WarnerMedia Pulls Out of OpenAP Audience Targeting Platform. Other Companies Remain ‘Committed’

Viacom, Fox and NBCUniversal say the joint offering will continue to expand

Two years ago, (L. to r.) Fox's Joe Marchese, Turner's Donna Speciale and Viacom's Sean Moran launched OpenAP. Getty Images
Headshot of Jason Lynch

OpenAP isn’t quite as open as it used to be.

WarnerMedia, which two years ago created the OpenAP audience targeting platform alongside Viacom and Fox, said today it is pulling out of the consortium.

“As our company has transformed, our advanced advertising strategy has evolved,” said a WarnerMedia ad sales spokesperson. “As a result, we are withdrawing from OpenAP. We appreciate what OpenAP has supported to this point in widening the adoption of audience-based buying on television.”

The other companies involved, including NBCUniversal which signed on a year later, said in a joint statement they remain fully committed to OpenAP:

“OpenAP is a strong and collaborative effort among leading television publishers dedicated to further increasing the effectiveness, transparency and security of the video advertising business for both viewers and brands. Fox, NBCUniversal and Viacom remain committed to working together in pursuit of a premium, open, independently verified marketplace that will continue to transform the industry. Over the next few months, we will be growing and expanding the OpenAP platform to simplify audience buying at scale, and you’ll hear more from us on these exciting developments in the coming days.”

WarnerMedia remains committed to its advanced advertising business, but as it continues to integrate with new parent company AT&T, including partnering with Xandr, AT&T’s advertising and analytics unit, the company opted to leave OpenAP.

In March, Gerhard Zeiler was named WarnerMedia chief revenue officer as part of a major WarnerMedia restructuring and tasked with heading up the new WarnerMedia Affiliates and Advertising Sales Group. The former Turner International president now oversees WarnerMedia network affiliates sales and ad sales for Turner, sports and news.

Just two years ago, Fox, Turner (later renamed WarnerMedia) and Viacom joined forces to create OpenAP, an advanced audience platform standard for cross-publisher audience targeting and independent measurement. The three companies had spent a year developing the platform in order to address industry concerns that audience targeting was too complicated, wasn’t scalable and lacked a third-party auditor.

Their hope was that OpenAP would become the industry standard for audience targeting and that all television publishers would embrace the platform.

After a year of talks, NBCUniversal joined the consortium last April. “This is the year that OpenAP is really going to come to light,” said Turner ad sales chief Donna Speciale at the time.

Instead, a year later, Speciale and her company are going in a different direction.

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