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For Major Brands Extending TV Spots To Online, Yashi Targets Time And Place

All advertising is inherently local, but it’s better when it has sight, sound, and motion, says Yashi’s Jay Gould.

Yashi's Jay Gould
Yashi’s Jay Gould

Toms River, NJ may not be thought of as a “tech hub,” but the township, which is located roughly 50 miles from Manhattan, is perfect for illustrating the values of programmatic video ad targeter, Yashi.

The company’s CEO, Jay Gould, co-founded Yashi in Toms River with his wife in 2007. Initially formed as a vertical advertising network geared toward specific topics, Yashi shifted focus to programmatic online video as consumer behavior and budgets made that same shift, Gould says.

But even after last February’s $33 million acquisition by Texas-based Nexstar Broadcasting Group. Yashi remains headquartered in its hometown — though it does have offices in New York and Boston — in part, as a sign that online advertising, particularly when it comes with a local perspective, can be situated anywhere.

GeoMarketing: How do you define “location-focused video?”

Jay Gould: We believe that where someone lives, works and plays is the greatest indicator of the types of goods and services that they would buy or require. In addition to location, we also try to understand the physical world around the consumer, so our platform has the location-focused toolset that that allows buyers to easily customize hyperlocal video campaigns that are targeted, optimized, visualized, and enhanced by the data from the real world.

What was the inspiration behind Yashi?

A few years ago, I was watching a pre-season Monday Night Football game. A local car dealership TV ad appeared during the break. A friend of mine asked if they were customer of ours at Yashi. I quickly realized our next “ah ha!” moment that was going to differentiate Yashi from other online video ad-tech competitors. So we began building customized tools, features, functionalities into the demand-side platform that we had. It ultimately differentiated Yashi in terms of how we targeted and optimized and visualized campaigns for local-focused customers.

Two years later, the second-largest TV broadcasting company Nextar Broadcasting approached us. Nexstar has more than 600 local sales reps across the country with over 100 TV stations in the US. They sell, obviously, to local customers with video assets for TV commercials.

It was a great marriage, basically, at that point and it resulted the acquisition of Yashi for $33 million dollars in cash. We’ve been beneficiaries of being early in programmatic video and fortunate to have surrounded ourselves with a great team earlier on. A lot of that has a lot to do with luck and just being skilled enough to know what to do. There’s a lot of luck in life, I think, but being early and choosing the right focus I think is a big contributing factor to our success.

What are the specific services and functions Yashi performs for its clients?

Quite simply, we just make it easy to plan, launch, monitor, and measure online location-focused video campaigns. Our clients will range from local, regional, national, big, small, and anything in-between.

The natural advantages we have are with regional local-based companies that already believe that video — sight, sound, and motion — is the most compelling medium to connect with consumers and we’re strong believers in preaching to the choir. We believe that all brands are actually inherently local.

How so?

We’ll use Nike — which I should note is not a client — as an example of how we might work with a large brand.

Nike has multiple sports team endorsements and they may want to emphasize the marketing campaigns in those geographic areas where those teams are active. Or, better yet, Nike want to aim their marketing where those teams are active and have recently won last night’s game.

We’re really excited about all types of opportunities like that, with brands at the national level as well as at the local levels where it’s clearly obvious that they have a local focus.

You noted that amount of customized tools Yashi has when it comes to targeting. Does the company also provide influence on the creative and messaging of the location-based video ads it runs as well?

We don’t work on the creative. We made a strategic decision early on to simply work on the distribution of the advertisement and the targeting.

There are some companies out there that specifically and solely focus on the creative and some try to marry the two together. We thought early on it would really be in our best interest and the client’s best interest to be really, really good at the targeting and the distribution, so we work at massive scale as a result of that, and it’s probably an important aspect of what we do is provide scale for local marketing.

In terms of the ads that run through Yashi’s system, are they mostly TV spots repurposed for online and local markets? Or do they tend to be made for online only and specific areas?

It depends on the client. Sometimes we get a switch play, meaning we get a TV buyer that wants to switch over to online, in addition to doing broadcast. They give us a television commercial and they say, “Can you run this for us in a geographically located targeted capacity?” In that case, yeah, it’s just repurposing an existing video asset for television online.

There have been some instances where folks have also been TV buyers that have had creative customized for online, and some people even try a specific call-to-action. There are all different types of creatives and different advertisers have different types of ways that they want to go about it and test.

What advertising categories are most active in location-based video advertising? Are there any categories that are still emerging?

The early adopters that we’ve seen so far in terms of location video would be automotive, quick-serve restaurants, healthcare, education, and politics. Last November, we had a lot of political campaigns use us.

These types of advertisers are heavily invested in cable, and they’ve been best customers for us.  The primary objective to date has just been to introduce the benefits of online video to these customers, such as precision targeting and real-time metrics, and the ease of launching campaigns online quickly. All of that is totally different from television, and that’s how we try to win business with those types of customers.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.