Smart TV manufacturer VIZIO has announced that it will start selling ads on its smart TVs, via a new business called VIZIO Ads. VIZIO Ads will sell inventory across the company’s SmartCast platform which powers its CTV sets, making it one of a number of hardware manufacturers to make the leap into ad sales.
VIZIO has a considerable volume of inventory at its disposal. The company says its SmartCast platform is used on around 13 million TV sets, and on these TV sets it has access to inventory from a number of sources. It will sell ads which appear on its start up screen, and within its discovery environment, allowing apps to pay to promote themselves within SmartCast. And it will also sell inventory on its own ‘WatchFree’ over-the-top service, as well as on partnered OTT apps.
“As viewing behaviours shift and the marketplace for connected TV advertising explodes, brands need to find new ways to reach audiences on the biggest screen in the house,” said Mike O’Donnell, SVP of VIZIO’s platform business, who will oversee VIZIO Ads. “A direct-to-TV advertising business not only helps brands find new, more relevant ways to engage with viewers, it gives them peace of mind knowing their OTT ad budget is actually making it to the screen of a TV.”
The model is similar to that used by OTT manufacturers like Roku, Amazon and Android. These companies have access to a lot of valuable consumer data through their ownership of the OTT platform and direct relationships with consumers, and this data can add value for partnered OTT apps looking to sell inventory.
But many feels that the smart TV manufacturers have a unique advantage thanks to how they “own the glass”, giving them a window into the linear TV world alongside their own OTT ecosystems. VIZIO owns Inscape, a provider of automatic content recognition (ACR) services, and this ACR data will be used to bolster VIZIO’s ad offering. The company says that VIZIO Ads will work closely with Inscape, though it hasn’t specified how this collaboration will work.
It’s likely we’ll continue to see more smart TV manufacturers make similar moves to VIZIO as they better understand this opportunity. Samsung already runs a similar business, and others have begun laying the groundwork through investing in their own connected TV platforms, and launching their own ad-supported OTT services.