Venture Investing in Digital Media and Big Data

Put Video Ads Where User Attention Truly Resides

“Viewability is kicking brands and agencies in the gut,” said Mark Yackanich, CEO of Genesis Media, in a recent extensive interview. Genesis Media recognized problems associated with fraud and viewability as early as 2010, when the company was founded. With ever increasing demand for video ad inventory (which eMarketer has estimated will reach $7.5 billion in the U.S. this year, up about 42% from the year before) Yackanich believes his company can give advertisers the video ad inventory they want with the viewability relief they need.

Genesis Media calls itself “the attention platform,” with a technology that can put out-of-stream video ads in places where viewers will want to see them. “If you understand where attention truly resides, then you can place ads there,” explains Yackanich. The company officially launched the product that is gaining traction — PAR or Page Attention Rank — more than four years after it was founded, in May 2015. In recent months, they have gotten help from a strategic partnership with NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. “The math itself has been in development for anywhere between 12 and 18 months,” said Yackanich. “We tried multiple roads before we finally got to this idea of content attention, because it’s the content that carries attention–the ad doesn’t carry attention. It’s all about the content and that was an important realization.” The company has applied for a patent for their core proprietary technology that “allows us to collect, synthesize, calculate, store and target individual URLs and users.”

Working with customers

Genesis sits between agencies and publishers, but Yachanich thinks that they are “much more publisher-oriented. For example, we might say ‘we have now integrated with your platform, we’ve looked at your traffic, we’ve looked at your audience. We think that if we were to tune our platform in the following ways, we believe that you’re going to achieve the best results.’ It’s very consultative.”

According to the company, Genesis has added 700 newspaper publishers over the last several months. “Anyone who owns great content that’s editorialized by a professional editor, that has a brand that is seeking audience, those are the places where our products are resonating most right now. And that’s where we seek the greatest pull from our partners from the agency side.”
One advertising customer using Genesis as their primary out-of-stream provider is Aria, the resort casino. Carl Cohen who was VP of Marketing (until October 2015) said in an email interview that Aria started testing the platform for ad campaigns starting in June 2014. Of the current 2015 digital domestic plan, approximately 28% of Aria’s budget is video, using video advertising primarily as a brand engagement vehicle. They started to work with Genesis because, said Cohen, “We are open to testing new formats and technologies as they arise and maintain an evergreen campaign with those that beat industry benchmarks and shine in terms of delivering the ARIA experience in the digital space.”

Beyond out-of-stream

The company has received about $17 million in funding, with the most recent, a Series B round in mid 2014. Yackanich ideally sees Genesis’ PAR product as “that foundational element that allows the ecosystem to optimize the delivery of their media.” He sees the “next frontier” for the company as going beyond out-of-stream video advertising and “influencing the way that display is spent, that more rich media is spent, that other ad units are employed on the page. We have all of the data tools to tackle those challenges.”