Although using first and third-party to target linear television audiences is in the testing phase, it stands to increase the attribution TV gets for prompting consumer behavior. “At ESPN, we certainly think the audience buying future is upon us,” says Vikram Somaya, SVP, Global Data Officer & Ad Platforms at ESPN.

In this interview with Beet.TV, Somaya talks about linear optimization across the Walt Disney Co. portfolio and why advertisers are becoming more comfortable providing their first-party data for targeting linear audiences.

“We are now seeing it rapidly approaching us in the form of syndicated data notions within linear television and I think we’re seeing the beginnings of being actually able to use first and third-party data in a linear television framework,” Somaya says. “So true, addressable television if you will.”

Disney is taking those notions “and broadening them out beyond ESPN” through its other media groups.” So it’s not just about the power of ESPN’s first-party knowledge of sports fans “but more broadly, how do our guests at the Walt Disney Company become part of that audience selling notion,” Somaya adds.

ESPN is introducing linear optimization into its linear networks “and I think over the next I’ll call it 12 to 18 months we’ll really start seeing the insertion of first and third-party data into our linear networks in a very, very I think forward looking way.”

One sought-for result is being able to change how television is given attribution for the things that it does, “which today digital gets an outsized amount of attribution for.”

Things are still in the early stages for media buyers wanting to target specific audiences as opposed to demographics. So the next 12 months will constitute the experimental phase, according to Somaya.

“Once we get past that and the systems are able to do this at scale, that’s when the whole game changes.”

Somaya calls live sports “the last bastion of communal viewing” and cites the upcoming launch of streaming service ESPN Plus as “adding even more content that makes our sort of super sports fans get access to things they’ve never gotten before in an almost completely new way.”

He encourages cooperation around data “and understanding how data can become mobile as much as possible. I think the other piece of that coin is allowing consumers to have control over what piece of their data is shared and allowing for an open value exchange.”

This video is part of a series The New Marketplace for Television Advertising, presented by dataxu. Please find more videos from the series here.