better?
I can’t comment for others, but for Beachfront, our VOD numbers are growing rapidly. We’re seeing a huge adoption from the buy side. Obviously, this inventory is pretty much the most premium inventory you can get. It’s all intentionally click-to-play. It’s broadcast-level content or movies. On top of that, it’s not within an internet-based system. So there’s absolutely zero percent chance of fraud. These systems and set-top boxes have been engineered to limit failure of any kind of video content. It’s really there to surface video content in a seamless and reliable way. It’s even more of a premium environment when compared to digital boxes that would be able to provide VOD content.
With the proliferation of cord cutting, how is programmatic advertising going to disrupt cable moving forward?
Well, cable certainly isn’t going away anytime soon. There’s still a tremendous amount of people who subscribe to cable. As streaming fragments even further, it actually makes cable more attractive. Anytime a buyer wants to hit both CTV and the set-top box VOD inventory, we’re in the position to be able to bundle both of those together, so that you can hit the best of digital and the best of traditional TV inventory. Advertisers are really focused on getting in front of the cord-cutters and cord-nevers, but there are a lot of advertisers not running large TV buys that have been missing out on the cord-keepers.
How do you see the industry evolving to better meet B2B demands?
As the industry matures, and TV starts to play a larger role in it, it’s important to remember that data is very important. We need to be stewards of this data. We need to be able to work with brands to create great brand-safe environments for their advertising to be viewed in. We need to make sure that it’s as efficient as possible so that buyers can transact with low costs. At the end of the day, we want to give the buyers the best places to run their ads at the lowest cost — and still pay the publishers as much revenue is possible. A lot of them are doing great work, and that only stays true through premium ad partnerships.
Manouk Akopyan is a journalist and content strategist who covers the business of brands for Fortune 1000 companies. He can be reached on every social platform—except MySpace, or by email at [email protected].