AiThority Interview Series with Eric Visser, President EMEA at GumGum
Hi Eric, welcome to AIThority Interview Series. Please tell us a little bit about your journey in the AdTech space and how you arrived at GumGum.
I am a serial entrepreneur and I have worked across a lot of industries, including digital media, real estate and finance. I got involved with the internet in 1997, and ever since then I have focused on media and advertising in various capacities – I operated a financial publisher in the Netherlands, and at one point I ran a programmatic trading desk.
So, I’ve done a lot of different things, but the one thing that unites it all has been the importance of creative thinking and ambition. Whatever I’m doing, I always want to try and make a shift. I founded JustPremium in 2012 with the aim of building an organization that would become a global player in digital advertising, and to do that by making advertising more successful for everyone. That was the plan, and over the years we saw the business grow to employ over 140 people in 14 countries. As you know, it was acquired by GumGum in 2021.
You are one of the pioneers of Rich Media advertising technology in Europe. Could you please tell us how online advertising technologies have evolved in the last 2-3 years?
The industry is changing for the better. It’s not just the changes to privacy and identity that are transforming digital advertising, but also a focus on supply-path optimization, demand-path optimization, mounting a challenge to the ‘Triopoly’, and the attention economy. And it’s a time when sophisticated contextual solutions are mounting a real challenge to regular keyword-based advertising.
It’s been five years since GDPR went into effect and the industry has had to start facing a future without personal data. With our contextual technology and high-impact ads, advertisers don’t need to know everything about their consumers in order to deliver relevant and engaging ad campaigns. The future is all about meeting people in the moment they are in. As the industry moves into a new era – one that requires a shift in how advertisers think about connecting with audiences in digital environments – GumGum is providing a means to communicate that is cookie- and identity-free.
How is AI used in Programmatic advertising? What are the unique challenges and opportunities of working with AI technologies specifically developed for adtech customers?
AI is used for programmatic advertising in many ways. A few include inventory forecasting, performance optimization, audience modeling, and contextually understanding and categorizing the inventory. One of the opportunities AI offers is the ability to optimize an outcome-based algorithm on a large number of input signals without knowing in advance which of those signals is most influential on the desired outcome. Also, the ability to understand unstructured data such as large bodies of text, and 1000s of pixels in an image or video frame.
The challenge that comes with using AI is that each technology is built differently so it’s important to understand how the algorithm was trained and how accurate and effective the algorithm is.
Could you please tell us more about GumGum’s Verity AI platform? What kind of data engine drives this platform? How is Just Premium enriching this AI data engine?
Verity is a contextual intelligence technology that scans text, image, audio and video to derive human-like understandings. It surfaces contextual signals such as content categories, prominent keywords, sentiment, and threat categories/risks. It is available natively within GumGum’s SSP as well as via API. The API is used by publishers and other platforms to enable contextual and brand safety PMPs and Pre Bid-targeting. Verity’s supervised machine learning models are trained on thousands of human-labeled web pages, images and videos that are regularly updated to reflect the current state of the world. The training data set grows as we expand into new countries and languages and incorporate the content of those countries.
How does GumGum address the growing demand for brand safety, transparency, and ad performance using AI, neural networking, and Deep Learning capabilities?
GumGum Verity is a proprietary technology that was developed over 10 years ago and continues to evolve. It powers the contextual targeting and brand suitability targeting across all ad campaigns that run in the GumGum SSP, either directly or through programmatic PMP deals that are accessed through DSPs. Advertisers can also leverage Verity targeting in DSPs such as Xandr Invest and AcuityAds as well as publishers like the LA Times and Business Insider.
Is AI the answer to all advertising challenges that we face today? How can advertisers become more sensitive to consumers’ neural and emotional reactions?
Of course not, but AI can be very effective in optimizing performance, making predictions, and comprehending content at scale. Advertisers can tap into a consumer’s neural and emotional reaction by understanding when consumers pay attention to an ad. AI can play a role here as well – Playground XYZ, a GumGum company, uses AI to predict how long a consumer actually looked at an ad.
What’s next in Programmatic advertising – what do you predict for the expanding universe of OTTs, CTVs and audio advertising channels? Any key takeaway you would like to share from your interactions with GumGum customers in these areas?
Our customers are looking for new ways to reach consumers that are increasingly engaging in digital environments beyond the web browser. GumGum is actively developing products for these new digital environments such as CTV and 3D video games. For OTT, including CTV, GumGum’s patent-pending In-Video format overlays brand messages in the lower-third of VOD and FAST video streams. GumGum is also exploring integrating In-Game supply into its buying platform.
Your prediction for the future of Programmatic Advertising in the High Impact space:
There will be a race to see who can offer the best solution that uses engaging and dynamic creative paired with the optimal content to reach consumers in the right mindset to maximize their attention.
Thank you, Eric! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
Eric Visser is a serial entrepreneur who loves building businesses and is a co-founder and managing partner of 15 companies in industries, ranging from digital media to real estate and financial trading. Eric founded his first internet enterprise in 1997 and successfully sold it in 2000. Since then, he has been working in media and advertising within various organizations and roles from operating a financial publisher in the Netherlands to running a Programmatic Trading Desk. An ideas guy at heart, Eric has placed ambitious, creative thinking at the core of his business strategies. He founded JustPremium in 2012 with the ambition of building a global player in digital advertising that makes advertising more successful for everyone. Eric has seen the business grow to employ over 140 people in 14 countries and to be later acquired by GumGum in 2021.
GumGum is a global technology and media company specialising in contextual intelligence. They recognise that effective advertising relies on understanding the mindset of the user: knowing who is viewing online content and the level of their engagement with that content. GumGum’s technology ensures context is detected and applied before an ad is shown, dramatically improving impact, effectiveness and ROI for advertisers. In 2021 GumGum further enhanced its offering with the acquisition of high impact ad specialists JustPremium, and attention experts Playground XYZ. Together, the three businesses deliver the Mindset Matrix, a trilogy of expertise that delivers powerful digital advertising in the right place, at the right time to an engaged and responsive audience. They also apply brand safety intelligence to deliver industry-leading efficiency, accuracy and performance.