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Channel 4 to focus on interest-based targeting in data-pool initiative

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By Jessica Davies | News Editor

February 15, 2013 | 4 min read

Channel 4 is to focus on interest-based targeting as part of its data pool initiative ahead of exploring behavioural targeting opportunities later this year.

The broadcaster is currently seeking 12 advertiser partners to join its data pool project, unveiled last week, which centres on offering sub-demographic targeting across the 4oD portfolio.

Speaking to The Drum head of digital and partnership innovation Jonathan Lewis (pictured) said demand has been high with 22 agencies expressing interest in joining the group. Channel 4 will make its final selection by the middle of next month.

The initiative centres on uniting its own first-party data from its registered user base, which now exceeds 6.5 million, with Experian data to show more sophisticated targeting which it can then share with advertiser partners and in turn boost video-on-demand (VOD) uptake, according to Lewis.

“We will look specifically at viewer interests which could be things like whether they are frequent flyers, food lovers, dog owners, technology lovers – all interests we believe have value to advertisers – that will be our next stage of targeting and we will be selling these interest-based groups by the third or fourth quarters,” he said.

“The idea is to work with the 12 partners to define which are the most important categories we should provide targeting against in future as well as providing more in-depth ad targeting insight for them,” he added.

Once this is more established it will consider opportunities around behavioural targeting, which could include monitoring how viewers interact with its video ad formats, which it calls iVODs, according to Lewis.

“We will look at this further down the line. We are making one step at a time and will look at interest-based targeting first, but towards the end of year and moving into 2014 we will look at user interactivity across products like iVOD, what users are doing in real time and how are they behaving to see if there are opportunities for us to offer more granular targeting around that area,” he said.

Currently over a quarter of Channel 4’s linear TV buying audience does not invest in VOD, according to Lewis. “One of challenges we have as a business is that we have many advertisers that use VOD happily and see the value it generates, but a decent proportion of advertisers still don’t.

“Between 25-30 per cent of our TV buying audience still doesn’t use VOD and as a market leader in this space we feel we need to be changing that mindset, which is why half of our data pool partners will be advocates of VOD but the other half will be new or lapsed VOD advertisers that we bring in so we can show them the benefits of targeting on these digital platforms.

"This initiative is as much about preaching to the converted as growing the market. We are offering TV-like buying on our digital platforms – we believe that’s a really strong trigger to encourage more advertisers into the market,” said Lewis.

The 12 selected partners will also have the opportunity to map their databases with Channel 4’s registered user base.

It already adopted this method of overlapping databases last year, working various blue-chip clients to trial new, data-led approaches to advertising. This comprised merging their databases with its own to match shared customers and recreate client segments.

Channel 4 was the first UK broadcaster to roll out an interactive video ad format – Ad Elect - in 2011. Brands including Red Bull, M&S and Adidas were among the first to use the format, which allows viewers to choose between different ad creative from the same brand ahead of the content they watch.

It later extended this with the launch of a suite of products including Ad Bloom, Ad Interact, Ad Pause, and Ad Social.

Its most recent format Adapt provides age, gender and location-based targeting. Around 20 per cent of its VOD inventory now comprises interactive formats, according to the broadcaster.

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