WPP's Xaxis Wants to Make Online Video Ad Buying More Like TV

Group M unit connects TV, digital dots

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There's a lot of buzz about digital, but the big-brand dollars are still on TV. That's why Group M's media-buying platform, Xaxis, is taking a broadcast-style approach to enhancing its video-ad business, hoping to spread the $62 billion that went to TV in 2011.

Christina Beaumier, Xaxis
Christina Beaumier, Xaxis

The WPP-owned firm has embarked on tying TV viewing to other platforms to demonstrate consistency in audiences and to better measure cross-channel campaigns -- especially when it comes to connecting digital video ads to TV. Christina Beaumier, Xaxis VP-product development, believes matching actual TV programming schedules to set-top box data from WPP-owned I-Behavior is key to achieving that goal.

The idea is to track set-top box data, which could show that a viewer saw a particular spot during a specific show. Xaxis uses Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings and ComScore's Validated Campaign Essentials, noted Ms. Beaumier, "so broadcast teams know they are buying the same type of user across platforms."

Much of the talk over the years in the video-ad sector has focused on grabbing TV budget share and moving it online. But for Ms. Beaumier, "It's really about broadcast dollars and spending them in a broadcast fashion, whether it be online or on television."

Ultimately, a brand will know whether a TV viewer visited its website or "liked" it on Facebook. "Now we can use that data to inform the video that we're delivering, as well as not to deliver that video," she said.

Of course, whether or not to apply the TV-centric GRP standard to digital video is often part of the TV-to-video discussion. There's no true industry standard for which methodology works best when it comes to translating TV GRPs to the web, so, "We owe it to our clients to figure it out. ... This is really our problem," Ms. Beaumier said.

Xaxis is creating TV network-inspired sets of video inventory in conjunction with about 10 content partners. The video offering will be fully available in the third quarter, according to Ms. Beaumier.

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