Vizio creates branded content studio for advertisers

Ahead of Vizio’s NewFronts pitch Monday, the smart TV maker disclosed it’s leaning more heavily into branded content opportunities for advertisers with the launch of a new Branded Content Studio unit.

Vizio said the new unit is tasked with creating a slate of data-informed programming across various formats, with an emphasis on sponsored messaging integration. The smart TV maker already tested out its model earlier this year with a short-form series called “3 Pointers.”  Timing for the content, which was sponsored by BetMGM and featured on Vizio homescreens, tied to the start of the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament. The series featured “Man vs. Food” host Casey Webb who offered sports-themed recipes, beverages and entertainment hacks related to game-day viewing with BetMGM messaging incorporated throughout each episode.

Branded content is one avenue for Vizio to generate marketing dollars while also serving up targeted content. Vizio’s Platform Plus and free ad-supported streaming TV service WatchFree+ have been helping to boost the company’s business as advertisers look to new formats to reach viewers. In the first quarter Vizio’s Platform Plus revenue, which includes ad revenue from its homescreen, video products and the WatchFree+ FAST, increased 30% to a new quarterly record of $136.5 million.

Vizio already has three additional integrations teed up for its new Branded Content Studio.  They include Clean Break: featuring Michelle Hobgood the Tiny Trainer with organizational tips and tricks in a series created for DIY fans. Island Eats: targeting travel enthusiasts and food lovers with hard-to-get-to locations in the Caribbean. City Limits: A mini series in which every episode a hosts takes viewers just outside major city limits to explore a unique destination. And From the Group Up: featuring Comedian Rance Nix, telling the story of a creator ranging from food to fashion, culinary and retail.

Steven DeMain, VP of Branded Content and Sponsorships at Vizio, pointed to the opportunity for brands to integrate into content and the benefit of leveraging smart TV data for programming.

“VBCS is the natural evolution for our team to offer advertisers an opportunity to authentically communicate the voice and value of their brand, into stories that resonate with Vizio viewers,” DeMain stated. “With a data-informed understanding of what our viewers are interested in, VBCS is uniquely positioned to offer a solution that few others can; a custom, exclusive branded content series that brings brands into the story and entertainment that consumers want to watch.”  

The earlier “3 Pointers” effort served as a proof-of-concept for future marketers that want to take advantage of bespoke and measurable advertising opportunities.

In terms of measurement and data that Vizio can tap to help inform marketing content efforts, the smart TV maker has a pool of data from automatic content recognition (ACR) technology, which provides so-called “glass level” information as to what content or ads are playing on a screen (regardless of whether it’s on streaming or linear).  Ahead of the 2022 NewFronts, Vizio unveiled a suite of advertising analytics with the Vizio Analytics platform using Inscape ACR data from 22 million opt-in smart TV users combined with strategic partnerships with the likes of Neustar, Oracle, Experian, LiveRamp and others.

Late last year, Vizio’s Inscape introduced a National Representative Panel (NRP), with an ACR dataset that’s reflective of the national U.S. population. Innovid signed on as one of its first partners.

In a December column on Fierce Video TVREV analyst and co-founder Alan Wolk categorized Inscape’s panel as a “win for the entire measurement industry, not just Vizio.”

“The key advantages to ACR data, in addition to being able to measure both streaming and linear, is that it can provide second-by-second measurement, measure ads and programming separately and, of course, pull from a much much wider pool of viewers,” wrote Wolk. “So you have all that, and now, thanks to Inscape’s National Representative Panel (NRP), you have a currency grade dataset that is calibrated to the census too.”

Article updated to reflect Inscape ACR data comes from 22 million opt-in smart TVs. A previous version said 21 million.