ITV Launches New Programmatic Sales Platform with Amobee

UK broadcaster ITV today announced a partnership with SingTel-owned ad tech company Amobee to build a new programmatic trading platform for video ad inventory on ITV’s on-demand platform, ITV Hub.

ITV already offered targeted advertising on its digital video inventory, but ITV says the new programmatic trading platform “will give advertisers the opportunity for customer-controlled fully-programmatic buying, with advanced data-enabled targeting”. And while to begin with it will exclusively sell ITV’s digital inventory, ITV’s managing director of commercial Kelly Williams says that other broadcasters will be invited to join the platform in the future.

“[The agreement] accelerates the strategic development of our VOD advertising capabilities,” said ITV CEO Carolyn McCall, “and provides a technology platform that will enable ITV to create an industry standard for VOD to match the established system for linear advertising”.

The deal can be seen as the culmination of a process which started almost a year ago, when ITV headed up a group of European broadcasters who made a joint bid for video ad tech company Videology’s assets. The alliance of broadcasters narrowly lost out to Amobee, and since then there had been whispers that ITV would look to license tech from Amobee instead.

The new platform is framed as a way to simplify the buying process for advertisers, bringing the trading of ITV Hub inventory more in line with the self-serve platforms commonly found on the big social media sites (which were specifically name checked by Williams in the announcement).

Adam Pace, chief digital officer at OMG, said the platform is “just what the industry needs”, and that it will be beneficial to companies like his own that ITV is “investing in technology to evolve the way we trade”. But while the platform may prove popular with agencies, it could also appeal to direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies. DTC businesses have been increasingly turning to TV advertising once they’ve maxed out the reach of digital media, but generally prefer to use the self-serve style tools they’re used to on the social platforms.

Liberum analyst Ian Whittaker said the deal “should be a significant help in ITV’s attempts to increase its share of the online video advertising market, which already makes up an estimated 10 percent of ITV’s advertising spending”. But Liberum also said the move suggests that ITV is now concentrating its addressable TV advertising efforts solely on its over-the-top (OTT) offering, rather than on its linear channels.

ITV had previously announced a deal with Sorenson Media to produce an addressable linear TV advertising product, but Sorenson ran into financial difficulties which ended with its bankruptcy and subsequent sale over the past six months, and no product was ever released. ITV could have chosen to sign up with Sky’s AdSmart product, but Liberum said the Amobee deal signals that such an agreement “definitely” won’t happen.

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