Former Director at Spotify and Current Managing Director at Acast
Brian Danzis is the Current Managing Director of the US for Acast, the leading independent podcasting network, where he is responsible for driving podcast advertising sales for the North American and Mexican markets. Brian is the Former Global Head of Video Monetization at Spotify, where he was leading the direct sales efforts for Spotify’s video formats and commercialization of original content. Prior to Spotify, Brian spent 20 years in the video advertising world, working for Videology, a video advertising platform, Comcast, and CNN.Read more
Can you give us some background to your role in advertising and at Acast today?
I have had an interesting run over the past 20 years. I started my first job at CNN Turner Broadcasting in the late 90s, where they had one of the best training programs in the world. There I received a good introduction into the world of media which I never knew existed; how media is bought and sold and those relationships. Over the years, a little thing called digital emerged. We got out of the digital 1.0 hiccups and I made the switch in the early 2000s when the stronger business models emerged. All my friends thought I was crazy. I saw an opportunity as consumption was changing and new platforms were allowing brands to connect with those audiences, and I jumped full-on in. Over the last 15 years, I worked for video companies, spending time at programmatic-first companies, automating buying and selling, and then back to a big company with Spotify, where I was responsible for the global video business.
I have now come full circle to an audio company, who is using technology to change how people consume podcasts and which allows creators to earn a living.
What is the fundamental difference between the video and audio advertising ecosystems?
Video has evolved several times over the past two decades. When I first got to Turner Broadcasting in 1999, Ted Turner had a program called Media at the Millennium. They were trying to describe how cable television had reached the point of mass consumption and that it was very similar to broadcast television, and therefore, should command similar pricing. Obviously, we now know it is very equal but when digital video was emerging 10 to 12 years later, it was faced with similar challenges. You had the long-tail of video – full episode players being premier branded content – but one thing absent in both instances was the lack of standardization in media metrics.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, a lot of cable networks were not rated yet, so it was difficult for them to command the type of pricing that broadcast enjoyed because they could not get a Nielsen rating, which was how all audiences were monetized. Looking to digital video, what started with the full episode players in those same TV networks, they enjoyed their first bit of success. All the other content, with large viewers, every time you type in “brownie recipes” into Google, you would find a recipe and there would usually be a video there with it. It might not be a branded piece of content, but it was still valuable. What was needed there was a metric that people could understand, which could cut across everything and be applied across all those channels. That metric was viewability, which first emerged because there was concern around muted in-banner videos.
Pixels were also hidden, so it was a fraud issue at first, but then people realized this was a standard metric they could apply to the full episode players. The two metrics all digital video buyers looked for over the last decade were viewability and completion. Did you watch my video all the way through, and during that period were the appropriate amount of pixels in play for the right amount of time? That is where video really took off, around 2015, 2016, with a metric that everyone could measure. Third parties were able to do that, from integral ad science and mode and double verify. There were associations and regardless of whether the viewability measurement was correct, it was still a standard.
With podcasting, that is one of the challenges that face our medium – there are different standards and metrics – which is a little confusing. We need our viewability moment and I believe it is coming soon.
Is there a difference in the technical journey and process of advertising between audio and video, using RSS feeds or URL embedded links for example?
Everyone has a content management system, but podcasting is a free medium and you can get any podcast anywhere, with the exception of Joe Rogan and others. If you want to watch an episode of CSI, you cannot watch that everywhere because there are rights issues and walled gardens. Podcasting is slightly different, which is what makes it more complicated.