Viacom CEO says advanced marketing solutions business will double in 2019

Plans three new direct-to-consumer services

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Bob Bakish.
Bob Bakish. Credit: Viacom

Viacom expects to see its advanced marketing solutions business double in 2019, CEO Bob Bakish said during the 46th annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York on Monday afternoon.

The unit, which includes Viacom's ad targeting products and branded content solutions, will bring in $343 million in revenue in 2018, Bakish said.

Bakish said he expects Viacom's ad revenue to return to growth in the back-half of 2019 thanks to new ad products and solutions coming to market, access to more inventory where ads can be dynamically inserted, or swapped out in order to be targeted to specific households, and improvement from Nickelodeon, whose ratings have been struggling.

Bakish said the current ad market is strong, with scatter pricing up 30 percent over upfront prices.

While Viacom has been focused on producing content for various platforms outside of its owned-and-operated, like Netflix and Facebook Watch, it also has plans to grow its direct-to-consumer business.

Viacom has two direct-to-consumer products in the marketplace: Noggin, a children's app that currently has about 300,000 subscribers, and Comedy Central Now. Moving forward, Bakish said it is eyeing three other categories for the direct-to-consumer market: African-American, reality TV and Spanish-language.

While Bakish didn't touch on any of the ongoing rumors about a future merger of Viacom with CBS, he said the current M&A landscape, including the acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T and upcoming acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets by Walt Disney, has given Viacom the opportunity to acquire executive talent and projects that are being dislocated as a result.

But Bakish said Viacom isn't focused on doing a "big, transformational deal."

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