James Kotecki (00:08): 

This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki, bringing you one of my favorite C Space Studio interviews from CES 2024. I had a lot of great conversations in Las Vegas and I know you're going to like this one. So enjoy. We are all on here at CES 2024. We are in the C Space Studio sponsored by Integral Ad Science. I'm James Kotecki, and joining me a very special treat, the CMO of Integral Ad Science, Khurrum Malik. Thanks so much for joining me. Thanks for sponsoring the C Space Studio and welcome. 

Khurrum Malik (00:43): 

Thank you. Glad to be here James. 

James Kotecki (00:45): 

So Integral Ad Science, let's just start with some definitions. What does your brand mean and most importantly, what does it mean going into 2024? 

Khurrum Malik (00:52): 

Great. Well thanks for having us here. And I want to start with why Integral Ad Science, how Integral Ad Science, and then I'll get into what it means for 2024. So Integral Ad Science is a global media measurement and optimization platform. We provide the industry's most actionable data to drive superior results, and we do that for advertisers and agencies on one hand of the media ecosystem, publishers on the supply side and all the media platforms in between streaming services, social media. And people often ask me, "Well, what's different about your actionable data?" Let's touch on that a little bit. So our data is broad and comprehensive, meaning it's all over the internet services. So we process up to 280 billion digital interactions daily. Our data also has depth. Our AI software breaks down the streaming services as an example and video and can look at video on a frame by frame basis and the audio and the text and turn that into 600 contextual categories. 


So we have data breadth depth and it's available in real time. And so the question then becomes why do people use us? There's really two questions people want to use us to answer, is my media working, measurement, and what do I do about it, optimization. And so we're really in the business of answering those two questions for our customers. If you think about 2024 and what does it mean for our brand, there's a couple things. One, it means we're here to maximize ROI for our customers. It's a big year and we'll talk about 2024 a bit. We also want to help our brands safeguard and scale their business. And then finally, we want to forge the future of digital media with our customers. So that's a long answer to your short question, but it's really about actionable data and driving superior results. 

James Kotecki (02:39): 

And why is 2024 going to be such a big year from your perspective? 

Khurrum Malik (02:44): 

2024 is going to be a big year for many, many reasons. Let me touch on two. One is there's this little thing called the Olympics coming and the Olympics is going to bring a ton of energy to the media ecosystem. And then there's another little thing called the US election. And so in that environment, advertisers are going to be looking for both how do I maximize ROI in that situation and how do I safeguard my brand in that situation? And we have the tools to bring to bear for that. 

James Kotecki (03:21): 

Yeah, I really want to get into this idea of brand safety. There are so many companies, technologies, products here at CES. How do you even approach a conversation about brand safety with them? Where do you start? 

Khurrum Malik (03:33): 

It's a really, really good question. And I think it goes back to the fundamentals of how do I safeguard my brand and how do I scale it? Meaning how do I protect my brand, make sure it's in an environment that nurtures my brand, allows it to not be around controversial content, but then how do I enable it to scale and drive ROI? And you want to think about safeguarding and scaling your brand across all media channel types. So think about that for a second. We're at CES and think about all the companies that are here, CTV, social, streaming, TV, OEMs, those are all channels and pieces of content that consumers are engaging in. And what brands want to know is how can their brand show up in those venues in a safe way and how can they do it in a way that scales and drives ROI? Luckily, we have the ability to do that using AI back to what I talked about, actionable data, breaking down frame by frame analysis and providing brands the comfort they need in an environment such as 2024. 

James Kotecki (04:37): 

So if they wanted to, they could go to the frame level and say if even one frame of this... that might be more of a subconscious thing if there's really just one frame. But if there's just a really short snippet of something that might be controversial or construed a certain way, they can opt out of that. So how do you let brands determine what brand safety means to them because I imagine there's a range of what brand safety means if you're a soda company versus an edgy skateboarding company or whatever it might be? 

Khurrum Malik (05:03): 

Yeah. Well, let's go back to how I started. CMOs really care about two fundamental things. How do I maximize ROI for my brand, do it with new tools like AI and how do I safeguard my brand? And so it's really brand specific. And so the way CMOs will tackle that is ask themselves, "All right, so which partners that I invest in from a media and publishing perspective provide the most brand safe environment, meaning what are the fundamental brand levels of safety that can provide me and how can I leverage industry bodies like GARM to provide me the framework with which to decide whether to avoid a publisher or not?" And brand suitability is very brand specific. And so what we're excited about is providing those tools to brands and the ability to discern them. 

James Kotecki (05:57): 

So is 2024 in terms of the trends that you're looking at that you're looking forward to, is it going to be a continuation, a deepening of this amount of data and this AI being put towards these two very pivotal kind of content moments being the Olympics and the US election? Are there other trends that you're looking forward to in 2024? 

Khurrum Malik (06:15): 

Well, I mean there's a major trend that I'm paying attention to. Just last quarter I was at a dinner in New York with fellow CMOs and one of the things we were discussing was the NA's report on media waste and fraud. There's billions of dollars being wasted today. And I've never met a CMO whose CEO is not constantly saying, "Drive more ROI." So one of the things I'm paying attention to is the trend of MFA websites or made for advertising websites. These are long tail websites that are created with synthetic content, content that is often not performant, not brand safe, and something that advertisers want to avoid. And so the ability to avoid brand safe... I'm sorry, made for advertising websites is critical. And I'm proud that IAS late last year introduced a tool that allows advertisers not only to detect MFA sites, but to avoid them. And why is that so helpful? It's helpful because it allows advertisers to drive ROI, it protects their brand and it rewards responsible publishers, those that have ethically sourced diverse content. 

James Kotecki (07:28): 

And as to why those websites are created in the first place, we're talking about somebody who has a long 10 word obscure online search and so they've created a website for every potential obscure search term they can think of within a certain vertical, and they're just trying to get ads on- 

Khurrum Malik (07:40): 

As an example, that's right. 

James Kotecki (07:42): 

I want to touch on streaming platforms for a moment. What are you looking for here coming into 2024? 

Khurrum Malik (07:49): 

Yeah, streaming platforms. You got to think about streaming platforms from two perspectives, consumers and advertisers. I think consumers are going to continue to engage in new advertising video and demand services. By 2026, 50% of the US population will be on streaming services that are ad funded. And those consumers want to continue to- 

James Kotecki (08:09): 

Not just streaming services, streaming services that are ad funded. 

Khurrum Malik (08:10): 

Ad funded, exactly. And they're going to want a great experience and they want a great ad experience too. Advertisers guess what, are going to want the same level of measurement for those streaming services. So that means that they want the transparency, they want to know is their advertising working, what do they do about it? Right? You see a pattern here, and in that instance last year we launched our invalid traffic and viewability measurement tool for advertisers with Netflix, so that Netflix can expand their ad-based tier. We also were the first last year to launch a CTV brand safety and suitability measurement tool with Iris.tv. So you're an advertiser, you have comfort that your advertising is running against content that is brand safe on CTV, which is one of those emerging channels that there's many CTV folks here. 

James Kotecki (09:02): 

Yeah. And so much of what you're doing is playing into a broader... it's so great to be here at CES because we are among... we're at C Space now, which is all about content, but that content is going out in all different kinds of devices and there's so many different kinds of technology here that are interacting and interweaving and coming together in interesting ways. Is there another technology advancement that you are excited about and looking forward to in this broader context? 

Khurrum Malik (09:27): 

Yeah, I mean, I think I want to answer that in two ways. So the first is a pure technology play and then one from just a philosophical one. From a technology perspective, I'm very excited about attention and the AI and machine learning models I mentioned earlier are allowing our ecosystem to determine what pieces of content advertising are garnering attention, meaning capturing the cognition of a consumer in a healthy way. And we think about attention in three ways, visibility, situation, and interaction. So is the content visible? Is it in a clutter-free environment? And is that content being interacted with? And those three factors contribute to our attention score. And so last week we were excited to launch our quality attention product. That actually is the first product to unify media quality and eye tracking data so that if you're an advertiser, you can now invest in content and advertising that's garnering attention, driving higher ROI for you instead of just picking content on the basis of its context. 


So we're extremely excited about that, and that's a very real example of AI and ML at work. Now, I want to touch on one other thing related to what you asked. There's a philosophical topic that's really, really important, and I'm a father of three boys and I care deeply about their food nutrition, but I also care about their media nutrition. In our small town in New Jersey, there's an eighth grade class on media nutrition. Why? Because what people are consuming, we want it to be healthy. 


So I think this upcoming year, responsible media will be a massive, massive topic of discussion. And just this morning we launched the Rise of Responsible Media Report on integralads.com. And the reason we invest in that report is because we wanted to help educate ourselves and the media environment on what does responsible media mean. Responsible media is content that is accurate, ethically sourced, and it's content or content producers that provide that for a healthy media environment. And our research came out with magnet trials and it asked parents, publishers, and advertisers what they felt about responsible media. And one kind of clear takeaway is that parents want the media ecosystem to do more to provide responsible media and healthy diets for their children. 

James Kotecki (12:07): 

So challenging as a parent myself. 

Khurrum Malik (12:10): 

Very challenging. And I'm so proud of the work we've done as IAS in that space. And we're going to do more. In the next quarter, we're going to be releasing products that help here. So we're going to be releasing a kid's content avoidance product with social media platform. So that is an advertiser you can reach on content that's focused on your adult consumers and on a content for children. And so that's an interconnected web that I'm excited for us to support. 

James Kotecki (12:41): 

Well really appreciate all your thoughts here. I want to give you the final say, final thoughts here at CES 2024 in the C Space Studio. Your message, your thoughts, your dreams, your hopes. 

Khurrum Malik (12:51): 

Wow, that's a big one. So my ask of marketers and CMOs in 2024 is know that brand safety and suitability is here to stay. You have a very exciting year ahead of you with the Olympics, with the US election. Make sure you have the ability to use AI for yourself and for advantaging yourself and your brand. Safeguard and scale your brand in 2024 with the right tools across all the media channels you see here at CES, social, CTV, short form video. I think that's my message to CMOs. And then for us, I'll end with, we're here to drive that actionable data for you and drive results for you. So I'm so proud to be here and represent the team and also the C Space here at CES. 

James Kotecki (13:37): 

Well, thank you so much. Khurrum Malik, Integral Ad Science. Thank you so much for joining us and for sponsoring the C Space Studio. 

Khurrum Malik (13:43): 

Thank you James. 

James Kotecki (13:44): 

Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation from CES 2024. That's our show for now, but there's always more tech to talk about. Hit that YouTube subscribe button, leave a comment, follow us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, iHeart Media, or wherever you're getting this show. And get more CES at ces.tech. That's C-E-S.T-E-C-H. I'm James Kotecki, talking tech on CES Tech Talk.