WarnerMedia opens up HBO Max ad inventory to entire marketplace
WarnerMedia is taking a different approach to commercializing its HBO Max streaming services than other high-profile new platforms that have debuted recently.
Instead of limiting sponsorships to an exclusive group of a dozen or so advertisers the way NBCUniversal’s Peacock or Quibi have, WarnerMedia is opening HBO Max inventory up to the entire marketplace, according to media buyers familiar with conversations.
“They are actively going in a completely different direction,” according to one media buyer, adding it is more of a straight media buy at this point. Agency buyers also say at least right now it seems to be a more modest initial commitment.
WarnerMedia is in early conversations with agencies and clients as part of its broader upfront negotiations, with plans to begin running ads in the platform in the back-half of 2021. Like its competitors, HBO Max is promising a lighter commercial load than traditional TV, but according to buyers there’s little other clarity around the ad model at this point.
Last week, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar announced that Andy Forssell would lead HBO Max as part of a larger restructuring at the company that saw the departure of three execs: Bob Greenblatt, chairman, entertainment and direct-to-consumer; Kevin Reilly, content chief and president of TBS, TNT and TruTV; and Keith Cocozza, exec VP, corporate marketing and communications.
Peacock debuted earlier this year with about 10 exclusive advertising partners, which, as initial sponsors were also promised a voice in shaping the ad model of the platform. Peacock debuted with several different ad formats like shoppable ads, pause ads and binge ads. NBCU is out in the upfront marketplace with Peacock to strike deals for when those category-exclusive deals end, according to buyers.
Quibi also only struck deals with about two dozen brands, including General Mills, Google. Pepsi and Procter & Gamble, as its launch sponsors for when it debuted in April. Of course, since Quibi's debut amid the pandemic, the platform has struggled to gain momentum.