Every month an industry leader wraps up MCV/DEVELOP with their unique insight. This month, we talk to James Draper, founder and CEO of Bidstack
How has the pandemic impacted the ad industry?
Advertisers have been unable to deploy ad spends that had been ring-fenced for inventory compromised by lockdown. OOH [Out of Home], for example, has struggled to justify the spends that were allocated for this time of year, as there’s nowhere near the number of people on the streets around the billboards. Sports have been cancelled – or will be played behind closed doors – further affecting billions of pounds worth of planned campaigns.
Virtual billboards and virtual sports have come to the fore. The huge jumps in gaming engagement – where we’ve seen north of 250% more ad requests come through our AdConsole system.
What are Bidstack’s long-term goals?
Bidstack’s technology empowers brands to deliver their message within games, in a manner that respects the gaming environment. Our goal is to create an ecosystem where ‘everyone wins’ – where brands can reach the engaged gamer, game developers can generate useful additional revenues without any compromise to their artwork – and eventually, companies begin to form around the ecosystem we’ve created.
Can the games industry possibly change as much over the next ten years as it has over the last ten?
Microsoft Xbox’s Phil Spencer stated recently that he saw Google and Amazon as his main competitors. That clearly points toward the cloud-gaming war that’s just beginning – and the battle will be around technology, content and the audience.
The game mechanics will evolve, as game developers are no longer restricted to the horsepower of a single server. Creating virtual worlds and cities with thousands of gamers in one game state at one time is mouthwatering.
With the greatest respect to your current role, what is/was your dream job?
Growing up I was fascinated by motorsport. I used to go to Brands Hatch, and ‘work’ in the commentary booth when I was 9 years old with my Dad. From then I was always fascinated with how the commercial workings of ‘going racing’ would look like.
I wanted to help commercialise motorsport as a career and help the sport grow – so, I guess, the dream was to run a team – or, to be honest, I had more of an interest in running the sport. I got quite close to starting a racing series a number of years ago with a global automotive company, and a tyre manufacturer, along with a few ex-team principals from F1…that’s a story for another day.
With ‘self-isolating’ the buzzword of the year, can games be a greater force for good in a world that’s closing its doors?
The biggest change for wider society though has been the way that gaming has filled the gap in a sporting context. Sporting bodies and broadcasters from across the spectrum have turned to gaming to entertain and engage their fans and for many that has been a really important distraction.
Do you feel the industry is headed in the right direction?
I think the biggest shift in direction we can expect to see in the next 10 years is that the tech giants, that currently own quite a large portion of the market, won’t necessarily be the biggest names anymore. The next wave of tech and cloud gaming solutions will shine a spotlight on new, growing and different gaming studios that will define what the future landscape will look like.