WPP's GroupM is making a grab for the addressable TV space with the launch of Finecast, which opened in the U.K. today and plans to roll out into other countries outside the U.S. over the next two to three years.
Finecast is led by CEO Jakob Nielsen, who describes addressable TV as "the most sexy advertising product in the world."
Addressable TV – which brings online targeting and accountability to TV advertising – has been gaining momentum as TV becomes more digital. GroupM opened an addressable TV service called Modi in the U.S. three years ago, which will continue to operate under its existing name.
With Finecast, WPP is bringing together broadcasters, distributors and platforms including Amazon Fire, Xbox, Sky, Samsung, Channel 4 and Virgin Media in an attempt to bring scale to addressable TV in Britain. The country's biggest commercial channel, ITV, is not yet on board due to technical issues, but is expected to start working with Finecast next year.
At a launch event in London on Tuesday, Nielsen, who was previously managing director of GroupM digital in the U.K., urged marketers to support high quality content in a fraud-free environment. "Addressable TV is a capital investment for broadcasters and distributors," he said. "We are partnering with them to create scale and invest in the future. Data, plus content, plus technology, is the future of TV."
Finecast is currently run by a 15-strong team, and has been operating in beta for around 18 months. The plan is to expand into China, India, Germany, Canada, and Australia and beyond over the next two to three years, but the rollout is not a straightforward task.
"We need to be patient over the next couple of years," Nielsen says."There are different solutions in different markets. We need to look at what is technically possible."
Nielsen says working with Finecast and addressable TV could be a catalyst for marketers to do some restructuring. Local car dealerships, for example, could take a lot more control over budgets once the cost efficiencies of TV targeting have been established.
Addressable TV aims to work in a similar way to digital advertising by monitoring which assets and devices perform best, then automatically optimizing delivery. Finecast has data partnerships with WPP units Kantar, Acxiom and Experian.