Virgin Media is set join Sky’s AdSmart in a major deal that will boost the scale of the targeted advertising platform.
The Pay TV and broadband rivals will add Virgin’s 3.7 million homes to the AdSmart network, giving total access to more than 30 million targetable TV viewers in the UK and Ireland.
The partnership covers both targeted linear and video on demand (VOD) TV advertising, with Virgin Media making use of technology developed by parent company, Liberty Global, as well as Sky AdSmart.
Launched in January 2014, Sky AdSmart tailors what is shown in TV ad breaks according to a household’s profile and location. Around 1,000 advertisers have run more than 6,000 campaigns via the tech, with many regional advertisers attracted to TV for the first time because of the ability to target households by location.
The tech offers more than 1,200 different attributes to target Sky households and the agency response has been enthusiastic. The tech has won numerous awards, including a Connie in 2014.
Virgin Media’s Pat Kiely and Sky Media’s Jamie West will be leading the development of the partnership, with both parties stating that additional sales houses and channels will benefit from AdSmart technology over time.
“TV remains the most effective and trusted advertising medium there is and continues to innovate at pace,” said Jamie West, Sky’s Group Director of Advanced Advertising.
“Addressable TV is the high quality, brand safe and transparent medium that leading brands have already been adopting in their thousands. Today’s partnership takes that to the next level with the extension of AdSmart to millions more homes meaning more relevant ads for Virgin customers and a larger platform for advertisers.”
In January Sky added the UK’s third largest commercial channel, Channel 5, to AdSmart, following Comedy Central and MTV.
The deal for Channel 5 to join Sky AdSmart results from an expanded partnership arrangement reached by Sky and Viacom in 2015, which secured carriage for Viacom’s networks on Sky’s TV platform and extended an existing advertising sales partnership to include Channel 5 and its associated channels.
On Thursday, Virgin Media’s Solutions Executive Lead, Pat Kiely, said: “Quality programming deserves to be supported with quality advertising. In partnering with Sky we’re putting the UK and Ireland at the forefront of TV advertising innovation.
“We’re giving consumers advertising that is more relevant to them and giving brands a trusted destination to deliver intelligent, tailored TV campaigns to a targeted audience.”
Richard Marks, Director of Research the Media, said the deal makes a lot of sense. “Whilst they are competitors for subscriptions, they aren’t competing for ad sales, as in the UK Virgin is purely a platform not a broadcaster,” Marks said.
“It allows Sky to significantly widen their coverage of AdSmart to, effectively, the whole Pay TV universe, whilst Virgin gets an additional revenue stream and an enhanced advertising experience for its viewers. It’s a pragmatic move and unlikely to be a ‘coalition of chaos’.”