A marketer’s guide to Sky’s AdSmart

How marketers might leverage Sky’s forthcoming AdSmart live TV ad targeting format.


What is AdSmart?

AdSmart is Sky’s soon to be launched internet-style ad product that offers brands the chance to target specific audiences during live TV ad breaks.

How does it work?

Sky will send a library of ads over satellite to the hard disc of a Sky+HD set-top box. Based on the information its customers have provided, relevant ads are inserted into live broadcast streams.

So what will a viewer actually see?

AdSmart ads will appear during the usual commercial break, without any extra signage. For example, a car brand that has paid for a slot in that particular break could serve a people carrier ad to a family but a sporty model for a younger customer without children. If a viewer does not fit that AdSmart profile, they will be served with another non-AdSmart ad during the break.

What kind of audiences does it segment?

Sky says ads will be based on information such as a viewer’s age, post code and household composition. The granular level of detail is likely to increase as the service rolls out.

Won’t customers mind that their data is being used in this way?

Some may find it a little creepy. However, Sky says it has already mitigated concern because it wrote to its customers in 2009 to provide them with details about the benefits of receiving tailored ads and other personalised features. Customers can still opt out of the service and more information about AdSmart has been published in Sky’s monthly customer magazine and on Sky.com.

When does it launch?

Sky says AdSmart will roll out in the second half of 2013, ahead of a “full launch” (presumably this means to all customers) in 2014.

Why should I care now?

Sky Media is still recruiting a number of brands to take part in the early rollout to trial the new service and provide feedback as to its success.

Surely Sky isn’t the only broadcaster offering this kind of service?

Other broadcasters and TV providers are not offering this specific product, however most of the major broadcasters are also experimenting with targeted advertising – albeit not during the actual linear TV ad break. For example, Channel 4 has created Adapt which will enable advertisers to target registered online users based on the detailed information they provided when they signed up to its services. Elsewhere, ITV is beefing up its on demand offer, with a Pay TV service, which it hopes will garner more data about its online viewers.

In the future Virgin Media and YouView are also reported to be preparing their own targeted live TV advertising products, although no further detail has been given about when they are likely to roll out.

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