How Sinclair Broadcast Group Is Luring Local Advertisers With OTT

Its stations can now leverage streaming audience data

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Headshot of A.J. Katz

Roughly 67 percent of U.S. linear television advertising in 2017 was local. Yet, a comparatively small percentage of OTT advertising came from local.

More and more young Americans are becoming cord cutters or were already cord nevers, and they’re getting their entertainment content via streaming networks. With OTT advertising spend to hit $20 billion over the next three years, it would make sense for small- and mid-size local businesses to devote shift some of that ad spend away from linear, right?

One reason for the disconnect is that there just hasn’t been a ton of data available to local advertisers to justify an OTT marketing campaign or ad spend.

Beginning today, that excuse may no longer fly.

The Maryland-based broadcast TV juggernaut Sinclair Broadcast Group is making Connected TV and OTT advertising available to local companies on their 193 local TV stations around the country, and this endeavor is being powered by a new partnership announced today with Tru Optik, a data management platform that facilitates ads for connected TV platforms and measures OTT viewing, and ZypMedia, a software company that focuses on local advertising.

“We are arming local advertisers with the same capabilities as large national advertisers, but with an emphasis on catering to the intricacies of each local community and their target consumers,” said ZypMedia co-founder and chief technology officer Raman Ahuja.

Using the Tru Optik OTT Marketing Cloud, which gets audience data from 75 million OTT-using U.S. households, Sinclair ad sales reps from the company’s 89 U.S. markets will have legitimate OTT data at their disposal when working on ad campaigns with clients who want to reach the desired audience segment across all platforms.

For Sinclair, the move to partner with Tru Optik and leverage their data sources is yet another way to prove to its advertiser clients that they’re truly getting the most bang for the buck.

“As we get into not only OTT, but also addressable TV, we knew we needed a data source,” said Sinclair chief revenue officer Rob Weisbord. “Tru Optik is a well-respected and legitimate data source that is accepted at the buyer level. We believe in getting a legitimate ROI for our advertising clients, and we want to find the right audience for the advertiser and not just serve up impressions.”

This partnership can change not just how local considers advertising on OTT platforms, but the partnership will be useful for national brands as well, due to the overall size and scale that Sinclair has.

“The fact that Sinclair is going to be rolling out this type of capability across OTT and Connected TV, is not only great for the advertisers in these local areas, but it’s significant for the national brands as well,” said Tru Optik chief executive officer Andre Swanston. “When you’re as big as Sinclair, and you’re about to get bigger if that [Tribune] deal finally goes through, you can power national advertising all over the country.”

Swanston believes this partnership will also be great for publishers, as well as national broadcast and cable networks because there will be increased demand for the ad inventory that they have.

Sinclair is making a strong move to lure local advertisers to OTT at a crucial time for the company, which is patiently waiting for its pending $3.9 billion deal for Tribune Media to get the OK from the Department of Justice. Already the largest owner of broadcast TV stations in the country, the addition of Tribune allows Sinclair to boast far more than 200 local TV stations in all of the major markets.

When asked about the status of the proposed deal, Weisbord said, It’s still alive. We’re waiting on the government to make their decisions. We are cautiously optimistic that something will be closed in the second quarter, but it’s all in the hands of Department of Justice right now.”

@ajkatztv A.J. Katz is the senior editor of Adweek's TVNewser.