Xandr Targeting Linear Ads for Disney, AMC Nets

The Walt Disney Co. and AMC Networks have signed up for a new platform for targeting commercials on linear TV networks that is being launched by Xandr, AT&T’s advanced advertising unit.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit will also be using Xandr Invest, which will use the first-party viewership data from 10 million broadband-connected DirecTV set-top boxes to determine what consumers likely to be in the market for specific products are watching on TV.

“Providing relevant advertising to interested consumers in a premium content environment is a top priority for the industry. Xandr Invest provides powerful technology and unique consumer insights that enable advertisers to reach consumers in an engaging way,” said Brian Lesser, CEO of Xandr. “Working with marquee media brands like AMC Networks, Disney, and our sister company WarnerMedia, will help us create a unified, data-enabled solution for advertisers, which is the future of TV buying.”

The TV business has been looking for ways to make TV ad campaigns as targeted as its digital competition and several coalitions have formed to standardize data-driven advertising. One of those is Open AP, started by Fox, Viacom and Turner before it was acquired by AT&T and folded into Warner Media. AT&T pulled Turner out of Open AP in order to focus its advanced advertising efforts on Xandr.

Xandr in 2018 acquired AppNexus, a demand-side platform focused on digital advertising. Last year it bought Clypd, which was in the TV business. Xandr has integrated the Clypd interface already used by television buyers in order to create a self-service system.

A beta version of Xandr Invest is expected to be available to TV buyers in April, before the 2020 upfronts.

Related: Xandr Set to Launch Ads When Viewers Press Pause

“Working with a technology partner like Xandr will further accelerate our advanced advertising capabilities,” said Rita Ferro, president, Disney advertising sales. “Having the right technology platform will enable us to offer buyers unique data sets, unified audience segments, and a self-service tool to improve the experience of buying data-driven linear across the Disney platform.”

Xandr has been positioning itself and its technology and data platform that companies across the industry could utilize.

“It’s been almost impossible to do custom list matching for data driven linear campaigns because there really wasn’t a single deterministic source to match to,” said Mike Welch, executive VP for product and business development at Xandr.

With Xandr Invest, an automaker with a custom list of customers whose leases are expiring in the next three month will be able to match that list to DirecTV households in a privacy protected way. If that produces 2 million of those customers are in DirecTV households, Xandr will be able to pull viewing data from those homes to create a much more targeted campaign than other platforms can offer by just modeling viewer behavior, Welch said.

“That’s really a new capability for linear television,” he said.

Xander clients can also use their own first party data, data from Nielsen and 700 Xandr audience segments for targeting,

Each media company continues to have its own sales teams and conduct their own negotiations over prices and volume but buyers will be able to execute the transaction through Xandr technology, Welch said.

“We’re seeing a lot of demand from our clients for using their first-party data. This is something that allows us to do that easily,” said Evan Adlman, senior VP for advanced advertising at AMC Networks. “This really supports our ‘buyer-first approach’ of making sure we can be inside platforms that offer the tools and the transmission that marketers are looking to use.”

AMC has its own proprietary targeting tools, but in some cases, AT&T’s data gives Xandr a leg up, Adlman said. AMC will give buyers a choice of whatever targeting system they prefer. “We want to make sure we provide that open pipe for them to use,” he said.

On AMC's last earnings call, AMC indicated it was also looking to integrate with Open AP.

Related: A+E, AMC, Cheddar Join Xandr's Video Marketplace

WarnerMedia had been touting its ability to work with AT&T data as a way to help clients target their campaigns, making inventory on TBS, TNT and CNN more valuable. But WarnerMedia has also seen data targeting as an industry-wide initiative and that will be advanced by having Xandr work with other programmers.

All of WarnerMedia’s inventory will be available through Xandr Invest , except for its March Madness inventory, which will be sold by Turner Sports and CBS.

With Xandr Invest, buyers can forecast estimated unified reach across programmers before they buy, and then measure delivery and reach through unified reporting metrics post-campaign.

One big spending client planning to use Xandr Invest is AT&T Communications.

“We’ve always sought out innovative advertising solutions that can reliably deliver the results our brand needs, and this new effort – with its scale and audience-based approach – is just that,” said Fiona Carter, chief brand officer, AT&T Communications. “We look forward to working with Xandr to consolidate our spend across these premier programmers by using Xandr Invest.”

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.