Future Today, a streaming video company with channels including HappyKids, Fawesome and Filmrise, says working with AT&T’s Xandr unit is helping it cash in on the booming connected TV market.
Advertisers are shifting ad dollars to connected TV, but at the same time, the number of CTV players and the amount of content in the market has made it difficult for a smaller, independent players to attract programmatic buyers.
Xandr has worked with Future Today since 2018. Since then, Xandr has shifted from its original focus on digital video to connected TV. Working with the Xandr Monetize marketplace established this year, Future Now has been able to boost CTV revenue in the first half of 2021 by 200% compared to the first half of 2020, the companies said.
“It’s about being able to better monetize our inventory,” Vikrant Mathur, CEO of Future Today told Broadcasting+Cable.
Before getting together Future Today was heavily reliant on third parties as sources of demand. As CTV started to take off, “we saw an opportunity to invest more in the programmatic side of the monetization business,” Mathur said.
Most of Future Today’s ad sales for its entertainment programming is now done programmatically. Most of its kids business is done via direct sales.
When it first got together with Xandr, Future Today was looking to ensure and enforce quality standards on its platform, allow for new buyer targeting and grow revenue abroad.
“We have healthy relationships with most other DSPs, but with Xandr we’ve been able to do some cool things that we weren’t doing before and we’ve had good monetization,” Mathur said.
Xandr Monetize provided Future Today with robust ad controls that extended the decision-making process for which advertisers and types of ads are appropriate to show within specific inventory.
“When we look at the increase in monetization we’ve seen with Vikrant and Future Today, a lot of it has started ith our Premium Video Catalog,” said Bill Casper, director of partnerships and new business at Xandr.
Xandr’s Premium Video Catalog is designed to provide buyers access to always-on, one-to-one video and connected TV deals from top media owners and distributors across devices, content categories, formats and app types. Deals include the contextual data points and provide targeting and reporting.
Adding Future Today’s channels to the catalog helped buyers find those channels and, on the back end, understand how campaigns are performing. New advertisers can also get on the air a lot quicker buying programmatically than they can through a more traditional relationship.
“There’s wonderful technology, but there’s still a lot of conversations that go on with buyers about the premium content and how to filter through some of the noise that is digital a lot of the time,” Casper added. “So there’s old-fashioned boots on the ground that go along with the technology to help facilitate that.”
That makes having a close relationship with partners like Xandr important to Future Today.
“We think about CTV as the premium aspect of TV blended with digital targeting and monetization capabilities,” Mathur said. “It;s about passing the right signals. If we don’t share that information they’re not going to be able to provide the kind of user experience consumer have come to expect now with CTV being mainstream.”
Future Today and Xandr hope to continue to grow ad revenue together, Casper said Xandr is adding technology that will enable buyers to put their ads in specific ad breaks within shows and in specific slots within pods.
“Next year is going to be a big year for political, which should help contribute to the continued growth in programmatic as some traditional TV dollars shift to digital,” he said.
Mathur notes that viewers will also continue to move from traditional TV to streaming. “I foresee that trend to only accelerate going forward,” he said. “I think the dollars have to follow and programmatic is the big pipe through which a lot of this is going to be delivered.”■
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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.
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