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Viacom Bundling TV, Digital Buys

Brands can target audience segments across platforms
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Right now nearly no brand knows for sure who’s watching its TV ad. Viacom isn’t about to change that, but the media giant has developed a way to help TV advertisers make sure the intended audience at least sees a brand’s display or mobile ad.

Viacom has been testing an ad sales offering called Surround Sound that will let brands bundle audience-targeted TV buys with a digital campaign aimed at the same consumer segment that would span online video, display, mobile and email advertising. The company plans to announce the offering today during the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit in Salt Lake City.

“With Surround Sound we’re able to extend those audience buys across all of our properties, find those individual unique audience segments—what we’re calling ‘pinpoint accuracy’—to be able to serve them targeted and most relevant ad experiences,” Josh Cogswell, svp of digital products at Viacom, told Adweek.

Here’s an example of how Surround Sound plays out: An advertiser tells a member of Viacom’s ad sales team it wants to target politically savvy, 20-something guys. Viacom sets up the advertiser with a media buy that will include spots on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report and online video and premium display ads on the shows’ sites as well as other relevant Viacom online properties such as Spike.com and gaming site Addicting Games.

Surround Sound uses Adobe’s data management platform AudienceManager—which stems from the company’s January 2011 acquisition of Demdex—to surface audience segments from Viacom’s proprietary, anonymous data and anonymous third-party data.

“Users and consumers are sending out signals for organizations to read in terms of what are their interests, what are their likes, what are their dislikes and how might organizations best engage with them,” said Brad Rencher, svp and general manager of Adobe’s digital marketing business. “So it’s something we’re talking a lot about, and our partnership with Viacom is a big part of that.”

Adobe will also be talking a lot about social this week. In addition to Viacom’s announcement, Adobe will today demonstrate new social capabilities, stemming from its Efficient Frontier acquisition, that aim to thread advertisers’ search, display and social campaigns. When the new Adobe social product rolls out in the latter half of 2012, it will combine social content creation and ad buying into one platform that will also allow advertisers to optimize their buys and analyze results.

Adobe is positioning its social capabilities as more than just a siloed offering. Adobe is integrating Efficient Frontier’s technology with its Digital Marketing Suite so that advertisers can compare ad performance metrics across social, search and display. The company’s larger intention is for the suite to offer CMOs a consolidated workflow to manage cross-channel marketing much as CIOs have vertically integrated systems from companies like Oracle or IBM.

“If you think about it, the CIO, the CFO, the head of sales all have entire technology stacks that have been built to support their needs and support their workflow,” said Rencher. “Our view is that the time for marketing to build that same stack of technologies is now, and this is something that’s not going to play out in the next one or two years. This spending cycle, this big, huge macro trend is going to play out over the next decade, and we’re positioning Adobe to hopefully go and participate in that growth.”