Tim Conley, CEO of Extreme Reach, joins Cross Screen Media CEO Michael Beach to share his thoughts on the impact of media fragmentation and the importance of experimentation in advertising including channel, length, and functionality. Watch our latest Screen Wars Thought Leader Interview here and read the full transcript below!
Michael Beach: Tim, thanks for joining us.
Tim Conley: Thank you for having me.
MB: All right, we’ll start you off today with a question we ask all our guests. What was your first job and what lessons did you take away from it that you applied to your career?
TC: My first job was an awfully long time ago. I was in tech support for a fitness equipment manufacturer. And this was before email, before cell phones, before internet. So, I had to do a lot of problem-solving and had to do all my communications via the phone or face to face. I learned a lot there, but I think some of the things that I learned that I took away from that were really about the product development, the feedback loop from the products, or from the customers.
I mean, as far as getting that information from the customers, applying it to the product as you move forward, applying it to new products and the entire loop there, as well as distilling very technical information down to something that is simple and easy for folks to digest
MB: Well, how’d you get started in the media space?
TC: Well, I worked through tech support and through customer service and eventually took over manufacturing, and operationally got involved in a lot of stuff. Then ultimately got involved in the ad-tech space or the advertising space over 20 years ago, essentially applying the same thing only on the technical side.
MB: Excellent. And before we dive in anymore, would you mind giving our community a sense of where Extreme Reach fits in the advertising ecosystem?
TC: I think it’s probably most important for everybody to understand that Extreme Reach has nothing to do with media. We don’t buy media, we don’t sell media or strictly work in the creative space. Essentially we have an activation platform for creative. And the way we like to think about it is that creative can move at the same speed as media. So you can buy media in milliseconds, but you need to be able to fill that media with creative. We help streamline that whole process, all the way from when an advertiser, an agency, or somebody in the ecosystem has an idea about the type of creative they want to make, we can actually take over from there. We have tools for that.
Estimating the cost of the creative, all the way through to helping negotiate talent contracts with the creative, paying that talent, going through the whole production process all the way through a finished product, that then gets distributed to any screen or device and now anywhere in the world.
Not only does that collect a lot of data, but it also collects all the creative when we put those together to make asset management tools available for our customers. So we’re really an end-to-end solution for advertisers and their agencies for advertising creative.
MB: Yeah, I love that because you’ve got a piece that would fit right in the ad-tech space, but obviously you see how broad the industry is and the challenges facing creators, the media rights, and everything that goes along with that. It’s just great to see those things combined.
TC: Absolutely. That’s a key challenge that we actually solve for our clients. So not only do we know what was used in that creative, whether it was talent or whether it was music or some other type of piece of creative that has rights associated with it. We can track those rights. We know exactly where that content is going, so we can make sure that it’s not going to places they don’t have the rights to use it.
We know when those rights expire so that we can help our advertisers pull those things back when they expire. We can also make sure that they don’t get redistributed if they’re not, or if they are expired, or we can help them re-up those rights if they want to use that content over again. It’s a very key piece of what we provide as part of the process.
MB: And a big piece of recent news, the acquisition of Adstream. How does that fit with your broader strategic goals?
TC: When we started the company going back 13 years ago now, our vision was to power the world’s video advertising. That’s been a mission that we’ve been on for several years and we’ve been putting the pieces together to be able to do that. And really, we were missing the world part. We have a large footprint in North America and needed to expand that globally.
The addition of Adstream brings a significant global footprint. It helps us expand those products like talent and digital ad delivery or digital ad serving out, on a global scale. They have some fantastic tools as well, that they bring as far as workflow and asset management. And it’s really a very great combination for both companies. I think they have excellent people, and so that combination is really going to help us achieve that vision of powering the world’s video advertising.
MB: Overall, are your customers more on the digital side, the television side, both, where do they sit?
TC: There’s a lot of different people that we touch in the ecosystem, but our core customers, are our brands and advertisers and their agencies. And so what we’ll do is be able to provide them this complete toolset globally that helps them with the entire creative process. So again, we’re extremely excited that we are their only independent platform that’s going to be able to do that on a global scale, go to any screen or device. So a lot of folks talk about any screen or device, but our roots were in TV to begin with, linear TV. We expanded out in the digital space, so we can literally go to any screen or device, whether it’s linear or nonlinear. We probably do business with 90-95 of the top 100 global advertisers.
We can execute across the entire gamut of screens. We have a large footprint in TV, we have a large footprint in digital, obviously, the talent and rights that wrap around that. I think another one of the key components is the asset management tools that give our customers the ability to maybe reuse those assets anywhere in the world. So if you think about a beverage manufacturer that wants to use a scene where they’re pouring the beverage into a glass, they don’t have to recreate that in all these different parts of the world. They can go into our system, see where that exists, see if they have the rights to use it and they can reuse it anywhere. So there are a lot of great tools for advertisers to use across the ecosystem, but we really play equally in all those different areas. It’s not just TV, it’s not just digital, it’s not just talent. It’s the whole combined solution.
MB: How do you look out across the whole spectrum of video advertising? What are a few interesting trends that you’re seeing?
TC: Well, we’re seeing a lot of folks experimenting with buys that include both TV and digital, as you see. Maybe they’re using the same creative across both mediums and using the information they’re gleaning from one to adjust to the other ones. That’s something that we can help our customers with, where if they see performance of a certain asset on a certain medium type, outperforming the other assets, then they can make adjustments to those things. We see a lot of different experimentation with different lengths of video. So if you even go back a year ago, there was a lot of excitement around short, six-second advertising. I think people are learning that they need a little more time to engage with the consumer. You’ve seen that’s come back to the 30-second commercial and maybe longer to get their message across now.
MB: We have your quarterly report open right now. There are probably two things that really stood out. One, a couple of years of a blip – the really short creative. I know a lot of our customer base were trying to figure out how big of a deal that was going to be because there were a lot of production costs around it, depending on how much advertising you’re going to run to it. And then two, the continued explosion of CTV. Are those two main things you’re seeing as well?
TC: I think that clearly, CTV continues to grow, which is great. Again, for us, we go to any screen or device, so it really doesn’t matter, but we’re happy to help our customers there. Again, we see a shift towards longer content from an advertising perspective, which I think makes sense, especially as people are engaging more with larger screens, if you think about CTV, as opposed to with a mobile device or something.
You have more opportunity I think, to do longer advertising. And then really it’s also premium publishers I think, taking back at least some of their inventory from the aggregators and packaging it up themselves or selling it more directly. There was probably a time in 2020 where you saw them giving up a lot more inventory to the aggregators, but I think now they’re probably taking a little more control over that.
MB: As you look out, maybe five years out, what do you expect the future of video advertising to look like? Looking at your customer base, what do you expect them to keep doing, start doing and stop doing?
TC: As I look out on the horizon, and I think that one of the problems that we’ve solved for a long time, and I think that is going to continue to exist is the fragmentation of media. You see different media, different types of media, different engagement experiences, whatever screen they’re engaging on, and there may be others in the future.
I think it’s going to continue to fragment somewhat and advertisers are going to have to go find their customers or consumers. I think that trend is only going to continue, maybe even in some cases get worse as platforms shift and things happen in the media space. I think we’ll see a lot of experimentation with different ways to engage customers, especially as it relates to video, different formats, maybe different functionality as it relates to how you interact with that video.
I see that happening and it still remains to be seen how targeted folks are going to be with their advertising and you can really target down to the individual, but if you’re a brand advertiser, you’re trying to get your brand message across. Targeting down to individual people doesn’t really solve your problem. You need a wider net, and so I think we’ll see folks not get as granular with their targeting, especially certain advertisers. But also try different experiences to engage audiences contextually.
MB: That’s great. What’s a trend that you think is really important, that no one’s talking about in this space?
TC: I think one of the things that we’re seeing on our side is the proliferation of connected devices, the proliferation of the use of content over the internet and other IP mediums, is really causing issues on the talent side, which most people don’t see. They don’t see that, they think that maybe I can just take this piece of video that I used on TV last week and use it somewhere else.
What they find is, later on, those rights holders, the talent within those videos see themselves being used in a place where they weren’t compensated to be used. A lot of this stuff happens behind the scenes. So I think one of the trends that we’re seeing is advertisers are becoming more and more aware of this problem and how to solve it across either their own ecosystem and even across the world as well. So it’s something that we uniquely see. I see that a lot of people probably out there don’t see, but it’s not as easy as saying, “Hey, I just want to take this video and post it to YouTube and have everybody watch it” because you may not be able to do that, right? So I think that’s one of the behind-the-scenes things that we see that most people don’t understand.
MB: Is that more of an issue defined with a brand that does a custom ad and that’s part of the contract with the talent on the front end, or maybe they’re using a third-party, stock site that they only had limited rights to? Is that a problem in both of those instances?
TC: It could be a problem along a whole bunch of different lines. So if you’re using union talent or non-union talent, there are different rules. What people don’t generally understand, that are involved in the ecosystem is that every medium has a different right associated with it. You think that if you put something on TV, you can put it on any sort of linear TV medium. But actually, network TV is different from cable networks is different from spot TV or in-market stations. And so everything has its own, right. And then within the content, the music might have different rights than the actual performers and whatnot. So it gets really complicated really quickly. And what you have to do is understand which is the first right that expires because that’s the one that matters. You could for instance, have music rights for two years, but rights to the actors in there for only one year.
And so it actually has to come off after one year not two years, right. So I think that what people might originally say, “I’m going to use this for network TV” and then not realize they can’t just take it and use it on the internet. That’s usually the direction that it goes. It’s not usually vice versa where I use it on the internet, now I want to use it on TV. There’s a lot of complicated rules around the usage of these things and so usually, it’s going from linear to nonlinear formats that get people in trouble, I’d say.
MB: Interesting. Well, Tim, I will get you out of here on one more question that we ask all of our guests. If you could get your entire team to read one book right now, what would it be and why?
TC: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think about a classic book that I like, which is Good to Great by Jim Collins, and while some of the information there might be dated because I think it’s about 20 years old or so, as far as the companies they profile. You don’t see the newer companies in there, like Google and Facebook and those types of companies. The principles still apply. The need for clear leadership, confronting the brutal reality of things, and also a culture of discipline, where you don’t chase every shiny object, but you’re staying the course. While it’s an oldie, it’s a goodie, and I think it applies to everybody, no matter where you are in the organization.
MB: Yeah, it’s a classic and I don’t know if you got a chance, but he put out a mini-book about a year or two ago, just on the flywheel concept from that. It was excellent.
TC: The concepts they’re everlasting, right. The basic concepts there and I think it applies to everybody in the organization, so it’s a great one.
MB: Well, Tim, I’m grateful for your time and I’ve really enjoyed the conversation and I know that our community’s going to love the talk, so thank you very much.
TC: All right. Thank you, Michael.
See the rest of the Screen Wars Thought Leader Interview series here!
Cross Screen Media is a marketing analytics and software company helping brands, agencies, and networks succeed in the Convergent TV space. Our platform creates a common currency across linear TV, digital, and CTV views so ad buyers can build a single optimized plan and sellers can prove the value of their inventory. For more information, please visit our website.