Viacom’s EVP, Data Strategy Bryson Gordon said the TV industry must overcome an “activation gap” relative to big digital players, which prevents advertisers from easily planning and executing campaigns targeted to specific audiences. Gordon said this is the key challenge the TV industry’s OpenAP initiative is seeking to overcome. Gordon made the comments in an interview at the IAB Video Symposium in NYC yesterday, which I attended (and where I also moderated a session on skinny bundles and the future of TV).
Gordon illustrated the issue with a hypothetical example of a product marketing executive at an auto company preparing to launch a new crossover vehicle. In the example, the executive would have dedicated tons of time to researching and identifying highly specific segments of prospective buyers who would value the features of the new vehicle. But Gordon noted that when the time came for the executive to approach TV networks with the campaign’s targeting goals, the best the networks could offer up was a generic “We can give you 25-54 year-olds.”
Gordon juxtaposed this with how big digital players have enabled businesses of all sizes to target precise audiences and do so with relative ease. Conversely, he said that the TV industry has been reluctant to transact in new ways, “putting up walls, instead of embracing” new opportunities. Gordon acknowledged that digital players have benefited from the shift in consumers’ attention and time, but stressed the activation gap is a critical issue facing TV networks.
OpenAP, which was announced as a consortium effort among Fox, Turner and Viacom a year ago, and which NBCUniversal aligned with last week, is meant to enable advanced audience targeting and independent measurement, to bring the industry up to par with its digital competitors. Gordon said that OpenAP now has 800 people using it, with a dedicated team of engineers releasing new features every 6-8 weeks. At Viacom, Gordon said that its Vantage data platform has tripled its revenue in the past year, and is used in all big agencies.
Gordon also highlighted a new class of direct-to-consumer, data-savvy advertisers such as mattress firm Caspar and meal kit provider Blue Apron that bring a lot of their own first-party data to their advertising. Gordon said they recognize the power of TV to build their brands, but in order to meet their expectations, TV networks need to be more sophisticated themselves about how to segment audiences.
(To learn more about how the role of data in both TV and video advertising, join us at the 8th annual VideoNuze Online Video Advertising Summit on June 12th in NYC. Register now for discounted tickets and the chance to win a 55-inch Roku TV.)