Most revenue and inventory will still be in linear television, but data-driven features like household targeting and sales attribution give real-time ad auctions elevate CPMs, he said.
A+E is also focused on bringing more brands to its content. The programmatic group runs about 60-100 insertion order-based brand campaigns per month, DeMarco said. Through its unified auction platform with FreeWheel, A+E sees another 400-500 advertisers.
The new unified auction also allows third-party DSPs to bid on A+E’s inventory. With partners like The Trade Desk, Adobe and Amobee, DeMarco said the number of overall A+E advertisers could jump again from 500 to more like 5,000.
“What we’ve identified is the value in having that mix and breadth of buyers,” he said. For one thing, it’s important for managing frequency and viewer experience. When direct sold campaigns are favored for OTT or digital inventory, as is the norm with many streaming services, a handful of national brands can oversaturate viewers by scooping up all the CTV spots.
Programmatic buyers tend to be smaller or less recognizable than direct sold brands. But a regional auto dealer may be willing to pay more than Ford if it can target a household in-market for a car or pay based on guaranteed dealership visits. “Tapping into these more local or underserved markets is a strong incremental revenue source,” DeMarco said.
A+E is the first broadcaster to publicly launch with FreeWheel’s unified auction tech, said Geoff Wolinetz, FreeWheel SVP of client relationships. But a couple other networks are testing the service, including one regional domestic broadcaster and an international client.
Wolinetz said the product doesn’t replace direct sold advertising, which is still how networks fill cable inventory. But it is an indicator of how TV media planning will be increasingly managed by automated tech.
The world we’re aimed at collectively is a world where there’s more automated optimization, regardless of how the inventory is sourced,” he said. “Either from the SSP or a salesperson.”