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TV ad targeting platform to play big role in upfront pitches

OpenAP, the TV ad sales targeting consortium founded by Fox Networks Group, Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and Viacom Inc., could be adding another member shortly.

During a keynote presentation at the Advanced Advertising conference in New York on March 26, executives alluded to a fourth programming group coming on board.

"Those conversations are well underway," said Noah Levine, senior vice president data and technology solutions for Fox Networks Group.

In an interview after the presentation, Dan Aversano, senior vice president of ad innovation and programmatic solutions at Turner Ignite, said the expectation is that the new OpenAP programming partner will arrive before the upfront selling season commences.

Adding a fourth programming group to OpenAP, which launched in September 2017, would add more diverse content properties for advertisers and agencies to draw from as they look to facilitate audience-targeting capabilities. Gabe Bevilacqua, senior vice president of product management and advanced advertising at Viacom, noted that close to 800 agencies and accounts have been set up to date.

"We burned a lot of jet fuel to get clients and agencies on board," he said.

The platform, built and administered by Accenture plc, is supported by data from both Nielsen Holdings and comScore Inc. Agencies and clients can also integrate their own data and planning systems so the parties can identify more select audiences and then activate attendant TV plans.

At this point, advertisers do not buy through OpenAP. However, Aversano said after the presentation that could occur at some point, noting that buyers would be able to click to secure a schedule. He said there is a great deal of interest in moving toward the transactional, but work would be needed to navigate antitrust concerns due to the different program suppliers.

In the interim, agencies and clients must still engage in the traditional buying process, striking deals with the appropriate programmers. In turn, Accenture verifies the campaign's delivery and posting.

OpenAP will be a significant component of upfront pitches. Viacom's Bevilacqua said the platform will be used to deliver "a broader set of data that works harder for the market." He added that the company is looking to match these "precision optimization measures" with cross-platform opportunities.

Levine said Fox's traditional business selling remains strong. But with the company controlling huge amounts of sports inventory, it is looking for ways to integrate National Football League units into audience-based planning.

He said the pro football league has "lots of audience beyond 18 to 49," and could target audiences interested in purchasing an auto or financial services.

More coverage of the Advanced Advertising conference:

Hulu's 'less is more' approach to advertising paying dividends