Magna Brings Audience Segments To Roku As Agency Doubles Its Investment

magrokuIPG Mediabrands’ investment arm, Magna, revealed on Wednesday it is doubling its investment in over-the-top (OTT) TV provider Roku.

It declined to name specifics but noted the deal has multiple implications for inventory rates and pricing, third-party research and data.

Magna is forming a private deal with Roku to allow more precise targeting between the agency’s Audience Measurement Platform (AMP, which is housed within IPG’s ad tech division, Cadreon) and Roku.

“We spent years investing in a data solution where we could build segments for clients and activate them across many channels,” Magna President David Cohen told AdExchanger. “For the first time, we’ll be able to take the AMP segments we’ve built for clients and execute them on the Roku platform.”

OTT needs comprehensive viewership data, said Cohen. With MAGNA’s strategic interest in non-linear channels (like its $250 million Google Preferred commitment for digital video), data availability is key.

“We are now ingesting Roku data into our planning tools, too, so we’ll have a far better sense of allocating the right budgets against an OTT solution than we ever have in the past,” he said.

Magna’s arrangement with Roku is a first of its kind between the OTT service and an agency holding group. Roku has invested for years in its ad infrastructure to enable precision targeting, said Scott Rosenberg, VP of advertising for Roku.

“Many transactions between Roku and Cadreon will be done through a programmatic stack, so they have the option to fill or not fill based on the buyer criteria they have on their side,” Rosenberg explained. “They will be able to bring their data to the table, match that data to our users and target in more precise ways. It’s a novel and advanced step for us.” 

Roku is not opening unfettered access to its viewership and audience data, though. The basis of any audience deal is no data ever leaves Roku’s house.

Like other TV networks that activate their audiences programmatically, Roku uses Acxiom’s LiveRamp or Experian Marketing Services to perform a double-blind match between its own data and Cadreon/IPG’s AMP.

The Magna partnership will let clients match a Roku audience against their CRM lists, for instance, or a cookie/device ID pool. Or they can buy audiences based on intent or income level.

Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings (DAR), which is baked into the Roku operating system, will provide measurement.

Magna will tag each of its campaigns with Nielsen DAR in order to understand in aggregate reach, frequency and audience duplication across Roku.

Enabling direct integrations to OTT services like Roku, which counts 13 million active accounts and is the largest OTT provider in terms of ad volume, is an important first step toward measuring incremental TV audiences, but there’s still a long way to go, says Magna’s Cohen.

“In the TV business today, we have standard industry currency that is broad demos and then all of these individual walled gardens with custom segments,” Cohen said. “But there is no horizontality across them and no industry-established currency yet.”

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