The changing market for advertising means there's a need for new tools for those selling and buying advertising.

That's the reasoning behind a new partnership between FOX (NASDAQ: FOX), Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX) Turner division, and Viacom (NASDAQ: VIA) (NASDAQ: VIAB). The three companies have teamed up to create OpenAP, which they described in an open letter as "TV's Advanced Audience Platform."

OpenAP will be a platform for "cross-publisher audience targeting and independent measurement" that will be operated by a neutral third-party auditor (which was not named in the letter). Basically it's a way for operators in the television industry to measure specific audiences on their channels. If it gets widely adopted, the platform would replace self-reporting and third-party data with "truly independent measurement and reporting by design," the three founding companies explained.

Why is this important?

Essentially, the OpenAP platform is designed to let advertisers target a specific demographic and run a campaign across multiple companies or channels with more certainty that they will reach that audience than they currently have. This would mean better results with less guesswork by advertisers.

"OpenAP will be a single platform that agencies and advertisers can integrate with their own planning systems to activate advanced audience targeting and independent measurement within premium content," FOX, Viacom, and Time Warner wrote. "That premium content reaches 93% of all television audiences today, and we hope it will expand if additional publishers join OpenAP in the future. This consortium is a necessity to move our industry forward."

Will this work?

While these three companies are big, they are far from the only players in the television space. If they can actually get more members of the industry aboard, OpenAP has a better chance of being successful.

The letter also left a number of questions unanswered, but the three founding companies should address them during a planned April 7 meeting with "agency, client and media influentials across our industry." At that gathering, the companies will have to convince ad buyers that the data from OpenAP will be better than what they already are getting from internal and external sources.

OpenAP should prove to be a good service if it's delivered as promised and is actually independent, rather than being controlled by any of the partner companies. There is an increasing demand for audience targeting, and this could be the tool that helps the industry not only deliver it, but deliver it in a way that's verifiable to advertisers.

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Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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