Mediaocean and Videology Partner, Look to Merge Web Video and TV Ad Markets

Mediaocean and Videology Partner, Look to Merge Web Video and TV Ad Markets

There’s plenty of debate over whether the TV industry will ever embrace programmatic ad-buying and selling to the degree that the Web has. But that isn’t stopping a slew of ad technology startups and behind-the-scenes TV-systems companies from angling to become the de facto facilitators for TV advertising, if and when it becomes more automated.

Two such companies are Mediaocean, which provides software to ad agencies for everything from media planning to billing and Videology, an ad technology firm that helps Web publishers sell online video ads. Specifically, Mediaocean and Videology have announced a new partnership that will let ad buyers evaluate TV and Web video ads in a single software interface–Mediaocean’s Spectra.

Spectra is used by many TV ad buyers to help them plan where to best spend clients’ budgets. “It’s on everybody’s desktop,” said one ad agency executive. Helping these influential TV buyers weigh TV ad inventory against Web video could help accelerate a shift in dollars from TV to the Web, some ad industry executives believe. For example, instead of looking at ratings for Comedy Central in one report, and video view numbers for the YouTube network Machinima in another report, now ad buyers could theoretically evaluate these two companies’ ad potential in a single screen.

“This is about truly converging the two sectors into one system,” said Mediaocean CEO Bill Wise, who once ran Yahoo’s Right Media ad exchange. “In our system, now a client can say, ‘I have a hundred million in my budget, how do I think about spending it?’”

“It is a real estate play,” said Scott Ferber, CEO of Videology. “We’re going to be on 80,000 desktops, and we’re going to be offering a real time automated inventory forecast for TV and digital.”

Planning TV ad campaigns alongside Web campaigns is one thing, but actually purchasing TV ads electronically in real time via an open exchange or technology platform, and having such a platform deliver ads into TV shows–that’s a long ways away, say industry experts. “Nobody can wire together the systems to insert the ads,” said one prominent ad tech executive.

Convergence of Web video and TV is certainly a hot topic in the ad world. Not only are many advertisers talking about shifting budgets from TV to online video to reflect people’s changing media habits, but TV companies are shouting about the need to capture TV viewing that happens on multiple screens.

Spectra can now do both, say Mediaocean and Videology executives. This new partnership is the result of 15 months of negotiating a highly complex integration, said Mr. Wise. “This will be a deal that changed media buying,” he said.

Several other firms are auditioning for the role of “company that makes programmatic TV happen.” For example, the online video ad buying firm TubeMogul hosted an event a few weeks ago with 200 advertisers and agencies, along with many key players from the Web video ecosystem. The topic of discussion–how to accelerate TV’s adoption of programmatic tools and practices. To that end, TubeMogul and the company WideOrbit–which provides software to local TV stations and cable networks, are exploring a partnership on a buying/planning interface that blends Web video and TV inventory, not dissimilar to the Mediaocean’s Spectra plan.

Like Spectra, this TubeMogul/WideOrbit interface would look to marry Web video and TV ad inventory for media planning purposes. WideOrbit, which claims to handle back end operations for 75% of TV stations and 35% of cable networks in the U.S., says it is also building an exchange for TV that would be capable of facilitating automated ad-buying (true programmatic transactions) once that becomes a reality in the TV world.

“We’ve seen an absolute sea change in last six months towards TV sellers embracing this,” said Eric Mathewson, WideOrbit Founder and CEO. “We’ve invested $50 million toward programmatic selling.”

Another company investing on that front is Clypd, a startup founded in 2012 that has raised close to $12 million towards building out its own technology platform designed for programmatic TV selling. The company says it is working with a range of programmers, cable operators and station groups. “Really anybody who has access to 30-second spots…and needs help maximizing yield” is how CEO Josh Summers described the target audience.

Realistically, right now, the biggest opportunity for these various contenders is in local cable and satellite TV ad inventory, not prime time network TV. National broadcasters have been far more cautious on this front, and many would quibble with the idea of a sea change. Buyers say that right now, most activity in this realm is still limited to test budgets.

Videology’s Mr. Ferber acknowledges the TV business has a ways to go before it matches digital media’s embrace of programmatic advertising. “It’s just going to take time to work through culture and technology systems,” he said.  ”However these workflows improvements will help push that along faster.”

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