A+E Will Make Audience-Based Ad Guarantees

A+E Networks says it will offer to guarantee its data-based campaigns will reach specific target audiences, rather than a number of viewers in the traditional broad demographic categories during the upcoming ad market.

The company launched its A+E Precision platform last year and tested it with a handful of clients. Those clients have returned, launching more campaigns using Precision and spending more money.

A+E is also extending the Precision platform to include Viceland, the network A+E owns with Vice Media, and will use the platform to buy audiences for multiplatform campaigns across linear, digital VOD and over-the-top.

TV companies have been diving into data as a way to compete with digital outlets that promise more targeted and accountable advertising. Lately, advertisers have been having doubts about those promises and so ad dollars have been swinging back to TV.

Data enables networks to identify shows that have viewers that fit a marketer’s target consumer and to sell those specific audiences, rather than broader audiences measured by Nielsen’s C3 and C7 commercial ratings, which have been falling across the industry.

Santosh Mathai, VP of analytics & strategic sales partnerships at A+E Networks, said that in the early days, clients still wanted to fall back on guarantees based on Nielsen demographic ratings. Now, they’re more open to transacting on audiences. “If an audience guarantee is something that you’re looking for, we’re open to doing business with you,” he said.

A+E Precision is one of the ways the programmer will offer to work more closely with clients during its upfront presentation and negotiations. During the upfront auctions, cable networks sell more than half of their commercial inventory.

“We’re invested in this space in terms of being able to deliver against audiences, which clients are looking to do,” Mathai said. Precision campaigns have access to inventory on all of A+E Networks. “The schedule is determined by audience discovery,” Mathai noted.

“The purpose here is to find the audience and find the audience where you wouldn’t have otherwise seen them,” Jason DeMarco, VP of programmatic and audience solutions at A+E, added. “If you’re looking to target the soccer mom that might be in the market for a minivan, traditionally you’re not going to air on the History channel. But this will tell you, ‘This actually pops’ at this particular time.”

Mathai said A+E’s initial tests were with clients that also wanted to learn about the space and know their target audiences, in categories including entertainment and financial services. In the early phases, clients achieved “tremendous efficiencies” in lowering the cost of reaching their target. “When you look at those numbers, the improvement is in the double digits.”

A+E has also started working with programmatic partners, such as TubeMogul and clypd, to sell audiences to clients working with buy-side platforms.

Programmatic deals are reviewed before they are finalized, and A+E is setting prices at levels it believes are appropriate based on audience discovery, Mathai said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.