Channel 4 rolls out first programmatic campaigns with Dentsu Aegis ahead of All 4 TV relaunch

Broadcaster will open up its inventory to be traded programmatically across Samsung TVs, YouView and Xbox consoles later this year.

Channel 4 has kicked off its first programmatically-traded video-on-demand ads across 4oD – soon to be rebranded as All4 – having signed Dentsu Aegis Network as launch partner.

The deal will see Dentsu Aegis media agencies Carat and Vizeum, which count Adidas, AB Inbev, British Airways, BMW, and Diageo among their clients, buy targeted on-demand TV inventory via the group’s media investment arm Amplifi.

All on-demand TV inventory will be opened up to the new form of trading, meaning advertisers can buy current and archive shows including Goggle Box (above), Indian Summers (below), and other popular ones like Homeland, with access to the broadcaster’s first-party viewer data.

In the coming months Channel 4 will extend the targeting capability to include interest-based targeting – a method it has been trialling with half a dozen brand partners across categories including beauty, fashion, technology and DIY enthusiasts.

Although the current set up is for programmatic-direct deals only, it has not ruled out opening its private marketplace up to auction-based buying – or real-time bidding (RTB) –, according to Channel 4’s head of digital innovation and partnerships Jonathan Lewis.

"At the moment we are not offering agencies the ability to buy in real time, though that is something we are investigating. It’s very technically complex to deliver RTB on a programmatic basis but it’s something we’re looking at," he told The Drum.

For the last several years the broadcaster has been steadily building its registered user base, which has now reached just over 12 million viewers – half of all 16-34 year olds in the UK. However it is considering making registration mandatory following the relaunch of 4oD to All4, which will bolster its first-party data pool for advertisers.

“This is the first type of marketplace that’s been created for premium on-demand inventory in Europe… We’re giving access to our first party data, in a way which we have never done before – agencies and DSPs can access our data and use it alongside their own buy-side data. We also have a period of exclusivity – it is something FreeWheel is working with us exclusively on – so we will be only broadcaster in market offering it.”

From today Dentsu Aegis media buying agencies can buy All4 inventory on the site, as well as iOS and Android apps, while in time this will open out to every single device on which the broadcaster’s TV catch-up service runs, including games consoles and connected TVs and set-top boxes like YouView.

Meanwhile in the second quarter of this year Channel 4 will expand its private marketplace further to let advertisers buy programmatically against its simulcast content on any device.

Lewis described its ability to run programmatically traded campaigns across all devices on which Channel 4 runs its catch-up player as a “step change” for how the broadcaster trades its inventory.

“Throughout 2014 we will start to give access to data on the multitude of our connected devices – our apps across Samsung TVs, YouView and Xbox consoles. That’s a big step change for us – the ability to access data on shared devices programmatically, which currently you can only access on browsers,” he explained.

Mathew Platts, president of Amplifi UK, added: “We are focused on making the industry data promise a reality for our clients, delivered at scale across premium content. This first to market premium programmatic opportunity with All 4 exemplifies our ambition and will allow us to better demonstrate the value of investing in media.”

Channel 4’s programmatic trading platform is developed with Freewheel, which other video demand side platforms (DSPs) including AOL’s Adap.tv, Videology and TubeMogul can plug into. The broadcaster has used a method called ‘double blind matching’ to ensure none of its viewer data is shared with any DSP.

It first unveiled its plans to launch its first private marketplace at its Upfronts last year.

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