Viant Raises AI Ante With ‘Autonomous Advertising’

Viant logo
(Image credit: Viant)

Ad-tech company Viant said it is doubling down on using artificial intelligence as a way to help advertisers take advantage of the opportunities presented by the increasing capabilities of connected TV and the growing volume of data about consumers.

At its inaugural Viant Innovation ‘23 event for business associates Thursday, Viant also announced plans to introduce a carbon label that would appear in commercials to inform viewers about the advertiser’s commitment to sustainability.

“Digital advertising is in the midst of a seismic shift. The landscape is becoming increasingly more complex, and marketers are looking for ways to navigate these dynamic changes in an effective way,” Viant co-founder and CEO Tim Vanderhook said. “As advancements in AI and sustainability initiatives bring our industry to a turning point, Viant is integrating generative AI technologies into our platform, and we are excited to deliver on our product vision that we call ‘Autonomous Advertising.’”

As part of the effort, Viant is introducing an AI Recommendation product that sifts through myriad options and inputs to guide marketers to ways to optimize ad campaigns.

Viant will also be using chat to let clients interact with its platform. 

Viant Chat lets clients use natural language questions to make inquiries about different audiences, data sets and options. 

Chat with Data, another product, uses generative AI to help clients attain insights based on their first-party data in the Viant Data platform.  

While the biggest agencies and advertisers have data science teams to manage complex questions, Viant chief marketing officer Jon Schulz told Broadcasting+Cable that using AI will democratize the science for Viant’s primarily mid-sized agencies and advertisers.

“The message isn’t you don’t need people anymore,” Schulz said. “It’s really about the complexity of our business and how we just make it easier to navigate to find the target audiences. 

“There are so many levers and knobs to pay attention to as we get more capable in our software,“ he continued. “The AI recommendation engine is basically understanding what the goals are and serving up tactics you can deploy.”

Viant also unveiled an AI Bid Optimizer to help advertisers find the most efficient pricing for the inventory they want to buy. Viant said the new product reduces prices on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) viewers basis by as much as 35%.

Viant is bringing pricing down for clients with its Direct Access supply-chain optimization program, designed to eliminate the costs and commissions involved when middlemen get involved in transactions. Viant said 25% of its CTV spending now goes through its Direct Access program, which also funnels more advertisers spending directly to programmers and media companies.

Viant launched its sustainability program, Adtricity, earlier this year. It is building on that program with a carbon label, an icon like a leaf that will let consumers know about the advertiser’s determination to minimize the carbon impact of their digital advertising.

Schulz said there has been a lot of industry conversation about sustainability, but less action than he might have expected at this point.

“It’s taking a bit longer,” he said. “I think companies are taking time to understand where everything fits in terms of priorities. Certainly, when the economics is being disrupted and other things have companies retrenching a little bit, they get back to the core” and push out their sustainability targets.

But Schulz said Viant’s commitment hasn’t waned. The company is transitioning to source all of its platform’s energy needs from renewable sources. “We’re doubling down,” he said.

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.