Charter Invests In TV Analytics Upstart 605 To Up The Ante On Audience Data

Charter, the US cable conglomerate second only to Comcast in subscriber count, has made a strategic investment in 605 Group, the TV analytics startup founded by former Cablevision ad execs.

Although financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, Charter has struck a strategic data partnership with 605 to provide access to TV viewing data in aggregate across 26 million homes in 100 DMAs, including the former Time Warner Cable footprint.

In turn, 605 Group has helped Charter develop a TV planning and analytics tool for linear TV called AudienceApp, which will go into beta mid-August and become generally available to the market by mid-2018.

David Kline, EVP and president of Charter’s ad division, Spectrum Reach, and James Blackley, EVP of engineering and IT for Charter, have also joined 605’s board of directors.

Although Charter has previously formed data partnerships with Oracle, comScore and others, this is the first time it’s co-developed a data product with a partner and put it in the hands of 1,500 Spectrum salespeople.

For now, the tool will only be sold as a managed service through Charter, but once it’s generally available, Kline said Charter would consider a self-serve option for agencies to access via an API.

“One of the benefits of partnering with 605 Group is they’re accustomed to building audience-based applications that make it easier for advertisers to build highly optimized schedules for linear TV,” Kline told AdExchanger. “It really reduced our time to market to develop a product like this.”

Like other TV audience indexing tools, AudienceApp, at its most basic, is designed to identify pockets of inventory where an advertiser has the highest propensity of hitting their target audience.

Yet, because 605 has access to set-top box data representing about 40 million households and 1,500 buying attributes, combining it with first-party viewership data from Charter will help improve advertiser precision, said Kristin Dolan, founder and CEO of 605.

That access to additional cable and set-top box data, including from local market inventory, will also help Charter scale its local advertising opportunity.

“In our past life at Cablevision, in many cases, we found that a number of networks we inserted ads on weren’t measured by Nielsen,” Dolan explained.

To be fair, Nielsen has been modernizing its local measurement efforts in recent months. But the historic lack of measurement has meant that the vast majority of the 3 million spots sold by local cable operators each year go unsold. That’s one problem AudienceApp aims to solve, Kline said.

“Only about 20% to 25% of [local cable operators] today actually have measurement through Nielsen,” he added, “But we know from looking at our set-top boxes anonymously that there are a lot of people who may be watching some of the networks that may not be measured very well by Nielsen.”

Thus, a programmer or cable network’s opportunity to monetize local or “long-tail” inventory, which already sells at much lower CPMs, can be futile unless they can roll up more inventory for scale or apply data for precision.

If an advertiser wants to reach a specific demo or target like “auto intenders” through impression-based buying, their likely goal is to get the ad in front of the right person versus in as many places as possible.

A tool like AudienceApp could give the buyer the best of both worlds.

“If you’re not measuring or looking at viewership across every single network, you’re much more limited to only pricing and selling things that can be measured by Nielsen,” Dolan said. “Monetizing that inventory also benefits the viewer, who will see more relevant advertising – especially if you’re on a long-tail network where the consumer may be seeing the same ad over and over.”

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