ESPN Planning To Roll Out A DMP

Zachary Chapman, VP of digital and publisher sales at ESPN, told the audience at the Programmatic Insider Summit in Scottsdale, AZ. that the sports network giant is planning to roll out a data management platform (DMP) in the coming weeks.

The platform will feature set-top-box data that ESPN will share with its clients.

Chapman stressed that the doesn’t think there’s any hidden agenda behind data -- or in keeping data close to the vest -- acknowledging that he may be in the minority with that opinion. He was speaking on the “Convergence And Data-Driven TV” panel on Wednesday morning.

“A 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. show -- right now, by default on TV, that’s DR,” Chapman said. “I maintain that if it’s 2 a.m., and you’ve got an audience of four guys sitting around, drinking beers and maybe doing some other stuff, that’s the ultimate Dominos audience.

“Why is that a DR play, [by default], and not a very valuable audience?” he added. “That’s ultimately where we want to get.”

ESPN made waves earlier this year in the data-driven TV targeting space when it ran a programmatically sold ad during "SportsCenter," the network's flagship show.

Another historically television-focused company — Nielsen — stepped into the DMP arena just weeks ago when it shelled out a reported $200 million to acquire eXelate. If Nielsen’s buy-in on DMPs signaled that data-driven audience targeting will play a large role in the TV (and cross-screen) world, ESPN’s decision serves to reiterate the point.

Chapman conceded that it may be hard for media-buyers to trust ESPN’s data — since it would be ESPN selling their own product — but he asserted that the company will aim for a level of transparency that quells concerns. “Why would people trust Facebook?” Chapman said.

His point: An ESPN-owned DMP may seem dubious on the surface, but similar complications have been hurdled before.

There’s no reason that we shouldn’t have a DMP in place that allows us to analyze the data in a much more fluid way, and share with our agency partners,” he concluded.

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