Launches Programmatic TV Buying Platform, Magna Global Already On Board

AOL’s had already announced that the piping was in place for programmatic TV buying, but as of September 2013 their offering was still being polished.

Now, nearly six months later, the company is moving forward with its programmatic TV buying product, and it already has a major media agency on board.

Magna Global, part of IPG Mediabrands, has already run digital and TV campaigns through’s buying platform. Official testing of the TV buying platform began in Q4 2013.

It's not surprising that Magna is already on board -- the company has been aggressive in its adoption of programmatic buying, and IPG is still looking to automate 50% of all of its buys. has spent the past six months applying the TV buying offering into its existing platform, applying more data sets, and striking inventory partnerships.

At launch, the company claims its Marketplace will have TV inventory available from nearly 100 cable networks with the potential to reach over 90 million U.S. TV households.

As far as data partnerships go, has cozied up with some big names in Nielsen and Rentrak. The new programmatic TV offering will use Nielsen’s panel-based audience measurements, Rentrak’s set-top-box viewing data and consumer purchase behavior data.

Dan Ackerman, the company’s SVP of programmatic TV, spoke with RTM Daily about the launch. He said the ability to reach a potential 90 million U.S. TV households puts the Marketplace up there with the top-30 networks in terms of scale and distribution. However, Ackerman was careful to note that is not looking to become an ad network and still views itself as a technology platform. He referred to the new offering as a “demand-side platform (DSP) for TV.”

Magna Global is not the only agency unit already using the programmatic TV platform, but it’s the only named client at this point. In terms of ad spend, Ackerman could not reveal specifics, instead citing “industry numbers” that suggest current programmatic TV campaigns are in the low six-figure range, with some moving into seven figures.

“These are smaller deals compared to the multi-seven-figure deals elsewhere in TV, and we see huge upside there,” he said. “The upside is not only in the size of the deals but also in the frequency and the volume. Some agencies and clients are very progressive, while others are moving into it a bit more slowly.”’s offering is programmatic in the sense that it automates large data sets -- such as first-party data and the Nielsen and Rentrak data -- and running that data against campaign objectives. To be clear, there is no real-time bidding (RTB) taking place.

However, Ackerman claimed’s offering is capable of going “end-to-end” with the automation: from planning, to buying, and reporting back. He noted some private marketplaces are forming, and that “there’s much more direct” contact between buyers and sellers to establish pricing and inventory specific to that relationship.

Essentially, advertisers will put TV campaign objectives -- and any first-party data they have -- into the platform. The platform will then automatically suggest where the campaign should run, how much it would cost, etc.

On the publisher side, Ackerman said publishers lose no control. “It’s not an auction model,” he reaffirmed. “There’s a finite amount of inventory (in TV). The publishers still control pricing, whether they take a deal or not, etc. It’s their inventory. This provides an incremental demand channel for them.”

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