Analysts Like OpenAP But Debate Timing, Impact

Over longer term, targeted advertising should benefit networks

Analysts said the coalition formed by Viacom, Turner and Fox to standardize selling advertising by audience groups will help network owners in the long run, but debated when its impact will be felt.

“While we think the initiative has positive elements, many obstacles remain before many advertisers might choose to prioritize the bulk of inventory they buy on any basis other than age and gender,” said Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research in a note Wednesday. "Today’s news is neutral for network owners and for Nielsen, although we see some minor positives for them over time."

The coalition, called OpenAP, plans to standardize the definition of audiences and provide third-party reports on viewer delivery. Selling targeted audiences is designed to help TV compete with digital advertising, which has been growing quickly while TV ratings have been on the decline.

“This is likely welcome news for advertisers who have been forced to deal with a Tower of Babel of numerous network audience metrics,” said Tom Eagan of Telsey Advisory Group.

“The TV networks hope that by offering the reach of TV with the targetability of digital, ad dollar migration from TV to digital platforms will slow,” Eagan said. “Timing is good: Marketers have increasingly voiced concern about digital ad fraud, viewability and revising Facebook metric definitions.”

But those benefits might be limited in the short term.