LONDON – With initiatives like OpenAP, Ampersand, Project OAR and more making big announcements, it is clear that 2019 was the year when collaboration became the key imperative in seizing the opportunities of advanced TV ad targeting.

In Europe, the leading pay-TV provider Sky has long been forging a collaborative path with its pioneering AdSmart addressable TV product.

As he prepares to leave the company after 11 years during which he led AdSmart’s roll-out, Sky’s advanced advertising group director Jamie West sat down with Beet.TV to reflect on “the end of a chapter” – and to foretell what comes next.

Viewing data in neutral space

In May, Sky already announced it would begin using NBCUniversal’s CFlight unified advertising metric across all content and platforms in the UK from autumn and in its other European territories next year, to capture all live, on-demand and time-shifted commercial impressions on every viewing platform. But West reveals Sky will help CFlight fly higher.

“We will take what the NBCU team have achieved, but take it a stage further with true de-duplicated reach and frequency reports for all advertisers in an automated fashion,” he says.

“That will also entail us moving all of our first party data processing, the viewing from our set-top boxes, out of house – so we’re not measuring our own viewing. (We will be) moving all of the methodology into an independent source, and then publishing that so that we can be fully transparent.

“(We will go) further than that in sharing it with our competitors in every territory we operate in. It’s on-record that we’re prepared to share this, the methodology, the processing and the infrastructure with our competitors in the UK, with ITV and Channel 4.”

AdSmart marches on

It has been quite a decade for AdSmart, during which it has become known as the one of the world’s most pioneering addressable TV platforms.

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 2017, rival Virgin Media, a cable TV operator, took on Sky’s AdSmart to power its own addressable TV ad capabilities.

Recently, public service broadcaster Channel 4 said it would use AdSmart to deliver targeted linear TV ads.

“And we hope, in the not too distant future, that we’ll be able to extend that capability to our partners at ITV,” West said.

Safe space for data

After Comcast acquired Sky, AdSmart is shaping up as a key element in the wider group’s targeted TV ads odyssey. Earlier this year, Comcast said it would merge NBCUniversal’s Audience Studio with Sky’s AdSmart.

Last year, independent UK TV measurement agency BARB launched its own industry-wide system to count viewing across TV sets, tablets, PCs and smartphones, Project Dovetail, giving it sight of views through broadcasters’ catch-up platforms.

But Project Dovetail launched only in its first phase, offering average audience counts. Launches are pending for stage two (multi-screen reach and time spent) and stage three (multi-screen ad campaign performance). Amid the protracted delay, West’s decision to put AdSmart viewing data in to a neutral industry space seems like a shrewd move.

This video was produced in London at the Future of TV Ads Global forum in December 2019.   This series is sponsored by Finecast, the global addressable TV company that is part of WPP.   For more videos from the series, please visit this page.