Addressable TV Gets a Programmatic Boost

SpotX is bringing its tech to Project OAR and set-top boxes

Spot X logo and illustration of money
SpotX started working with Project OAR at the beginning of the year. SpotX, Getty Images
Headshot of Andrew Blustein

SpotX is bringing its programmatic tools to the fast-growing addressable TV space.

A handful of consortia are currently testing their addressable technologies, which would allow networks to swap in ads targeted to specific viewers. SpotX has partnered with one of those initiatives, Project OAR, to allow networks and advertisers to trade addressable ads programmatically.

SpotX is also bringing its programmatic tools to set-top boxes. Through technical integrations with two undisclosed multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), advertisers will be able to programmatically buy video on-demand inventory.

Addressable advertising has traditionally been limited to the two minutes of ad inventory MVPDs hold per hour. Giving networks the ability to sell addressable inventory opens the other roughly 14 minutes of ad time per hour up to targeting, and adding the option of programmatic trading to that gives buyers and sellers more flexibility.

AMC Networks is one of five programmers partnering with SpotX. Along with its involvement in Project OAR, which will cover 10 million Vizio smart TVs by the end of the year, AMC Networks is also participating in Nielsen’s addressable beta, covering smart TVs, and On Addressability, spanning the cable footprint of Comcast, Cox and Charter.

“We want to make sure we’re part of every possibility because the market is so fragmented today,” Evan Adlman, svp of advanced advertising and digital partnerships at AMC Networks, said. “Each platform or each pilot opportunity out there today only covers a certain footprint of the market.”

As part of the tests, Adlman said the network is selling one minute of inventory per hour as national addressable campaigns across the consortia the company is participating in.

While TV ad spend as a whole is on its way down, addressable and programmatic are on their way up.

TV ad spend declined by 2.9% to $70.3 billion in 2019, according to eMarketer, marking the first time TV’s share of the total ad market dropped below 30%. There likely isn’t a recovery in sight thanks to the impact of the coronavirus and the rise of streaming.

However, eMarketer estimates that addressable TV will be a $3.49 billion business by 2021, but from $2 billion in 2019. The research firm also estimates that programmatic TV ad spend will total $6.69 billion by 2021, up from $2.77 billion in 2019. (These estimates are from November 2019, before the pandemic’s impact reached the advertising industry.)

Programmatic is the norm of digital advertising, and the practice is slowly coming to television, though it’s hindered by legacy practices and the medium’s offline, non-internet-connected nature.

Matt McLeggon, vp of advanced TV at SpotX, said some sell-side clients are starting merge their sales organizations and streamline the tools they use as linear and digital come together.

“Increasingly linear TV will look like digital,” McLeggon said. “We want to be one of the companies that’s solving for [clients’] desire and buyers’ desire to buy across platforms seamlessly.”

While not an original member of Project OAR, SpotX partnered with the addressable consortium at the beginning of the year, McLeggon said.

Project OAR began trialing its tech in June, and its parent-company Vizio hired former AMC executive Adam Gaynor to lead the consortium in August.  


@andrewblustein andrew.blustein@adweek.com Andrew Blustein is a programmatic reporter at Adweek.
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