MarTechSeries: Interview with David Mason, CEO and Founder, StudioNow

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Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What made you start StudioNow?

I have been an entrepreneur for the past 25 years. Along the way, I have dabbled with having a normal job here or there, but always found that my passion was to create ideas and companies from scratch. My key ingredients have always been to identify a large-scale trend (internet retail, WiFi communications, digital video, etc.) and then create a new business model for that industry that utilized technology to disrupt the status quo. I started one of the first internet bookstores in 1994, which later became, which was then sold to Rakuten. I started StudioNow in 2007 because I was taking a ton of birthday and vacation pictures of my five- and two-year-olds at the time and never got around to doing anything cool with that content. While thousands of these pictures and videos were clogging up my hard drive other and more experienced individuals with film school backgrounds and editing software were uploading funny and entertaining videos to YouTube and generating millions of views. My original idea was to create a marketplace where less experienced individuals (people like me) could be matched with video experts to turn their pictures and videos into something that was worth watching. StudioNow 1.0 was born and on the first day, we had about 80 video professionals sign up to be part of the StudioNow Creative Network. Fast forward to today, and we now have over 10,000 creative vendors from mom and pop creative shops to some of the largest, high-end production companies in the world. We stopped making video content for individuals in 2008 and our software platform now manages the video creation process (vendor sourcing, bidding, project management, contracting, payment, etc.) for some of the largest companies in the world, including Coca-Cola, P&G, HP, Bridgestone, etc.

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Transparency and Technology in Advertising - Key Items to Address DOJ Probe

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After reports surfaced that the Department of Justice would investigate advertising agencies regarding their production practices, particularly the transparency—or lack thereof—in the bidding process, The Association of National Advertisers released its “Production Transparency in the U.S. Advertising Industry” report last week. The 30-page paper involved twelve subject-matter experts, eleven of which agree transparency concerns exist between clients and their creative agency partners. One of the challenges is the gray area permitted by 50+ years of highly subjectable and non-standardized production practices. A critical issue is the lack of standardization that provides full visibility into the production process and fosters a sense of trust and partnership between brands and agencies.

At Fault, An Antiquated Process

Advertising and marketing agencies generally conceive of the idea, including creative, visuals, copy, etc. A production company is then hired to film, direct, and produce the commercial, before the video is then sent to post-production, perhaps with an entirely different firm.

In an attempt to meet the growing and diversifying needs of clients, ad agencies and their holding companies have spun up their own production houses. This allows them to find new efficiencies, better control their own creations and capture additional revenue streams. And they have every right to do it. 

However, when these new “in-house entities” bid on the client-approved projects they do so through a bidding process that is run essentially... by themselves. This dynamic coupled with such an opaque, antiquated process presents obvious conflicts, and this is why the DOJ and the ANA are investigating. Regardless of whether you believe there is systemic and widespread malfeasance across the industry, most would agree that you shouldn’t bid in a bidding process that you are conducting.

Technology Driving Transparency 

The advertising industry has adopted technology at a blistering pace, but not at all in the production process itself. Let’s be honest: The ability to see each phase of the production process, including the bids and the firms placing them, is something every agency and brand wants. The ability to track production from beginning to end, including the bidding process, could result in big changes for everyone, from the biggest brands on down to the creatives working on telling those brands’ stories. That transparency also brings with it protection. Full visibility removes all doubts. 

Fortunately, we’re way ahead of the curve. StudioNow was providing transparency to marketers before the demand for transparency escalated.

Our software platform makes it possible for brands and agencies to source, evaluate, and compare thousands of different vendors, from production and special effects to postproduction and editing. Independent houses have the ability to connect with brands in ways they’ve never before experienced, all while providing an open, transparent, and fair service.

StudioNow CEO, David Mason, says, "There is a massive opportunity to improve the entire production ecosystem by implementing technology that manages the entire production process.  Over the last fifteen years, the advertising industry has adopted incredible new marketing technologies, but the production process has not kept pace. This analog approach to production leads to the problems and challenges we now see with scaling, cost pressure, and most of all transparency. It's time for marketers, agencies and production companies to embrace technology to help solve this problem."

Will this transparency that’s made possible with The StudioNow Platform answer the problem? We think so. Some of the world’s largest brands, agencies and top creative shops are working with StudioNow to implement our production management technology to solve this significant problem. If you’d like to learn more about how we’re improving the production process for the entire market, give us a call.


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The Content Marketer
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | The Content Marketer
StudioNow is the #1 content production platform for marketers. Top-tier brands including P&G, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Walgreens and many more leverage the StudioNow Platform to deliver high-quality content at scale. Our proprietary SaaS platform, combined with a strategic services team and a global network of over 10,000 qualified and vetted producers help our clients develop production programs for award-winning content creation.




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