OpenAP Unveiled

By Charlene Weisler Media Insights Archives

It takes some doing to keep a secret like this. For close to one year Viacom, Turner and Fox have been working together to build a three-corporation consortium for accepting third- and first-party datasets for use as guidance in the sales marketplace. They announced their joint effort at an event last week in New York City to an audience of advertisers, clients, suppliers and journalists.

"This is a historical day for all of us," declared Donna Speciale, President Turner Ad Sales. "We three (Turner, Viacom and Fox) are all here together. It has been a year in the making." Referring to the high-level agency executives in the crowd, she added, "We came together because of all of you. You were the catalyst, asking us to get together to unify and make data more scalable. We listened and are making it happen."

The OpenAP was designed to address the many concerns in the media marketplace regarding data. "Despite all of the value that data provides, we still hear the same concerns -- that it is complicated, not scalable; that there is a lack of auditing, and that it is not consistent," Speciale noted. "We needed to simplify audience targeting. It sounds simple, but it is not an easy task."

What is also not an easy task is bringing together and coordinating the efforts of three highly competitive corporations and keeping these efforts under wraps for so long.  "It's crazy that we could keep it quiet," said Sean Moran, Head of Sales, Viacom Media Networks.

Bryson Gordon, Executive Vice President, Data Strategy, Viacom, explained that OpenAP has two separate pathways to access the audience data and see how the contract is posting. The first pathway is a website. "If you work for an agency or an advertiser, you will have a login to this website," he explained. "Through that website you will be able to explore advanced audience and onboard your own advanced audiences, and you will be able to pull down the post from the campaign across inventory from Fox, Viacom and Turner and any other member publisher that has joined." The second pathway offers a way to onboard custom datasets that might be proprietary to the agency or advertiser. "We recognize that agencies and advertisers have made huge investments in defining audiences in proprietary data systems, through DMPs," Gordon added. "So it is critical that we make it easy and seamless for you to have clean pathways into and out of OpenAP."

OpenAP addresses many of the marketplace challenges. With normalization, scalability and accreditation, the consortium hired Accenture to manage those tasks. "Accenture is doing the build and the auditing of the measurement," said Joe Marchese, President of Advanced Advertising Products, Fox Network. Notably, Accenture is the company that jumped in to fix the Affordable Care website after it first crashed and now handles many of the health exchanges across the country. They are adept at managing vast amounts of data, normalizing it and keeping the data quality consistent and high.

When it comes to the datasets "we are data agnostic," Gordon explained.  "At the end of the day, OpenAP is about supporting all the datasets that advertisers need to create the high value segments they want to target." To start, OpenAP is working with two major data-source ecosystems: "comScore for all of the set-top-box data and the associated third-party syndicated datasets that they have" and "Nielsen as a key part of this initiative," he said.

In a press release that came directly after the OpenAP announcement, Lynda Clarizio, Nielsen's President of U.S. Media, stated, "We support the consortium's ambitions to create a clearinghouse for audience-based buying on linear television. We look forward to working with the participating networks and advertisers on the broader success of this initiative."

"Consistency is about having the same segments for all publishers, making it easy to activate at scale," Gordon said. "You can go find an advanced audience, have it consistently defined, have it activated across most of television in premium content that is absolutely brand safe. It's about on-boarding once and activating again and again."

"We all experienced a very similar pain in talking to our agencies and clients who were all buying Fox, Turner and Viacom," said Michael Strober, Executive Vice President, Client Strategy and Ad Innovation, Turner and co-head of Turner Ignite. "How do we make it easier to buy and transact on a larger scale? We had open and honest conversations: Are you experiencing the same thing?  We met with Kern Schireson, Chief Data Officer, Viacom. I sat with Joe Marchese. We decided that nobody is going to do this for us. We needed to find the solution and do it ourselves. It was very organic and a response to the market."

This is a big first step for OpenAP. "This is step one -- live linear television," Marchese noted. "What comes next are dynamic advertising and VOD environments."

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