Fox News Is Full Steam Ahead With Audience Buying And RTB Offerings Says VP Steinberg

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Fox NewsJeremy Steinberg is VP, Digital Sales & Business Development, FOX News Network.

Late last week, Steinberg offered an update to AdExchanger on his company's efforts in the online audience buying space.

AdExchanger.com: Last May, you discussed with AdExchanger.com some of the things you were doing on the product side to address audience buying.  How has it worked out?

JS:  Really well, and - within the next couple months - we're going to be rolling out a fully-revamped audience insights suite of services for our advertisers, which will provide enhanced targeting opportunities for audience, as well as context.

It’s equally important to marry the two together and is a key differentiator for us. This is a big investment in our business and in our future.

We've known for quite some time that we have by far the most engaged audience in news, and the numbers in comScore really speak to that.  We're investing in new technology because we want to prove it to our advertisers that our advertising works.

We’re doubling down and offering robust segmentation of our audience so advertisers can dive in deep to reach their targets, or, even better, to find out who their ads are performing best against, and then optimizing accordingly.

Will the focus of this product be on PC-based display?  Mobile, video?

It's focused on [PC-based] display to start. We're certainly going to explore expanding it to other channels down the road.

Any trends you can share that you’re seeing with display today in your business?

There's a lot going on in this area. There's the direct, and indirect.

On the direct side, we're seeing increased demand from the prior year, and one of the reasons for that increased demand is my team is out in the marketplace proving the value of our inventory. We're doing that through our investments in custom solutions, and in ad technology. We're talking about audience targeting about real‑time bidding. That's something that has been of keen interest to our clients.

In addition, my national team is out there talking about how we can activate campaigns socially. We believe all of these solutions are differentiating us from the competition and the general Web. That's why we're seeing great demand.

Then on the network side of our business, we've been one of the first and, probably, one of the biggest investors in the real-time bidding space. It continues to grow, and I'm very excited about that side of our business, too. We're focusing on transparency through real‑time bidding and exchange‑based buying, and direct deals with advertisers.

How about your private exchange strategy? Any updates?

I consider anything we do in the exchange private because we have total control over who has access to our inventory. From my perspective, I'm only letting the people buy me that I want to.

We work with [DoubleClick] Ad Exchange but, again, I can turn off anyone at any time. We're having conversations with all of the trading desks, and with some of them we've already acted upon those conversations – with others, we're still talking. I feel very positive about where automated buying is going over the next year.

Do you see the agency trading desk model as an intriguing opportunity for Fox News?

Yes. Our job is to do the best we can to service our clients. If our clients decide that the best way to access our inventory is through trading desks, then we're going to do the best job we can to help facilitate that. If they decide ultimately that that's not the way that they want to do it, then we'll work with them in that way also.

My view is that there are opportunities for us to work together for guaranteed spending, and so we're investing heavily in providing great services and technology to help them achieve their objectives in that area.

What has this meant in terms of your sales team? Can you comment on whether it's required you to reach out to a different seller to augment your existing staff?

I've been very transparent and open with my national salesforce about what our strategy is with real‑time bidding and transparent buying. I've said all along that this is ultimately going to benefit them, and this is one of the directions that the business is heading, so it's important for everybody to understand it.

We spend a lot of time talking and training so that everyone can be up to speed on what's happening in the marketplace and what's happening with us, specifically. What we've found is that our sales has been technologically focused for a while. We've been out selling audience targeting, creative services and interesting video executions.

Where do you think we are with real‑time bidding (RTB) right now?

We’re still in the infancy stage. There's a long way to go and I think next year we'll look back and we'll say, "Wow, it's been a great year for it."

There are still pieces that have to fall in place: the agency strategies, all of the technology that's been acquired over the past year, and consolidation. All of these impact [RTB’s] growth. I just can't imagine looking back a year from now and saying, "It was a bad year for real‑time bidding."

Finally, what about the video front?

It remains important because at our core we're a video company.  I think we've been doing a lot of interesting innovation in video, such as our partnership with Akamai and the multi‑stream player that we launched for the primaries. You're going to see TV everywhere from us, and in the Xbox, and so we're making a push with our video property - we see it as a big opportunity there as well.

By John Ebbert

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