“We want to be the DoubleClick of the Digital Out-of-Home industry,” Graeme Spicer, new general manager, digital media, at NEC Display Corporation of America in Itasca, Illinois – in other words, head of VUKUNET.
“Our role isn’t to compete with the software providers, or the networks, or advertising sales companies like Adcentricity or SeeSaw Networks,” Spicer told us in his first interview since moving over to VUKUNET. “I think a lot of people couldn’t understand or misunderstood what Vukunet wants to do or be when it was announced. There’s been a lot of confusion and questions.”
Sounding passionate about his new role, Spicer said, “Pierre Richer (NEC president and COO) is altruistic but isn’t a media man himself. However, he is enthusiastic about the growth potential of the DOOH industry. He saw that someone needed to step up and help. He gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse: carte blanche to go out and evangelize and do everything we can to make it easier for the players in the industry to do their jobs and grow the industry.”
One of the biggest problems in the industry, says Spicer, is the difficulty in getting proof of performance in a harmonized way. When ads run on networks, each software company – the Enqii, Scala, BroadSign, etc. – notes them, but with so many different networks, types of screens, different content formats and the like, it’s a long, slow and arduous process to put together the reports for the advertisers and ad agencies.
It’s one of the things that makes DOOH less top-of-mind for agency planners and buyers and not an easy task for the software companies.
VUKUNET’s aim, in collaboration with the software companies and networks, is to put its patented proprietary software applet on every screen, regardless of type, size, content, which would monitor / traffic ads played and compile proofs-of-performance at one source – making the ‘back-office’ execution of DOOH campaigns easy for the advertising sellers and buyers and for the advertisers themselves – similarly to what DoubleClick does for the Internet. There is no cost to anyone for the applet or ‘ad serving player’, as Spicer sometimes refers to it.
“I’ll be talking mainly to the software companies and the networks, as well as the sellers like PRN and SeeSaw,” says Spicer who joined NEC a month ago from Adcentricity where he was vice-president, strategic partnerships.
“Vukunet has no intention of competing with the software companies, nor does it plan to sell advertising. It sees itself as making money from a small percentage from the advertising it serves, and as the industry grows, it will grow from that as well.”
So, who will pay that small percentage?
“This is still being finalized,” says Spicer. “Many, through the entire value chain for a DOOH campaign, will gain substantial efficiencies: the sales organization, the network, the ad agency. We are discussing the business model with all of these stakeholders to arrive at an equitable solution.”
Spicer says that selling advertising was hard, but it’s even harder doing this, working with software companies who have to deal with “creative formatting that’s all over the place, all different impressions. Everything is inconsistent, but our product makes it easier. We have one software applet that works for all screens of all networks. And it’s hidden, only coming out when an ad plays.”
We asked Spicer about ADVUKU, originally named as a portal through which DOOH campaigns are purchased. However, he says that direct sales efforts are being downplayed now.
“Just refer to the whole ad serving platform as VUKUNET at this point,” he says, stressing, “We intend to work cooperatively with third party sales organizations, not competitively.”
Spicer says his role at the moment is strategically clarifying exactly what VUKUNET offers.
“I have people working on it and will grow the team as we go along,” he says. And he’s willing to explain the product to any group.
“I’ll be on a soapbox for whoever wants to know more.”