While online video advertising is expected to be a key driver of growth in the online ad market over the next couple of years, the overwhelming majority of video ads are still created as if for TV, with every viewer seeing exactly the same ad no matter who or where they are. Eyeview is hoping to change that by allowing brands to serve different ads to different audiences. Its platform combines information on the consumer, such as their location, with advertiser data, such as store locations and real-time offers, enabling brands to show personalised video ads in real time. CEO and co-founder, Oren Harnevo, says this means, for example, that two visitors to a travel website, one in Los Angeles and one in New York, will see two different ads for deals out of their nearest airport. The company only launched in February, but Harenvo claims it has already run eight campaigns, with a “very big front line of companies” waiting to launch ads on its service.
¤ What makes Eyeview different from other video ad services?
Brand advertisers today cannot provide personalised messages over video. They can do it in display advertising and in search, but in video advertising it’s still on the side of traditional TV. What we enable brands to do is to customise video creative on the fly and provide HD personalised ads to each and every viewer. Nobody else provides this.
¤ What is your business model?
We operate on a CPM basis. So we take a 10% cut from any ad campaigns. We aren’t currently profitable and we don’t have a target date. Our mission is to bring our technology to market. Our biggest cost is creating this technology and developing our vertical solutions, we’re very lightweight at the moment.
¤Who are your main competitors?
No one at the moment. We are the only ones who provide this technology and we have been developing it for four and a half years. There are some who enable you to have a fresh banner on top of a video with some dynamic information, there are some working in display, but there’s nobody actually changing the ad to provide different ads for different viewers.
¤ What is the biggest challenge you currently face?
Getting to market. Agencies are very hard to get attention from. Everyone who understands our product falls in love with it, but it’s getting in front of the agencies and making them understand what we do and trust us. It’s a question of shouting loud enough. At the moment we are actively going for the US and launching in New York. We are getting requests from European firms and European agencies, which we will be happy to support, but we’re not actively going there.
¤ What is the hottest trend in digital media right now?
I am a bit biased so online video. It’s going to take some time, but slowly video advertising is going to turn digital and companies like us show that there is so much more you can do with video. Brand and agencies will slowly adapt to understand that media dollars are better spent online. Europe is about two years behind the US from that perspective, but the online video network in Europe will grow substantially in the next two or three years. I think mobile is also going to be big. At some point in the future we’ll reach a point where there is not much difference between an online video and a mobile video.
Online video is rapidly expanding. Increasing broadband speeds coupled with online streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu mean that more and more consumers are now watching content via the internet. As eyeballs increasingly shift online, we can expect advertisers to follow suit, and research firms from Gartner to eMarketer are predicting huge growth in online video advertising over the next few years. Eyeview is hoping to capitalise on this potential, citing its ability to mix online video with personalisation and real-time updates as a key differentiator.
Targetd display and search ads have existed for some time, but has not emerged in the same way in video advertising due to the huge costs associated with creating thousands of versions of high-quality video ads. Eyeview says it overcomes this problem by taking a video ad and adding personalised, real-time content in post-production. Harnevo says the firm already has partnerships in place with all the major video networks and publishers, with the fact that its platform is not Flash-based meaning it is capable of running ads on almost any video player across any ad server. That ubiquity is likely to prove popular among ad agencies that want to be able to produce an ad that can run on any site on the web.
The ability to reach ad agencies and convince them to use Eyeview’s technology is seemingly the biggest challenge the firm faces. Harnevo constantly refers to the difficulty of convincing ad firms of its benefits and getting its technology to market. Investment from former Google CEO and current chairman Eric Schmidt in the firm’s latest funding round is likely to help boost its profile.
AT A GLANCE
CEO: Oren Harnevo
HQ: New York
Founded: November 2007
Commercial launch: Feb 2011-06-30
Employees: 20, but we’re recruiting
Funding to date: USD6m
Investors: Gemini Israel Funds, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Innovation Endeavours
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