Sky Media, perhaps more than any other video sales house today, is demonstrating how the television industry can make itself indispensable to advertisers – and go toe-to-toe with the digital giants when providing a holistic view of cross-platform consumers. The company has gradually been creating what could turn out to be the perfect blend of mass-reach, high-quality context, brand safety, granular targeting, multiscreen exposure, TV/digital unification, automation and ROI analysis. In the process, the sales house has moved itself up the value-chain. As Jamie West, Deputy MD and Group Director of Advanced Advertising at Sky Media, reveals, conversations with brands and agencies are less about transactions today and more about strategy.
The company has most angles covered. Sponsorships and linear ads are available across a range of channels. Sky AdSmart provides granular household-level targeting against around 1,300 consumer attributes (into set-top boxes and multiscreen devices). Once Virgin Media set-top boxes are added to the AdSmart footprint (as part of a deal announced this summer), 12 million UK homes will be addressable. As Sky Media has pointed out, that adds up to 30 million people, which is the same kind of figure as leading social media networks.
AdSmart Analytics means you can prove the ROI of addressable advertising. Sky Media compares targeting outcomes against a non-targeted control group that is a statistical match for the advertiser’s target audience. This control group is taken from non-AdSmart enabled homes or homes where consumers opted-out of targeting.
Meanwhile, Sky AdVance – the multiplatform campaign solution – can harness an understanding of what people have seen on television to target them (or avoid them) in the digital domain, or use the understanding of what they have been doing in digital to target them on the TV. Thus, consumers who left particular goods in an unfulfilled basket at a retail website could be targeted on TV using Sky AdSmart. TV and digital are wrapped into a unified campaign, complete with cross-screen frequency capping and even sequential messaging.
Sky Media, which sells inventory across Sky-owned channels and hundreds of third-party channels from broadcasters like Discovery and Viacom, is two years into the development of a sophisticated programmatic solution that ensures broadcast-grade compliance. Tests have focused mainly on Sky Go (TV Everywhere streaming). The company has been running campaigns since the Spring, slowly increasing the volume.
And the company is generating large quantities of reliable consumption data (including set-top box return path data). It can measure a combination of linear TV, VOD and digital. “We have consumption data at scale, and it is a real differentiator because it enables us to understand cross-platform behaviours,” says West. “It is something that the likes of Facebook and Google just cannot do.”
This highlights an exciting opportunity for the TV industry: it has a huge advantage when it comes to understanding what people are watching on televisions, thanks to operator-controlled set-top boxes. If the sell-side can expand its consumption knowledge into the digital arena, beyond owned-and-operated website/app destinations, then the pressure grows on born-digital media companies to get some visibility into TV. That is assuming marketers value a one-stop-shop that can help them achieve a significant chunk of their cross-platform planning and execution.
“Agencies have more choice about how they deploy their budget,” West points out. “You need to think about campaigns holistically, not about media in isolation. With Sky AdVance, we can bring down the barriers between TV and digital and tell stories holistically. Rather than buying TV and digital in isolation, you can look at them as one campaign.”
Sky Media is heading towards this set of capabilities: Provide the same flexibility and options on TV that you get in the digital world; Serve a single campaign across multiple platforms in a programmatic environment, with cross-platform frequency capping; Deliver the right impression for the right advertiser to the right person; Do all of this using secure, rich data. The company is not far from its target.
West says Sky Media is focused on delivering effective advertising outcomes as a partner to brands and agencies. This is the vision that guides its investments. The company wants to be part of the whole campaign lifecycle, helping to plan media, evaluate performance and then plan again. “Three years ago, the conversations we had were about transactions and execution; they are not procurement conversations now,” West reveals.
Sky AdVance was launched in October 2015 and, after a long period of test-and-learn, the company hit about 30 campaigns per month over the summer on this platform. One of the main uses for advertisers is targeting consumers they cannot reach on TV, which tends to be very few, West says. “However, you reach a point on the ‘cover curve’ near the end of a campaign when it is much more efficient to reach the last few points in digital.”
Sky AdVance is not designed for real-time synchronisation of digital and TV campaigns. Generally, advertisers are seeking out their digital audiences 1-2 weeks after a TV campaign. “In most instances, we are building profiles of households that have seen an advert X number of times first, and that takes a period of time,” West explains.
If advertisers are targeting consumers on TV based on their unfulfilled retail website shopping baskets, they tend to implement the (AdSmart) targeting within a week.
Where marketers are using unfulfilled baskets as a guide to their target audience, this consumer group is turned into an audience segment for the addressable TV part of the campaign. The potential transaction must meet a certain value threshold first. “We understand Sky customers’ viewing behaviour on our set-top boxes, in apps and on websites, and through our data partners,” West explains. “We can take an audience segment from anywhere and match that into our [AdSmart] TV environment. We are using a unique combination of TV and digital behaviour.”
Interested in how TV sales houses can become a one-stop-shop?
Jamie West kicks off the session talking about ‘The revolution in media planning: connecting TV and digital audiences within a unified campaign’. He will justify the claim that Sky can deliver large-scale digital and TV consumption data and behavioural knowledge in one place, whereas Google and Facebook cannot.
Paola Colombo, General Manager, Adtech & Business Development at Publitalia ’80, the sales house for Mediaset Italy, will discuss the premium video programmatic collaboration that means broadcasters can compete for pan-European online campaigns. She focuses on the work of the European Broadcaster Exchange, which brings together Mediaset Group, TF1 Group, ProSiebenSat.1 and Channel 4 to create multi-country inventory.
Session details here.
Photo: The new Sky HQ in West London, where most of Sky Media lives.