ESPN3's 'Absolute A' is a Media Game Changer

Mediaweek reports today that ESPN3 will launch its dynamic ad insertion platform on June 11th to coincide with the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Dubbed the “Absolute A position,” dynamic ad serving has the potential to dramatically increase the value of live event advertising, offering marketers far greater addressability and immediate access to an exact audience than ever before.

“The Absolute A allows us to not only target content but literally target actual user sessions,” said Lisa Valentino ESPN’s vp of digital and mobile ad sales. “You can’t make these kind of guarantees in any other medium.”

While Mediaweek has only limited details, at least initially it will blend “a pre-roll video ad with a high-impact, homepage-takeover-styled display ad.” But what makes this most compelling is that it allows ESPN to directly target specific audiences at specific times to optimize the messaging for those users on the fly.

Forseeably ESPN could increase the value of ads served online during high-engagement moments (think between overtime periods) and selectively offer advertisers the ability to bid higher for these moments and pay for the exact number of impressions or even actions, precision unimaginable in another medium.

And because ESPN requires ISPs to license ESPN3 they have information on the end-users which they can offer back to advertisers for local and demographic targeting. Instead of serving one national ad ESPN could drill down to offer hundreds of individual ads based on the segment the advertisers are trying to reach at unheard of CPMs.

Further, it’s likely that if this technology is above board they will license it out. MLB Advanced Media now powers ESPN3 after stints with providers The FeedRoom and Move Networks, and it’s not much of a stretch to see this technology being integrated as BAM’s ad-serving solution for live games. Of course, for ESPN that’s the hope. We’ll see how the World Cup goes, but if all goes as planned it gives ESPN yet another immense competitive advantage.