Swapping out ads on linear TV to target audiences just got a bit more real.
Project OAR (“Open, Addressable, Ready”), a consortium backed by smart TV maker Vizio, said Monday at CES it has finalized open specifications for dynamic ad insertion on linear TV and integrated with major ad decisioning engines including FreeWheel, Google Ad Manager, Xandr and INVIDI.
Media sellers AMC, CBS, NBCUniversal, Disney and Turner are members of OAR, as well as Comcast, Comcast-owned FreeWheel and AT&T-owned Xandr. OAR wants to standardize the dynamic ad insertion processes on linear TV.
Here’s how the spec works: Media sellers watermark the inventory that they want to make addressable. If a buyer wants to swap out a static ad with an addressable ad, Vizio smart TVs read the watermark and send that information to the seller’s ad server, which swaps in the addressable ad in real time. Buyers can target the ads using first- and third-party data.
Getting buyers and sellers to adopt a consistent watermark solves a host of issues around understanding who an ad belongs to, what it replaced and whether it ran where the buyer or seller intended, said Zeev Neumeier, founder of Vizio’s data sales unit, Inscape.
“This is how I mark inventory as belonging to me vs. you,” he said. “All of the nonsense disappears because you’ve gotten people to cooperate.”
Instead of creating its own decisioning engine, Vizio integrates with existing ones so buyers and sellers can transact with the platforms they’re already using.
“Vizio doesn’t sell the inventory,” Neumeier said. “The spec allows us to send the inventory to whoever you assigned to your decisioning.”
The spec is open for anyone in the industry to use, but the ability to do dynamic ad insertion is only available today on Vizio’s footprint of more than 13 million smart TVs. Other TV manufacturers are interested in adopting the specs but not yet participating, Neumeier said.
Neumeier said the real feat isn’t the development of the spec technology, but getting competitors to work together to launch an industry standard.
“We’ve seen other companies try to do this and fail miserably,” he said. “You can’t move a $70B industry just like that.”
Not so fast
Despite the availability of a dynamic ad insertion standard for Vizio TVs, networks still have to allocate which inventory they want to make addressable.
Implementing the watermark is simple, but networks are still working out the business case around which inventory to make addressable. Some networks are interested in swapping out their remnant inventory for addressable ads, while others are interested in doing more sophisticated things, like creative versioning or replacing entire pods.
Whatever the goal, it will take both networks and buyers some time to test and learn their way into the space.
While Vizio also announced a measurement spec for the buy side to determine how they want to price and transact on this newly addressable inventory, the industry won’t start transacting all of their TV inventory this way overnight.
“It’s unreasonable to ask this industry to rip the Band-Aid off,” Neumeier said. “The TV industry does not move on a dime.”