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Mirriad Advertising offers solution to advertising's eternal problem

Mirriad’s algorithms analyse a mass of videos to find potential advertising places
picture of TV screen
Mirriad's technology seamlessly adapts to spaces on screens

Mirriad Advertising PLC (LON:MIRI) joined AIM in December, raising £25.4mln in what was one of the most keenly watched new issues of last year.

That interest stemmed from the size of opportunity Mirriad is addressing. 

In markets where giant corporations routinely spend billions on marketing, a way of targeting and more importantly, delivering the ad message exactly where you want is the ad exec’s holy grail.

WATCH: Mirriad paving the way in next-generation advertising

As department-store magnate John Wanamaker once said: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is, I don't know which half".

The quote directly relates to the high potential of wasted advertising and the saturation of ads across media platforms.

However, Mark Popkiewicz, Mirriad’s chief executive, says the company’s technology can deliver a solution to this long-standing industry problem.

Using a platform of sophisticated algorithms, Mirriad’s in-video advertising system can analyse content and place a specific ad seamlessly into a space on screen.

Imagine a scene in a programme where a TV is on in the background, Mirriad can place an appropriate ad on the screen of that TV.

Popkiewicz says that solves a number of problems advertisers currently face.

“We have created an Ad Unit which is the key to being traded in the same way as other forms of video advertising.”

Firstly, because of what they are watching, the advertiser knows it is the right target audience.

And as it is seamlessly embedded, and often contextually relevant, the advertiser also knows it has been seen.

How does it work?

Mirriad’s algorithms analyse a mass of videos to find potential advertising places and then create space around them to insert the replacement.

Ads can be placed on almost anything – outdoor ads, screens on mobiles, cushions even, but Popkiewicz insists that the ads will always be secondary to the content itself.

The programmes are the ‘crown jewels’ and Mirriad would never interfere with reasons the viewers watch a particular show, he says.

Big names

The company has already attracted some big-name users despite a relatively short lifespan.

NBCUniversal, one of the largest US network operators, has just signed a 12-month contract while Youku, part of Chinese giant Alibaba, has just renewed a deal signed in 2015.

One of the advantages of Mirriad is its scalability, adds Popkiewicz.

Tangeche campaign

He points to a campaign just run for Chinese car leasing firm Tangeche, which consisted of a massive 750mln impressions that specifically targeted 18-24 year –olds through online media, mobile as well as traditional TV.

“That was several hundred ads across hundreds of hours of content all conveying a message without being interrupted and in a natural environment.”

And it’s a lot more than just product placement replacement, Popkiewicz says.

While that market, worth US$16bn, would be an obvious target, given in-video advertising’s versatility, his ultimate prize is much larger.

“The combination of products or brands in the right situation is very powerful.”

While it has the capability to solve product placement problems, Popkiewicz sees it evolving into a solution for larger mainstream budgets.

“In-video advertising gives a guaranteed result that can be delivered in the time of year you want, reaching the target demographic at that time.”

Cutting-edge tech

At the time of going to press, Mirriad was worth around £58mln at 48p.

An obvious question is that if the tech is that smart why haven’t the large agencies started to use it or else looked hard at Mirriad.

Popkiewicz responds that traditional media is a slow-moving beast and while a few of the large firms might have dabbled with the technology, this is not their speciality. 

Mirriad, though, is at the cutting-edge.

But it’s not the traditional media outlets that Popkiewicz is looking to.

New media

Netflix, Amazon and Alibaba are currently spending billions of dollars on content to get an audience connected to their brands.

Even for these giants, maintaining a heavily loss-making proposition is not viable over the long term and there will come a point where they have to monetise their audience.

But they are just part of a growing trend for so-called over-the-top (OTT) or interactive media and as the pool of participants in this market grows Mirriad will come into its own, believes Popkiewicz.

“We have designed our product to interlock with the evolution of these [OTT] strategies.”

Popkiewicz is not making any forecasts for now, but the plan is to build the customer base with the AIM listing a crucial part of this.

“We are deploying our technology in scale now and need the cash and credibility that becoming a listed company brings to achieve that.”

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