Standing out is hard to do. In the ad-tech space it has become evermore difficult. But where the ethos of a business is truly different it all gets a lot easier. That’s the case at Scoota, the video and rich-media DSP formerly known as Rockabox, that relaunched today, a project in which I lent a helping hand.
Rockabox – as was – did manage to stand out. Our (by which I mean outsiders) understanding of it could be boiled down essentially to ‘TV production meets digital ad-tech’, epitomised by co-founders James (digital ad-tech) and Torie (TV production). The outcome was video-driven content distributed via high-end ad-tech.
But then the media world changed; along came programmatic. Rockabox quickly committed to solving one of the clearest challenges that automated buying of media at scale would present: how to deliver brand campaigns. For, where inventory is potentially unlimited in scale and bought ‘unseen’ – and, therefore, without pre-testing or site integration – how can you:
- Make sure cool ad executions function flawlessly wherever they appear?
- Make sure a brand’s campaign appears in ‘appropriate’ sites, pages and spaces?
- Measure and optimise to useful brand metrics in a consistent, powerful way?
Sentinel, the secret sauce of the Scoota platform, was the solution to those challenges and represented such a shift in capability that a rebrand was inevitable and, for once, entirely appropriate.
But here’s where we get to what really made Rockabox stand out – the ethos of the people that founded it and joined it. They believe, genuinely, in being different, not just in terms of what they do but how and why they do it.
It’s because of this spirit that it arrived at a name – and a brand – like Scoota. James talked about wanting a name that made him smile. Torie wants most to bridge the gap between the creative industries (especially brands and their creative agencies) and cutting-edge ad-tech. These are not the kinds of things one is used to hearing from most ad-tech CEO-founders.
Meanwhile, I think of it all in terms of a subject that a former colleague of mine at Exponential – Tyler Greer – and I used to discuss: that data and tech, while incredibly powerful, aren’t the kind of things that motivated most people to join the media industry. We are a sector stuffed to the brim with people who mean to create and to inspire but who increasingly feel weighed down – rather than empowered – by the new machinery through which media is now planned and delivered.
Scoota means to change that; it’s driven by a completely different spirit to anything I’ve encountered at other ad-tech businesses. And, for that reason, it deserves to stand out.