Addressable TV will be an increasingly important topic in the year ahead.
The technology is readily available for advertisers to selectively segment TV audiences and serve different, targeted ads within the same programme. As one example, Sky AdSmart, often cited as the foundational platform for addressability, has been evolving since its launch in 2014 and is now available in multiple markets including the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy. As the technology develops, open standards such as HbbTV are being put in place across Europe to harmonise the viewing experience.
But addressability is about far more than just the next technical development. After concentrating on “making it work for me” for the past five years, we must now focus on “making it work together.” Addressable is now moving from the innovation phase to the early adoption phase, which will require collaboration across the industry to ensure it is delivering its full potential and reach across Europe.
Collaboration will drive success
Because addressability begins with content distributors, Comcast Advertising is spearheading a collaborative industry initiative known as On Addressability, which aims to maximise the impact and value of TV as a marketing platform by delivering a sound, scalable and sustainable addressable solution.
While the initial focus of this initiative was to leverage the collective experience of Comcast, Sky Media and other participating distributors to address technical questions, On Addressability is also looking forward and helping to shape the data-driven future of TV advertising. Additional areas of focus span the entire ecosystem, from advertisers to content owners. They include educating advertisers on the use cases and value they can achieve through fully-activated addressable campaigns, working with the industry as a whole to establish definitions and standards, and liaising with content owners to implement best practice in transacting on addressable campaigns.
There are other great examples of collaboration as well, including Project Open Addressable Ready (OAR), a technology consortium of content providers and OEMs that provides technical specifications and best-practice provisions to deliver better advertising experiences through dynamic advertising on connected TVs and devices. Channel 4 and Sky are also extending their strategic partnership to span content, technology and innovation, while ProSieben and RTL are setting up a joint venture to enable advanced targeting.
New questions for a new era
The type of collaborative efforts happening across the industry will help us navigate the change ahead. We might think we have all the answers around the technical execution of addressable, but as we enter a new era there are many questions still to be answered. These include how we sell in market, and how we show effectiveness and measure delivery. As an industry, we must also decide how we ensure we have consent, how we segment consented customers, and finally how we deliver segments across platforms to tell a story.
In addition, we must ensure that we maintain the best of TV, while also incorporating the best of the digitally enabled capabilities. This means maintaining the incredible reach of TV, one of its greatest assets, and not limiting scale by over targeting. Addressability should be used to best meet the goals of an advertiser. This could mean targeting specific, hard to reach audiences. But often, addressability will be best used once the scale of traditional TV is no longer effective, to deliver de-duplicated reach and reduce the cost of sale. And finally, it’s now possible for addressable to move TV down the funnel towards attribution to compete with digital platforms. To positively develop addressable in the early adoption phase, the industry will have to work together to ensure addressability is employed in the best possible way to meet the needs of all players in the TV ecosystem.
In ten years’ time, we can claim addressable TV a success if we can’t differentiate between distribution mechanisms. Every stream, live feed, VOD programme will be addressable. As an industry, we have our work cut out for us.
The lingering questions around addressability won’t be answered by individual players; they will need cooperation and collaboration across the ecosystem. To find solutions it is fundamental to choose the right partners, with aligned visions and principles to drive the further advancement of this technology.
This trend of collaboration that we are seeing needs to continue. By working together, we can answer the why of addressable and not just the how.