Disney, AMC Networks And WarnerMedia To Sell Linear TV Through Xandr Invest

Might the TV buyer’s dream of purchasing inventory across networks using the same audience definition finally be coming true?

AMC Networks, Disney and WarnerMedia said Wednesday their linear TV inventory will be available through Xandr Invest.

Starting mid-April, buyers will be able to log into Xandr Invest, Xandr’s programmatic buying platform, to access linear TV private marketplaces (PMPs) from all three networks. These PMPs are powered by Clypd, the linear supply-side platform Xandr bought in October 2019, which all three networks were already working with.

Buyers can create audience segments using Xandr’s data, their first-party data or data from Disney and AMC Networks, enrich that with third-party segments and buy the same audience across all three media sellers. Xandr Invest has 700 audience segments preloaded into the platform tied to DirecTV viewership and AT&T telco data.

Because Clypd is already integrated with each of the networks’ back-end order management systems, Xandr Invest can forecast pricing and deliver a schedule that optimizes for the buyer’s target audience across all three networks.

“It’s not just an RFP tool,” said Mike Welch, EVP of product and business development at Xandr. “The buyer directs a buy targeting one audience across all three providers.”

Post-campaign, buyers will receive unified reporting on deduplicated reach and frequency against their target across the networks. Xandr is planning to launch outcomes-based attribution tools later this year.

Disney, WarnerMedia and AMC Networks are making all of their linear, ad-supported inventory available through Xandr Invest so buyers can do reach extension against advanced audiences alongside their regular linear buys. Each network will sell their own inventory, and Xandr will charge a tech fee to deliver the transaction.

“The whole point of this partnership is that each publisher will still have control over how we transact,” said Laura Nelson, SVP of cross portfolio solutions at Disney Advertising Sales. “How each publisher prices and optimizes their inventory is at their discretion.”

Buyers can continue to work with WarnerMedia, Disney and AMC Networks’ sales reps to place their buys on a direct IO. But Xandr Invest will also be available self-serve to open up demand from smaller advertisers and agencies who haven’t had the resources to access linear TV.

“It should give us the opportunity to work with advertisers [for whom] the barrier is now removed,” said Evan Adlman, SVP of advanced advertising and digital partnerships at AMC Networks.

Buyers will not be able to purchase linear inventory alongside OTT or digital inventory in Xandr Invest yet, but that’s the plan down the road, Welch said.

Who defines the audience?

Audience buying on linear TV has been slow to scale because each network offers its own definition of an audience, making it difficult to optimize across sellers. But now that holding companies have spent billions of dollars to build their first-party data assets, they’re eager to leverage that information to optimize their TV buys – especially as reach continues to decline.

“We see exponential growth of advertisers who want to buy audiences using more sophisticated first-party data sets,” said Dan Aversano, SVP of ad innovation and programmatic solutions at WarnerMedia.

Buyer demand for more unified targeting and reporting led Disney and AMC Networks to put aside competitive concerns in working with Xandr, which is sister companies with WarnerMedia under parent AT&T.

“We’ve been very careful in the way we’ve worked with Xandr on this platform to make sure there isn’t confusion when it comes to sales channel conflict,” Disney’s Nelson said.

But it’s unclear how Xandr’s audience definitions will fit alongside OpenAP, which is offering a similar solution that reconciles audience targeting and reporting across NBCU, Fox, Viacom and Univision. WarnerMedia pulled out of OpenAP last year after the AT&T transaction closed.

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