OpenAP: A Step Change for TV Advertising

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Cover image for  article: OpenAP: A Step Change for TV Advertising

The demand for targeting custom audiences within the premium context of television has been growing steadily over the past few years. In an effort to answer that demand, the industry came together to come up with an actionable solution.  Enter Open AP. Founded by Viacom, Turner and Fox, Open AP is the industry’s first-ever open platform for cross-publisher audience targeting and independent posting.  V by Viacomspoke with Bryson Gordon (pictured above), Executive Vice President, Data Strategy, Viacom, to better understand its origins and significance.

V by Viacom:  What moment really pushed OpenAP from idea to reality?

Bryson Gordon:  Advertisers have been on a journey to bring advanced data sets to the science of segmentation.  But television has been stuck in the old model of broad demography in terms of how it thinks about audiences.  A couple of years ago, we recognized that we needed to evolve our business in order to support the way advertisers were evolving theirs.  Specifically, focusing in on our approach to ad delivery in a way that allowed advertisers to target the high-value customer segments that they wanted to reach on TV in a high quality, premium, brand-safe environment.  The starting point for this was identifying the problem and then looking at how we could create a solution that offered both openness and transparency through a platform that was readily available to everyone in the industry.

OpenAP is that solution.  We recognized that advertisers want to maintain everything that made television buying so great.  They want this high integrity environment -- advertising within a highly premium context.  They want to maintain the openness and the portability of audiences across publishers.  So that’s what we’re solving for with OpenAP: Advanced capabilities around audience targeting and measurement with the transparency and integrity that has made TV buying so appealing.

V:  So how did the consortium with Turner and Fox come about?

Gordon: I think there’s been a recognition from a lot of leaders in the data-driven television space that the demand for advanced audience buying at scale was only going to be unlocked if you could solve for some of the existing challenges like breaking down the proprietary “walled gardens” and simplifying workflows.  When we all started hearing this from our clients, advertisers and agencies, it was clear that something needed to be done.  But it also needed to be much more than just a working group. We actually needed a realtechnical solution for this problem.  That’s how the Viacom partnership with Turner and Fox was first born.  We collectively believed that this industry needed to be transformed.

V:  What does OpenAP hope to accomplish?

Gordon: OpenAP is here to fulfill the demand for advanced audience buying at the scale of premium content on TV.  Essentially, that boils down to three things:

First, it’s going to allow advertisers and their agencies to define advanced audience segments in a unified, consistent and standardized way across all member publishers for the first time ever.  

Second, it’s about the secure sharing of those consistent audience segments across publishers.  The advertiser or the agency will be able decide who can see the segment and how it gets shared with the publisher before activating it across their inventory.  It also gives the individual networks the independence to use their own proprietary datasets in conjunction with industry accepted measurement services, such as Nielsen and comScore.

Third, it’s focused on independent post-reporting and stewardship.  To date, publishers have been forced to check their own homework.  So, we’ve been working with a neutral, third-party auditor to manage that process and ensure consistency in the audience definition and count impressions after a campaign has run.

V:  So how does Vantage [Viacom’sadvanced audience platform] fit into OpenAP?

Gordon: While OpenAP creates industry standardization, Vantage is more than just targeting.  We can support a wide range of marketing goals and KPIs that go beyond “find me more impressions for my target."  That includes driving sales, physical traffic, brand lift and engagement.  For example, one of the things we learned in building our studio business for Vantage is that when you’re opening a film, target impressions for frequent moviegoers aren’t the only thing that drives results.  To have a big opening weekend, you need to really make sure you’re hitting reach as well.  This thinking has found its way into our product and we see applications for other advertisers as well.

V:  You’ve already set out to do something that’s never been done before.  Has any thought been given to what OpenAP will look like in the future?

Gordon: It’s very important to us that OpenAP continues to welcome more publishers into the fold -- after all, this is for the entire industry.  In addition to that, you can expect greater integration with client planning and reporting systems.  But overall, we’re holding hard and fast to the notion of bringing a level of openness to television buying that’s never been done before.  Ultimately, our goal is to ensure we continue to help advertisers better align with their broader business outcomes.

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