CANNES — The UK’s two leading pay-TV providers have teamed to develop a “common currency” for addressable TV advertising in the country.

Sky (satellite) and Virgin Media (cable) may be fierce rivals, but this week they announced a “strategic partnership” to scale advanced TV ad targeting opportunities, against the common enemy of online platforms.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Sky’s advanced TV advertising director Jamie West singles out two online behemoths, not Virgin, as competition.

“We’re trying to build a common currency and platform for advertisers to transact addressable TV,” he says.

“Our universe potential will grow to some 30 million individuals in the UK. That puts us on a level playing field with the big tech giants, whether that be Facebook or Google, in terms of reach.”

So, what is the partnership all about?

Sky’s AdSmart has been in market now for three years, and works by storing TV ads on satellite set-top boxes for playback in commercial breaks, targeted based on Sky’s deep customer data. It is arguably the world’s leading advanced TV ad targeting deployment, and is due for expansion to Sky’s Ireland, Italy and Germany operations.

Virgin will now begin using AdSmart for its own addressable offering.

Specifically, Virgin Media will enable AdSmart data targeting for customised ad delivery through its platform, for channels owned by Sky or its channel partners NBCU, Fox, A+E and Viacom/Channel 5.

West is realistic about addressable’s roll-out pace. “We haven’t got every single agency using addressable week-in, week-out or month-in, month-out,” he acknowledges, but says the benefits are significant. “Addressable brings optionality and choice – it means TV is more flexible for a brand.”