SpotXchange, a programmatic video advertising marketplace, recently opened an office in France and appointed Sophie Davidas as Directeur Business Development. VAN caught up with Sophie and Andrew Moore, SpotXchange’s Managing Director for Europe, to find out what’s happening with programmatic video in the French market.

VAN: Congratulations on the opening of your French office. Could you give a little background on what Sophie’s role will be, where programmatic video is currently at in the French market, and explain where you think the opportunities are?

Andrew_Moore_HeadShotAM:  The French market for programmatic video is an exciting prospect. The French online video advertising market is one of the most developed in Europe and we have seen the rapid adoption of programmatic buying.

According to IDC Research, 11% of online display will be traded programmatically in France in 2013 and this will double by 2016.

The opportunity for programmatic video comes as the French marketplace embraces other digital channels outside of display. We are seeing publisher adoption with premium video inventory being made available in France to RTB buyers.

SpotXchange is operating within the French market and it is important for us to have a local presence to build on this opportunity. The appointment of Sophie Davidas gives us a well-established lead within France and demonstrates our commitment to the market.

Sophie’s role is to develop SpotXchange’s business in France and work with our partners to help them capitalise on the shift to programmatic video. Sophie sits on the IAB France Innovation Committee and has a strong track record of bringing innovative new technology into France. She will be able to leverage her local relationships to help us grow.

Are the French publishers who have traditionally focused on text and images taking advantage of the opportunities in video? What could be done to encourage more publishers into the space?

Sophie DavidasSD: French publishers have demonstrated the ability to embrace technology and truly innovate.  This can be seen through the development of Private Marketplace Collectives such as Audience Square and La Place Media where a number of premium publishers have collaborated to provide a single, premium private marketplace.

This innovation is set to continue as both publishers and buyers look to embrace programmatic for other channels namely video and mobile.

Video is well placed to benefit as French publishers already understand the opportunity that trading programmatically provides to drive yields and with French trading desks committed to buying video programmatically this will accelerate as we move through 2013.

In many European markets, both the programmatic/RTB players and the video ad networks have found it difficult to get the broadcasters on board. Are French broadcasters any different and what, if anything, will lead to a shift in attitudes?

SD: French broadcasters are different in that they have integrated their media selling approach across digital and TV. When brands take a position on traditional TV, they generally also invest in catch up and other digital platforms sold by the broadcaster as part of a single media-buying plan. This level of cross-platform integration is very advanced and leads to a more joined up approach.

France also leads the world in IPTV adoption and this gives French broadcasters a significant advantage to leveraging multiple digital assets.

As with many other European markets, French broadcasters rely on a strong direct sales strategy and ad networks have struggled, as broadcasters typically do not want to work via intermediaries.

However, as demonstrated with the publisher collectives in France, broadcasters are open to a solution where they retain full control over their inventory and as such, I believe we will see the creation of broadcaster led private video marketplaces in France.

But it’s also important to note that the success of programmatic video is not reliant on whether broadcasters are involved or not. The biggest opportunity will be premium publishers and they are already starting to capitalise on the growing demand from programmatic buyers.

Earlier in the year SpotXchange launched SkipIt, a micropayments system that allows users to pay to skip ads for a small fee. How has it been going and how do you think it will be received in the French market?

AM: We have always prided ourselves in leading innovation in online video advertising and SkipIt is another example of this. Providing the ability for a growing number of users to skip ads is an important trend we are seeing globally and we are pleased with the progress we have made.

In particular, SkipIt has given us the opportunity to engage with brands that want to use the platform to encourage consumer interaction in exchange for free skips. This value exchange is particularly powerful, as attention is becoming a more valued commodity.

As a global solution, SkipIt is available in France and is an important part of our offering. As with all markets, consumers want the ability to skip ads and ultimately, publishers want to deliver the best consumer experience they can whilst protecting their yields. SkipIt delivers this.

What do you think we’ll see happen in the French video advertising market in 2013?

SD: 2013 will see a continuation of rapid adoption of programmatic buying in France. French trading desks are already established and will significantly increase the volume of video bought programmatically.

As a result, the demand for quality French video inventory will increase and reach a tipping point, which will accelerate the adoption of programmatic access by French publishers.

Private market places and publisher collectives will be the key mechanism that publishers use and we expect to see more of these launch in 2013. In particular, there is a lot of interest in vertical marketplace collectives around content categories (such as Sport or Automotive) and based on their track record, I would not be surprised to see France launch the first of these.

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