AOL’s Adap.tv brings programmatic buying to television

U.S. advertisers will now be able to buy TV ads programmatically on Adap.tv‘s online video buying platform, Audience Path. It’s a service that has been long-awaited by TV advertisers envious of the real-time data targeting and optimization capabilities of their digital counterparts. “TV is the last frontier of programmatic,” said Dan Ackerman, Adap.tv’s senior vice-president […]

U.S. advertisers will now be able to buy TV ads programmatically on Adap.tv‘s online video buying platform, Audience Path. It’s a service that has been long-awaited by TV advertisers envious of the real-time data targeting and optimization capabilities of their digital counterparts.

“TV is the last frontier of programmatic,” said Dan Ackerman, Adap.tv’s senior vice-president of programmatic TV at this morning’s Marketing Programmatic Trading conference. “While programmatic is rapidly growing in display and video, when you look at the gross spend in television, programmatic starting to infiltrate that part of the business is seismic shift for the industry.”

Using Adap.tv’s service, marketers can use first- and third-party data to target ads by age/sex demographic and segment. Advertisers won’t be able to purchase TV ads on a individual impression basis – at least not yet – but they will be able to specify the target demo they want ads to reach, and increase buying efficiency. Adap.tv says its product will be able to reach 90 million U.S. households across nearly 100 cable networks.

In his conference presentation, Ackerman said Adap.tv hopes to act as a bridge that connects highly fragmented TV media with the large quantity of TV data generated by services like Rentrak and Kantar Media. As TV audiences become more isolated in niches that only tune in to a small range channels, he said, using data to identify and draw out consumer segments will become more and more important. Audience Path TV service will target consumers using Nielsen panel-based audience measurement, Rentrak set-top box viewing data, and consumer purchase behaviour data collected by third-parties.

Ackerman said one way programmatic TV can provide ROI is by reaching light TV watchers and under-served segments. Using programmatic TV, an advertiser can “take a look at Nielsen panelists and Rentrak homes that are passed by that campaign, and start to see where the holes are,” he said. “What are the networks, day parts and programs where these viewers are? You can create a campaign that is complimentary to national television.”

As programmatic display and online video advertising continue to gain steam, agencies and marketers have been looking for ways to translate programmatic efficiency and targeting into other channels like TV and radio. The ideal end-goal of technology like Audience Path is so-called “addressable TV” – specific TV commercials served to individuated viewers just like digital impressions. If that technology is realized, then families watching the same program in neighbouring houses would receive different ads, depending on which segments they fall into. Adap.tv’s new launch is a step in that direction.

But as another speaker at today’s conference, Neo@Ogilvy‘s Raymond Reid, pointed out, the problem programmatic TV currently faces is not one of technology. “It’s scarcity of inventory,” he said. “There are companies in the marketplace, like Visible World in the U.S., who are testing addressable programmatic buying in television with Cox Cable and Time Warner. But they’re having a real hard time getting the inventory to be able to do it… It’s about inventory, and the willingness of the cable companies and broadcasters to open the pipes.”

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