OTT Take: Vizio Launches Direct-To-Purchase, Smart TV Advertising Business

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Looking to capitalize on the soaring connected TV advertising market, TV manufacturer/smart TV data company Vizio is launching Vizio Ads, a service that enables advertisers to buy TV inventory.

Inventory can be bought across the Vizio SmartCast platform, including partner OTT apps, and on Vizio’s WatchFree service.

Vizio owns Inscape, which provides smart TV automated content recognition data. Inscape has more than 12 million active and opted-in TV devices.

Source: MediaPost

The Take:

With Vizio finally jumping into the fray to offer a direct-to-TV advertising platform for brands on their devices, the Smart TV advertising world just got bigger, and even more fractured. For their part, Vizio has done an exemplary job already providing measurement services to programmers through its Inscape platform and, as a result, may have a strategic advantage over folks like Samsung, LG, and Sony in attracting advertisers. This may be a delicate dance, however, since they will find themselves competing directly with those same programmers for advertising dollars.

That said, the unspoken reality of the Smart TV advertising universe is that it’s really more akin to several galaxies with inhabitants that haven’t mastered hyperspace. To punish the reader even more, I’m going extend this metaphor by stating that they also haven’t mastered the universal language translator, so when ad buyers compare one Smart TV set of opportunities to the other, it’s a bit of a tower of babel. 

Yes, they all claim to have “deterministic” data, which in Earth English means that they aren’t guessing, that they have the absolute and confirmed attribution of an ad view, and they get this in real-time. This is a quantum leap forward for TV measurement to be sure, the legacy dependency on audience panel projections has proven hard to kill, but for goodness sake, it’s almost 2020. If you think the diary system of figuring out audiences is going to persist much longer, I have a planet to sell you in the outer reaches of our Solar System.

But this kind of misses the point if you’re an advertiser. Because while it’s tremendous to know what your reach looks like on a Vizio set, understanding what your frequency looks like across that Vizio set in the kitchen, the LG OLED set in the Living Room, and the Sony set in the basement is going to be a brand new guessing game.

Yes, companies are working on providing a device graph to all of the screens in the home, and yes, this is probably valuable enough. Still, TV buyers aren’t digital buyers and contemplate messaging not on a 1:1 basis but against the household, and for a good reason. 

We hear a lot about influencers on the digital side, telling us what to be interested in because they are young, famous, and in our face. But true purchase influence comes from inside of a household, particularly for high value and long considered purchases like a car. A brand marketer wants to establish awareness, consideration, and desire not just with the target but with those members of the household who influence the purchase. In this world, the influencer is already in the home.

The fractured Smart TV advertising marketplace would be well served by embracing a reciprocal and anonymous exchange, where buyers can not just target Vizio, LG, or Sony, but across all Smart TVs on a household audience basis. They target those specific Smart TVs that deliver against their broader goal of reaching multiple members of a household, just like broadcast.

In fact, it could be managed through a Federation, a unifying body that ensures compatibility and interoperability between these rival manufacturers that ensures the success of advertisers above all else, with the screens best positioned within the household getting the right campaigns. 

And since we’re going down the road of a Space Federation, it would be silly not also to have our very own “Prime Directive”. In this case that would be to remove friction from the planning, buying, and reporting process for Smart TV advertising in the interest of “The many over the few”

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