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Viacom COO John Halley: ‘The biggest move forward for addressable advertising relates to currency.’

The TV ad business used to be relatively simple; there were programmers, distributors, and advertisers, and everyone had their defined role. But with digital targeting capabilities coming to OTT, the industry is getting more complicated… Especially as advertisers become more and more fixated on the addressable dream of sending specific messages to specific consumers.

As advanced TV advertising continues to mature, WSJ advertising reporter Alex Bruell took the stage at Advertising Week with executives from Viacom, Freewheel, Open AP and Ampersand to discuss the state of the industry and the biggest advancements.

The theme of the conversation became evident early: “The biggest move forward for addressable advertising relates to currency, and it’s rooted in the formation of open AP,” said John Halley, COO at Viacom. Halley pointed out that one of the biggest differences between traditional linear and advanced TV is standardized metrics, especially as it pertains to audience segments. 

And David Levy, CEO at Open AP, agreed: “Currency is the biggest area where there has been advancement this year. Whether it’s Nielsen, Comscore or set-top box data, all of those different data sets have been making big advancements in making advanced currency something that’s much more closely aligned with an actual currency that we can trade on in a very scalable way.”

Nicolle Pangis, CEO at Ampersand also brought up an interesting point on the overall evolution of the industry: “Not everything has to be huge all the time. Incremental evolution is as powerful, or more powerful than revolutionary changes in the advertising business. Nielsen has been a standard of measurement for so many decades, why would we ever expect that we’re going to snap our fingers and all of a sudden pivot to a new type of standard or transacting overnight?”

FreeWheel General Manager Dave Clark reminded everyone: “We’re kind of transitioning; more or less the technology is there. We have the ability to sell and deliver an addressable campaign. What we’re all working on together is the rest of it; all the operational stuff and some of the infrastructure pieces that we need to enable it in and shift the marketplace to an entirely new way of planning and buying.”

One thing’s for sure; the convergence of TV and digital is transforming the advertising industry in a big way. Sure, experimentation with dynamic OTT ad insertion is underway, but in order for addressable advertising to truly come to fruition, it’s going to take collaboration from key industry stakeholders to establish industry standards similar to the advancements in currency. And that’s not going to happen overnight.