Addressable TV Will Be A ‘Massive’ Ad Category, If Cable Operators Are Willing

TubeRentrak sees surging interest in addressable TV advertising, according to Bill Livek, CEO of the audience measurement and data services firm.

“We believe this will be a massive advertising category,” Livek remarked during the company’s quarterly earnings call Thursday. “The folks who are doing addressable campaigns, every time a brand runs a campaign they can prove the return on investment.”

Rentrak has expanded its local TV station client list by 52% in the quarter to 350 stations, and inked a deal with Cox Media Group to “safely and simply optimize their inventory that is sold on a programmatic basis.”

Similarly, Rentrak also works with independent cable ad rep firm Viamedia to bring programmatic audience targeting to TV stations at the national and local level. Rentrak’s relationship with Via dates back to a multi-year contract in February 2013 when Via’s network of broadcast customers gained access to Rentrak’s measurement ratings service or “currency,” the benefit being identifying and monetizing more viewing impressions.

Separately, Viamedia-owned platform Placemedia, which automates ad sales for linear TV spots, recently expanded its partnership with Rentrak as well. The basis of the partnership was better data, specifically Rentrak’s census-based and household viewer data along with IHS Automotive purchase intel.

While the network buy has traditionally cast a wide net, data-driven automation has created the opportunity to target impressions more narrowly.

“With automation, it works best when there is an estimate of the number of TV viewers on every TV show and what the demographics of those people are who watch those shows,” Livek recently told AdExchanger. “If you’re Cadillac and you’re trying to market your ATS, [you want to know] how many people who own Mercedes C-class or BMW 3-series are watching a particular TV show. Rentrak is helping enable it on the television side by having a measurement system that is very granular and very stable.”

Historically, cable operators owned the television infrastructure while the advertiser or data company had the targeting intelligence.

One critical pain point in early addressable TV experiments has been “getting the permission to take impression data from the cable operator back into our [third-party] database for matching against sales and performance metrics on the CRM database,” according to one source who asked to remain anonymous due to their company’s partnerships with TV and cable operators.  “It’s getting the satellite operators to agree to this targeting at scale.”

This is why the cable operators, who have well-developed local insertion zones at the household level, are methodically evaluating their data partnerships. Third-party data and ratings companies such as Rentrak can significantly enhance that knowledge-set with additional data (everything from product-level to voter demographic files) and advertisers will want this data to optimize campaigns against.

But there is the issue of data ownership, device fragmentation and budget control to contend with, which could explain why some providers are further along in the addressable process than others. Some allow a certain number of households to be targeted at the addressable level in live TV (such as DirecTV and Cablevision) while others have that capability for video-on-demand insertions only, at present (Comcast).

Rentrak’s total revenue in its fiscal first quarter was up 34% to $22.3 million, an increase from $16.7 million last year. Commanding the majority of the revenue was its TV Everywhere business, which grew to $10.5 million, up 84% from $5.7 million last year.


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