Aug 17 2023
Media Coverage

VideoAmp Navigates Mediaocean in Currency Test With Paramount, OMG

By Jon Lafayette (Broadcasting+Cable)
Legacy buying platform opens door to alternative measurement companies

In a key step towards the TV industry’s goal of having multiple currencies from multiple providers, Mediaocean is making audience data from VideoAmp available to media buyers using its platform under a pilot program with Paramount Global and Omnicom Media Group.

Nearly all media buying agencies use Mediaocean’s system to plan, buy and track campaigns. For decades, its system was designed to use data from Nielsen, until recently the only viewing data used as currency for buying and selling commercials.

Media sellers and buyers have been clamoring to make deals based on advanced audiences and big data provided by companies like VideoAmp, Comscore and iSpot, but until that data was available as part of the workflow for buyers using Mediaocean were familiar with, using alternative currencies was a burdensome process that limited their adoption.

“This is the final domino to fall,” Travis Scoles, senior VP, advanced advertising at Paramount, told Broadcasting+Cable.

Paramount has been a pioneer in advanced data-based advertising and has been pushing to have advertisers and agencies use currencies from VideoAmp, iSpot and Comscore to buy and evaluate campaigns.

“The definition of currency is transactional,“ he said. “If you’re not transacting against it, it’s not actually a currency, So the number one thing that’s important is that it works within our transactional systems.”

Currently, using alternative currencies requires manual data entry and assigning someone to review spreadsheets to track that campaigns are delivering the impressions expected.

“There are a lot of reasons to think that this will continue to accelerate the application of audience data because it’s removing friction from all of these processes,” Scoles said.

Scoles said he expected Mediaocean to also support the use of currencies from Comscore and iSpot as part of the workflow media buyers are familiar with while using the Mediaocean platform.

Adapting its system to be able to handle multiple currencies was a difficult and expensive technical challenge.

“We are investing significantly to support the future of measurement in a converged TV world, and are very happy to support OMG and Paramount in making this a scalable reality,” Mediaocean chief development officer Ramsey McGrory said. “Advanced currencies offer data-driven solutions that allow advertisers and agencies to reach their target audiences more effectively.”

It was unclear if currency providers, starting with VideoAmp, were helping Mediaocean pay the costs for adapting its system.

Josh Hudgins, executive VP of product at VideoAmp declined to discuss financial arrangements with Mediaocean.

“I think for Mediaocean, its a question of incentives. When we started on this process, I don’t think the incentives were there for them to do a lot of work on our behalf,” Hudgins said.

“But as we gained traction and momentum and pressure from the industry — particularly from the buy side — it became apparent there was demand. It made more and more sense for them to supply that capability in their products,” he said.

“We figured out pretty early on that to get any sort of traction you have to some extent accommodate the existing ecosystems,” Hudgins said. “What we heard particularly from the demand side was that you had to work with Mediaocean or scaling as a currency was going to be very, very difficult, so we started a process a long time ago with Mediaocean to get this built and it required us to make significant technical investment in order to make it work.”

The audience information from VideoAmp and other newer, big-data-based measurement providers is very different and much more granular than Nielsen’s, focusing on the viewership of individual commercials on a second-by-second basis, raising questions about how robust and useful the VideoAmp data will be within the Mediaocean platform.

“Mediaocean has a different set of capabilities than the VideoAmp platform would have. They use the data in a way that makes sense for their users,” Hudgins said.

“We worked really hard with them to build out the ability to do advanced audiences in Mediaocean using audiences from VideoAmp, as opposed to just demo-based audiences,” he added. “The platform has been expanded to accommodate that use case, which was really important to us and to our clients. A large part of the value proposition here is to be able to measure these custom first-party audiences based on our data.”

The pilot program headed by Paramount and OMG will initially focus on buys based on advanced audiences, such as people in the market for a new car, or high-income families looking to buy insurance, which is a very different proposition than the traditional approach that looks at age and sex viewer demographics.

Paramount’s Scoles said that the pilot program with Omnicom Media Group focuses initially on advanced audiences because it’s the most different from using traditional Nielsen data and will test Mediaocean’s system.

“We’re seeing more and more demand for audience-based advertising,” he said.

Scoles said that with this pilot program underway, a standard way of doing business count be in place as early as the fourth quarter.

“We don’t have to wait another year to figure out the ad-ops portion of this. It’s knocking at the door, he said.

Making better data available will be good for Paramount, he said. “We welcome transparency and measurement if we think it’ll only show us in a good light.”

Scoles said that with Mediaocean accommodating competition, Paramount will be able to pursue more innovative deal structures while agencies utilize existing processes.

“Validating the key operational pieces within Mediaocean to be transaction ready on new currencies, including custom audiences at scale, was key,“ Geoffrey Calabrese, chief investment officer, Omnicom Media Group North America, said. “The Paramount team worked diligently on behalf of the entire industry to test and enable an end-to-end workflow with Mediaocean, and it has proven successful. Leveraging this outstanding work across partners and ingesting it into the unique workflows we have with them is the next step in this journey, and we’re eager to lean in on it.”