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Turner, Viacom and Fox Debut ‘Open A.P.’ Ad-Targeting Plan to Broader View

Variety logo Variety 4/7/2017 Brian Steinberg
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Viacom, 21st Century Fox’s Fox Networks Group and Time Warner’s Turner began trying to line up broader support for the companies’ new effort to make it easier for advertisers to send their promotional messages to specific groups of TV viewers.

The companies last month unveiled “Open A.P.” a new platform that will be operated and monitored by Accenture that allows advertisers to use a standard set of data sets when trying to figure out where to reach narrower consumer targets such as first-time car buyers, expectant mothers or avid moviegoers. The three companies announced that they will use set-top box data from comScore as well as ratings and consumer information from Nielsen as part of their offering.

“It’s a baby step in the right direction,” said Joe Marchese, president of advanced advertising at Fox Networks. The three companies have worked on the project for the past 11 months, executives said, mindful that advertisers are increasingly mining their own consumer data as well as streams of information about TV-viewing behavior and purchasing patterns to help them  not only pick batches of audience but also determine where, across different programs and outlets, the crowds are most likely to be found.

Donna Speciale, president of ad sales for Turner and Sean Moran, head of sales, marketing and partner solutions at Viacom, said the three companies had come together after hearing growing concerns from advertisers that they were challenged by the growing complexity of buying narrower audiences and having to replicate them from one media company to  the next. “We actually listened, and we are making it happen,” said Speciale. Open A.P. is not designed to facilitate buying ad packages across the three different companies, but rather to help advertisers devise a standard definition of various consumer segments.

The three media conglomerates, which between them reach 93% of TV viewers through outlets ranging from MTV to TNT to Fox Broadcasting, believe the new effort would fill a growing need as advertiser attempt to replicate the targeting and precision they have with digital media in more traditional outlets. With more consumers gravitating to mobile tablets and on-demand streaming video, the main currency of TV – linear audience ratings – has eroded. To keep ad dollars flowing, the media industry needs to find ways to better monetize digital viewers. Striking deals based on more narrowly defined audience characteristics allows the companies to get paid for viewership, no matter the screen in question, and might even let them charge a premium for finding an advertiser’s most likely consumer base.

Nielsen said it backed tthe new plan. “We support the consortium’s ambitions to create a clearinghouse for audience-based buying on linear television. Nielsen’s audience segments built on our household, person level and buyergraphic ratings data are the most widely used for National audience based buying across linear television today.  We are confident that they will play the same role in OpenAP,” the measurement company said in a statement. ” We look forward to working with the participating networks and advertisers on the broader success of this initiative.”

The backers all expressed hope that other media companies would join. Now that the system has been unveiled with more detail, the question is whether rivals will come knocking.

“Standardization and transparency is integral for our business and is in best interest of clients,” said Ben Price, president of ad sales for Discovery Communications. ” There needs to be more standardization for the marketplace to scale and for agencies to be more comfortable transacting on it.  We are open to working with other media companies on this issue.”

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