Vizio Launches Ad Business As Ad-Supported Streaming Takes Off

Advertising is becoming an intriguing business for smart TV manufacturers, and Vizio became the latest to throw its hat in the ring Tuesday, when it launched an ad sales business that will take advantage of the 13 million smart TVs it has in American homes.

“It’s no secret that the connected TV space has been growing significantly,” said Mike O’Donnell, SVP of Vizio’s platform business. “We’re taking the opportunity to dive into the business.”

Similar to competing ad offerings from Roku and Samsung, Vizio will sell both display ads on its home screen and search page as well as video ads within its WatchFree AVOD channel, the fifth most-watched app on its platform, powered by content from Pluto TV.

Vizio will also sell inventory on behalf of other ad-supported apps on its platform at a rev-share. Currently Vizio offers about 40 SVOD and AVOD apps on its operating system.

Buyers can access Vizio’s inventory programmatically through integrations with multiple DSPs and SSPs or directly from Vizio. For programmatic buys, Vizio will tell buyers on which apps and in which genres their ads ran – information other TV software providers don’t usually offer, O’Donnell said.

“Our goal is to make it as easy to buy as possible,” he added.

Buys through Vizio will be powered by data from Inscape, the company’s ACR data unit which collects opt-in viewership information on what people are watching on Vizio TVs. Using Inscape data, marketers can buy ads through Vizio to add incremental reach to their linear buys.

“We can identify shows that viewers have watched and [offer] incremental reach and frequency management,” O’Donnell said.

Marketers can also target audience and behavioral segments on Vizio, but they cannot yet upload first-party data for targeting. Vizio is working with onboarders to launch a CRM matching solution, O’Donnell said.

Vizio’s challenge will be appealing to marketers and agencies in an increasingly crowded market, as companies like Roku and Samsung offer a similar targeting opportunity and value prop. The business is Vizio’s first foray into ad sales, so inking relationships with agency buyers will be key. Vizio plans to hire more than 20 ad sales executives across the United States next year.

But with 17% of smart TV sales in the United States, Vizio’s reach alone is enough to appeal to marketers, O’Donnell said.

“We’re the second-largest smart TV manufacturer in the US, so we have significant reach,” he said. “Historically we didn’t have solutions to reach our marketers directly.”

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