When It Comes To Addressable TV, AT&T Has The Scale And Verizon Has The Speed

Verizon’s Oath wants advertisers to know that although it shuttered its programmatic TV offering OneTV, its addressable TV business based on Fios households – which launched in late 2016 – is here to stay.

Verizon knows that for addressable inventory, it’s later to the game than Dish network as well as AT&T and its DirecTV subsidiary.

But it hopes to differentiate with its access to East Coast markets and its speed, said Brett Hurwitz, business lead of Oath’s advanced TV unit.

“Fios is on a fiber-optic backbone so we can get campaigns up in a matter of a day or so, rather than a week,” he said. “We can switch out copy in a matter of hours instead of days. Measurement on the back end can get fed into other campaigns much more quickly, because of that fiber-optic backbone.”

Satellite providers, Hurwitz added, are much slower communicating with their households.

Jamie Power, COO of TV media-buying startup one2one Media, validated Verizon’s quick technology, saying it takes AT&T two weeks to launch a campaign while Oath can get up and running in days. Of course, things could always be a little faster.

“With Verizon’s speed, if we could get return path data faster, it would create the ability to optimize TV campaigns in flight,” Power said.

While Oath pitches its 4.6 million addressable TV households and its dominance in major metropolitan markets along the Eastern seaboard, AT&T has truly massive scale, with 15.5 million addressable TV households.

An AT&T spokesperson said its offering, launched in 2012, now has addressable coverage across 210 DMAs and has run “thousands” of addressable campaigns. Verizon declined to say how many addressable campaigns it has run. AT&T argues that advertisers want national scale, not just access to a single region.

It’s not surprising that AT&T and Verizon are marking lines in the sand when it comes to their addressable TV turf. As Forrester Research and the ANA noted last week, addressable TV buying is heating up. Fifteen to 17% of advertisers already buy it, and an additional 20-30% plan to experiment this year.

“The targeting resolution is as good as digital,” Hurwitz said. “The measurement resolution is as good. We’re seeing a change in the way TV is consumed and the way TV is delivered to the household.”

Most available TV inventory isn’t addressable.

Addressable TV players like Fios, AT&T and Dish receive about two minutes per hour of cable programming to sell, Hurwitz said. Verizon dedicates a portion of those two minutes to household addressable and will increase that as demand grows.

And the buying process can still be finicky. Verizon’s addressable inventory is all direct sold, though advertisers don’t buy during the usual upfront process.

“We receive the majority of our budgets through the scatter market,” Hurwitz said. So that’s a month or two before an advertiser wants to be on air, or sometimes a day in advance – which is likely where Verizon’s speed becomes relevant.

There’s still a lot to do when it comes to further developing Verizon’s addressable TV offering. For one, data from Oath’s other properties can’t be used to inform addressable buys. Hurwitz called that a logical next step but conceded it’s not on the road map. “We see it taking place with our competitors – like Dish Network and Sling TV, which they’re selling in conjunction.”

Hey, what happened to Oath’s programmatic TV?

While Verizon’s addressable TV offering is ready for prime time, its programmatic TV offering, OneTV, went for a final walk behind the barn in April.

Hurwitz explained that OneTV did one-to-many targeting, whereas Fios addressable households does one-to-one.

“Oath assets have one-to-one advertising in every one of its offerings,” he said. “OneTV did not blend nicely with those offerings. Household addressable absolutely does.”

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