Fox Takes Stab At Programmatic TV Advertising

Network Introduces New Data Capabilities, Introduces Target Guarantees

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Fox is the latest TV network getting into the "programmatic" game.

The network will make national cable inventory available in a private exchange to allow for greater automation and application of data, said Toby Byrne, president-ad sales, Fox Networks Group.

Initially broadcast inventory won't be available and the programmatic platform will not include real-time bidding. "We are using technology and automation to enhance the transaction process," Mr. Byrne said.

NBC Universal made a similar announcement last month, with plans to make both broadcast and cable inventory available in a private exchange.

Fox's programmatic offering is one part of the company's overall data strategy heading into the upfronts, when networks look to sell the bulk of their commercial time for the new fall season.

Fox is formalizing its data targeting and optimization into a suite of buying tools it's calling Audience Insights Manager, or AIM. The tools not only allow for the application of data to find specific audiences and improve the efficiency of TV buys, but also provides an opportunity for marketers to transact on that data.

Through its Target Audience Guarantee product, Fox will allow marketers to transact on what its calling a tCPM, or targeted cost per thousand. This goes beyond the Nielsen age and sex demo, which continues to be the primary currency, and allows clients to set guarantees based on a consumer segment. Marketers can set tCPM guarantees across linear TV inventory and Fox's non-linear properties.

Mr. Byrne expects to have "extensive" discussions with advertisers about these products, but declined to say just how much business he expects to transact in this way.

Once again the upfront selling season is poised to be a data race, with TV network groups attempting to one-up each other with their targeting capabilities. It remains to be seen, however, just how many of these data deals networks will actually write and how many will involve a currency other than Nielsen.

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