VideoWeek spoke to Mark Giblin, co-founder and CEO of LightBox, about the launch and what role the new company will play in a rapidly evolving CTV market.
1. Congratulations on the launch. Could you explain a bit about what Lightbox is and where it sits in the market?
We are an addressable TV company that enables advertisers to target audiences in connected TV environments, and we sit in the gap between TV and the digital teams. We provide products and solutions that help them navigate some of the challenges and some of the complexities of moving into digital.
We provide value by removing some of the overhead and simplifying the process as they start buying into connected TV. Where we differ from other digital companies in this space is that we approach it from more a TV-first angle, and then we lay on the digital capabilities from there. So we believe, as a base connected TV needs to offer TV buyers the same levels of transparency and the same options around buying that they’re used to, and then the digital technology allows us to identify and target from there. By having all of this in one platform it allows us to get closer to have all forms of TV measured in one way.
Actually, now is the perfect time to launch, as the shift to connected TV has accelerated so rapidly and we know that a lot of the audiences are now found in some of these new environments, and therefore there’s a real need to simplify that process. The fragmentation of audiences across devices brings with it challenges so that’s what we’re trying to address with the solution we’re bringing to the market.
2. What type of clients will Lightbox be aiming for?
Our clients are advertisers and agencies that are looking to bridge the gap between TV and digital. As I say, their audiences are now in these connected TV environments, and it’s almost like a digital buyer and a TV buyer speak two different languages, which can make things challenging. So we provide a platform to bring both together. This gives buyers the confidence they need to know that this is an area that works and that they should be investing in.
Outside of the agencies, we also see interest from some of the direct consumer brands. These are the brands that are experts in performance-based advertising across social and digital channels. They are keen to see how they can take a step towards CTV, applying some of their measurement methods into this world. The targeting and measurement benefits that CTV provides makes this a really interesting environment for them.
3. What are the main pain points for agencies and advertisers when it comes to buying CTV inventory? Where are existing services/technologies falling short in your opinion?
I would say that many of the challenges stem from fragmentation in the space. So it’s the fragmentation of supply-sources, device types, and also there’s no real standard in how data is passed. So the same TV show being watched on the same app, by the time it reaches the buyer it can appear in many different forms, there’s no consistency to how this is passed. And that creates challenges around planning, it can be really complex to do. You have to reach out to all these partners and try and find out what data can be passed, what measurement can be applied, will my pixel tracking work, will I be passing any additional data outside of the bidstream. Putting together a truly comprehensive plan is a real challenge.
Proving the ROI of the channel is another real challenge. But we’re seeing some great progress being made in solutions to address this. I think all of this needs to be simplified.
A lot of the technology we currently use in the digital space is designed to operate at massive scale, but uses some form of identifier or cookie to target people, regardless of the context they’re in. There’s a tendency to apply this kind of logic to CTV. It’s just not the right environment for it, it doesn’t operate at the same scale, it doesn’t have the same ID solutions. Context is key, especially to a TV buyer where programming is one of the most important things. That can often get lost if you’re trying to do purely performance based buys. A lot of the shortfalls stem from there.
4. How much change are we going to see on the supply-side over the next five years or so?
I think that a lot of the changes that are happening now are going to be accelerated. So in five years time, things will look very different. It’s no longer just the early adopters accessing content on connected TV apps. Over the next five years, we’re going to see all groups of people accessing TV content in that way.
One of the challenges that I think potentially holds back that space is that right now it can be a challenge for new apps in this space to be discovered by users. There’s no real clear app stores to use, so trying to find what app to use can be a bit of a clunky experience. I’m confident that will be solved. And then that’s going to allow for these new TV apps to prosper. Some of the leading apps that we use to access content in 10 years time probably don’t even exist yet.
Certainly in ten years time, but potentially in five years time, all TV will be addressable. So it’s not just the connectivity piece that we see right now, we’re already seeing work on the infrastructure to support that happening as the industry moves to make that a reality. So I think in five years time, we will be able to apply addressable campaigns across the full TV landscape.
A challenge this will bring in five years time is we’re already seeing a lot of TV content go into more siloed environments or closed environments. So measuring across all of those, accessing that content through a couple of platforms like we do nowadays is always going to be difficult. We’re going to see more buyers going back to using DSPs for access to more SSPs and the like when they’re doing their programmatic TV buys.
But ultimately, we currently describe TVby its delivery mechanism, so for example, we talk about connected TV. But in five years time, we’ll be back to calling it simply TV, and the delivery mechanism will be less important to us.
5. How can CTV publishers make their inventory more attractive to the new generation of buyers do you think?
I think the first thing to do is make sure that you’re maximising the assets that they do have. So if you have signed in email addresses, that’s really important, building out the data strategy, making sure that you’re working with the right partners there. But outside of that, it’s important to make sure you’re being presented in the best way possible. So if you’re an app that runs multiple channels across multiple categories of content, that’s really valuable data for buyers to be able to see that level of insight. You’ve got to make sure that’s being communicated in the right way. But at the same time, be careful about just passing that data down to the bitstream because then you lose control of its value. Make sure that you’re getting the true value for the data that you do hold, and that you are maximising any data to sell on your own internal management system. You should ask whether that will be valuable to a buyer, and whether you can package it up in some way.
And then the second thing to do is more operational. You’re being measured, whether you know it or not when, you’re selling inventory. The tools that exist on the buy side are constantly making evaluations. So I would say it’s really key, especially in the CTV space, to work with the tech partners and the measurement partners that the buyers use, to make sure they’re aware of how the offering is being measured. If you’re an app that exists for long form content purely on TVs, you don’t want to be compared against an app that runs on mobile phones predominantly, and you don’t want to be measured or compared on click through rates. Clicks shouldn’t be important on the TV screen, but we do often see that mistake made. Communication can help with that. The other thing I would say is to speak to companies like LightBox as well. We can provide insights into what buyers value and what they’re looking for.
6.How could measurement on CTV advertising be improved?
One of the big challenges with measurement is the lack of standards currently being set. If you work with multiple partners, you’re going to have measurement coming back in multiple different forms. And it’s not that none of them speak to each other. But you’re not having a true holistic view, that can be a real challenge. And that is probably only going to become more challenging as more silos and walled gardens appear.
And then the second piece outside of that is just the work that’s involved in pulling together all the reports from all these different platforms and trying to have a holistic view. Having all that in one place is gonna be really key going forward.
Other points of measurement are going to be important. So in the connected TV space, we know the audiences are there. It’s now just a case of having the tools in place to prove that they’re there. So measuring incremental reach, and being able to provide insights and reports on that, is going to be really interesting.
We’re already seeing some developments in CTV that are enabling very granular measurement. So you can see that an ad ran at 09.06 in Manchester, for example. And then you see what the impact was on your website traffic in that area. Seeing these types of performance-based measurement metrics come into CTV more in the coming months and years is going to be really interesting.
7. Do you think the industry is making the most of CTV’s capabilities at the moment?
I think we’re already doing a lot. We’re definitely not maximising the capability of CTV, there’s more to be done. I think this is partly down to the complexity that I discussed before, because it is quite challenging to do, and maybe some of the TV buyers still don’t have the confidence in the channel to know that it’s really going to deliver for them. That’s holding back some of the investment that’s needed to really help it reach its full potential.
Once the existing complexity in these challenges have been smoothed out, we’ll start to see more investment flow.