Horizon is rolling out a programmatic division, dubbed HX, to handle its machine-driven ad buys for clients. The initiative, supported through relationships with four demand-side platforms (DSPs), expands on a two-year foray into mobile programmatic buying that initially supported Adap.tv. However that effort failed to produce the desired scale, as clients resisted trafficking ads on unknown sites.
“We were contending with the same challenges that certain pockets of the marketplace have today. There’s still network buying and perhaps limited visibility. You don’t necessarily understand where impressions are,” said Donnie Williams, chief digital officer. “It felt like we were another network, talking about the value all these tools of mobile programmatic buying brought to properties that in and of themselves were not valuable. It was a tough hole to climb out of.”
But climb Horizon did. Partly because of the challenges Williams describes, transparency is the rule at HX. The unit charges a flat markup on working media and discloses that margin to clients.
“There is no arbitrage or resold media,” according to Adam Heimlich, SVP Programmatic at HX.
HX has formal agreements with Turn, The Trade Desk, Adap.tv for video inventory and Adelphic for mobile and cross-device targeting. Heimlich and Williams say the agency will integrate additional technologies as required by clients.
According to Adam Heimlich, Horizon SVP of Programmatic, “roughly 75% of our  clients leverage programmatic solutions today through Horizon Media. We are in the process of migrating those clients to HX as a way to further deliver value. That’s on approval, absolutely not mandatory. At present about half of those clients are in transition. We feel we’re going to close that gap over time as folks start to see the positive results of working alongside HX.”
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