Editor’s Corner—Why NBC joining OpenAP is a big deal

(OpenAP)(Open AP)

About one year after Fox, Turner and Viacom teamed up to launch cross-audience ad platform OpenAP, NBCUniversal has joined the effort and helped raise the stakes.

NBCU joining in is significant for several reasons, but it took a while to get the broadcaster on board.

The addition of NBCU to the OpenAP fold has reportedly been about a year in the making, according to Adweek. Part of the holdup to NBC officially signing on may have been the $10 million buy-in, consisting of $2.5 million for an equity stake and $1.5 million per year as part of a five-year agreement, according to the Wall Street Journal. But according to the report, NBC is getting something back out of the deal.

In addition to joining OpenAP as an equity partner, NBC is licensing to the group its Audience Graph, a data set that provides a centralized store of audience attributes. WSJ said that NBC will receive remuneration for licensing that data.

But now with NBCU as part of OpenAP, it signals shifts in the television ad market and possibly big things to come for the group.

Alan Wolk, co-founder and lead analyst at media consulting firm TV[R]EV, paraphrased Fox’s president of ad revenue, Joe Marchese, by calling OpenAP “baby steps” into a bigger world of programmatic and automated ad buying.

“It’s still an indexed buying platform so it’s a temporary fix,” Wolk said, noting that ad buyers have been indexing audiences and shows like this for years. “At this point baby steps are better than nothing.”

But the baby steps are moving toward a more unified ad buying experience for advertisers and agencies, one where they won’t have to sift through disparate data sets from different programmers and broadcasters in order to get an idea of how, when and where they can reach their desired demographic.

Wolk said that NBCU joining OpenAP is significant because the company had previously been working on its own competing solutions and products for audience targeting. In 2016, NBCU launched its Audience Studio division, designed for helping marketers better target their ads through the use of several data-driven tools.

As Wolk pointed out, it now seems that NBCU considers its Audience Studio tools could be put to better use as part of the unified OpenAP.

“We have spent the last four years developing the industry’s best tools to empower advertisers to better target their marketing campaigns to desired audiences. We’re excited to unleash the capabilities of our Audience Studio for the rest of the industry and share our underlying technology to propel the entire business forward,” said Krishan Bhatia, executive vice president of business operations and strategy at NBCUniversal, in a statement.

Another advantage of NBCU joining OpenAP could be the boost to membership. According to Adweek, more publishers are expected to join the group shortly after NBC.

Wolk said that another significant addition to the OpenAP family could be CBS, which may end up part of the group by way of its potential remerger with Viacom.

Finally, with NBCU joining and any other new publisher members that join as a result, OpenAP becomes a stronger solution for programmers and broadcasters looking to win back some of the ad dollars that have shifted toward digital platforms like Google and Facebook.

“OpenAP was formed with a clear mission: to bring the industry together in order to advance the experience, efficiency and effectiveness of advertising. With NBCUniversal aligning with the consortium, we are all accelerating the industry’s efforts in providing more premium scale to drive greater adoption of advanced audience targeting, while laying the groundwork for future innovation,” said Marchese, Turner’s President of Ad Sales Donna Speciale, and Viacom’s Head of Marketing & Partner Solutions Sean Moran in a joint statement.

NBC also sees the promise in aligning with other programmers. As Bhatia told the Wall Street Journal, OpenAP “will help accelerate the entire ad business.” — Ben | @fierce_video