TV giant Vizio is folding Inscape, its data and analytics subsidiary, into its TV platform business — a move designed to boost Vizio’s connected-TV ad business and its streaming-app experiences for consumers.
With the reorganization, Inscape will continue to power “select measurement and advertising use cases,” but the engineering and technology teams will now be focused on supporting Vizio’s platforms business. Inscape has a viewer opt-in base of more than 16 million TVs in the U.S. So far in 2020, Vizio has added more than 130 free, ad-supported TV channels to its SmartCast platform.
“We are entering a new golden age of television, where the technologies can now deliver on the vision we have to delight and entertain viewers,” Vizio CEO and founder William Wang said in a statement. “We are honored to help unlock the potential of TV with our partners, and we are making every move required to usher in the next generation of entertainment for our customers.”
Heading the combined group is Michael O’Donnell, chief revenue officer of the Vizio platform business, who oversees relationships with programmers, platform and data partners, and advertisers. O’Donnell has led Vizio’s direct-to-device ads business since its launch in December 2019 and expanded the company’s relationship with dozens of media companies including Apple, Disney and NBCUniversal’s Peacock.
As part of the changes, Zeev Neumeier, founder of Cognitive Networks (which was acquired by Vizio in 2015 and renamed Inscape) has been appointed Vizio’s chief innovation officer. In that role, he will be responsible for leading the design and development of next-generation experiences on existing and forthcoming Vizio TV and soundbar products.
Jodie McAfee, previously Inscape’s head of sales and marketing, has taken on the new role of SVP of strategy and marketing for Vizio’s platform business. Alongside O’Donnell, McAfee will lead growth efforts across all advertising and SmartCast business endeavors. In addition, Charbel Makhoul will lead Inscape as a product on the Vizio engineering team.
In 2019, Neumeier and McAfee led the formation and launch of Project OAR (“Open Addressable Ready”), an addressable advertising consortium that attracted participants including Disney Media Networks, Comcast’s FreeWheel and NBCUniversal, Discovery, Fox Corp., ViacomCBS, WarnerMedia, Hearst Television and AMC Networks. Project OAR is led by Adam Gaynor, who joined Vizio in August 2020 as VP of network relationships and head of addressable.
After Vizio bought Cognitive Networks in 2015, the FTC launched an investigation into the TV company’s tracking of viewers, which the agency alleged Vizio had done without obtaining consumer consent. In 2017, Vizio agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle the charges.
Pictured above (l. to r.): Michael O’Donnell, Zeev Neumeier, Jodie McAfee