It is hard to find many vendors that are willing to plainly survey the market that they serve, but this week Faultline was treated to a candid discussion with Israeli developer Castify.ai.
Castify.ai’s CEO, Gal Turjeman, must be one of the only execs in the biz that is willing to call time on FAST, while others argue things are only just beginning, even though the company offers channel-building services.
“We always thought that FAST was a trend, and now it has reached its peak,” said Turjeman. “At the moment, there are just too many channels, and the likes of Roku and Samsung are wanting better control of the content on their platforms.”
The 20-person Castify.ai offers an app-building engine that allows content providers to easily make connected TV apps that can then be distributed via all the major operating systems (OS). The same engine can be used to churn out FAST channels.
“People were thinking that they could just stick up some FAST channels and watch money roll in. Not anymore,” he continued.
Pointing to personalized FAST channels as the one potential saving grace for the format, we reminded Turjeman that many in the industry have told us that the huge infrastructure required for personalized channel streams means that they are still years away from being economically viable.
With the market already saturated with CTV app-builders, Turjeman argues that where Castify.ai stands apart from the pack is in its monetization capabilities. The company offers monetization via direct demand and programmatic sales, linking up with major ad servers such as SpringServe and Publica.
Clearly there is some demand, with Castify.ai currently standing as the number three app builder for the Samsung CTV store.
Putting its money where its mouth is, Castify.ai serves nearly all of its 400 content partners on a revenue share model.
“This motivates us to find good content with a large following. Good content usually equates to a good CPM and fill rate,” Turjeman explained.
Most of the brands are not traditional TV networks, but content owners hailing from the digital world that are looking to get a footing on larger screens. Take recent partner Extreme International, which has around 15 million subscribers across social media platforms for its extreme sports content, which has racked up over 1.7 billion views so far this year.
As for ad delivery, Castify.ai has its own server-side ad insertion (SSAI) technology, which is partnered with playout capabilities from Evrideo. Meanwhile, targeting, and contextual awareness capabilities are achieved through an in-house audience engine.
Although there is little difference when it comes to CPM between FAST and VoD, Turjeman argues that advertisers prefer the stronger brand security that comes with a dedicated CTV app with a clear content brand.
Castify.ai is seeing CPMs of anywhere between $10 and $30, with North America in the upper bracket, Europe somewhere in the mid-range, and Asia Pacific and Latin America towards the bottom end of the range.
Turjeman puts much of Castify.ai’s monetization know-how down to the strong links it has with fellow Israeli ad tech company Mars Media Group (MMG). While not a subsidiary of the firm, MMG is Castify.ai’s main investor and provides the vendor with various data monetization techniques.
“We know how to use real-time bidding (RTB) demand and combine it with mobile, desktop and CTV,” explained Turjeman. Castify.ai also benefits by piggybacking on MMG’s large volume agreements, using the company’s scale to shine a light on its own bidding. MMG’s measurement capabilities have also picked up a lot of app-based advertiser clients, who are looking to acquire users onto their mobile apps via CTV campaigns.
The Castify.ai app builder offers different layout options for customers, with some customization at the customer level. Turjeman says that the entire onboarding process, from first contact with a client to having their app on all major stores, usually takes between six to eight weeks.
One of the key benefits of an app builder like Castify.ai is that content owners do not have to deal with keeping their apps consistently up to date with the ever-changing specs of all the major CTV OS providers. “It is a big pain,” Turjeman jested.