Planet V, the new programmatic planning and buying system that enables advertisers to self-serve campaigns across ITV Hub, the BVOD service from Britain’s largest commercial broadcaster ITV, went live today. According to Rhys McLachlan, Director of Advanced Advertising at ITV, “What is significant about Planet V for the industry is that it is programmatic, done on our terms. It means the establishment of [broadcaster] sovereignty while being progressive [with transformational ad-tech].
“We think this will demonstrate to other premium publishers and broadcasters that you can embrace the programmatic world without relinquishing sovereignty over your proposition,” McLachlan continued. “You can respond to appetites in the market [among buyers for more data-driven automation] without capitulating to the constructs defined by other businesses, avoiding the jeopardies visited upon so many other media channels and companies.”
To be precise, the Planet V inventory and data management platform, which is designed to create a single and consistent sales platform for ITV Hub, ensures ITV maintains control of its data, inventory, pricing and all other sensitive commercial terms. It supports broadcaster ‘merchandising’: the ability to package, price and present inventory, data and targeting options to buyers as commercial products.
McLachlan believes Planet V is significant for the broadcast industry, and not just ITV, for this reason. He confirmed that a number of partners will also start using the platform next year. ITV has stressed previously that Planet V was designed as an open system and the company openly invited other broadcasters and publishers to use it.
For ITV itself, Planet V is a pre-requisite for a more digital world. “We are ensuring we are fit-for-purpose as we see more live and on-demand transactions in the digital environment,” says McLachlan.
The plan is that by early 2021, Planet V will be the only place you can buy ITV Hub inventory.
The launch is timely, given the lockdown-related boosts to digital viewing on top of long-term upward trends. Earlier this year ITV Hub recorded a 75% year-on-year increase in viewing, and monthly reach on the platform has risen 40%. ITV Hub includes original commissions (like ‘Britain’s Got Talent Unseen’ and ‘The TOWIE Years’), and new episodes of the most popular ITVBe shows go live on the Hub the morning before they are broadcast on the channel.
“There is no third-party disintermediation or payment extraction from the value-chain, so working capital is transparently passed from buyer to publisher,” McLachlan adds, giving some insight into why ITV has thrown its weight behind an end-to-end solution that combines SSP, ad-server, DMP and DSP capabilities.
Indeed, McLachlan refers to Planet V as an “ecosystem in a box” and it is the comprehensive, end-to-end capabilities that he says differentiates it from other solutions. The platform has been developed by Amobee to ITV specifications after the two companies struck an exclusive licensing agreement in 2019 covering the UK and Ireland.
There are native-to-native integrations across the stack, resulting in a high degree of fidelity. “You get a much closer correlation between what has been planned and bought and what is executed because everything takes place in a single stack,” McLachlan explains.
Planet V is ITV’s response to growing buy-side demands for more programmatic capabilities and since the licensing agreement with Amobee was signed, 50,000 hours of development work have been undertaken to customise and configure the platform and achieve what McLachlan refers to as the “ITV Gold Standard”.
Planet V has been used to buy ITV Hub inventory for over four months in a ‘concierge model’, meaning ITV has taken orders direct from agencies or clients and its ad-tech operations team have then plugged those campaign requests into the system. In that time, 500 million ITV Hub impressions have been delivered through Planet V. Today the platform was made fully live, meaning fully self-serve.
The 50,000 development hours were partly spent making the user interface as user-friendly as possible, and the platform has been stress tested for every conceivable scenario that an external buyer could want. “We were determined that this was not rushed, and everything was right. We are moving to a wholly self-service capacity in the middle of a pandemic; we cannot do normal office working and we cannot look over peoples’ shoulders as they use the system,” McLachlan points out.
Planet V will fulfil advertiser wishes by allocating and optimising inventory against their plans, layering on and activating first-party and third-party data to drive the process. ITV is confident that buyers will enjoy a better buying process and better outcomes. For the broadcaster, the platform optimally allocates campaign delivery to maximise the return from viewing patterns and minimise inventory wastage. That will maximise yield.
McLachlan stresses the transformational nature of Planet V. “We made a long and rigorous analysis of the market and felt there was nothing out there that really worked for broadcasters and what they need for their business preservation and promotion in the long-term. Planet V is designed and constructed specifically for the needs of the broadcast industry.
“It has a degree of utility that most programmatic trading platforms don’t have, inherent in its DNA, and that is because it was made for the television community. This is massive for our business and massive for the industry.”
ITV is in “good dialogue” with other broadcasters and premium publishers who are looking to use this platform, with some already confirmed for a 2021 start. This means third-party inventory will be planned and traded via Planet TV.
McLachlan believes more sell-side collaboration on Planet V would be good for the whole television industry. “There is some cynicism, but there are genuinely altruistic intentions as part of Planet V because we are doing this for the UK broadcast industry. We have a much higher chance of success [aligning on technology] than if we all operate separately.”
As a reminder of what Planet V delivers to the market, it means buyers can take control of a now automated workflow to approve, manage and report on campaigns in real-time on ITV Hub. That means 24/7 monitoring and optimisation, every day of the year, if that is what they want.
ITV lists various use-cases on its dedicated Planet V website including the use of BVOD to achieve incremental audience reach alongside linear broadcast. A linear ad schedule can be replicated in BVOD, and an advertiser could initiate a ‘Takeover’ of ITV Hub where the first stream that a user sees on the streaming service, whatever programme they are watching, shows their ad for a defined period.
Planet V and ITV Hub are not synonymous with audience-based targeting. Ads can be contextually aligned against programmes and genres, and planners can buy against trending shows or the most talked about ITV shows.
Targeting is, of course, a big part of the offer and buyers can now use self-serve tools to select from 400+ targeting options. They can create custom audiences, set the flighting, budgets, frequency controls and campaign restrictions.
Targeting harnesses ITV first-party data (from its 32 million registered ITV Hub users) and this can be matched against advertiser data, with good examples being the avoidance of people who are already customers or deliberately targeting those who have previously engaged with your brand.
There is geo-targeting, of course. Advertisers can target against consumer interests like fashion or travel, and against life stage/life events (validated by ITV first-party data and augmented by Experian data), and against purchase insights like where people shop, how much they spend in particular retail categories, or how often they spend within that category. You can target against viewing weight or frequency (making it easier to find light TV viewers, for example).
ITV describes Planet V as revolutionary, and a platform that will democratize access to inventory. Ryan Jamboretz, Chief Development Officer at Amobee, the ad-tech partner behind this project, declares: “ITV is making a bold statement to the market about how major content owners with unique data should operate. They have a progressive vision.”
He adds: “Working alongside the ITV team has been an honour and an ideal challenge for Amobee’s innovative engineers and technologists. Planet V represents the cutting edge in advertising solutions.”
This story at our sister publication Mediatel News provides some context to ITV’s determination to avoid payment extraction from the programmatic value chain so working capital is transparently passed from buyer to publisher.