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Q&A With Zefr’s Andrew Serby

Zefr, the video advertising and digital rights management platform, sets itself apart by taking a unique approach to data-driven audience selection. We chatted with Andrew Serby, Director of Marketing at Zefr, about “Mindset Marketing”, brand safety, and the importance of reaching the right audience at the right moment.


At Zefr, you practice the art/science of Mindset Marketing. What is that?

Basically, the concept of Mindset Marketing came from applying the relevance of search - being useful for consumers when they are actively seeking out information - to the power of video. Combining the two, and reaching consumers with video ads at the precise moment they're most interested in hearing from your brand, is something we're focused on.

What is the importance of finding the right audience at the right moment? Why should brands/advertisers care? It's a marketing cliche, but it's true. When you reach people with relevant ads, at relevant moments, advertising just works better. We measured the impact of aligning contextually relevant ads on YouTube content vs. traditional keyword/channel targeting with the IPG media lab and found it drove a 63% lift in purchase intent, 83% lift in recommendation intent, and a 40% lift in overall favorability. It makes sense - consumers are seeing that an ad experience that's relevant to their interest is important and enjoyable.

What is the difference between working with a company like yours to pinpoint audience and the DIY Programmatic direct ad buy?

There are significant hurdles with audience targeting on YouTube, as shared devices continue to proliferate around households, and so many users are not logged in. Let's say a child picks up his dad's iPad - if you're an auto brand using audience targeting, your ad is reaching the kid, not your dad - it's irrelevant, and you've missed your audience entirely. That's we be built technology focused on understanding the context of the content being viewed, and use that technology to help target individual videos - not just audience, keyword, or channel. It's a much more powerful approach to video advertising.

Brand safety is a highly discussed issue of late. What’s your take on that?

It's important that brands know where their ads are being placed, and the brand safety news speaks to larger challenges. The ad community has developed such sophisticated ways to find an audience, that the content they're aligning with sometimes takes a back seat. The brand safety issues were an outcome of that - and brands that are focused on aligning with premium content are reaping benefits.

What does a company like yours do to ensure brand safety?

It's really important that every brand message is in front of content that makes sense for their brand. That's why we whitelist - not blacklist - videos that a brand would want to target. It's not just about brand safety, but brand safety is an important criteria. At Zefr, we make sure every video is relevant to a brand's objective, it's brand safe, it's forecasting views (at least 10,000) and that it can perform against KPIs. If any of those criteria aren't met - we would never run a brand's message against the video.

What sort of conversations need to be happening between brands/agency partners seeking data solutions and companies like Zefr?

We see a ton of success with the strategy teams that are looking for insights into what type of content their audiences are watching on YouTube, and those insights are brought to the Activation teams to actually carry out the buys. We're helping brands actually segment their content strategy, and then activate against that exact strategy, and use the results to inform the next campaign. It's a virtuous cycle that's empowered by technology, that's really just enabling brands to be smarter and more effective than they have before.

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