When Brian Hunt led ad sales in the New York DMA for the largest television distributor back in the Nineties there were only a few choices to be made when watching or buying television. Hunt’s team encouraged advertisers to shift budgets to where those audiences were. Today, in an era when viewers are increasingly streaming programming, he’s again helping advertisers follow audience trends, now with the launch of Sinclair’s new OTT ad platform, CompulseOTT.
Hunt (pictured above), head of Over the Top and Connected TV Ad Sales at Sinclair Broadcast Group, is particularly excited about their new product because, he feels, it’s sorely needed in the marketplace as a way for local advertisers to reach the increasing number of viewers who have cut the cable cord and are now streaming programming. I recently spoke with Hunt about how CompulseOTT can fill the void in the marketplace.
Kathy Newberger: What is CompulseOTT and what does it mean for advertisers?
Brian Hunt: It’s an advanced television video ad-delivery platform that lets advertisers in local DMAs target viewers through reputable and validated data-targeting sets. In essence, we’re aggregating impressions from leading over-the-top providers and platforms and selling those in local DMAs. You could see one of the commercials distributed by our CompulseOTT platform if you’re watching an app like Sling, Crackle, Discovery, Major League Baseball, even Sinclair’s own NewsOn app, on a connected device like Roku or PlayStation or on a smart TV.
For advertisers, the major distinction and benefit that we bring is really delivering the cord-cutter audience. We are an extended reach product for many advertisers. Frankly, we’re bringing them a new audience, targeting cord-cutters and cord-nevers, which is a mutually exclusive audience from the TV Everywhere audience. According to the Video Advertising Bureau, seventy-one percent of viewers in the U.S. have at least one OTT service, so this is a category that’s beginning to get its own budget line on media plans.
Newberger: How does this Sinclair offering differ from other ways advertisers can buy this type of inventory?
Hunt: We’re working with one of the leading digital measurement companies and using their data -- their validated data, a really important phrase there -- for our targeting. So, our reporting is with validated data targeting sets. For example, let's say the advertiser is trying to reach a female, 18-49. We know the IP address, or the user ID, or device ID. We have a data-management platform that we utilize to match the third-party data to the IP. Furthermore, we can buy different data sets, so through IHS Polk Automotive, we could identify intent to purchase a mid-sized Sedan. We literally can match up a female, 18-49, who is an intender [and] in the market to buy a mid-sized vehicle.
And there’s robust reporting on that. We can report on how many women in that demo we reached on a local DMA basis. It’s the local DMA basis that’s news; people have been able to do this nationally, but local advertisers needed this solution. Our bullseye is the local DMA.
Newberger: A few years ago, some of the national OTT programmers were seeing challenges with targeted inventory -- they didn’t have enough, and so some advertisers were turned away or saw prices skyrocket, and some viewers saw unusually high frequency. Is inventory an issue for you?
Hunt: OTT usage is really growing so much that it’s not an issue. We're working with most of the distributors and content aggregators who have a lot of scale in the OTT world, and it literally is growing exponentially each month, so that is becoming less and less of a concern -- and in the top 75 DMAs, having enough OTT impressions to sell is not an issue at all.
Newberger: Can you tell me about how your sales force is going to go to market? Who are the ideal advertisers to use CompulseOTT?
Hunt: Each of our 1,000 sales reps has to get certified to sell the CompulseOTT product, [which] can really be sold to anyone because we can sell on a DMA basis or a zip code basis. When we sell on a zip code targeted basis it’s with a radius around a particular store. So anyone that previously had bought or currently is buying cable, can frankly replicate that. I think the major distinction and benefit that we bring is that we're really delivering the cord-cutter audience. An advertiser who's buying linear cable and TV Everywhere is getting the same linear cable subscriber in both cases. In fact, if you're buying both, you're literally getting the same person twice, just on different platforms, delivery mechanisms. We're really targeting [users of] Sling, Sony Vue and Roku, which is a pure cord-cutter audience that’s mutually exclusive from the cable audience.
Newberger: If I'm an agency person, what should I keep in mind about CompulseOTT?
Hunt: We have aggregated OTT inventory from almost all of the top providers. We make it easy, in one transaction, to buy any DMA in the country or all the DMAs in the country with individual creative and individual impression counts. It’s a one-stop-shop. We also have 2000 individual data segments we can match against with validated data, and have a very competitive CPM and leading validated daily reporting dashboards.
Newberger: What makes you different from other ways of buying this type of inventory?
Hunt: We have direct contractual relationships with those top OTT providers, which allows us to have guaranteed delivery of the impressions by DMA. When you buy an exchange, the inventory may or may not be there and the pricing could really fluctuate. We solve those problems. On some of the exchanges you don't know the inventory that you're buying; it's some long-tail content. We've got a lot of the top, premium content. Having a team of OTT-certified reps makes a big difference, too.
To further explain how CompulseOTT aligns with Sinclair’s other digital products, its Corporate Vice President and Head of Digital Ad Sales, Ryan Moore, added that it’s a TV product “because 80% of OTT is viewed on a TV but has all the same digital targeting and delivery metrics.” He also feels it’s a great complement to the Sinclair existing portfolio -- digital pre-roll video, station news sites and other digital marketing verticals -- as the marketplace evolves, citing the auto category as an example. “We have a very advanced digital auto product called “drive auto” that will have many future opportunities to cross-target verticals and attribution for the same campaign and reporting.”
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