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Viamedia Completes Live Test of Linear Programmatic Product

Video advertising company Viamedia said that it completed a live trial of the QTT product with tech company EMX that enables programmatic buying of linear local cable television commercials.

The test was conducted in September and October on WOW!’s system in Columbus, Ohio, with clients of EMX’s parent Engine and CTV Media, a local ad agency.

Viamedia announced QTT and plans for the market trial in July.

With the test under its belt, Viamedia said trials of QTT have started in two other undisclosed markets. The company plans to roll out QTT to the 70 other multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) it represents in January and February. It will make QTT available to other MVPDs in the second half of the year.

“It’s the first time that the digital programmatic players who typically focus on CTV and OTT can now actually access in real time linear cable TV,” said Viamedia CEO Mark Lieberman in an interview with Broadcasting+Cable.

“It’s all cloud based, it doesn’t require an upgrade to the set-top box or headend. There are no pre-set schedule required and its using digital and TV standards so all the decisioning can be in real time. It’s data-driven targeting with brand-safe TV ad insertions,” Lieberman said.

QTT worked with EMX’s ad exchange, automatically responding to thousands of ad requests to fill 30-second commercials in the local ad breaks on cable networks running on WOW.

EMX built the software over the past 24 months. “We were really thinking about the future of where programmatic was going and digital is going,” Michael Zacharski, CEO of EMX, told B+C.

“We were excited to partner with Mark because he was providing a hook into linear television and all we had to do was find a way to have our systems be able to understand those signs and respond back in a way that is compatible with the way TV systems work,” Zacharski said.

The test showed that the workflow was sound, enabling marketers to buy data-driven campaigns that used both linear and digital inventory on a single platform.

“CTV Media has prided itself on being at the forefront in providing advanced advertising TV solutions for our national and regional clients,” said Kathy Dixon, president of CTV Media. “Viamedia’s QTT now makes it possible for us to include linear cable TV in that solution set programmatically.”

It also should result in Viamedia and WOW generating additional ad revenue and higher prices for their inventory.

“WOW! has always sought to ensure a great subscriber viewing experience while growing TV advertising revenue,” said Misty Jensen, VP, advertising sales, for WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone. “We are excited to have successfully participated in Viamedia’s QTT market trial and look forward to rolling out QTT in other markets.”

Viamedia handles the sale of WOW!’s ad inventory in all markets except for Chicago and Detroit. Because QTT is able to attract last-minute programmatic dollars for high CPMs, Viamedia’s sales strategy is changing to generate higher average revenue per unit for its clients.

“It's a real-time opportunity for the digital players to be able to bring in data targeting, so it may elbow out some of the other some of the other at avails that might have otherwise been placed,” But the ultimate win here is that the ad dollars will actually increase for companies like WOW,” Lieberman said. “We believe that we'll be able to get substantially higher CPMs than what is otherwise been allocated for direct response and fill-in spots.”

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.