Buyers tune in to TV deals

by Scott Denne

As TV audiences scatter across media devices, video services and formats, advertisers need to put them back together. While television content doesn’t seem to have lost its appeal, where viewers watch has grown more diverse. With that change, advertisers and content creators need software and data to buy and sell access to those audiences, leading to a jolt of deals in the space.

AT&T’s acquisition of AppNexus and Amobee’s purchase of Videology are two of the most significant. Driving both transactions is the idea that telcos can match their consumer data with content to improve the pricing and discovery of video and TV ad inventory by owning the technology for buying and selling digital ads. A deal today sees VideoAmp, a maker of software for TV media buying and planning, acquiring a boutique audience analytics firm, IronGrid, to help integrate data from different sources.

TV advertisers always purchased space on a show to reach the audience tuning in. As more TV is broadcast digitally, there’s an opportunity to reach desired audiences with greater precision. Yet, unlike in the past when viewing happened only through the TV set, people now use different devices and services to watch. According to a December survey from 451 Research’s Voice of the Connected User Landscape, 62% of cable and satellite TV customers also pay for online video streaming.

Telcos such as AT&T and SingTel (owner of Amobee) will likely continue to be acquirers here because internet and broadcast viewership data can link households with viewing behavior, helping to overcome the challenge of audience data spewing from different sources for the same or similar content. The shift to digital also provides broadcasters with a direct link to audiences for the first time, so we expect broadcasters like Sinclair and Meredith to seek acquisitions in this category. Alongside them, we anticipate tuck-in purchases from data providers and ad-tech vendors trying to expand their data sets and buy capabilities as they, like consumers, tune into an ever-expanding number of channels.

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