Addressable TV Technology

Sky begins pan-European roll out of AdSmart


By Ronan Shields, Digital Editor

March 16, 2017 | 5 min read

Three years after its UK launch, Sky is embarking upon the pan-European roll out of its addressable TV platform Sky AdSmart in a process that will see it fully deployed across its wider EU footprint, including Germany, Ireland, Italy and Austria by the close of next year.

Sky AdSmart across Europe

Sky AdSmart's full European roll out should be complete by the close of 2018 / Sky

Amid the news that 21st Century Fox's attempted takeover of Sky UK is to be investigated by the British media regulator Ofcom, the satellite broadcaster began the wider roll out of Sky AdSmart in Italy last month, with a further launch in Ireland due in April, with eventual introductions in both Germany (the world’s fourth-largest advertising market by spend) and Austria slated for 2018.

Its geographical roll out plans and product positioning were explained today (March 16) by Jamie West, Sky Media deputy managing director and director of advanced advertising (pictured below), speaking on stage at the Beet Retreat Summit hosted in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

Jamie West at Beet Retreat

Here West went on to explain how the launch and rollout of the broadcaster’s AdSmart offering was spurred by a revaluation of its “competitive set” beyond traditional competitors for media spend such as ITV and Channel 4 over the last number of years.

“The marketing budget as far as I’m concerned doesn’t begin with a proportion to TV, and proportion to press, etc... we as a broadcaster and an innovator have to compete head-to-head, and toe-to-toe with the likes of Facebook and Google to truly compete in the digital age,” he added.

This transition has been powered by the increased availability of audience data, which Sky has been able to aggregate and then introduce into the advertising ecosystem; a product offering and positioning that West claimed would make it much more than a simple execution layer in the media ecosystem.

“So instead of it being about advertising execution such as ad serving, it becomes about how can we deliver effective advertising... and if we’re building products with just that in mind, then they'll be products for the advertiser, and not just for the benefits of arbitrage, yield and margin,” he told delegates.

“If you move away from that siloed view of things, then we are trying to be a true partner to brands and how they invest their advertising budgets,” he concluded.

Sky AdSmart first launched in the UK in 2014 with brands including Audi, Citroen, RBS and Tesco (to name but a few) all availing of the household-level ad targeting since then. The service lets brands tailor commercial ad breaks based upon viewer profiles with a myriad of data points including: location; affluence; children’s ages; life stage, and financial outlook; with third-party data overlay by Experian.

At the backbone of AdSmart is dynamic ad server technology, built-in to Sky+ set -top boxes, which pulls in multiple different campaign creatives and overlays, plus numerous different data sets ensuring the ads sent are relevant to each individual home.

In other recent efforts to improve the offering, Sky has been expanding the reach of its advertising services, including the additional of Channel 5 viewers to its portfolio, in addition to the earlier introduction of cross-screen targeting capabilities.

West was speaking on stage as part of a Q&A session with Ashley Swartz, chief executive officer of Furious Corp, who told The Drum that turning data into actionable insights and then making that available to advertisers was at the core of such transitions.

“They must also consider how data itself becomes a stand alone product, along with how and with whom they partner across the media value chain to create a new line of business,” she added.

Swartz later went on to highlight another point made on stage by Sky’s West, and that was the need to ensure that programmatic players it works with are transparent when it comes to handling their audience data.

“They must also consider how data itself becomes a stand alone product, along with how and with whom they partner across the media value chain to create a new line of business,” she said.

“As Jamie said, Sky is very conscience of the need to ensure they prevent those with 'unscrupulous' intentions from accessing and using their data in non-transparent ways.”

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