OpenAP Adds Technology to Further Automate TV Ad Sales
11 January 2021

Originally published in the Wall Street Journal by Alexandra Bruell

TV network group OpenAP is updating its technology to let advertisers see the commercial time that is available from its members, making its system more closely resemble digital ad platforms.

The organization, whose members include competitors such as Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, Fox Corp.’s Fox and ViacomCBS Inc., has been working to build a system that automates and improves the antiquated trading process for TV ad buyers and sellers.

The latest launch is a supply-side platform, which is software typically used by digital publishers to automate the sale of their ad units.

OpenAP’s SSP comes as advertisers look for more efficient ways to buy targeted TV commercials throughout their campaign, and publishers try to peel back ad dollars from digital giants that have gained a greater share of advertisers’ budgets.

“Agencies have been investing in data products and optimization tools but those tools lack transparency from the sell side,” said David Levy, chief executive of OpenAP. “It gets us to a lot more efficient buys so you have less waste.”

The SSP is different from OpenAP’s existing OpenAP Market product, which allows an ad buyer to use historical TV data to create a plan. Advertisers using OpenAP Market need to work directly with individual TV sellers to see and select the commercial inventory intended to reach their consumers.

Advertising holding company Omnicom Group Inc. worked with OpenAP to test and launch the SSP. Omnicom, which owns media agencies OMD, PHD and Hearts & Science, plugged its data and planning system, Omni, into OpenAP’s SSP. It can use its own data sets or data sets it builds through OpenAP’s system to plan which inventory will best target its consumers and then place orders for specific commercial units. An order doesn’t necessarily reserve the inventory. The TV seller is expected to respond to a buyer within 24 hours to confirm the order. If an ad unit isn’t available, the publisher will likely come back with a comparable ad unit.

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