OpenAP Launches SSP To Show Inventory Availability In Linear TV

OpenAP, a consortium of TV networks that allows advertisers to buy standardized audiences across their inventory, launched its first tech product on Monday, a supply-side platform (SSP).

SSPs are a mainstay of digital publisher technology, and now they’re coming into the TV world to help improve the antiquated linear TV ad buying process by adding automation.

OpenAP claims it reaches virtually all US households. Its members include AMC Networks, Fox Corporation, NBCUniversal, Univision and ViacomCBS. Starting soon, it will also be able to avail more inventory from A+E Networks and The Weather Channel.

The new SSP connects directly to its existing marketplace, the OpenAP Market, which houses inventory from every participating TV content owner.

Omnicom Media Group – the media services arm of holdco Omnicom – is the first agency client using OpenAP’s SSP, and has integrated it into its in-house platform. Software and data platform VideoAmp is the first partner to integrate with OpenAP as OMG’s preferred vendor.

The integration gives OMG the ability to see in real time the linear media inventory available through the SSP. The integration with Omni launched in January, with testing set to take place in Q1 and Q2 of this year across OMG agencies.

Whereas OpenAP already provided the ability to find audiences, the SSP gives advertisers the ability to know what inventory is available across the different networks of the consortium, said OpenAP CEO David Levy.

“This whole buying process is now as close to being automated as possible,” Levy told AdExchanger. “You’re putting it through an automated system, you’re building your deal, you’re building your audience – and then essentially the result of it is automated plans that you’re getting across all television networks that you can then execute against.”

For buyers, the SSP enables more control in terms of campaign optimization and using data to inform ad buys, according to Matthew Kramer, managing director of advanced advertising at Omnicom Media Group North America.

Traditionally, he said, the use of first- or third-party data to optimize linear TV buys has been controlled by the sell side.

OpenAP developed its SSP on the heels of big investments being made on the buy side in data and technology, including Publicis Groupe’s $4.4 billion acquisition of Epsilon in 2019, Dentsu’s purchase of Merkle, IPG’s buyout of Acxiom and Omnicom’s rollout of Omni.

Levy said he expects OpenAp to work with any holding company with “buy-side optimizers” by the end of the year.

“We are currently in talks with four additional holdcos that have optimizers,” he said.

Currently, OpenAP’s SSP works mostly within the scatter markets, where ad buyers purchase inventory closer to the air date. But Levy believes SSP technology is applicable for the upfronts as well, where inventory is reserved in advance.

“While I do see this being used for all use cases – upfront and scatter – I understand why folks like Omni are most excited about it for scatter,” Levy said. “Because of the things you need to be successful in the scatter market, inventory awareness is probably No. 1.”

OpenAP’s SSP was in the works before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The product concept was first surfaced at OpenAP’s Advertiser Advisory Board summit at Sundance last January. Product development officially began in May 2020, a couple of months into the pandemic. The challenges caused by the pandemic, OMG’s Kramer said, only reaffirmed demand for this type of buying solution.

Audiences are still spending time in linear, Kramer said, despite the rapid rise of streaming TV fueled by COVID lockdowns.

“Which means that this initiative was all about how do we make that bucket of linear television inventory and delivery a lot smarter – the way that we are … on the digital side,” he said.