CANNES — Whoever ultimately ends up owning UK TV and telco operator Sky, following the current acquisition scrap, won’t just be getting the country’s leading pay-TV company – it will also be gaining one of the world’s earliest addressable TV pioneers.

Sky launched AdSmart back in 2014, using its own customer data to analyze viewers on advertisers’ behalf and sending household-specific linear TV ads to their set-top boxes – one of the first and widest-scale addressable TV deployments anywhere.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Sky’s advanced advertising director Jamie West says the foundation is built, now the company is blowing it out.

“We’ve just signed a partnership with (rival) Virgin Media, part of the Liberty Global group, which is going to take us from something like 30% household penetration to in excess of 40%,” he says.

West is also rolling out AdSmart in some of the other European territories in which Sky operates.

So what is the AdSmart benefit? Granular audience targeting has opened the door to new kinds advertisers, from the small to the not-so-small.

“It is making TV more relevant to more brands,” West adds, “whether that be markets like the luxury car market … the likes of Porsche, Maserati, McLaren, all using TV for the first time … all the way down to the other end of the scale … down to the very local brand whether it be builders, merchants, taxi firms, florist, all using TV as well”.

Some of those local advertisers are buying in a new way, too. For instance, many local brands are able to target ads at viewers living within a 15-minute commute of their store.

For Sky and for West, it’s all about giving TV “the flexibility to compete with direct mail, with digital, with press”.

The UK government has now cleared 21st Century Fox to buy the 61% of Sky it does not already own, as well as a rival bid from NBC owner Comcast. Sky shareholders will now decide.