Sky UK Steps into Cross Platform Advertising

Sky UK aims to break down the barriers between TV and online advertising through its AdVance platform to be launched in January 2016, enabling integrated cross platform campaigns. Sky claims to be the first major broadcaster-cum-operator to offer a coherent cross platform advertising product allowing a single campaign to target customers in a sequential way across all screens and digital channels.

It has been possible to create cross platform campaigns for some time but it has been difficult to ensure that given customers are targeted with consistent messages that build a narrative or gain impact as they move from one screen to another, according to Sky. Cross platform campaigns have been rather hit or miss and yet there is growing evidence that if they are properly coordinated they can deliver greater impact than the sum of the individual components on their own.

The key to Sky’s ability to launch a cross platform ad product lies with its viewer data rather than the integration itself. “The scale of the data we now possess gives us the ability to interweave TV and digital advertising like never before,” claimed Jamie West, Deputy Managing Director of Sky Media. “Sky AdVance will open up many exciting possibilities for advertisers, while ensuring viewers get to see more relevant advertising, in meaningful sequences.”

To enable this Sky Media has expanded its TV audience measurement to collect data from 3 million households for its viewing panel. This yields second by second data across 500 TV channels, providing programme, spot and sponsorship viewing information, as well as timing and frequency. It is this data that provides the deeper cross-platform understanding needed to deliver ads in a targeted way and logical sequence to viewers during their cross platform journeys, according to Sky.

AdVance builds on Sky’s existing AdSmart targeted platform, which matches ads to specific groups or demographics on the basis of publicly available information. Sky AdVance goes further by allowing advertisers to target audiences and tell their brand stories in a sequential way across both TV and online platforms, rather than disseminating the same messaging separately across them.

Viewer data is the fuel of cross platform advertising, according to Sky Media deputy director Jamie West.

Viewer data is the fuel of cross platform advertising, according to Sky Media deputy director Jamie West.

Sky cited four immediate potential benefits for advertisers. Firstly they can extend the reach of TV spot campaigns to more people via digital ads. Secondly they can complement a TV campaign with a reinforcing online message to the same TV viewers, with the option to limit the number of times they see it. Then they can amplify sponsorship campaigns by engaging viewers with VOD or online display ads. Fourthly they can deliver a digital campaign to viewers of a specified show such as Game of Thrones, or to movie lovers, or to fans of particular genres like cooking programs.

For the platform to be effective, many brands and advertisers themselves will have to change their operations and establish cross platform teams. Until now many agencies have maintained separate teams for TV and online, albeit with some overlap and communication between the two. Increasingly it will make sense to converge the two completely.

Meanwhile Sky’s arch UK rival, Liberty Global’s cable TV subsidiary Virgin Media, is heading in the same direction. It has been building on its dynamic ad insertion video-on-demand platform by developing a broader addressable advertising product. Virgin Media too is focusing on customer data to enable multiplatform reach, while also looking to incorporate third party “big data”.

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