Sinclair Unifies Linear, Digital Ad Management on Operative Platform

Sinclair Broadcast Group

Sinclair Broadcast Group is unifying the systems that manage the sales for its local, national and digital advertising inventory with a platform being built by Operative Media.

The technology makes Sinclair the first local broadcaster to consolidate all of its sellable inventory into a single sales system. 

When implemented the new system will make it easier for Sinclair to track its inventory and maximize yields, simplify the buying and selling of large-scale cross-platform campaigns and help with the transition to a common impression-based currency.

Also Read: Sinclair Profits Jump Despite 7% Decline in Revenue

Sinclair owns or operates 186 television stations, 21 regional sports networks, national networks, streaming properties and advertising properties Compulse and ZypTV. 

“We want to serve the buying community with one-stop shopping, so they could look at a screen, look at our avails, and see how one plus one actually equals three from a reach and frequency standpoint,” said Rob Weisbord, president of broadcast and chief advertising revenue officer of Sinclair. 

Rob Weisbord Sinclair

Rob Weisbord (Image credit: Sinclair)

“There have been certain groups that have come to use and said ‘we wanted one point of contact to buy across your business units,'” he said. Sinclair has been building its House of Brands unit. IOS will help it sell across Sinclair’s assets.

The system offers flexibility to allow buyers to use the data, demos and audiences they prefer. “You can toggle from impressions to ratings,” Weisbord said. “Sooner rather than later it will be a full impression-based delivery for all assets. We’re building for where the business is going, not where the business is.”

Installing the system has required buy-in for all of Sinclair’s business unit, which each have its own set of business processes and objectives.

Having the system in place will enable Sinclair’s ad sales reps to put together multiplatform proposals much faster, resulting in more revenue, Weisbord said. It won’t replace salespeople. “We want the bodies on the street talking to people. It’s still about looking someone in the eye and having trust,” he said.

Having a single dashboard monitoring all transactions will help monitor pricing and yields. “This is a better mousetrap for pricing and handling your inventory," he said. “I’m going to be looking at the yield. I’m a data guy and the whole focus is to get a better yield.” 

Sinclair has a centralized planning and pricing team. “This allows them to operate more effectively,” he said.

Operative’s system automates planning, order management, inventory management, stewardship and billing functions Two months ago, Operative made a deal with Fox, which will use Operative’s cloud-based system to manage its ad sales portfolio.

Lorne Brown, Operative’s CEO said the cloud native platform has “the ability to be agnostic to particular TV verticals, so networks can use AOS, like with Fox, but also local station groups as well.” 

What every large media company wants is the ability to deliver “big omnichannel deals across their portfolio without that complexity being put in front of the buyer,” Brown said. “Everyone wants to consolidate, aggregate across different platforms, inventory and fulfillment systems and put themselves in a pole position to compete where they see growth.”

Operative also provides software for 300 media operations including NBCUniversal, CBS, AT&T and Starz and processes $40 billion in ad revenue globally. 

“What we’re doing with Sinclair is a true consolidation of platforms, properties and people. It will unify the business for true portfolio selling,” Brown said. “We believe this is the way business is going to be conducted going forward.”

Weisbord expects phase one of getting the system on line to be completed in early fourth quarter with the station group’s inventory. When asked how much the system will cost, he said he didn’t know.

Weisbord said other station owners will have to try to match Sinclair’s system because buyers will prefer how easy it makes buying and planning campaigns.

He said he has called other broadcast companies about what Operative is building. “It’s a health competition, but whatever is good for the industry is good for everybody’s business. And I do believe this is where the business is going,” Weisbord said.

Brown noted that the local station market has been under-invested in technology. Operative’s cloud-native technology replaces older technology installed on premises. “It’s SAAS [software as a service], so whatever we build with Sinclair, we’re building it in a way that’s highly configurable to the other media companies in the local stations market and we’re talking to quite a few of them,” Brown said. “A lot of people are excited about AOS.”

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.