Thursday, January 27, 2011
Interview with Nick Higgins, Joost
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Last week, Adconion (www.adconion.com) announced that it had spun out Joost (www.joost.com), its online video service, into a separate company, which is going to be based out of Santa Monica. We thought it would be interesting to talk to the firm, so we connected with Nick Higgins who is the EVP heading up Joost and running its Santa Monica operations, to hear more about the spinout and Adconion's aggressive hiring plans in the area.
First, describe what Joost's business is nowadays?
Nick Higgins: Adconion was founded six years ago as an advertising network. That was on the heels of CEO and Founder Tyler Moebius having several ventures into another ad network. We started internationally, and built out our international platform first, and rolled it back into the U.S. Along the way, we anticipated and forecast a change in the consumption of content on the internet. Specifically, there was a greater and higher level of consumption of video. To build out our technology and ad serving platform, we made the investment and acquisition around a video ad server, with a strategic investment in Redlever for branded entertainment, and the acquisition of Joost's assets. Joost and our network serves as a platform for us to syndicate our content, using both the Joost player and the ad network combined.
Why spin out Joost separately?
Nick Higgins:Joost did exceptionally well last year on a global basis, so much so that it was an easy business decision to create a standalone subsidiary of Adconion. Where we are right now, is we own and operate Joost.com, and also exclusively represent other premium sites we have selected, and where we have representation of their inventory and content. Why that is important, is the traditional ad networks will have a platform, but don't have any owned and operated sites, and may or may not have technology and investments in content. We put it all together, for consumers, for platform, and for brand advertisers to connect with their consumers.
Your firm started in UK, but has big expansion plans in Los Angeles. Why the expansion here?
Nick Higgins: Besides the fact that our CEO likes to surf and ski, we've got a deep focus on Hollywood and content. Our vision is to be the largest content syndication and monetization platform, so being here was a very easy decision to be made. We recently moved into our new offices on Exposition Boulevard, and have been expanding at a rapid rate. One of our challenges is, we can't hire quick enough. We're growing rapidly both here locally and internationally. One of the reasons that has happened, is we've got some ongoing developments with the entertainment industry, everything from the traditional behemoths to emerging digital producers. Mainstream producers know where the future is at, and there are lots of opportunities in this geography.
There are lots of video ad networks. What is particular about your offering that is attractive?
Nick Higgins: What had been sinking lots of traditional video businesses before had been operating costs and CDN costs. Costs have come down, plus our business model is not a traditional pull model--it's both push and pull. Pull is people coming into the URL, as well as us leveraging our massive reach and scale across the network. We also have a diverse product range -- everything from in-stream, pre- and post- roll, as well as banner ads. In banner, we have unparalleled scale which attracts our customers. You get a combination of in-stream, plus we benefit brands by developing extremely rich and interactive ad units which pull in a lot of different capabilities, including Google maps, store finders, and multiple videos.
Are all those visitors going to your Joost site, or is that also spread out elsewhere?
Nick Higgins: We have a portfolio of premium publishers. They have been hand selected to be part of our media portfolio, according to our customer's needs. If they need a specific demographic they are targeting, or looking for a specific category or looking to relate to a specific genre, we can make that recommendation. We have multiple points and opportunities to syndicate our content. We have our own development team and engineers, and we're constantly innovating against the notion we call cloud-based syndication, where the cloud is the audience. We're always looking to where we can find and establish an audience, and develop players to drop into those sites. One of the most popular is the Joost iPad and iPod application, and we have other unique projects to develop video players we can syndicate across our network.