AOL Goes ‘Self-Serve’ With Programmatic TV

Timed ahead of the 2016 Upfronts, AOL is pushing deeper into the programmatic TV sector with a “self-serve” buying platform.

AOL, acquired by Verizon last June, said the new self-serve module extends its ONE by AOL: TV managed module that was launched in 2014 and is part of its “unified” programmatic platform, ONE by AOL, introduced about a year ago.

The new self-serve platform, which adds reporting and analytics on the backend, will take aim at a piece of the total U.S. TV ad spending pie, which generated about $74 billion in 2015, Dan Ackerman, SVP of programmatic TV at AOL, said.

TV continues to represent the bulk of the ad marketplace, given its immense reach, and TV ad spending continues to rise, he added, noting that programmatic advertising models are now primed to handle this large-scale arena and to deliver on the same methods and techniques that have made programmatic such a hit in the digital domain.

“There hasn’t been inventory available at scale with TV like there is in the digital space,” Ackerman said.

The new TV-focused, self-serve platform is designed to bring a new level of automation that connects buyers and sellers, while also adding efficiencies and enabling more data-driven targeting and decisioning into ad campaigns that extend beyond age, gender and household income.

AOL, Ackerman said, is in talks with multiple national broadcast and cable TV networks about tapping into its self-serve module, with more than a dozen that have been integrated ahead of the fall TV season.

Omnicom Media Group has been named as the ONE by AOL: TV self-serve module exclusive agency launch partner, and will begin testing on the new platform on behalf of its clients.

“This provides our clients the opportunity to begin to realize the benefits of advanced targeting in linear TV,” John Swift, CEO, North America Investment at Omnicom Media Group, said in a statement. “It is a critical first step in our journey towards programmatic and, ultimately, household level addressability at scale in TV.”

AOL’s product launch arrives amid a flurry of activity around programmatic TV. Last month, AT&T hooked up with Videology on an automated, self-service private marketplace for linear TV advertising. NBCU, meanwhile, launched a linear programmatic sales initiative in February that will be part of its upfront sales.