Tegna Jumps Into OTT Ad Sales Business

Premion unit will sell inventory in streaming episodic content from 80 networks

Station owner Tegna is launching a new unit that specializes in selling advertising in programming viewed on over-the-top platforms.

The new subsidiary, dubbed Premion, focuses on premium, long-form episodic content. It will be selling inventory in streaming shows from more than 80 sources to advertisers interested in reaching local and regional audiences.

The over-the-top market is growing fast, and advertisers are eager to reach viewers no longer viewing on traditional linear networks.

“The benefit we’re bringing to agencies and advertisers is we are a one-stop shop for premium, long-form episodic content,” said Jim Wilson, president of Premion.

“We’ve built a technology stack where we’ve plugged in 80 different networks and with one insertion order and one set of creative. We have the ability to manage campaigns for our advertising agencies so they don’t have to go to each one of these providers separately," Wilson said. “At the end of the day our goal is to simplify the buying process of OTT. We do the heavy lifting and make it simple for our advertisers and our agencies."

Premion will take advantage of Tegna’s sales force of 700 sales people in 38 offices.

Tegna ran a pilot program of Premion in July in Dallas and Houston. It officially launched in October and now has 20 of Tegna’s offices up and running. Wilson says he expects to have 25 offices up and running by the end of the year and the rest by next year.

Premion already has 30 campaigns on the air—some for clients Tegna already worked with, some new clients.

“It’s important for us to build our existing relationships with our advertisers by bringing them innovative products. But at the same time, it’s allowed us to bring in new clients, not just in our broadcast markets but in other DMAs,” Wilson said.

Wilson says that Premion is not limited to selling ads in markets where Tegna has stations. “I have 38 sales offices and so we’re selling nationwide,” he says. “There are single DMA campaigns or we’re selling regional multiple DMA campaigns. I’ve got campaigns that range from one market to 150 markets.”

Like digital ads, streaming ads provide opportunities to target advertiser messages. With local and regional campaigns, geographic targeting is a given. Premion will also be able to target audiences based on demos and behavioral targets.

“We are assessing the potential for programmatic planning and buying on the platform, including through selected demand side platforms,” Wilson added.

Wilson says Premion has gotten a good reception from content providers, though Premion declines to identify them.

“We have significant abilities in local and regional advertising. With the growth of over-the-top video we have this opportunity to bring these content providers local and regional advertising revenue, many of which don’t have the capabilities to get. So this is new revenue from many of our providers,” he said

The McCarthy Cos., a full-service advertising agency, has been working with Premion on multiple campaigns since the pilot program launched. “We partnered with Premion to be the first to market because we see the clear benefit of their approach to reaching the OTT consumer,” said Michelle Levins, director of media strategy for McCarthy. “The scale and premium content they provide allows us to raise the bar and stay on the leading edge for our clients.”