One was launched seven years ago, bringing targeted TV ads to individual households before the practice was even known as “addressable”.

The other appeared in 2016, tying together four suites for buying ads across devices.

Now Comcast is merging NBCUniversal’s Audience Studio with Sky’s AdSmart, after the owner acquired the European pay-TV company last year.

In this interview recorded in London in December, Sky advanced advertising group director Jamie West explains AdSmart’s journey – and future.

What is AdSmart?

Sky launched AdSmart in 2013, storing ads on satellite subscribers’ set-top boxes for subsequent targeted playback. It has since spearheaded the UK’s addressable TV revolution, which, despite the existence of several broadcasting networks, is still largely confined to Sky’s AdSmart, and is a European leader in addressable technology.

Sky has served billions of impressions this way using 1,200 customer categories (many of them for newcomers to TV advertising), and later  added a cross-platform ad sequencing platform called Sky AdVance and an analytics offering, too.

What is Audience Studio?

NBCU launched Audience Studio as a data management platform under Denise Colella three years ago, tying together its Audience Targeting Platform (for targeting linear TV viewers), NBCUx (for digital media targeting), NBCU+ (for using Comcast set-top box data) and Social Synch (for extending out through social networks).

What is happening?

Comcast will now badge both offerings as “AdSmart” – specifically, “AdSmart from NBCUniversal” and “AdSmart from Sky”.

That is the starting point. Over time, the pair will aim to learn from each other’s capabilities (Sky’s talent in advanced addressable, NBCU’s in linear optimization), applying them in their respective territories.

An NBC spokesperson tells Beet.TV: “Sky and NBCU’s teams will both gain insight into each other’s advanced advertising capabilities. The long-term goal is that over time, each team will look at how to apply the learnings and solutions from the other to their own markets.”

It’s not yet clear how fully that means a merger for the products.

What is the impact?

Such synergies were always likely as a key component of Comcast’s much-heralded Sky acquisition.

Comcast hopes the closer alignment will help large global brands more easily target and optimize ad campaigns on a more worldwide basis.

“The world is getting smaller, and the opportunity for international marketers to make an impact with consumers is getting bigger,” says NBCU’s advertising chairman Linda Yaccarino in a statement.

All told, the combined product feature set includes:

  • Optimization of linear TV ad campaigns againstusing consumer data segments and set-top box data from Comcast and Sky, totalling 50 million households.
  • Addressable TV ad placements.
  • Digital targeting.
  • Commercial break targeting using AI piloted by NBC to better describe contextual moments in shows, using closed-captioning data
    video description and scripts of shows.
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