'Stay digital': Channel Factory on YouTube brand safety and new markets
An Interview with Robin Zieme
Channel Factory is a global technology and data platform that maximizes both performance efficiency and contextual suitability, delivering contextual performance for advertisers on YouTube. The company has headquarters in the USA, London and Kharkiv. On Thursday, May 21, Channel Factory will attend Adsider LIVE programmatic online conference. On the eve of the event we spoke to Robin Zieme, the Head of Business Developement at Channel Factory, about brand safety, the Ukrainian team, and advertisers' new nightmare.

Many companies recently published Q1 reports. Do you have something to brag about?

Despite the unfortunate situation with COVID, we're still growing as a business overall and on a month by month basis. What we are seeing is that print and out of home dollars are being reallocated into the digital channels where video is significantly consumed, such as YouTube. And for us, it's an unfortunate situation, but we're finding that advertisers are looking to us for solutions that are brand safe at this time.

Channel Factory is based in Los Angeles with offices in Chicago, New York, Kharkiv, and London. Can you say a few words about the Ukrainian team?

In our Channel Factory Ukrainian team we have 4 senior employees servicing 4 large agencies, and we currently have growth plans for this market. In fact, Ukraine is already the 4th largest market for us, and we see this expanding quickly as it is a critical market for Channel Factory.

We established ourselves really well here in the CIS region, and we have customized and localized the language of our product in Russia and Ukraine and will be expanding to all the other languages in this region shortly.

We are currently running 50+ campaigns per month through large advertisers, such as P&G. In fact, we are incredibly proud to be the default brand safety solution for them in Ukraine.
'Advertisers don't want to be next to COVID-19 deaths'
How does Channel Factory help brands and agencies maximize their media buys?

We help agencies with operational efficiency and deliver an automated approach that saves them time and generates stronger performance and better alignment with audience and context.

For brands, we help make sure they have a strong brand suitability strategy. Every brand has their own definition of the type of content that is safe and appropriate for its customers, its own image and the markets in which it operates.

YouTube has made great strides in its ability to keep advertisers away from inappropriate material. But to take advantage of this, brands need to set their own brand suitability boundaries by defining their position on adult language, politics, sexually suggestive content and inappropriate juxtapositions, such as alcohol-related content for automotive advertisers.

Talk about Channel Factory's business model.

Channel Factory is a Software as a Service provider that offers advertisers the best possible contextual alignment on YouTube. We make YouTube social video advertising more precise by analyzing video content and ad messaging: is the content suitable, is the context aligned and is my brand going to be safe next to it?

This gives brands safety and suitability and has the by-product of bringing far better performance. In addition, our service allows advertisers to get the most out of buying on Google platforms, in terms of value and efficiency for dollars spent.

As a single message, we provide three key things: performance/ROI, contextual alignment, and brand suitability.
'You have to fail to then learn, and I am definitely all the better for failing fast and learning quickly'
Have your strategies changed because of the worldwide lockdown?

It has changed, of course. The biggest change is that all of Channel Factory is working from home! But apart from the logistics of this, our actual strategy as a business has not changed.

As a matter of fact, we've seen more adoption because of misinformation about COVID-19 content and also concerns over advertiser adjacency where they want to be adjacent to positive COVID news. For example, they want to be around coping mechanisms and education of how to wash your hands or how to spot symptoms etc.

This is the content that advertisers want to be adjacent to, but they don't want to be next to COVID-19 deaths, for example. So we have had to embrace a very nuanced approach to COVID-19 terms, information and content, and define exactly the type of environments where advertisers would like to be aligned with.

Brand safety has become one of the real trends, and I know that you have a Brand Safety Guide. What does it include?

In a nutshell, it is everything you need to know about content aligned, brand suitable advertising on the video platform that matters. It includes a clear definition of what brand safety and brand suitability really means, plus top tips, what to avoid and what you need to do to implement a successful brand suitability strategy.

In April 2020 the company was selected to join YouTube Measurement Programme. What does YTMP offer and what will you do within this partnership?

The YouTube Measurement Programme (YTMP) was created to offer advertisers trusted solutions for driving and measuring marketing performance on YouTube.

With trust and transparency at its foundation, YTMP provides quality and choice when it comes to optimizing and measuring performance while helping marketers to better understand and reach their customers on YouTube.

Alongside Channel Factory, YouTube will keep working to establish industry accepted standards and advanced solutions that help raise the bar for brands and advertisers. We are very excited to partner with YouTube to create innovative solutions that will help advertisers drive maximum business outcome through brand suitability, contextual alignment, and cost efficiencies.
'Stay digital'
What are the main goals for Channel Factory this year?

We have two key goals for this year. The first is to improve automation and operation efficiency for agencies. The second is to increase transparency integrated suitability.

Number three is to expand across Europe and the CIS region with significant plans to on board both new team members and new partners. We have just established an office in Russia, and we will follow this up by launching offices in Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan and Estonia.

'Fail fast and learn quickly' — says the slogan in your business profile on LinkedIn. Can you remember the significant ups and downs of your career?

I think one of the lessons that I have learned occurred when I was working with agency trading and investment teams. I brokered deals that I should've just probably walked away from!

I will always be grateful for the good people who worked alongside me that were very tolerant and made stuff happen despite the complications. The upside to this is that I've made strong relationships through some of those deals and then have gone on to make bigger and better deals.

You have to fail to then learn, and I am definitely all the better for failing fast and learning quickly.

What would you advise companies starting their business in times of crisis?

They need to focus on one thing and do that one thing right and more importantly, stay digital!
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