Home Analysis Advertising Sky Media shows what ad-supported TV can become

Sky Media shows what ad-supported TV can become

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Sky Media provides the most impressive European example of what TV advertising transformation looks like. Jamie West, Deputy MD at Sky Media UK and Group Director of Advanced Advertising at Sky plc, recently outlined the capabilities the company has brought to market as it stiches together an end-to-end offering that combines granular targeting (using Sky AdSmart), holistic multiscreen campaign management (using Sky AdVance), advanced measurement (using STB viewing data and vast Sky audience panels), and data analytics (to enable attribution and demonstrate business outcomes).

Speaking at Future TV Advertising Forum Manchester earlier this month, West declared that the future of TV is not tomorrow – it is here already, in the form of vastly changed consumer behaviour, covering TV everywhere and more on-demand viewing, and the new consumer-first environment should be welcomed. The ad-supported TV industry must adjust to the new realities. “We, as media practioners, need to change behaviours, like how we define, buy and execute campaigns,” he declared.

There are challenges in how you measure campaign effectiveness, but the data-enablement of TV across platforms and devices makes the new viewing model an opportunity rather than a threat, West argued. “It gives us greater control, more options, more flexibility.”

Sky Media is taking immediate action to improve multiscreen planning and measurement while the UK industry waits for BARB Dovetail to deliver fully on its promise to measure cross-platform reach and frequency. Dovetail comes of age late next year and has the full backing of Sky Media, with West calling it “the industry answer [to multiscreen measurement], the right answer, and the Gold Standard in the market, globally.”

He revealed that in the meantime, Sky is launching its own cross-platform incremental reach and frequency reports, until Dovetail comes fully to life. The phase one ‘proof-of-concept’ is already live, with agencies and clients able to see how campaigns are performing on the Sky platform.

Fragmented audiences make it essential that everyone masters multiscreen marketing and Sky has worked with tech partners to create Sky AdVance, which enables what is usually considered the Holy Grail of marketing – unified advertising campaigns with universal frequency management. The company can discover target audiences across classic TV and online, and on third-party properties as well as on Sky’s owned-and-operated inventory.

Television behaviour can be used as the basis for what consumers are shown online. Sky makes use of its own 3.2 million household viewing panel, which provides second-by-second data for every channel, programme or spot that is served on the Sky platform. This panel expands to 6.3 million households in March.

As West told the Manchester audience, Sky AdVance enables reach extension [hitting relevant audiences in more places, notably across digital properties], making use of data matching with agency and first-party advertiser data, and harnessing third-party data sets like from Acxiom and Drawbridge. He emphasised the need to think about how TV and digital work together, rather than focus on TV in isolation.

You can get a better sense of what Sky AdVance enables in these previous Videonet stories:

 Sky AdVance enables truly unified multiplatform advertising

TotalTV is a big step towards the advertising Holy Grail of people-centric, unified, multi-platform planning

When it comes to advanced advertising capabilities, Sky is best known for its household-level addressable system, Sky AdSmart. This enables targeting against a selection of audience attributes across broadcast linear TV, set-top box VOD and TV anywhere services like Sky Go.

West hailed the growing reach for this capability, which rises from 7.2 million homes to 9.3 million homes next March or April, and will later hit 11.5 million households as its partnership with Virgin Media is fully enabled (Sky AdSmart campaigns are going to be executed on Virgin set-top boxes as part of a ground-breaking deal).

At 11.5 million homes, Sky AdSmart will cover 29 million individuals, 24 million of them adults. “We have a clear line-of-sight to 60% household penetration [for addressable enabled UK homes],” West declared, saying that level of penetration will fundamentally change how the market thinks about addressable. AdSmart already offers 2,000 attributes that marketers can choose from when putting together a target audience profile and this will rise to 4,500.

New data points are being added, with Boots and Game (two UK retailers covering cosmetics/pharmaceuticals and computing/console gaming respectively) among the latest partnerships.

West revealed that Sky aims to move control of AdSmart campaign definition to customers, giving them the option to log-in to a portal and self-serve. Beta tests are under way with a number of agencies and clients. This solution lets you pick targeting attributes, size your audience, pick a distance that your target audience will be from a shop (like within a 10 minute commute), figure out how long it will take to build the desired reach and frequency, etc.

“You can tell us you want a proposal, and that you want it in your Inbox within an hour,” West told potential users. “Ultimately, this will become fully automated. The market has been telling us, ‘Make my life easy’. That is what we do.”

Sky Media will double its AdSmart sales team by the end of 2019, the company revealed, such is the success already. There are 1,600 advertisers using the solution, 74% of them new to Sky or new to TV as advertisers.

West thinks this influx of new-to-TV marketers will have a beneficial long-term effect. “This is growing the funnel of future brand advertisers across the UK, so people who will use ITV and Channel 4 as well as Sky. It is bringing new people into the market.”

West pointed out that household TV targeting and brand-building are not mutually exclusive – you can do both at the same time. One of the uses for AdSmart is to take brand advertising to the 5-10% of light TV viewers who are expensive to reach if you keep using classic linear TV until you find them all, at the frequencies desired.

“We all know that once you get to a certain point, depending on your audience, the cost-per-cover-point to achieve unique reach becomes cost-prohibitive. Using AdSmart you can deliver that incremental point much more effectively.”

Another example of how addressable TV is used for brand campaigns came from a DIY (‘do-it-yourself’, hardware, home improvement) retailer that had five stores that were all fighting for custom against three nearby rivals. This company wanted to treble its TV exposure in just these five locations to try to drown-out competitor voice-share.

West says this kind of ‘battleground’ marketing could apply to other sectors, like car dealerships. Finding lapsed customers is another good use of addressable TV – and one that makes perfect use of first-party advertiser data.

West said advertisers can find the right balance of (classic) linear and targeting in their campaign. He was alluding to one of the great strengths of television once it is addressable-enabled: it can offer a continuum of mass-market reach (based on classic demographic based buying) through to audience-based linear advertising (where richer data is applied to find granular audience segments, like frequent travellers or luxury shoppers, but the audiences are bought against standard channels, dayparts and programmes that over-index for this target group), through to addressability (down to regional and postcode targeting or household targeting).

“The future of TV is all about being flexible – about using the platforms in a different way,” West declared, returning to his core theme that ad-supported TV needs to evolve.

Another crucial capability that Sky Media has developed as part of its end-to-end solution is attribution, using data analytics with its own data, advertiser data and third-party data to understand and demonstrate the efficacy of TV campaigns and therefore the return on investment.

Besides set-top box data that shows exposure to TV ads, Sky can create control groups of consumers it knows have not been exposed to a campaign versus those that have. “We can understand differences in behaviour between the exposed group and the control group,” West said. “That analysis is as pure as you can probably get.”

The logical next step, given the ability to do so, is to link TV ad exposure more closely to business outcomes and not just media outcomes. You can read more about that here.

West concluded: “TV has never had a brighter future,” referring to the revolution in consumer freedom (including multiscreen and on-demand). And he gave a list of reasons why people should be optimistic about television as an advertising medium, including its ability to build brands as well as deliver performance marketing (like driving footfall or sales, or converting lapsed customers), and the fact it works in the long-term and short-term. It can offer mass reach and targeting. And of course, it is brand-safe.


Editor’s Comment

What Sky Media now offers is a benchmark for what the sales house of the future can deliver. The company is among a small group of world pioneers with the transformation roadmap firmly plotted and many of the staging posts already implemented. The company is demonstrating what ad-supported TV can become as a ‘product/service’ for marketers.

If you want to hear from more global leaders about their roadmaps and strategies, check out Future TV Advertising Forum next month (December 5-6 in London). Jamie West will be outlining another increasingly important capability, enabling audience-based buying (e.g. seeking out fine segments like luxury shoppers or people who intend to buy a car soon, but via standard linear broadcast TV). That is part of a wider discussion about how audience-based buying can be implemented in Europe – and whether European broadcasters should be looking to create their own version of OpenAP.

The conference also includes one-to-one interviews with two U.S. executives who are driving the TV change agenda: Linda Yaccarino, Chairman, Advertising and Client Partnerships at NBC Universal, and Joe Marchese, President, Advertising Revenue at Fox Networks Group. You can see more details about their speaking sessions below and check out all the speakers here.

Jamie West, Sky Media, Audience-based buying and multi broadcaster collaboration

Linda Yaccarino, NBCU, Leading from the front

Joe Marchese, Fox, Proving audiences and outcomes

View the full conference agenda here

Register to Future TV Advertising Forum 2018 here

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