The Cross-screen Measurement Experience. Interview with VideoAmp’s Ross McCray

Ross McCray, Co-Founder and CEO, VideoAmp, studied math and astrophysics at UCLA before he dropped out and found his fortune in media technology. As an early technologist in the YouTube space, he supported viral video before starting VideoAmp in 2014 to, “enable advertisers and content owners a way to transact cross platform seamlessly solved from software perspective.” His company melds linear TV consumption data (viewership and ad exposure) with digital and mobile, offering insights into cross-screen video campaigns. 

Charlene Weisler: Ross, describe your cross platform capabilities.

Ross McCray: Our Advanced Television advertising platform enables advertisers to run cross-screen video campaigns that combine the efficient targeting of digital video with the reach of broadcast TV. Additionally, ATV uses data from our user graph that connects households and devices to viewing behavior. This enables advertisers to plan, buy, package, and measure the success of de-duplicated and precisely targeted campaigns that reach broadcast TV, VOD, OTT, desktop, and mobile audiences.   

Charlene Weisler: What metrics do you use or have developed?

Ross McCray: We are focused on digital data mapped to linear viewership and can provide metrics such as incremental reach, de-duplicated audiences, concentration scores and indexes. The industry needs to stop using demographic data and GRPs to program television advertising and start using digital data to get more precise and superior reporting and normalize that data against Nielsen or comScore. 

Charlene Weisler: What data do you receive and how do you collect and consolidate it?

Ross McCray: We see all types of data in the streams we receive. There is traditional panel measurement where you subscribe to a digital panel of about a 20,000 household size. We approach data across devices so our datasets are much larger than the traditional panels. We use cookies, mobile and other devices and use both deterministic and probabilistic modeling to match and authenticate. And we have agreements around TV consumption data and extrapolate. We also receive data directly from set-top box and Smart-TV manufacturers using ACR. So we essentially receive data from three categories of sources on a second by second basis. We attach node devices to cross platform devices where we associate this with cookies and mobile devices into a unique user. So for example, we can look at a user who comes up in the data and we ask, ‘what do we know about this guy?’ We know he saw this ad twice on linear TV last week. Should we feed him this exact same ad again?

Charlene Weisler: Is your data really second by second?

Ross McCray: Every set-top box is different however we access data every quarter-hour coupled with ACR vendor data which reports every second.  It also depends on what you define as a view. We can get to that level of granularity using cable apps and defining what a view means.

Charlene Weisler: How do you deal with privacy issues if you can get down to the individual user?

Ross McCray: VideoAmp adheres to the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Self-regulatory Principles of Online Behavioral Advertising. While VideoAmp itself does not engage in Online Behavioral Advertising, certain VideoAmp Services enable its customers to use audience data to enhance their targeting of ads.

Furthermore, as the privacy standards around advanced advertising continue to evolve,  we make sure we are always compliant and within the guidelines of all the regulatory bodies like the DAA and NAI as well as all Federal guidelines and the TV consumption device’s Terms of Service.

Charlene Weisler: Where do you see the industry five years from now?

Ross McCray: That is a super long time in this industry! I would like to say that automation and data driven targeting will be in full swing – for sure and without a doubt. Second, it will be de-facto that we will be transacting in de-duplicated audiences on both the demand and supply side. There are benefits on both sides and they will be working together on this. They are already working on this in the upfront. This year we are already seeing pilots on that and I see that we could reach scale in the next five years. Third, there will be more consolidation with interesting and different actors coming together. Last, agencies are struggling to see what is happening. Every agency has a different structure. Sometimes TV is on top and sometimes digital. When I talk to agencies they say that they now see themselves as consultants or holding companies. There is a huge ‘Game of Thrones’ playing out on the agency side.

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