How Sky wants to get ‘AdSmarter’ with new tools for streaming age

How Sky wants to get ‘AdSmarter’ with new tools for streaming age

Sky AdSmart, Sky’s ad targeting service, is creating a capability to be able to match behavioural search data with Sky audiences.

In an update he termed “AdSmarter”, Graeme Hutcheson, head of digital advertising at Sky Media, Sky’s advertising sales arm, told delegates at Sky Media’s annual upfronts yesterday that the new capability will launch early next year.

While visitors to the upfronts were told that linear audiences are set to decline in five years by 6%, much of the presentation to media buyers and industry analysts focused on product updates for the growing streaming and on-demand audiences.

For example, Hutcheson said this tool would enable travel brands to target consumers watching Sky who have previously searched for travel destinations online.

Sky AdSmart currently enables advertisers to create bespoke target audiences, for instance by postcode or interest, and can match shopper data from Tesco’s Dunnhumby and Nectar 360, and earlier this year Sky Media launched Smart Sponsorships.

AdSmart was first launched eight years ago and since then has been used in 30,000 campaigns and has two new to TV brands join every day, Hutcheson said.

Citing a 2020 study, Hutcheson said there was a 48% reduction in channel switching, a 49% increase in brand recall and 35% increase in ad engagement when using Sky AdSmart, which he claimed still holds true today.

Dan Cohen, head of product and innovation at Sky Media, said “the next big development” for the business would be self-serve digital inventory. This is set to launch on an unspecified date early next year and will be added to the current linear and on demand inventory available through Sky Media.

Patrick Behar, Sky Media’s chief business officer, also highlighted the “soft” launch of Sky Stream last month as an innovation with an above-the-line marketing campaign slated for February. The subscription product allows viewers to easily switch between streaming services on any TV. He said this was “a great product” in a cost-of-living crisis and 84 out of every 100 sales were “prospect” or ‘new to Sky’ customers.

Declining linear reach countered by growth in on-demand, digital and streaming

Ruth Cartwright, investment director at Sky Media, revealed Sky Media reaches 93% of the adult UK population with 49 million monthly viewers. This is a 5 percentage point increase compared to five years ago. Sky Media handles the ad sales for 130 TV channels including Sky’s own channels, Paramount (Channel 5, MTV, Comedy Central), Warner Bros. Discovery, GREAT!, A+E Networks, AMC Networks and, since 2020, BT Sport.

Cartwright said: “We need to put this into context versus our competitors and actually, in commercial advertising terms, Sky Media reaches more people than our broadcast competitors. It reaches more people than YouTube, TikTok. It reaches more people than Disney, Prime, Amazon and all of our connected TV providers put together and actually the reality is that whilst TV providers are opening their doors to advertising, which is great, Netflix’s reach is 10 times lower than Sky Media and it’s significantly more expensive at the same time.”

Looking forward to 2027, Cartwright anticipating “some linear decline” of 6% by 2027, but this would be countered with “really significant growth” in on-demand, digital and streaming, with their respective share of viewing growing by 7%, 33% and 140%.

On the streaming side, she pointed to more people engaging with Sky Stream and Paramount’s free streaming service Pluto TV over the next five years.

She added: “What I’m hoping to convey is that linear is super important to Sky Media, it is super important to us as an industry and actually linear for Sky Media represents 89% of our total media reach still, it’s really important to look at how viewing behaviour still remains very, very similar.”

Within this, Cartwright highlighted Sky News and Sky Sports viewing was 99% to 100% live, while Sky Atlantic and Sky Max she says viewers “flip” to on-demand, with 25% viewing live and the rest on-demand and streaming.

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