Turner, Fox and Viacom Tap Accenture to Run Their Audience Targeting Platform

Their goal is to make OpenAP the industry standard

Fox Network Group’s Joe Marchese, Turner’s Donna Speciale and Viacom’s Sean Moran shared new details about OpenAP. Getty Images
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Three weeks after Turner, Fox Networks Group and Viacom announced that they had joined forces to create OpenAP, an audience advanced platform standard for cross-publisher audience targeting and independent measurement, the companies shared more details with the industry about how it will operate.

During a presentation this morning at New York’s Times Center, the three ad sales execs who spearheaded the open platform—Turner’s Donna Speciale, Viacom’s Sean Moran and Fox Network Group’s Joe Marchese—took the wraps off OpenAP, and confirmed that they have tapped Accenture to run the platform and provide third-party measurement auditing.

“This is an historical day for all of us,” said Speciale, president of Turner Ad Sales. “You’ve been asking us to come together … to simplify the audience targeting on television and make it more scalable.”

The three companies have spent a year developing the platform in order to address industry concerns that audience targeting is too complicated, isn’t scalable and lacks a third-party auditor.

“I think the biggest deal about this is that Dora can finally play with Bart, [with] some adult supervision from Anderson Cooper,” said Marchese, president of advanced advertising products, Fox Networks Group, about the three big media companies coming together.

Their hope is that OpenAP will become the industry standard for audience targeting, and that all television publishers will embrace the platform. “The intention for this was to help all boats rise,” said Moran, head of marketing and partner solutions, Viacom. “We want the whole industry to be adapting this.”

The consortium’s respective data experts went into more detail about how OpenAP will work. Clients will be able to access OpenAP via a website or API, which they can use to bring their own audience segments into the platform.

"The intention for this was to help all boats rise. We want the whole industry to be adapting this."
Sean Moran, head of marketing and partner solutions, Viacom

OpenAP is a data-agnostic platform, said Bryson Gordon, evp, data strategy, Viacom, and “is about supporting the data sets that advertisers and agencies fundamentally need to create the high-value segments they want to target.”

The consortium is partnering with ComScore and Nielsen, to incorporate those companies’ data sets into the platform. OpenAP will use ComScore’s set-top box data and associated third-party syndicated data sets, and ComScore will support matching to DMP and CRM-based systems for custom audience data.

Nielsen’s data—and their advanced data sets that go beyond just age/sex demographics—will be “a critical part of OpenAP’s success,” said Gordon.

Lynda Clarizio, Nielsen’s president of U.S. media, said in a statement that Nielsen supports the new platform: “Nielsen’s audience segments built on our household, person level and buyergraphic ratings data are the most widely used for National audience based buying across linear television today. We are confident that they will play the same role in OpenAP.”

With OpenAP, clients can choose from prematched, syndicated data segments or include their own custom segments. “If you like your data, you can keep your data,” said Marchese.

“Off of that CRM or DMP data, you will be now able to put that into OpenAP and consistently activate against those segments right in the platform,” said Dan Aversano, svp of ad innovation and programmatic solutions, Turner.

And clients will no longer have to recreate the same audience segments for each company or network. “You do it once, you activate it everywhere,” said Gordon.

OpenAP will offer clients the ability to view all the impressions delivered by the segments they have selected (along with traditional demo delivery), across all publishers they have selected.

The consortium said agencies and clients will be able to choose which publishers can view their segments. “The attributes that compose a segment, we are blind to that,” said Gordon. “This is built from the ground up with privacy and security.”

While OpenAP will streamline the audience targeting process, publishers and clients won’t actually transact any advertising on the platform. “That happens outside of OpenAP. OpenAP is not a buying platform,” said Noah Levine, svp advertising data and technology solutions, Fox Networks Group. Instead, those deals will be negotiated as they have always been.

Because “we don’t want to be in the drivers seat here, we want to be the destination,” said Gordon, the consortium selected Accenture to build and run the platform and provide third-party auditing.

“We are going to be that credible, independent third party, that provides the transparency, the consistency, the scalability and the security required to make this a success,” said Farshad Family, managing director at Accenture.

OpenAP will go into beta this summer, and the consortium said they expect the platform to factor into their upfront talks this year.

Throughout the event, the consortium repeatedly emphasized that OpenAP will evolve beyond its launch capabilities. For starters, it will expand from linear to digital and addressable advertising. “This is the first step. A very huge step that we needed to take the industry forward, but it’s really just the beginning,” said Speciale.

@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.