Disney, WarnerMedia and AMC Networks Join AT&T’s OpenAP Rival, Xandr Invest

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Key insights:

OpenAP is no longer the only audience targeting platform offering with backing from multiple media companies.

Xandr, AT&T’s advanced advertising company, said today that Disney, WarnerMedia and AMC Networks have signed onto the next iteration of its Xandr Invest buying platform—which will enable advertisers to define a single linear or digital audience across all Xandr Invest partners and use their own first-party data, Nielsen viewership data or Xandr Audience Segments—to improve media buy effectiveness.

Xandr Invest, which will be available in open beta beginning this upfront, will accelerate and streamline automated, data-driven TV buying for clients, the company said. The platform also allows buyers to forecast estimated unified reach all programmers before they buy, measure delivery and reach post-campaign via unified reporting metrics.

During Xandr Invest’s open beta in this upfront, “we think we will take all the demand that’s out there,” said Mike Welch, evp, product and business development, Xandr.

The first iteration of Xandr Invest, AT&T’s rebrand of the AppNexus demand-side platform, debuted last June. Xandr pitched it as a one-stop-shop where advertisers can access multiple types of brand-safe inventory, including linear TV, OTT, mobile and digital video. At the time, the platform was digital-only; today’s news adds linear capabilities to the mix.

Last October, Xandr shored up its linear capabilities by buying Clypd, which gave it similar audience targeting capabilities at scale on the linear side. Invest now takes Xandr’s buy-side capabilities to TV, integrating them with Clypd’s sell-side capabilities.

Xandr said the platform’s first-party data—which includes more than 10 million DirecTV households and more than 700 proprietary audience segments—sets it apart from rivals like OpenAP.

Also, “this is an end-to-end transactional platform, not just an RFP tool,” said Welch. Because Clypd has been integrated into the planning and order management and each programmer’s traffic systems, “buyers don’t need to go back and forth with revised orders constantly,” which will make the buying process smoother, said Welch.

However, “I don’t know if this is as much competitive as it’s complimentary” to OpenAP, said Welch, who noted that the same Nielsen data sources that can be activated within OpenAP will also work with Invest. “From that standpoint, you could make a full audience buy across all the various players, but the data advantage we think sets us apart.”

Still, Xandr Invest’s expansion and new partners does set up a bit of a faceoff between the media companies aligned with Xandr Invest and those who back the OpenAP audience targeting platform: ViacomCBS, Fox, NBCUniversal and Univision. WarnerMedia, which created OpenAP in 2017 with Fox and Viacom, pulled out of the audience targeting platform nearly a year ago. AMC Networks, for now, is the only media company that will be aligned with both offerings this upfront.

Last fall, the OpenAP platform evolved into the OpenAP Market, which is now an open marketplace with premium video advertising inventory and audience-based buying across digital and linear television programming.

Disney went with Invest over OpenAP because “the idea to partner with a technology and a data company versus a consortium was really attractive to us,” said Laura Nelson, svp, cross portfolio solutions, Disney advertising sales.

Also, the company had partnered with AppNexus two years ago and Clypd for the past year, so the decision was organic. Disney reorganized its ad sales team under Disney ad sales chief Rita Ferro in 2018.

“It was really important for us to figure out new ways for us to offer buyers the ability to use data across our linear and digital buys,” said Nelson. “We’re excited about the first phase of this around data-driven linear and how we can offer buyers a self-service tool with unified buying and reach.”

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