Cable conglomerates Comcast, Charter and Cox Communications said Wednesday they will build ad products that extend across their collective footprint.
The three are forming a division within NCC Media – a national cable sales group in which they are joint stakeholders – to build data-driven ad products.
Comcast’s advanced ads division, Comcast Media 360, is leading the group, which is backed by resources from Charter and Cox.
The new group is currently unnamed and is scheduled to launch later this year.
There’s little detail about the product road map, though the companies indicated they will create unified ad offerings and measurement tools leveraging “non-personally identifiable data and targeting capabilities.”
The advanced TV ads group will also focus on building solutions that deliver audiences across linear, digital and video-on-demand platforms based on age and gender demographics.
By combining inventory and data into a single ad offering, Comcast, Charter and Cox can sell household addressable inventory nationally. Most addressable inventory is available in local markets.
NCC Media to an extent already sells spots “across the entire national MVPD [multichannel video programming distributor] footprint,” said Randy Cooke, VP of enterprise solutions for video ad platform SpotX and a former NCC media exec.
But if the three cable networks are successful, they will effectively be able to sell inventory at the impression level based on audience data.
“This is about building out a relevant linear offering in the natively addressable world of OTT,” Cooke added.
It will also help the cable companies compete more effectively for ad dollars that are dramatically shifting to digital, mobile and OTT, by “future-proofing” themselves against more TV fragmentation.
“This is all about scale and combining forces,” according to Dave Morgan, CEO of Simulmedia. “They are already the three owners of NCC, which probably does about $1 billion in integrated local cable buys for national and regional advertisers, so doubling down on that business structure and partnering [on an] advanced TV ad business makes a lot of sense.”
But NCC Media will eventually have to address the disparity between local and national TV rates, Morgan said.
“Cable network companies like Turner and Viacom have a lot of pricing room to work with in their advanced ad products because they have lots of underappreciated TV ad inventory [that is sold for less than] $3 CPMs at the household level,” he noted. “Using data, network scale and salesmanship to sell this inventory for $6-8 CPM can create a big windfall for network companies.”
But it’s a different story for local inventory, which tends to generate much higher CPMs – well north of $25 CPMs, on average, because of its scarcity.
“That is probably why we'll see a lot of focus here on higher-priced advanced TV like addressable,” Morgan predicted.