PTV Standardization Progresses Amid More Big-Player Announcements

It’s been another eventful week for programmatic TV.

Time Warner Cable announced expansion of its Ads Everywhere capabilities into addressable TV, enabling marketers to target at the household level through its TV app and video-on-demand programming, which reach 10.8 million households.

AT&T AdWorks launched Video Inventory Platform (VIP), a self-service programmatic platform allowing access to linear TV ad inventory across many cable TV networks through its DirectTV and U-Verse TV businesses.

The NPD Group released survey research showing that 52% of all U.S. homes with Internet connections now have at least one TV connected to the Internet via various devices. 



And in a development directly reflecting the continuing flurry of PTV initiatives, The Global Audience Based Buying Conference (GABBCON) released the first automated linear broadcast cross-device standard (ABCDS).

ABI touched base with Gabe Greenberg, GABBCON’s CEO and co-founder, to discuss PTV standardization progress and next steps.

In the six months since its inception, the organization has released a glossary to help standardize industry vocabulary, as well as the new ABCDS. “We’re been incredibly fortunate — people have come to the table willing to collaborate,” says Greenberg.

The impetus? GABBCON’s partners — AudienceXpress, AdMore, AOL, Canoe, CBS, Clypd, DataXu, Fox, Hulu, IPG, IPONWEB, Neustar, Omnicom Media Group, TiVo Research, TubeMogul, SpotX and iSpotTV — felt that the industry had been moving at “a glacial pace” on PTV standards, says Greenberg. “They felt that we needed to move the market much more quickly to ensure the scale and success of programmatic TV.”

Which, he stresses, is not to say that the group feels that it “owns” the standardization process. In fact, the ABCDS document states that the specs and guidelines “are intended to supplement and improve compliance with initiatives within the various industry forums and committees, including IAB, MRC and TVB.”

(Other PTV efforts to date have included an “Advanced TV Industry Primer” from an IAB working group, and “Programmatic TV Guidelines and Best Practices” from TVB.)

“We’ve approached IAB, TVB and others and our hope is that at some point they will either join us or adopt what we’ve brought to the market,” says Greenberg. Like the independent OpenRTB Consortium standards group that eventually became IAB’s Real-Time Bidding Project, “our expectation here is that we would launch this group, have several of the companies involved test the standard, and that that would create enough energy around the market that bigger trade associations would gain interest and take it over.”

Asked why no marketers are currently in GABBCON, Greenberg said the group would eagerly welcome marketers. “It’s a time commitment — we meet for half a day at least once a month, and that’s sometimes difficult for brand marketers,” he adds.

Developing the linear TV with cross-device standard was a top priority because it was “a pain point for the broadcasters and SSTs that needed be working together on this,” and because it’s an area “ripe” with targetability and other opportunity, Greenberg says.

The document lays out standards for matching and applying to linear broadcast TV first-, second- and third-party audience data that goes beyond Nielsen age and gender data; guidelines for indexing or ranking media based on use of data and the propensity for a given audience to match targeting criteria; guidance on automation; and standards for cross-device measurement.

The last piece begins to address another pain point for broadcasters and other content producers: the need for consistency in reporting campaign performance results to clients and agencies, Greenberg says.

Next steps: GABBCON is shooting to release “version 2,” which will recommend a final API standard, at its April or May meetings. “We will likely follow that with a version 3 to include addressable footprints — automation of planning, buying and optimization across all addressable screens, whether it’s linear, OTT, VOD or other,” he reports.

The work continues with little attention to frequent critiques pointing out the lack of real-time capabilities and spottiness of available PTV inventory to date.

“The reality is that the market is shifting to skinnier bundles and different types of viewing experiences, although it’s not shifting as quickly as some thought it would,” sums up Greenberg. “In the meantime, there is a fair amount of scale of linear inventory that can be automated and that can have audience data applied to it to make it more powerful, and it’s an area that the industry wants to, and needs to, have addressed.”

Noting recent announcements — including NBCUniversal’s move to extend its digital programmatic platform to linear TV — he adds: “The big guys are moving to find new and more effective ways to transact their media. More and more TV inventory will have advanced audience data applied to it, and more and more will have layers of automation in the planning, buying and optimization.”

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