In a move to create the infrastructure necessary to bring programmatic TV audience-buying to the kind of scale that has been transforming the way online media is bought and sold, the biggest developer of addressable TV advertising technology, Invidi, is partnering with Clypd, a promising ad technology start-up that wants to create marketplace for buying and selling TV that works just like online’s programmatic exchanges.
The move comes as a wide variety of technology players have set their eyes on transforming the $60 billion-plus TV advertising marketplace, including big agency holding companies, their trading desks, and online video technology companies such as Tremor Video, YuMe and Adap.tv, which is being acquired by AOL and recently became the preferred video ad-buying platform for Interpublic’s Mediabrands.
It also comes as other endemic TV industry players have begun deploying TV audience-buying technology to enable buyers and sellers to work more efficiently -- and increasingly, programmatically -- especially AudienceXpress, a start-up spun off from Visible World that has already transacted billions of TV advertising impressions via its automated exchange technology with at least two big agency trading desks.
But the reason the deal between Invidi and Clypd is significant, is that Invidi is the only player to have built and deployed the kind of addressable TV advertising technology that will enable advertisers and agencies to target and buy audiences the way they buy online audiences -- at the individual level.
While Invidi, which is backed by big strategic investors such as WPP’s GroupM and even Google, has worked quietly behind-the-scenes to deploy its technology in the backend of some of the biggest distributors of TV programming and advertising -- including Comcast, DirecTV, Echostar and Verizon -- it has essentially had no front-end interface for interacting directly with advertisers, agencies and trading desks, relying on the internal sales organizations of its TV distribution partners to decide how, when, where and why to sell their addressable TV advertising inventory.
That’s where Clypd comes in. Founded by a team of former PayPal executives, the one-year-old VC-backed start-up has focused on creating the same kind of front-end experience advertisers, agencies, trading desks and so-called DSPs (demand-side platforms) have come to expect when trading online display, video and mobile audience impressions: simple, efficient, automated technology that can utilize data to target and serve ads to individual users based on the attributes controlled by a brand.
Easier said than done. Unlike online, which has had a relatively seamless and simple-to-use tool for identifying, targeting and serving ads to individual users -- browser-based cookies -- TV’s infrastructure is old, convoluted and has so far lacked that kind of audience targeting precision.
It’s an ambitious goal for many reasons, not the least of which is the culture of the TV industry itself, and the reluctance for some of its biggest players -- distributors and programmers alike -- to embrace the kind of exchange-based market structure that is transforming online media. Even the industry’s own venture, cable operator-backed Canoe, largely failed at creating an addressable TV advertising infrastructure necessary to compete with online’s, though a less ambitious, scaled-down version of Canoe’s technology team continues to work on it.
“By plugging Clypd into Invidi’s already powerful smart advertising solutions, we’ve rapidly accelerated the ability of agencies and brands to access the addressable inventory from our many partners,” states Invidi CEO and President David Downey, adding that Clypd’s technology will help, “eliminate huge barriers and open up incredible new possibilities in the TV marketplace. We can now put the long-promised level of addressable advertising abilities within the grasp of the agency and programming communities.”
In a recent interview with RTM Daily, Clypd Founder and CEO Joshua Summers said the company has been focusing on creating technology that seamlessly integrates the myriad of TV industry technologies , including both “linear” and “non-linear” TV options, in a simple and easy-to-use interface for advertisers, agencies, trading desks and DSPs.
He says Clypd is neutral as to whether buyers and sellers use the technology to conduct the kind of auction-based “RTB” models that the TV industry has feared might commoditize the value of its ad inventory, or other programmatic exchanges where sellers and buyers set “floor” and “ceiling” prices, or conduct private exchanges, simply utilizing the technology to speed things up, and target audiences more precisely.One of the big obstacles, he says, is that unlike online where cookies have enabled such targeting and buying, TV wasn’t able to do it until a sizeable addressable TV advertising infrastructure was put in place. Based on its most recent contracts with TV distributors, Invidi claims to have agreements to distribute its addressable TV ad technology in about 80% of the non-over-the-air TV advertising marketplace.