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Week In Review: Open AP Launches A Marketplace, All Those Digital Mergers

1. Open AP Launches A Marketplace

Open AP, continuing on its march back from near-extinction, announced something called the Open AP Marketplace this week, which gives advertisers a chance to do that thing they’ve been wanting to do forever. Or at least for the last year or two, which is equivalent to forever in TV time: they can now plan and buy linear and digital at the same time off the same data sets and segment definitions, essentially using addressable advertising on digital to round out their linear campaigns.

Why It Matters

While we have no doubt the network ad sales teams considered Open AP to be a radical step forward, it’s always been, as former Fox ad chief and industry visionary Joe Marchese noted at its founding, “baby steps.”  That’s because rather than allow actual addressable, Open AP just allowed brands to find the shows that indexed best against their target audiences…and then buy the entire audience for that show.

That’s indexed advertising, not addressable, and ad agencies were kind of put out as they claimed they’d been providing this sort of information for years.

But with Open AP Marketplace, that all changes.

Because now Open AP has real addressable inventory, inventory where you’re only buying the viewers you want. Even better (for agencies) is that the OpenAP Market gives brands a way to increase unduplicated reach (AKA “incremental reach” Fall 2019’s #1 buzzword with a bullet) and they’re actually able to do that in a matter of hours rather than weeks, since agencies no longer have to hit up each individual publisher and cobble together some sort of a game plan.

Which is a lot close to “giant steps” then “baby steps” and should definitely give the industry a sense of what one of its paths forward looks like.

The other reason this matters is that it wasn’t that long ago that a Xandr-less Open AP looked to be on life support. But new CEO David Levy was able to strike a deal with Ampersand (FKA as NCC) so that Open AP’s segment definitions are available for Ampersand’s linear, VOD and addressable inventory, which definitely gave a sense that its vital signs were stabilizing, and now Market, which, to extend the metaphor, means they’re out of bed and walking around.

Good news for both the industry and next of kin.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re one of the other networks, you might want to give Open AP another look. The walled garden thing is great until it’s not, meaning that once you have more than two or three walled gardens, those walls become ineffective as it’s easy for brands to avoid your wall. 

Or, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, the networks had best hang together, or they might all hang separately.

If you’re an advertiser who works with Fox, Viacom and/or NBCU, this is a great way to get your feet wet with cross-platform planning, understanding incremental reach and all that. 

If you’re the industry, remember that you’ve still got a long way to go and if this is all still confusing, keep your eyes peeled for our TV[R]EV special report on TV Addressable, due out in a few weeks.

2. All Those Digital Mergers

Digital publishers have been merging like lanes on the Garden State Parkway over the past few weeks, with Vox buying up New York magazine, Vice taking over Refinery 29 and Group Nine snapping up Popsugar.

Why It Matters

As I discussed yesterday on Cheddar TV, it’s not surprising that all these mergers are happening—industries tend to consolidate as they mature. And while the “pivot to digital” has been parodied by the likes of BoJack Horseman (the best show you’ve never seen), video is exactly where many of these digital properties can be of value moving ahead.

Whether they wind up creating programming (notice how I was able to write that sentence without saying “content”) that they sell to the various Flixes or whether the Flixes buy them for parts (both options are equally likely), they will be able to bring a fresher sensibility to TV that is appealing to a younger audience. 

While it’s easy to lump them all together as talking listicles, there’s actually a wide range programming available from just this group of digital publishers, everything from Vice’s hard-hitting-yet-earnest documentaries to PopSugar’s VSCO-girl-esque trend pieces, because contrary to what many in the marketing world seem to think, Millennials and Gen Zs are not all alike.

The range of programming options the digital players have on offer will also be useful as the various Flixes decide what they want to be when they grow up and start to focus in on specific categories and audiences.

So whether they buy them or just buy from them, it gives the Flixes another (considerably lower priced) option than buying from Lionsgate or another major studio.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a Flix and this theory hasn’t crossed your mind yet, WTF?

If you’re everyone else, just get out the popcorn and wait to see how it all plays out. Who gets bought? Who gets sold? Who successfully pivots to video?

And look for the sequel too—there may well be many more mergers to come.