Commentary

Investing In Media Companies: Q&A With Venture Capitalist Vincent Tang

Vincent Tang is a venture capitalist who has made a career of investing in a range of media firms from content creators to networks to agencies to MVPDs. His current company, Canrock Ventures, is an early-stage venture capital firm that invests in media technology companies.

Tang is a great proponent of Big Data measurement and research functions, focusing his efforts on identifying those companies that offer compelling ways to measure today’s media consumers cross-platform. In an interview with Media Daily News, he talks about data segmentation, new technologies in the media space, metrics and the importance of measurement in the media ecosystem. Interview videos can be viewed here. Below is an excerpt.

MDN: How do you decide which companies to invest in?

VT:  The easy way to think about this is to figure out what people are willing to pay for. And what people are willing to pay for is what they complain about.

For example, I have been spending time in the area of segmentation and measurement, which remains a major problem for the media industry. This is especially true if you believe second-screen behavior and technologies will become more sophisticated over time. People care about segmentation. Media researchers complain about measurement because there isn’t a comprehensive solution; no one has truly figured it out.

Identifying pain points allows me to find and invest in companies with products that matter.

MDN: What is the pain point with segmentation? Is it that it can’t be standardized?

VT: In a world of multi-devices, segmentation is a huge, huge problem.

If you believe that we are transitioning to an all-IP world, the solution should be pretty clear. You should be tracked on a fairly predictable basis regardless of the way you consume media. That is not the case today. The traditional advertising ecosystem won’t survive if data sets remain fragmented and [companies] can’t track users across multiple devices.

MDN: And how do we even begin?

VT: That is the question that I need to answer in 2014. I don’t think one company figures it out. An ecosystem of vendors will figure it out. That’s because companies that can figure it out independently -- like Google, Apple and Microsoft -- aren’t trusted by the media industry. Therefore, I see a massive market opportunity for an entire ecosystem of start-ups.

MDN: What is your opinion of cross-platform measurement at this time? When do you think we might get to a standard?

VT: I am the perpetual optimist. People have been talking about cross-platform measurement for 15 to 20 years now ….The technology is there. Smartphone adoption will continue to increase and smart electronic devices like the PPM will become more prevalent, so I think technology is there to solve the cross-platform measurement issue.

Now it is a matter of harmonizing measurement techniques -- whether that comes through an incumbent like Nielsen or a start-up remains to be seen. Chances are it will come from Nielsen or from a coalition of Nielsen, comScore and Rentrak. The necessary technology is there, which probably means we are three to five years away from a standardized cross-platform measurement tool.

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