BSkyB spends 40% of £15m yearly display budget on real-time bidding which FBX could drive up further

BSkyB is investing 40 per cent of its £15 million yearly display budget on real-time bidding (RTB), a figure which could be further driven higher by the growth of Facebook’s Exchange.

Speaking to The Drum BSkyB’s online marketing controller Joel Christie said the pay TV operator has increased the amount of spend dedicated towards RTB from 20 to 40 per cent of its total spend within two years, taking the total to £6 million.

Facebook’s launched its RTB platform last June, letting advertisers buy inventory in real time with the ability to target and retarget specific audiences. Christie believes BskyB may reassess its current 40 per cent budget split if Facebook’s Exchange continues to grow, bringing valuable inventory into the space.

“There are some key buys that don’t fall into the RTB category, so while that stays the case that 40 per cent figure may not rise by that much, but if Facebook Exchange takes off then there is no doubt that figure will rise,” he said.

The rapidly evolving digital media landscape and the increasingly complex digital ecosystem have triggered a change in marketing approach from Sky over the last two years, according to Christie.

“We were known in the market for being quite ruthless in the space – yes we have a lot of spend and if it’s not working we will just chuck you off and move onto the next one – that’s fine but there’s a lot of churn there. So what we really wanted to get a grip on were the opportunities around the data. We wanted to find out how we could get back more insight from our providers to use in our creative planning and then go out and find more of the same – that was a big change,” he said.

Christie advised that brands looking to invest more in the RTB space should thoroughly vet their prospective partners before embarking, adding that is crucial to establish mutual trust and transparency.

“The [transparency] debate has been around as long as online advertising has – but trading desks have brought it more to the fore because they use data as their key unique selling point. Whereas when it sat behind an open network and optimisation was all done behind the scenes all anyone cared about was the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) you got and that was the metric of choice.

“Quite rightly people are now questioning where their data is actually going. People are right to be concerned about that and they need to ensure they are working with the right people and not going out and buying kit with everyone – that’s where the danger is.”

BSkyB is willing to spend the same amount of budget on RTB but for fewer impressions, according to Christie. It now serves 15 per cent less impressions year on year but its sales have risen 5 per cent and spend has remained flat.

“We serve less impressions and spend about the same on budget – that goes against everything you would traditionally think for direct marketing advertising, but if you're trying to buy the right person and reduce inefficiency you don’t mind spending a bit more for the right inventory. The problem is when publishers don’t tell you what that inventory is so if it goes into the exchange as a masked piece of inventory then of course they are going to get a low CPM (Cost Per Mille) for it. If they provided more information about the audience that can be bought that would improve the price of it,” he added.

BSkyB works with Infectious Media for its customer cross/up sell activity, Group M's Xaxis for retargeting, and Rocket Fuel for prospecting.

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