GroupM's digital specialist agency Essence struck a deal with Fox Networks Group's ad tech unit, TrueX, to develop and test new approaches for connected TV advertising.
The one year deal represents a material commitment by the GroupM agency to work with TrueX to establish consumer-friendly and compelling brand experiences that can scale to connected TV like Roku or Apple TV.
Currently much of the ad experience in the so-called over-the-top marketplace looks similar to traditional TV, despite being internet-delivered and therefore able to better target and engage viewers.
"The underlying premise of the deal is all about innovating ad formats and consumer experience in the TV space," says Adam Gerber, senior VP of investment at Essence.
For TrueX, which Fox acquired in 2014, the deal is an opportunity to innovate and expand beyond its engagement ad format, which allow viewers to interact with a brand message at the start of a program in order to watch the content sans commercials.
TrueX has set up an innovation lab that will trial one to two new ad products every quarter, says Poojah Midha, president of TrueX.
"We don't want this to be a one-off," Midha says. TrueX is looking to create templates that are measurable and can then be broadened to the rest of the industry.
Ultimately, Midha is expecting the partnership to lead to one to two new ad products that most of TrueX's media and advertising partners can utilize.
The partnership is expected to extend to GroupM down the road.
As part of the deal, Essence will be the first agency to access engagement ads programmatically.
Gerber declined to provide financial details of the deal.
But Gerber said that Essence isn't committing a certain amount of dollars in exchange for certain benefits. It is investing resources from both the agency side and from its clients into the program to help TrueX evolve the space.