Sky Adsmart - Audience targeted advertising should benefit both advertisers and viewers

With Sky's launch of Adsmart, advertising audience targetting could be set for a leap forward when it comes to providing a highly targeted advertising solution. James Haycock, managing director at digital technology development solutions company Adaptive Lab discusses the resulting possibilities.

Recently Sky announced it is beginning to give advertisers the ability to target viewers directly with ads tailored to them based on a combination of Sky’s own consumer data and that collected from third parties like Experian.

This is another impressive innovation from Sky. Targeting TV ads to viewers gives advertisers a huge opportunity to communicate more effectively with their targeted audiences. By using a combination of attributes such as life stage, region and affluence, AdSmart seeks out the most relevant viewers. In the US similar offers to AdSmart have shown a drop in channel hopping, and broadcasters are obviously keen to keep viewers engaged and watching a programme through to the end.

Sky AdSmart offers advertisers the ability to be much more focused in who it targets, in a similar manner to the way that they are becoming familiar in the world of online advertising. For example, if a company is about to open a new store or restaurant in a particular location, rather than running a wide sweeping advertising campaign, it can focus solely on that town and its surroundings and therefore reach the consumers it desires. Or perhaps a luxury car manufacturer wants to target the demographic most likely to buy its cars. It can, for example work with Sky to advertise to men between the ages of 40-60, rather than those in their 20s and 30s who are unlikely to be able to afford such a car. By combining viewer attributes to form targeted audience segments, the car manufacturer is guaranteed to hit its desired audience. Now this is all well and good for Sky and for advertisers, but what about the benefits to viewers?

What if you flip things around, providing benefits both ways? Might the same technology be used to offer viewers more relevant programming? Imagine sitting down to a personalised playlist based on your attributes, viewing patterns and favourite genres or shows.

It of course breaks the established channel model but should lead to a more engaged audience less likely to channel hop thus ensuring more ads are watched rather than skipped. To stretch the idea further a brand could even sponsor the personalised stream or create content that sits comfortably in the stream.

Back to AdSmart though, the launch is a smart move from the broadcaster. It’s available on a series of it’s own channels but, as you would imagine, they’re not alone in exploring this area. Earlier this year a US company called Gracenote demoed their similar but broader reaching Ad Replacement technology at the Consumer Electronics Show. Apparently a partnership with LG, manufacturers of SmartTVs, could see the technology being trialled in Europe in 2014.

For years brands have personalised their ads in order to target their desired audiences. And now with this tactic moving to TV advertising as well, it would seem about time that the benefits become mutual.

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