Home Analysis Advertising DISH is testing programmatic real-time auctions for broadcast linear TV

DISH is testing programmatic real-time auctions for broadcast linear TV

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DISH Media Sales, which provides the advertising sales for the US satellite Pay TV operator DISH Network (and the standalone OTT service Sling TV), has introduced programmatic buying with real-time bidding for linear broadcast TV advertising spots. The new trading technique applies to household-level addressable TV advertising (targeted ads) served via the satellite system, already an established practice at DISH. So the ads (relevant to each household, based on an understanding of who lives there) are delivered via satellite, stored in the DVR and inserted into live and DVR content during the commercial breaks, dynamically replacing the advertisements that are contained in the original broadcast stream.

DISH Media Sales claims that this is the first implementation of impression-by-impression programmatic trading for linear television. The use of real-time bidding (RTB) is notable: it means advertisers can purchase household impressions by bidding against one another in a real-time auction for future ad availability. 

Real-time bidding grew-up in the digital environment where it has been used for purchasing display advertising and non-premium video. After initial concerns about auctions for premium online video, the broadcast industry has found a way to accommodate them. At MTG (Modern Times Group) in Europe, for example, the channel owner uses invite-only auctions with deal IDs for each advertiser and tries to allocate dedicated inventory to facilitate the volumes that are requested. The broadcaster normally sets a rate for a specific advertiser based on the annual agreement they have with them. After that it allows buyers to dynamically increase their bid level. (See more here.)

The introduction of auctions in any form to ‘classic’ linear television is novel and dramatic. Only a couple of years ago there was a fierce debate raging about whether auctions had any place in premium online video, let alone in broadcast television delivered via set-top boxes (or DVRs). Thus the DISH deployment could prove to be a landmark moment, especially given the scale involved: DISH can cover 8 million households with its addressable advertising technology.

DISH Media Sales partnered with the digital ad technology firm IPONWEB to build the online marketplace. It has started beta testing the system with programmatic marketplace providers DataXu, Rocket Fuel and TubeMogul and says the solution will be introduced to the ‘digital’ industry once the beta tests are completed successfully.

A key ambition for DISH Media Sales is to reach a new market that is familiar with, and focused on, digital ad buying, according to a spokesperson. “Brands get the upfront, full-screen experience unique to linear TV but are able to purchase ad inventory through an efficient, automated online marketplace,” they said. 

DISH Media Sales provides a proprietary supply-side platform that integrates with the existing digital ecosystem. The programmatic marketplace gives demand-side advertisers per-impression control of targeting, frequency, trafficking and buying, enhanced by aggregated set-top-box reporting.

DISH Media Sales has confirmed that the programmatic platform is focused on ad sales for satellite TV households using satellite/DVR technology today. This is not for trading ‘digital’ inventory. But the company added: “As this product matures, we intend to incorporate inventory from every consumer touch point available to our team.”

DISH Media Sales clearly views the programmatic marketplace as a doorway for traditionally ‘digital’ marketers to walk through. They can buy inventory on classic television, albeit ad spots that are data-driven and targeted, in the same way they are buying lots of other digital impressions. 

There is a growing pool of advertisers who have traditionally avoided television, due to cost or waste, and who are now trying television thanks to addressable TV. They are used to ‘digital’ buying processes like those now being introduced for DISH satellite inventory. Traditional TV buyers are getting more interested in data-driven targeting (for some brands) and programmatic buying, anyway.

DISH Media Sales points to the targeting effectiveness and the scale of the addressable advertising technology available via DISH Network, plus the full-screen ad viewability (a reference to viewability concerns in the digital video domain) and accurate, impression-based viewership information from Rentrak, the audience measurement company. The DISH audience has been split into 80 segments based on household demographics and viewing behaviours and these can be cherry-picked as targeting criteria.

According to Adam Gaynor, Vice President of DISH Media Sales: “This platform unites TV and digital buying, creating an easy avenue for brands to target their message comprehensively and efficiently across the entire consumer experience.”

Interested in programmatic TV and targeted advertising?

Then check out Future TV Advertising Forum 2015 in London, December 2-3. There are sessions on ‘Programmatic Now and Next’ featuring MTG, Havas Media, RTL Group, ITV and Starcom MediaVest Group plus ‘Addressable on any screen’ and ‘The science of targeting’.


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