In the past I’ve written much about the pretty amazing technology that allows you to basically scan through video and pull out people, places, things and even skin flicks. Leaders in the space include Digitalsmiths, Affine and ClearStream (who have just announced a whole new buying platform).

Affine and Digitalsmiths have already had plenty of coverage here so today I wanted to talk about Clearstream. They have a technology they call ClearView which they’ve coupled with a media selling platform which is said to offer “advertisers more efficiently priced access to top sites.”

It seems that their inventory consist of streams from 90 percent of the comScore top 1000 sites including publishers like YouTube, social media sites and major video ad exchanges.

Basically, they do things similar to the other two companies – take in video and spit out lists of what’s inside including people, objects and sounds – to better target appropriate content for video advertising. That means more brand safe assurance for those big brand advertisers using online video ads.

Back in the frontier days of online video advertising, you know, early last year, many advertisers were often doing “averse targeting” where they wanted to avoid certain types of content. Nowadays in the modern age of video advertising things are starting to change into a more TV-like complementary targeting where brands can pick and choose exact content that is brand safe and complementary to their brand and messaging. When you think about it, it’s still sort of the same thing but to a much finer degree of control. Now, instead of saying “we don’t want to be seen next to X, Y and Z,” they simply look and find the exact content that they do want to be positioned next to and avoid the rest.

Clearstream, for their part, offers two specific formats, the ‘Content Curator’ which seems to collect brand safe videos and offer them to viewers in an environment that is “sponsored” by a brand. Their second offering is called “Trend Targeting” and seems more about getting ads on videos that are showing rapid uptake, or, in other words, “going viral.”

A Better Video Advertising Targeting System

It seems to me that in order to draw some major budget dollars into online video this is the sort of thing that we need to see in targeting technologies for online video advertising everywhere. There needs to be the ability to simply say yes to some content and no to other content but not generally on a video-by-video basis. That would be too tedious and time consuming.

TV has it easier in that respect. Brands know exactly what to expect from TV programming because it’s all extremely formulaic both in content as well as in schedule, audience, etc. What we, as an industry, need to do is bring that same level of ease and comfort for the brand media buyers and I think there is a lot of room to expand on it even though we are moving in the right direction.

What about the Cat Videos?

The funny thing is that, sometimes these targeting companies seem focused on ‘premium’ content which, by definition, is of higher quality but generally means professionally produced. However, that’s generally the stuff that’s going to be far more formulaic than the user-generated content or the non-professionally created stuff. That means it’s usually, already brand safe and brands know pretty much what to expect. So, when a show like Leap Year is in need of some sort of production sponsor, it’s easy for a brand like Hiscox to know what they’re getting into.

I think there may be a seriously missed opportunity developing in all that user-generated content. With the massive number of cat videos on YouTube, why aren’t cat litter, cat food, veterinary services and other feline-friendly businesses scooping up all that content (ha! pun intended unintentionally!). I can definitely see vets and cat health insurance going over quite well with the crowd that shoots videos of their cats doing the stupidest things and those who would watch it all. I mean, who can afford to pay bills for a broken feline femur? It’s quite costly I can tell you, my father’s cat just went through it, pink cast (not their choice) and all (sorry, no YouTube video though).

Cat videos are, actually, quite formulaic as well. You generally have the lead up, the action and the laughter afterward. It might not be premium, but it brings the views (268,000+ on the one above) and really, if you have a complementary service to that content, why not advertise against it? Just so long as it’s not on cat cruelty videos, because no cat deserves that.