MarTech Interview with Ben Riley, General Manager, SeenThis

Time is of the essence, and the media industry needs to make an immediate change to massively reduce the emissions it’s responsible for.

Time is of the essence, and the media industry needs to make an immediate change to massively reduce the emissions it’s responsible for.

1. Ben, please give us a brief overview of your professional journey so far.
After leaving the US Air Force, I took a relatively unique turn and majored in film in college. With a goal of getting into moviemaking, I took on a few internships on TV shows and moved to New York to continue my career. In my job search, my wife set me up with her boss, whose husband was on TV. Needless to say that instead of working for her husband, I ended up working for her, and that’s how I began my digital advertising career at (AOL.) I then moved on to [x+1], one of the first DSPs, and remained in the programmatic space with time spent in business development and partnerships roles at ValueClick, eXelate, Rubicon Project, and OpenX.

I’ve seen the rise of programmatic, audience-based buying and social media, and many of the core elements have remained the same. Brands want unique and memorable opportunities to reach their audience, and publishers want to maximize yield without compromising quality.

2. What are the vision, mission, and values of your company?
SeenThis mission is to set future internet standards by innovating content delivery. The company’s vision is to create a fast internet with a smart footprint. We all know this mission by heart and it is what guides us forward every day.

3. Tell us about the distinctive solutions that SeenThis offers.
When I first spoke with SeenThis, I was blown away by their ability to solve the missing piece in the programmatic display puzzle: all of the other companies that I’ve worked for play a role in getting the best ads in front of the best possible audiences, but the ads themselves are often ignored by end users. SeenThis provides the ability to easily deliver beautiful, attention-grabbing, high-quality video ads within the well-established Display ecosystem.

This is done with streaming technology, the same streaming that millions of people are now used to on their televisions. We’re bringing streaming to the small screens, and dramatically improving the digital experience. Not only can we improve attention metrics, but SeenThis adaptive streaming technology is built to minimize data transfer on ad campaigns compared to traditional technology. SeenThis enables advertisers to reduce data transfer by up to 50% – which translates into a smaller CO2 footprint for running the same ad.

4. How does SeenThis contribute to a more sustainable future? Tell us more about the adaptive streaming technology that is reducing carbon emissions.
A significant share of the media industry’s internet CO2 footprint stems from the large amount of data transferred through the internet infrastructure to ensure that digital ads are delivered to an end-user.

SeenThis adaptive streaming solution is built to be smarter about if, what, and when data should be sent – to allow advertisers to reduce their overall data use – avoiding unnecessary carbon footprint compared to legacy video ad serving by an average of up to 50%.

(Read more about SeenThis and sustainability here.)

5. What would you say your biggest learning is in your entire career?
I’ve learned that by far the most important quality of a long career in one industry is to have good relationships. As big as digital has grown, it’s still a relatively small community, especially now that many of my peers are in leadership roles. I’m a people person by nature and thrive on delivering win-win solutions. Now I realize a big part of that win-win isn’t just the technology, it’s the relationship with me, the entire team, and the experience that a customer gets every day working with a company.

Because of that, I’m careful to work for companies that provide real solutions. I would never want to reach out to my connections with something that I am not proud of. At SeenThis, we’re essentially reinventing the way content and advertising is shown online. It’s a real pleasure to be able to have a meeting with someone I’ve worked with throughout the years and see them light up when they see what we do.

6. What are some of the more prominent challenges that you faced in the industry and how did you overcome them?
Digital media is a high-growth industry, where technology is constantly changing, and the way brands want to buy is constantly changing. Through all of this change, there has been an explosion of investment in new tech companies, and brands can be skeptical. They get so many companies knocking on their door.

It’s important to always focus on the big picture – how can advertisers reach their audiences successfully? How can publishers create amazing content and have a profitable business through advertising? How can we make advertising more engaging for the audience and more sustainable for the earth?

So often the industry gets caught up in smaller issues and we can lose sight of these big drivers. There’s a downturn and people become very nervous and stop innovating, for example. Or there’s an easy technology or measurement approach, which doesn’t work as well as a newer one. We need to keep pushing forward toward improvement.

7. How do you think a collaboration with Scope3 will further the cause of moving toward green media?

Time is of the essence, and the media industry needs to make an immediate change to massively reduce the emissions it’s responsible for.

SeenThis technology is addressing exactly that, by removing the emissions related to all of that unnecessary data transfer which adds up to millions of tons of CO2 globally.

However, that is not enough. We operate within a very complex ecosystem, where Scope3 is one of the companies paving the way for creating a clear overview of what is happening by measuring the emissions related to the whole value chain of advertising activity. Not only data transfer. At SeenThis, we truly believe that collaboration between industry leaders is the only way to create a fast, positive impact and we want to ally ourselves with partners who share our vision; to create a faster, smarter, and greener internet.

The partnership between Scope3 and SeenThis is exactly what the industry needs. Scope3 offers transparent measurements for supply chain optimization and SeenThis creative delivery optimization. By sharing knowledge, data, and problem-solving this collaboration will accelerate the movement towards greener media on a global scale.

8. As a leader, what trends do you think will dominate the digital media landscape?
Of course, I strongly believe that streaming will become the standard delivery technology for content and advertising. It is faster and uses less data – so it can be more sustainable while also improving the user experience. I also think that brands will continue to pursue first-party data approaches to advertising as the cookie continues to erode. This will allow brands to become much smarter about where they buy advertising across digital channels, including CTV.

At the same time, there are new trends evolving like commerce-based advertising, in-content virtual product placement, and other interactive advertising elements that will become the norm on the big and the small screen.

Together, these changes will create a much more engaging, efficient digital landscape.

9. Please share some of the awards and accolades that SeenThis has bagged.
In 2022, SeenThis has been recognized in competitions and awards such as the LVMH Innovation Award, AdExchanger Awards, Ad Net Zero Awards, The Wires, Financial Times Tech Champions, and Innovation in Business Martech Awards.

10. How do you envision scaling SeenThis operations in 2023 and beyond?
One of SeenThis’ major focus areas in 2023, is making our streaming technology even more accessible. We will make it easier for our existing customers to make use of the technology, regardless if it’s directly through us, or through one of our partners – but also enabling our technology to media outside the advertising industry.

Improved loading times and quality have been synonymous with SeenThis services over the years, something we take pride in and will continue to develop. However, the sustainability benefits of using SeenThis streaming have created a completely different type of urgency.

In 2023, we will focus on further deepening our knowledge to maintain our position as an industry leader in the field. We are convinced that 2023 will be the year when the entire online industry changes its mindset on how to work with suppliers concerning emissions.

11. How do you spend your downtime? What are some of the hobbies that you enjoy?
Well, I’m a father to three school-aged kids, so I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies, but I do love to ski and play golf. Luckily as my kids are getting older, our family has enjoyed these hobbies together. We also cook together a lot, which is a great hobby to have because we get to eat what we make.
And on the odd Sunday afternoon, when my wife isn’t looking, I enjoy the occasional nap!

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Ben Riley, General Manager, SeenThis
Ben Riley is an experienced digital media and adtech executive with a demonstrated history of driving growth for successful start-ups and public companies. Skilled in Team Building, People Management, Partnership Development, Client Services, Digital Strategy, Programmatic Buying and Selling, Data, Video, Mobile, CTV, OTT, Digital out of Home (DOOH), and Account Management.

Our streaming technology speeds up and evolves the digital media landscape to set a new standard for content delivery on the Internet. In our view, no one should ever have to make the choice between higher quality or less load time.
Through our orange-tinted lens, we’ll show you a world in which you’ll never have to choose between quality or quantity, high-res or high speed, aesthetics or effectiveness ever again.

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