The development overcomes a major obstacle for TV advertisers and their agencies, which previously had to manually translate and covert their consumer targets from the proprietary or syndicated databases they use for other media into versions that could be integrated into addressable TV advertising servers.
"We've solved that problem," boasts Tara Walpert-Levy, president of Visible World, a company that has emerged as the leader in the addressable TV advertising field, and which claims to serve about 90% of all addressable TV commercials that run in the U.S. on TV and broadband platforms.
"We've basically made it easy for addressable advertising scale," she says, adding that the new application will save marketers and agencies the kind of time, money and aggravation that has been keeping all but the most committed from jumping into addressable TV advertising.
Walpert-Levy estimates Visible World served about 100,000 different addressable TV advertising executions during the past year, which is a fraction of the millions of individual commercials created by U.S. advertisers each year. About half of those addressable TV spots were created via Visible World's digital production systems, which enables agencies to produce multiple versions of TV ads targeted at specific types of consumers. The other half are produced by agencies utilizing other digital production facilities.
Visible World then distributes the spots via its computer servers, performing a function similar to those of online ad serving companies such as Google's DoubleClick, or WPP Group's 24/7 Real Media. When the spots are distributed over broadband, Visible World usually works directly with the online ad serving companies, but typically distributes the spots directly to broadcast, cable and satellite TV outlets.
One of Visible World's strategic investors is WPP Group, which inherited an equity stake in the firm when it acquired Grey Advertising years ago. In addition to its Visible World stake, WPP recently acquired a sizeable equity stake in Invidi Technologies, another company that has been racing to gain a foothold in the addressable TV advertising marketplace, and one that competes directly with Visible World. Other potential competitors include OpenTV and Atlas DMT, which is a unit of aQuantive, which was acquired by Microsoft last year.
The open data standard created by Visible World, meanwhile, may serve as a model for other developers, hoping to make addressable TV advertising easy and accessible to Madison Avenue.
As part of the announcement, which is being made public today, Visible World is disclosing deals with both Acxiom and Experian, two of the leading sources of data used by agencies to target consumers across media, but Walpert-Levy says the system will easily port data from virtually any source an advertiser or agency prefers, including their own proprietary consumer databases, and that the system is capable of serving TV ads to as "granular" a target as an advertiser can define and as a media platform can distribute.
"This makes it much easier and much faster for advertisers to enter the addressable TV advertising space," she says. That's important she says, because, "Everyone is incredibly busy in this business, and no matter how cool something is, if it's not easily executable, it's not going to happen."