One2one Media to spur addressable TV with automation, aggregation

One2one Media is a new start-up offering a buy-side addressable TV and video platform which aggregates inventory and reporting across MVPDs to help brands and marketers better measure their campaigns.

The start-up matches MVPD subscriber files with advertiser first-party data and consumer data from third party providers like Experian and Kantar to plan addressable campaigns. Currently, the company works with Altice, AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Dish Network and Spectrum (the new name for Charter and Time Warner Cable).

One2one joins the growing network of advertising and media middleware solutions bridging the data, technology and publisher platforms that make up what’s become an incredibly complex mosaic of the advanced advertising ecosystem. Brands are more interested now in experimenting with data-driven advanced TV advertising solutions, as traditional TV ratings and advertising suffers from shifts in viewing behaviors. But addressable TV ad budgets are tiny. eMarketer predicts addressable TV ad spend will double year after year to top $2 billion by 2018, accounting for just 2.9% of total TV ad budgets.

“We really believe the addressable ecosystem has matured,” said Jamie Power, COO of one2one Media, though not everyone would agree with that. Agencies, ad tech providers and MVPDs have been touting the potential of addressable for years now, and none of that potential has come to fruition yet. Power – a former exec at Group M along with one2one Media’s CEO, Michael Bologna – said she saw something different while working at Modi Media, GroupM’s advanced advertising arm.

“Our positioning on addressable has been different from the marketplace because of the volume we’ve been placing [at Modi],” she said. “There we were placing probably 60% of the addressable marketplace.” Power claimed that addressable budgets were doubling each year, “we saw the growth year over year,” she said.

One2one Media is just about two months old and is owned by Cross MediaWorks, a group of media and advertising companies which includes the famous Black Arrow Brand. The difference between it and other such offerings is that one2one is completely independent of any one agency, which it says will enable one2one Media to offer a “neutral, third party solution that will fuel the rapid adoption of addressable video.”

“We created one2one Media to create a buy-side platform that aggregates addressable inventory and makes it really easy for clients to execute addressable TV,” Power said. “It’s been hard to execute, and there’s been a need in the marketplace just to make it easy. That’s what we’ll do. We’re hoping that the launch of one2one will help get more brands and agencies executing at scale.”

There are a number of obstacles to addressable TV that one2one is trying to solve: first, it wants to help expand the scale of addressable TV advertising. Current estimates peg addressable TV available in about 60 million households, but that’s across all the different MVPDs, and they all use different technology vendors and data companies, which makes getting to scale for brands difficult. And fragmentation among MVPD providers makes it difficult to measure one media buy against another. One2one claims it’ll aggregate all the MVPD inventory into one buy-side platform for advertisers to use when planning media, without being tied to one specific agency or MVPD.

Addressable TV is also very labor-intensive because none of the campaign planning or media buying is done automatically. It’s all still done manually. So one2one Media’s parent company Cross MediaWorks, is investing in the technology that’ll help one2one automate some of the processes of addressable media planning and buying. Power didn’t get into the details of how this might work.

Compared to digital, of course, addressable TV isn’t nearly as precise. With digital advertising, marketers are able to specifically target consumers, but addressable TV requires more guesswork. Unlike TV, there’s no schedule of when the ads will be aired. Instead, the MVPD ad server makes decisions about which ad to show and when, based on educated guesses about who’s watching the TV. Those guesses aren’t as ironclad at accurately targeting audiences as digital advertising, because TV sets aren’t always personal CE devices, and MVPD subscriber files don’t tell advertisers whether the household has a pet or not. To do that, the MVPD’s set top data needs to be supplemented with other data sets, like Experian, Acxiom, Kantar and others.

Apparently the guesswork has proved much better at finding high value households for a particular message than traditional TV advertising, and is much better at that than the traditional metrics. Power, like other addressable TV proponents, argued that the results of addressable advertising campaigns speak to the efficacy of such guesswork.

“In the beginning, the MVPDs were a little bit hesitant about providing this level of reporting back to advertisers, but I will tell you that the retention rate on an addressable campaign is plus 90-95%, and that’s because we’re able to show clients that these campaigns work,” Powers said.

On the other hand, blindly trusting the data can yield some surprising if not counter-intuitive results. Power relayed an anecdote in which an ad campaign about soup that targeted moms using addressable inventory yielded a significant amount of ESPN buys, which worried the client. “When we got back the sales attribution, and we tied that back to each network, it showed that ESPN actually worked the hardest for driving conversion,” Power said. “But it wasn’t something that they would go out and buy nationally, because it wouldn’t be cost effective.”

So while the targeting may be imperfect, it’s better than nothing. But the real value addressable delivers to advertisers is the closed-loop analysis that pairs an ad impression with a Web search, a store visit, or a purchase.

“There’s no set of standards for this, it’s really about asking a client what they want to learn, what’s the goal of the campaign, and then customizing the research on the back end,” Power said, using a range of data sets to attempt to close the loop on the post-campaign analysis. And then that data and the information about campaign insights need to be pieced together to inform how the next campaign can be run.

“What we’re measuring is what’s the impact of incremental frequency against high value households. It’s increasing the relevance of the message, not to the person, but it’s a way more relevant messaging environment,” Power said. “We’re able to show a client if we sold a car. The return on ad spend for these campaigns – some of the auto manufacturers are seeing tens of millions of dollars as return on ad spend. You can’t argue with that,” she said.

If the results are so good, then why aren’t more brands flocking to addressable? There are a number of reasons. Difficulties in achieving scale has been the biggest obstacle, and lack of automation in the workflow. In its current form, addressable TV is only available for the two minutes per hour of MVPD local inventory. Addressable TV advertising is expensive because it requires data buys and inventory buys. And Power said addressable TV is best suited for brands whose target audience is between 5%-35% of the total population. For more niche products, the return doesn’t justify the expense; and for products that everyone uses (like toothpaste), it makes more financial sense to run national campaigns and absorb the waste, Power said.

The growing penetration of smart TVs could in the future open up more inventory to addressable campaigns. And some of the national networks in the US, like Fox and NBC, are now offering some of their inventory with addressable targeting, through partnerships with select MVPDs. If successful, these initiatives will open up addressable to more TV advertisers, which in turn could see more budget dollars being allocated to addressable TV inventory.