James G. Brooks, Jr
January 30, 2018
The 2017 Young Leader and Founder & CEO of GlassView shares his expertise with the French-American Foundation.
In 2015, you founded GlassView, which has become the world’s largest independent video distribution platform, designed to work for today’s consumers, brands, and publishers. Can you tell us about what it was like to found a new company? What were some of the early challenges?
We really started with an idea & ran with it. Despite my company having an incredible roster of leadership (& minimal investment, which only came later on), we really bootstrapped for the most part, from idea to implementation. I remember during the first six months, running around Manhattan with my laptop, taking meetings with literally anyone who would give me their time. There were quite a few 18 hour days & sleepless nights hoping (praying!) for our first client. That day our first client finally came & hundreds more followed suit. Through strategic publisher partnerships, we now have an audience base of over 1.5 billion people & serve media in over 100 countries worldwide. We are proud to call 80 of the top 100 global brands our clients and we work across all categories, including: fashion, automotive, government, technology, education, consumer packaged goods, etc.
What are some attributes of a successful video ad?
There are infinite ways to develop a successful video ad. The key components are simple. First, know & understand the group you are speaking with. Second, determine the message you want to convey. Third, deliver that message in an efficient and memorable way—the last of which video as a medium is perfect for! We say, ‘A picture may be worth a thousand words, but video is worth a million.’
You have a fourteen year career in digital media. Given the fast pace of change in technology, what is one of the most notable changes you’ve seen in the business? How do you remain agile and responsive to new trends?
In terms of media, the fragmentation, which seems to be increasing exponentially, is still something that I find astounding. When my career began, ‘digital media’ described a nascent piece of the advertising & publishing business that served content & messaging on home & work desktop computers. The media consisted mostly of text & small sized image files and, of course, the new content vehicle was for years considered only an afterthought to the real media giants of broadcast & even print in those days.
Now, digital media as an industry has reached legendary status, soaring to more than $200 billion spent globally on it each year & climbing. The media in digital now comes in interesting formats including high resolution imagery and, of course, video. And the means by which people receive content now includes dozens of screens that many people on earth interact with on a daily basis. This includes, but is not limited to: laptops, tablets, smartphones, wearables (including smart watches & virtual reality), as well as smart home appliances and other ‘internet of things’. Further, with the proliferation of video on demand platforms, we’re seeing traditional linear TV providers (broadcasters) now package their offerings & sell them into the digital realm as addressable TV. All of which gives us an amazing opportunity to reach audiences in myriad ways!
In order to stay agile, we as a company continue to think about where audience attention will be tomorrow. We have also started to take a closer look & tap into the hard sciences to optimize experience for audiences & ROI for our advertisers. For instance, we were among the first video platforms in the world to deliver on wearables & smart home appliances & we have partnered with The Wharton School, Future of Advertising Program to study audience behavior on what, in essence, is considered frontier media. Additionally, we are the only video platform in the world to be able to read people’s emotions through RealEyes TM facial recognition technology to understand the person’s emotional state & then target and optimize toward audiences it makes sense to optimize toward. For instance: Are our audiences happy? Sad? Feeling something as nuanced as nostalgic? Or, perhaps most important to our clients, receptive to the branded message being received & then we optimize campaign delivery to those interested parties to augment the aforementioned: user experience & ROI on marketing dollars. This all happens through the camera on your iphone or laptop & don’t worry, it is user opt-in!
You traveled to San Francisco last year as a 2017 French-American Foundation Young Leader. What were some highlights of the trip for you?
I loved my trip with the Foundation! I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced such an interesting and wide array of speakers who were such experts in their respective fields. We got to hear from everyone including leading authorities in the field of artificial intelligence, skilled specialists who work in cyber security, diplomats & even an astronaut(!), (our 2017 class’ very own Thomas Pesquet).
Even with the incredible line up, I’d still say that my favorite part of the trip was in fact the informal conversations we had on the bus. The casual yet intimate opportunities where we as classmates got to know one another and form real bonds—now that was a lot of fun & totally rewarding.
When you’re not running an international company, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to spend time with my family and friends. I also love to run in Central Park, attend concerts at Carnegie Hall & travel to interesting new places.
Learn more about James G Brooks, Jr
Learn more about the 2017 Young Leaders