Jun 26, 2021

By Nicole Bitette
ViacomCBS was an early adopter of addressable advertising. Now, the company is investing for the future.

As viewer consumption habits evolve, advertising has to evolve with it.

In a Forrester Consulting report titled “The Transformation of Television: Embracing the Era of Addressable TV,” commissioned last month by DISH Media, ViacomCBS, and others across the industry, over 60% of those surveyed said that addressable advertising is going to be part of their media mix. Another finding revealed that buyers fear the operational aspect associated with addressable TV, as well as the various platforms and forms of measurement.

At the forefront of innovation in addressable, ViacomCBS offers buyers ways to reach any viewer they are after, with targeting methods that are both easy and effective. Since 2018, the company has been an early adopter of addressable capabilities. CBS was the first broadcaster to join the Nielsen addressable trial, and a proponent of methods like out-of-band signaling and smart TV-based addressable. Leading the charge too was Viacom, among the first to adopt set-top box based methods for national cable addressable. Now, the combined company has 40 million households enabled across a collection of MVPDs and set-top box households.

Recently, ViacomCBS reached another milestone achievement. In December 2020, CBS became the first broadcast network to deliver addressable impressions into a live national broadcast.

“Viacom and CBS have combined to have the strongest position in the programmer addressable space,” says Mike Dean, ‎SVP, Advanced Advertising, ViacomCBS. “And arguably, the company has the strongest position in the addressable TV space at large.”

As technology advances, so does the approach to addressability. With unparalleled product offerings that the company continues to enhance with market feedback, ViacomCBS is dedicated to updating the narrative of addressable across the industry.

Simplifying the Addressable Process

One way the company is connecting the dots for advertisers: a partnership with Open AP, an audience-targeting alliance that allows advertisers to buy a specific audience across a number of media outlets.

“We’re partnering with OpenAP on their OpenID initiative and BlockGraph on their IDos offering,” says Travis Scoles, SVP, Vantage Product Management, at ViacomCBS. “It’s about giving third parties access to that information on behalf of the buyers, and enabling the on-ramp instead of trying to charge forward and do it individually in a silo.”

Vantage, ViacomCBS’ advanced advertising platform, also makes campaign activation easier, simplifying complicated workflows.

“With Vantage, we are seamlessly activating audiences across the ViacomCBS portfolio, regardless of that end point—whether that is linear, addressable, or digital—to make it easy and effective,” Dean explains.

ViacomCBS has been carrying out campaigns through Vantage since 2014. What makes the company’s offering unique is the amount of experience and expertise that the operators behind Vantage can bring to the marketplace.

“We realized there’s not a one-size-fits-all model,” says Dean. “We take a very consultative approach, and we work with our clients to integrate addressable TV in a way that fits their overall goal and their overall media mix.”

Evolving Advanced Advertising

ViacomCBS is delivering cross-platform campaigns across linear, digital (EyeQ Video) and addressable endpoints with massive scale and reach — all through Vantage.

“We’ve built the ability to extend these capabilities across multiple endpoints, which means if a client defines a particular audience, we will serve the right ads to the right viewers regardless of which end point they are watching. And that’s really the power of addressability,” says Seema Patel, VP, partnership development, ViacomCBS. “For marketers, this is an extremely powerful tool.”

""We will serve the right ads to the right viewers.""

Seema Patel

VP, partnership development, ViacomCBS

Patel also says ViacomCBS’ goal is to reach a point where they can “write once and publish everywhere” in all aspects of the campaign lifecycle as a way to ultimately unify the buying cycle.

By utilizing new innovations in tech, ViacomCBS is focused on allowing advertisers to get to the end of a campaign lifecycle as seamlessly as possible. The focus is on measurement and the move towards unification in order to achieve true cross-platform campaign management and execution.

“That’s where our role as a programmer in this ecosystem is really critical in helping to champion and advocate for change,” adds Patel.

As the company looks forward to integrating more easily with its clients, it continues to engage across the ecosystem, including with initiatives like Project OAR, a consortium of programmers and distributors, led by smart TV manufacturer Vizio. Dean also added that they expect other national broadcasters will follow their lead in introducing addressability to the set-top box environment after its partnership with DISH to deliver impressions within a live national broadcast.

“We’re ahead of the curve in terms of not only enabling addressability, but actively selling it in the marketplace. We’ve been doing this for a few years now and as a result, we have gained a lot of learnings that ultimately help bring value to our clients,” says Patel. “We’re also continuing to refine our offerings as the marketplace evolves. We’re really proud of how far we’ve come, and we’re committed to continuing down that path of evolution with our clients and with our partners because making consistent progress takes strong collaboration across all fronts”

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