Battle lines are being drawn in the ongoing quest to lure advertisers to new kinds of TV commercials.
AT&T’s Xandr ad-tech unit said Wednesday that AMC Networks, WarnerMedia and Walt Disney had joined its Xandr Invest, a buying platform that allows advertisers to define narrower audience segments and reach them with TV programming. The company said the Xandr technology would be available in time for TV’s 2020 “upfront”ad sales market.
In joining Xandr, the media companies are setting off a battle of sorts. NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, Fox Corp, and Univision are part of a separate consortium, Open AP, that is also working to accelerate the advertising practice known as “audience buying,” or place commercials more precisely across networks and programs so they reach lucrative audience segments like first-time car buyers or expectant mothers. WarnerMedia, which is, like Xandr, owned by AT&T, pulled out of that group in April of last year.
“We are seeing high demand from our clients, even coming out of [last year’s] upfront,” says Evan Adlman, senior vice president of advanced advertising and digital partnerships at AMC Networks, in an interview. “A lot of our scatter buys are also looking for this type of targeting. So we plan on this being part of every conversation that we are beginning to have for the next upfront.”
Xandr believes its October acquisition of clypd, a company with technology that helps automate the purchase of ad inventory through private or open marketplaces and also can be used to place TV advertising in away that helps it reach the audience most likely to be interested in it, gives it an advantage. Madison Avenue once thrived on advertising meant to win over big masses of consumers. Now, with audiences splintered across dozens of media opportunities, the industry is placing new emphasis on using data to reach slices of demographic.
Xandr hopes its ability to match advertisers’ data sets with information it has about 10 million households that subscribe to AT&T’s DirecTV will also prove compelling to advertisers, says Mike Welch, the company’s executive vice president of product and business development.
“We see this as a way to accelerate data-driven ad demand in the marketplace,” says Laura Nelson, senior vice president of cross portfolio solutions at Disney Advertising Sales.