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 Buy.com, 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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Why The Industry Needs To Embrace Transparency, Not Fear It

A proliferation of platforms and screens coupled with more sophisticated targeting techniques and technologies is driving a massive digital transformation for the creative ecosystem (brands, agencies and production vendors). As a result, exponentially more content needs to be created for these new platforms to support micro targeting and increase user engagement.

Over the last 15 years, the media industry has delivered tremendous innovation and technical capabilities, including programmatic advertising, AI-driven insights, data monetization, and automated marketing platforms, but simultaneously, the creative side of advertising has remained stuck in the dark ages.

The needs of today’s marketers, including vendor sourcing, transparency, price efficiency, and scale are consistently failing to be met using the current fundamentally broken models for content production. Marketers must produce dramatically more content, in quantity and variety, far more rapidly than ever before all while budgets to deliver this content are shrinking. Today's process lacks automation technology, fails to capture and utilize data, and employs a model that lacks transparency and fair competition.

Therefore, everyone is scrambling; brands and agencies are creating in-house production teams, production companies are having to become more creative and move upstream while working directly with the brands, influencer networks are being utilized as cheap and easy content, and engagement sources and procurement groups are being bombarded with requests to on-board new vendors and make sure the brand’s dollars are being spent in the most prudent and productive manner.

While the thought of changing up an opaque, antiquated process may be difficult for some to digest, every brand, agency and production company should have the ability to bid EVERY project regardless of size, receive bids from qualified production resources (internal, external, agency, direct, etc.), and see each phase of the production process in real time – including the bids and the firms placing them.

Here’s why: Transparency levels the playing field.

Agencies, production companies and in-house teams should ALL have access to the estimated $100 billion in creative, content production work that occurs each year.  As in other industries, supply and demand can be efficiently managed with technology and data. With a transparent platform managing thousands of vendors and creative projects while also providing synchronized bid data for the client to review and make a purchasing decision, clients are able to select the right vendor for the right project and get the best value. 

Transparency creates efficiency and cost-savings

Brands need options that will allow them to get the job done in the most cost-effective way. When competition is introduced into the mix, price is driven down. If a vendor knows a competitor is offering the same services at a lower price, they may be inclined to lower their cost of services to match.

Transparency also eliminates suspicion and gives full insight into what you’re actually paying for. Look at it this way; wouldn’t you want to know exactly where your money is going, why it costs what it does and if there’s a cheaper option? Having an understanding of the different costs and approaches from production partners helps to educate marketers on what is truly possible with each creative approach.

Transparency builds trust. Adding a layer of transparency to the content creation process builds trust and leads to better working relationships between all parties involved. When brands have full visibility into the entire production process, it prevents them from asking questions later. More importantly, at the end of the day, brands want to work with partners they can trust. If you can prove your agency or production company is trustworthy and reliable, brands will more inclined to work with you on their next project, and the one after that.

All in all, transparency is just a part of the story. It’s not a single solution, but rather a core tenant of a highly functioning and fair marketplace. Sure, everybody wants efficiency, scale, speed and better results, but this cannot be achieved in an opaque system. While transparency adoption will be a slow transition I look forward to eventually working in an ecosystem where supply and demand can be brought together in an environment that is competitive, open and efficient.

This article was originally posted here

David Mason
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | David Mason

 

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