Sky, Adsmart: “This is a significant strategic play for Sky”

Jamie West, Director, Adsmart

Jamie West,

There’s plenty of buzz about Sky’s Adsmart (through which different adverts can be shown to different households watching the same programme on live linear TV). In order to gauge exactly how significant Adsmart could prove for Sky, advertisers and consumers alike, IP&TV News secured this exclusive interview with director Jamie West.

Hiya Jamie. First of all, what’s unique about the potential impact of Adsmart?

This has been a long journey for us. We’ve been on the development journey of Sky Adsmart for about the last five years or so, and it’s a really significant investment and strategic play for Sky, from an advertising perspective, but also from a customer facing perspective. For us, thinking about it in purely commercial terms, what it really does is shift the conversation, from being in a TV advertising market of say £4 billion a year, to now, if you think about all the markets that we can compete in now with all the advertising capabilities of Adsmart, and you think about the likes of online, regional press, regional radio, direct mail, search, whatever else, it means that Sky’s conversation is now in a 9 or 10 billion pound advertising market, something like that.

So the opportunity for growth in advertising terms is great, but it also makes TV advertising more relevant to more brands, because people can really hone in on the target market relevant to them. Historically, TV has been seen as the domain of the broad and the rich brands, the big brands, and that’s just quite simply no longer the case.

What distinguishes Adsmart specifically from other competitive targeted-advertising services?

In my personal opinion I don’t think there are any services out there in the market that can compete with Adsmart, and that’s probably slightly biased, but we are the first broadcaster in the world that is enabling this kind of live linear TV advertising within every single break (with the exception of Sky Sports live content).

The targeted and addressable platforms that operate today are mainly on demand platforms, so, whether it be Channel 4’s claim of having however many million registered users, it’s not known data, it’s provided registration data, which is not the same as having access to that really deep and rich understanding that you get from having a transactional relationship with a customer.

How much education needs to take place for advertisers?

I think what we’re still going through the very early stage of learning. There are a number of advertisers currently using Adsmart to speak to a very discreet segment that they’ve formerly found it really difficult to reach; there are a number of advertisers that have been historically constrained to having maybe two or three of their product suite advertised on TV: and they’re now expanding out to seven or eight. And there are a number of other advertisers using the regional capabilities – which Channel 4 or Channel 5 haven’t been able to service – for store openings for example.

We went through a period a while ago thinking that this is all about enabling advertisers to get more brands out there. But I think it’s wrong to say it’s just about one solution: we’ve got five or six different purposes people are using.

I presume this could have interesting ramifications for political campaigns too?

I know that in the US DIRECTV and Dish have set up a collaborative division to focus on the political advertising sector, because it’s so large in the US. However, government regulations precludes political party advertising in the UK, so until that changes, we don’t see there being that much of an opportunity – unfortunately.

But maybe from another slightly different angle: you think about government promotion and advertising. You think about the level of granularity they need to get down to in order to tailor the message – addressing pensioners for instance, or those at risk of prostate cancer. Or a particular part of the country that might be more susceptible: from right-to-buy to buying a council house.

Jamie West will be appearing at the OTTtv World Summit in November. For booking and more info go here

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