Clients Set for Open AP Ad Platform

FOX, Turner and Viacom say Open AP is open for business.

On Apr. 7, in an unusual display of competitors collaborating, the companies announced they’d formed a consortium aimed at standardizing the way advertisers define audience segments when they want to reach a precise target audience instead of a traditional, broad demographic-based target, such a women 25-54.

“We’ve been head down, working to have a launch by Oct. 2 and collectively we are incredibly proud and pleased that through the efforts of the partners and Accenture, we were live two days before the prospective date,” said Michael Strober, executive vice president of client strategy and ad innovation for Turner, a division of Time Warner.

“We wanted to make certain that when we delivered this product that it was doing what we said it was going to do,” Strober said. “Now we’re entering the next phase.”

Open AP already has 90 agencies and clients logged in, according to Kern Schireson, chief data officer of Viacom. “We’ve got actual clients, actual advertisers in the system, sharing segments, kicking the tires, looking at the capabilities.  And there’s tons of momentum as we roll this out.” Last week, the group was signing up nine agencies on the West Coast. In the next few weeks the focus will be on agencies in Chicago and New York.

And Noah Levine, senior VP, advertising data & technology solutions at Fox Networks Group, said the consortium is aware of a number of campaigns that are going to be loaded onto the platform. “It’s just a number of days,” he said.

“I think it’s important not to underestimate how important is the ability for an agency or a buyer to be able to define a precision audience target once and to simply share it with multiple media sellers,” Levine added. The process can take weeks.

“Now with Open AP, clients can share a consistent segment with all three partners in one fell swoop,” said Strober. “I think that makes it easier for them to work in this new construct.”

After Open AP was announced, all three partners saw an increase in their precision target audience buying business.

“We had great traction in the upfront — more than double last year’s volume. We think a lot of that is attributable to Open AP,” Viacom’s Schireson said.

“Being a founding member of Open AP has improved our precision audience sales pipeline by at least an order of magnitude,” said Fox’s Levine.

“We’ve been selling audience targeting for several upfronts, but this was our best upfront,” said Turner’s Strober. “We more than doubled the amount of deals and clients that are committed to audience targeting.” He added that Turner also saw 100% renewals among clients that used audience targeting. Those clients are also committing bigger portions of their budgets to audience targeting.

Since the upfront, all three partners said they’ve seen incremental scatter money come in specifically for precision audience buying.

Accent On Auditing and Oversight

The consortium hired Accenture to help build the platform and provide independent reports on how campaigns performed.

“These guys are the largest media auditing practice in the world. And bringing that kind of third-party oversight and the sophistication about how you present the results of these campaigns on an apples-to-apples basis at a scale that’s never existed before, that’s something that I think the market is really going to appreciate as we move forward,” said Schireson.

Since Open AP was announced, there’s been speculation about how interested other network group would be to join the party. To date, no one else has done so. “There are a number of active conversations with other national TV programs at the moment,” said Levine. New partners should be announced before the end of the year. “We expect another wave before the upfront season next year,” he added.

Even as the group anticipates its first campaigns going out into the market, they are looking to add to the platform’s capabilities by having campaigns run seamlessly not only across traditional TV, but with connected TVs and premium digital video included as well.

The companies declined to say how much it cost to put the Open AP platform together.

“It’s well worth it to move the industry forward and streamline the process,” said Schireson. “We’re delighted with the ROI.”

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.