CBS Joins Open AP Audience-Targeting Alliance

“Young Sheldon” leads CBS’ Thursday-night schedule. Soon it may help to lead advertisers to a new way of placing their commercials.

CBS has joined “Open AP,” the audience-targeting alliance working to accelerate the emerging advertising practice known as “audience buying.” Open AP works to give advertisers a way to buy impressions from particular types of consumers – first-time car buyers or expectant mothers, for example – across media outlets owned by multiple companies, and includes Viacom, NBCUniversal, Fox Corporation and Univision as its backers.

In October, OpenAP unveiled a new marketplace that lets its customers not only define specific kinds of viewership across different media companies, but allows them to make actual purchases of digital-video and other kinds of inventory.

“The launch of the OpenAP Market has outperformed our expectations. We have had over 50 campaigns this quarter and with CBS networks now part of the fold that really should give buyers the confidence that they can now reach a majority of the TV market in one consolidated buy,” says David Levy, Open   AP’s CEO, in an interview. “Agencies are excited that we are now using the scale of our networks to optimize across both publisher and platform to maximize reach of the precise audience that are trying to market to. Our networks are working together to move the market forward and that is what is needed at this moment.”

CBS’ decision to join comes just days after the company merged with Viacom to become ViacomCBS, and suggests Jo Ann Ross, named the company’s president and chief domestic advertising officer, will continue to burnish some of the advanced-advertising efforts started by executives at Viacom in past years.

“We believe in the mission of OpenAP and we’re excited to add CBS assets to those of Fox, NBCUniversal and Univision,” said Ross, in a prepared statement.

Many traditional media companies are scurrying to find ways to keep ad dollars flowing as Madison Avenue places new emphasis on reaching consumers who are watching streaming video selections at times of their own choosing. The broadband connections that facilitate this viewing allow for more precise placement of commercials that can be slated to appear in front of specific niches of audience, and many companies are promoting new ways of working with consumer data to lure advertisers to their content.

The field is getting competitive. AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which was one of the founders of OpenAP, in April said it would withdraw from the group, citing its desire to pursue its own strategy under its new owner. AT&T also operates Xandr, an ad-tech division that has its own data and placement capabilities. Interpublic Group, the large advertising company, in July of 2018, acquired the bulk of Acxiom Corp., taking on a data business that will help its many agencies craft more relevant advertising. France’s Publicis Groupe in April bought Epsilon, a large data-marketing firm, in a bid to boost its standing in an industry that increasingly depends on reaching consumers via digital outreach.

Ross will join OpenAP’s board of directors, which includes John Halley, chief operating officer, advertising revenue and executive vice president of advanced marketing solutions at ViacomCBS; Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and partnerships at NBCU; Krishan Bhatia, executive vice president of business operations and strategy at NBCU; Marianne Gambelli president of advertising sales at Fox; and Meredith Brace, executive vice president of client solutions and portfolio marketing at Fox





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