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ViacomCBS, Dentsu Using VideoAmp Currency for 1st Quarter Campaigns

John Halley ViacomCBS
John Halley, chief operating officer of advertising revenue, ViacomCBS (Image credit: ViacomCBS)

ViacomCBS and media buyer Dentsu said they have gotten together to launch advanced advertising campaigns in the first quarter that use data from VideoAmp as currency, rather than the traditional Nielsen demographic numbers.

ViacomCBS announced in September that it would use VideoAmp as currency when selling certain national ad inventory. The move comes as Nielsen faces new challenges. Nielsen undercounted TV viewership during the pandemic and its national ratings service lost it Media Rating Council accreditation, encouraging networks to seek measurement alternatives and opening the door for competitors.

“Measurement is no longer a monopoly business,” John Halley, chief operating officer of advertising revenue at ViacomCBS, told Broadcasting+Cable. “We’re democratizing the use of data in the guarantee and optimization of media campaigns.”

ViacomCBS and Dentsu are a good match. Viacom’s Vantage targeted advertising product is powered by VideoAmp, as is Dentsu’s DELTA (Data Enable Linear TV Activation) advanced advertising platform.

The advanced advertising campaigns go through OpenAP, using its Open ID to identify targeted consumers. OpenAP recently launched XPm, which lets advertisers  get cross-platform metrics from several measurement companies including relative upstarts VideoAmp, iSpot and 605. 

“Nielsen and Comscore are still involved in OpenAP, but essentially this is bringing another measurement approach into the space in terms of cross-platform specifically, and that’s somewhere that we need to move as an industry,” said Cara Lewis, head of U.S. investment at Dentsu.

Halley said that for a media company, using the data used to plan a campaign as the currency to transact “aligns our incentives.” ViacomCBS will be able to optimize campaigns to deliver viewers in the advertisers advanced target, rather than working to meet the guaranteed number of viewers in a broader demographic like women 25 to 54.

“We think that will ultimately result in much more effective campaign activations,” he said.

One impediment to data targeted advanced advertising campaigns is that they seem to have higher prices on a cost-per-thousand viewer basis compared to traditional campaigns.

“I don’t truly believe you can compare a CPM from a strategic audience to a demo guarantee,” said Lewis. “They will look more expensive, but essentially they’re more effective.”

Advanced advertising campaigns are also different because they are often designed to deliver targeted viewers, whether they’re watching a primetime show on CBS or up late at night streaming on Pluto TV.

In some cases, “ViacomCBS offer unified CPMs across platforms. In other cases it depends on the advertisers’ needs or requests,” Halley said.

It’s important for advertisers to know where their ads run, Lewis said, but “if we’re seeing that we’re finding our audiences in hovering and we’re seeing the in daytime and maybe it’s not 60% prime, that alright. We want to reach the audience.”

Lewis said that at first, only a couple of Dentsu clients in a couple of categories will be using the VideoAmp as currency. 

“We continue to talk about measurement with our clients, which we’ve been doing for the past year,” she said. “I would say we probably have a long journey ahead of us. This is just one step in the right direction.”

Halley said that ViacomCBS has been laying the groundwork for using multiple currency. “We are putting pipes in place on both the buy side and the sell side so that it’s going to be as easy to transact with custom data sets as it is to transact on Nielsen demography,” he said.

Lewis said that ViacomCBS was among the first to transact on advanced audiences. “I think it’s unique right now. We’re talking to other vendors about it. I think this is the way of the future. If they’re leading, then that’s amazing to be the ones that are leading,” she said. ■

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.