AOL Bows Self-Serve Programmatic TV Buying, Kicks Off With Omnicom At Launch

As it gears up for the 2016 TV upfronts, AOL on Monday announced the launch of self-serve programmatic TV buying. Aiming to offer marketers a more complete view of all audience buying opportunities and aid them in planning, purchasing and measuring their TV ad investments, the self-service buying module extends AOL’s ONE by AOL: TV managed module which debuted in 2014 and is now part of the company’s ONE by AOL programmatic platform that kicked off in April 2015.

Omnicom Media Group is AOL's exclusive agency launch partner for the self-service module and will begin testing it on behalf of clients.

“This provides our clients the opportunity to begin to realize the benefits of advanced targeting in linear TV,” stated John Swift, CEO, North America Investment at Omnicom Media Group. “It is a critical first step in our journey towards programmatic and, ultimately, household level addressability at scale in TV.”

Traditionally, TV has been bought in silos, with broad demographics that lack the targeting capabilities necessary to gain deep relevancy, according to Dan Ackerman, AOL's SVP, programmatic TV. With the new self-serve offering, he said AOL is leveraging patented first-party predictive targeting tools and placing insights derived from them directly into media buyers’ hands.

Ackerman said AOL’s self-serve programmatic TV buying will enable advertisers to execute against their media plans directly through the module, and obtain insights into campaign impact through attribution that spans linear TV, mobile and digital investments. Linear TV inventory will be available for self-serve planning and purchasing in the third quarter for new fall TV programming, Ackerman said

Here are the benefits AOL is touting:

Transparency & control: Advertisers buying linear TV through AOL’s self-serve module can select audience targets, establish KPIs, set campaign parameters, and then plan, purchase and measure campaign performance with complete inventory and pricing transparency.

Automation: The module’s automated data exchange negates time restrictions on campaign planning and purchasing, which reduces time to market and increases workflow efficiency.

Data: Self-serve programmatic TV buying campaigns leverage AOL’s patented first-party predictive targeting tools and advanced third-party TV targeting segments. 

Premium inventory: Through partnerships with national broadcast & cable networks, premium inventory will be available for self-serve programmatic planning and buying in Q3 with new fall TV programming.

Holistic measurement: As part of the ONE by AOL: TV module, campaigns run through self-serve buying receive comprehensive reporting, including: analytics on the connection between TV ad airings and spikes in mobile, tablet, and desktop website visits; telephone response; and full-stack multi-touch attribution across TV, mobile, and video campaigns through Convertro.

With fragmentation across devices, Ackerman said AOL’s latest offering represents an opportunity to transition from managed services to advanced planning, measurement, attribution and analytics. “With an average of more than 200 channels in a paid TV home, then over-the-top TV and streaming, it’s challenging to apply data for planning, targeting and measurement of digital TV at scale,” Ackerman said. Planners are always asking, “Did I get the GRPs and CPMs I wanted? We want to show them how they can use automation.”

Ackerman said there’s misunderstanding about what programmatic TV is. In AOL’s universe, it has to have a data-driven targeting component that goes beyond gender and demographics. “You need accountability and attribution,” he said.

AOL’s self-serve platform comes as there’s a greater desire for data-driven planning among advertisers who want to make their first-party data work harder. The self-serve platform pulls the data into a decisioning platform to create media plans based on the data and does this at scale. “This isn’t just locally aggregated broadcasts. We’re applying it to national broadcast, cable and syndicated inventory. Transparency and control are paramount to success and scale. These things have to be translated into programmatic for TV,” Ackerman explained.

A big differentiator in the platform is the ability to do multitouch attribution and targeting. AOL acquired Convertro for its multitouch attribution platform for offline and online TV. PrecisionDemand enables data targeting, buying and measurement services.

During the upfronts, buyers and sellers are making decisions on how to go to market for upfront and scatter. The networks need integrated services and to know how to leverage data capabilities and tech partnerships.

1 comment about "AOL Bows Self-Serve Programmatic TV Buying, Kicks Off With Omnicom At Launch".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, April 4, 2016 at 10:51 a.m.

    The key word here is testing, not actual buying, as the networks, cable channels and syndicators are not offering more than a small sliver of their fare for sale via programmatic buying. Still,  the agencies are right to be familiarizing themselves with such systems so when and if programmatic is adapted to the point where it becomes a realistic TV buying option---with all of the sellers on board---then it mnay be implemented. But that's a long way off, I'm sorry to say---except for certain kinds of spot TV buys, plus marginal content on the networks and national cable channels and some of the "long tail" channels that are so small-audience-wise that Nielsen is reluctant to report on their average minute show by show ratings.

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