With its new partnership with a number of TV media sellers, announced yesterday, Interpublic Group has begun to make good on its pledge earlier this year to "automate" 50% of media. The use of "automation" here is perhaps a bit misleading however, since what IPG is really trying to solve is a workflow problem – one that requires a software solution.
And AOL's Adap.tv, in the current case, appears to be that solution.
"We are starting with Adap.tv as the platform where we can play around with inventory," said Magna Global North America President Kristi Argyilan. "The intent is to borrow as much as we can, connect things that exist today, and move faster."
Adap.tv will be used to transact not only on the digital video available under the deal, but the TV and radio inventory as well.
Other technology and software will certainly come into play as well, but if Argyilan knows what they are, she's not saying right now. She says sourcing decisions are underway and IPG and its four media partners – Cablevision, A&E Networks, Tribune Co, and Clear Channel – will announce them in the coming months.
Over the next six months, media buyers within IPG's Mediabrands division will begin using Adap.tv as a replacement for faxes and emailed PDFs for some TV buys on those networks which must be keyed in by multiple people. Not a very exciting problem to solve, but one with a large upside in efficiency and cost savings if Mediabrands can get everyone on the same page.
"We'll be on the same software, but we will all bring different data," she said. Which has always been the case to a large extent – data differentiates, even in TV.
Mediabrands aims to add more media partners, but gradually. The idea is that the new trading consortium should be a sandbox – in other words, the stakes can't get too high out of the gate.
"We will continue to add partners, but the intent is to create an environment where people can feel safe making mistakes," she said.
Meanwhile Tim Armstrong is smiling. Adap.tv's selection as the software partner is a big validation for AOL, which acquired the video ad company for $405 million earlier this month, and for its unrelenting focus on programmatic ad technologies. Back in July the company unveiled a "programmatic upfront" to pitch its audience buying capabilities, and has waded ever deeper into the programmatic pool in recent years with products for the buy side (AdLearn) and sell-side (Marketplace).