Viacom Marries Madison Ave. and Silicon Valley for Better Ads

Viacom is introducing a new strategy involving the use of big data to optimize the placement of ads. Initially known as Project Gemini (after an early NASA human spaceflight program), and now called Vantage, Viacom’s new big data capabilities were created by data scientists and other technologists hired away from Microsoft and elsewhere. As Viacom leverages Silicon Valley technology in an effort to capture Madison Avenue dollars, competitors are ramping up similar big data strategies.

Variety notes that, at this year’s upfront presentations, many content companies stressed newly acquired big data abilities. “Digital media allows advertisers to distribute ads with exactitude. Now as tech giants like Google and Facebook siphon ad dollars from TV, the industry has come under more pressure to do the same,” it explains.

news_02_smallTo gear up, Viacom now collects information on set-top box viewership, mobile-location information, and consumer-purchase patterns and interprets the data to optimize ad buys. The company also just began a partnership with TiVo for “access to information about the viewing behavior of that company’s subscribers.”

Viacom began testing Vantage with a few big sponsors, including Procter & Gamble, General Motors and PepsiCo. Since then, the number of sponsors has risen to 11, and that number is expected to triple by the 2016 upfront market. According to Viacom head of sales Jeff Lucas, the technology is available only to those advertisers who spend a certain amount with Viacom, and guarantee to increase spending over a set period of time.

Vantage comes at a time of great need; Viacom domestic ad sales have decreased for four consecutive quarters.

Viacom, TiVo Partner to Give TV Advertisers More Data, Reuters, 11/2/15

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