Verizon taps Ampersand, a classic cable ad giant, to bring brands into digital channels
Verizon Media is joining the TV advertising consortium Ampersand in a move to attract more brands to buy commercial space on Fios and through its internet ad marketplace.
On Tuesday, Verizon and Ampersand announced the deal. It gives Ampersand, which has been a player in cable advertising for decades, access to the 4 million Fios subscribers, on top of the 38 million households it already reaches through similar partnerships with other cable and telecom providers. Ampersand is owned by Comcast, Cox and Charter Communications.
Perhaps the most significant part of the partnership is that Ampersand will also tap into Verizon’s demand side platform, the automated digital advertising marketplace that connects all Verizon properties and publishing partners. Verizon runs former Yahoo and AOL sites, and it also manages ad sales for Microsoft properties, and Apple in some international markets.
Nicolle Pangis, Ampersand CEO, says the company has worked with Verizon for years as a seller of traditional TV inventory, and now will be the exclusive seller of Verizon Fios. Fios, of course, is an internet-based TV provider. Brands are trying to plan TV campaigns alongside the connected TVs, over-the-top TVs, ad-supported video on demand and all the ways viewers are watching programs. The internet component gives more targeting abilities and data about audiences, making it more attractive to advertisers.
“Buyers, clients and agencies, they’re looking for two things from TV, that we all know has become more fragmented over time,” Pangis said in a telephone interview on Monday, “they’re looking for consistency, [and] the ability to buy scaled TV inventory in the addressable marketplace, through a place that is really simplifying the workflow and the data flow between buyers and sellers.”
“Addressable TV” represents the segment of TV advertising that can be measured and tracked similar to how advertising works on the open internet.
Ampersand works with a number of brands, including auto makers, looking for the widest possible audiences. But viewing habits have changed, and now those buyers are trying to stitch together audiences across disparate internet and cable operators. Ampersand accounts for $2 billion in advertising spending a year, Pangis says.
“We think that the reach, when it comes to all those TV buyers, is significant,” says Iván Markman, chief business officer at Verizon Media.
Verizon is trying to keep its advertising platform competitive against Facebook, Google and Amazon. The top internet ad players have access to large signed-in audiences and plentiful video ad inventory. Also, the connected TV space is crowded with companies like Roku, Hulu, NBC’s new app Peacock, and Amazon Fire TV. There also are newcomers like Snapchat and TikTok vying for brands’ attention.
Last week, Verizon announced an update to its demand side platform, expanding access to ad inventory and formats. The update brought more automation, targeting and measurement to the DSP.
The Ampersand deal allows Verizon to unlock national advertiser demand, says Brian Lin, chief product officer at MadHive, a TV advertising technology platform. “If I’m a buyer and I’m looking to spend X amount of dollars on premium video, just like I am going to do on Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and others, I have got to be able to measure that,” Lin says. “So, I don’t want to look at OTT and linear TV differently, I want to look at them the same.”
That’s what Verizon and Ampersand say they are offering with Ampersand’s ability to buy across TV, internet-connected TVs, and through Verizon’s DSP. “Think about more premium supply and the types of media that you can buy programmatically in the DSP becoming available,” Markman says. “And then at the same time we have Ampersand’s super strong demand flowing through, particularly for connected TV and OTT.”