AT&T, DirecTV launching programmatic ad sales for linear TV in Q3

AT&T says it’s planning to offer programmatic advertising for AT&T U-verse TV and DirecTV subscribers, enabling brands to buy linear TV ads on cable networks the two services carry.

The operator is targeting Q3 for deployment after beta testing with a handful of brands. At the end of the testing, it will offer select advertisers the opportunity to use a private marketplace to buy ads, using ad tech from Videology.

But, unlike ad tech employed in the new media space, not all of the process will be automated; ads stiill will need to be placed on shows in advance and advertisers will need to book space in advance. Programmatic ad sales in the digital media space allows ads to be delivered automatically based on users’ viewing histories.

Still, it’s a big step – one similar to a plan announced by NBCUniversal last month – that will help advertisers better target consumers by using their own and third-party data. In NBC’s case, it plans to offer the programmatic option to some national ad campaigns.

Combined, AT&T and DirecTV (which is acquired last year for nearly $49 billion) have some 26 million subscribers.

While the initial rollout is targeting liner TV, AT&T says it’ll explore expanding programmatic to its newly announced OTT venture with DirecTV.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn