Offering a sign of synergies to come, NBCUniversal and Sky have announced a unified expansion of the company’s AdSmart suite of tech-enabled ad solutions. It is the first joint advertising effort since Comcast acquired Sky last year.
Among AdSmart’s capabilities are using set-top box data to help advertisers optimize their linear TV dollars; addressable TV and digital tools that enhance targeting; and providing AI-powered contextual media planning. The collective set of assets and features had been developed separately by NBCU and Sky.
What does that practically mean? It allows Sky to serve adverts to specific subscribers depending on where they live and other personal details.
Examples include McDonald’s running an advert for a new burger menu that was only available in certain restaurants so the fast food chain only wanted to target people close to these locations; fashion brand Mr Porter wanted to increase sales around Christmas but only wanted to target an audience that was likely to purchase luxury fashion gifts; Bristol Zoo wanted to target households close to the zoo that had kids aged up to 11 and a health brand ran a campaign for its hay fever product in areas where pollen levels were high.
The service, which launched in 2014, has helped Sky increase its revenues significantly in the UK with the fact that nearly three quarters of advertisers that use the AdSmart platform having never previously advertised on television before or worked with Sky.
The still-integrating advertising and technology operations at NBCU and Sky will be key elements of the company’s planned 2020 entry into the streaming wars with an ad-supported initiative announced in January. The streaming service will launch as a free add-on for subscribers across the collective Comcast-Sky footprint of 52 million cable and satellite homes in the U.S. and Europe. A subscription version is planned for non-Comcast viewers.
“Over the years, Sky has built a suite of advanced advertising tools, and we’re excited to share them with international marketers in the United States.” Sky Group COO Andrew Griffith said. “Together with NBCUniversal we’re launching a global product unlike anything the market has seen before, that combines the quality and reach of TV with best-in-class addressability.“
NBCU Chairman of Advertising and Partnerships Linda Yaccarino called the combination of the two companies’ ad offerings a milestone. “The world is getting smaller, and the opportunity for international marketers to make an impact with consumers is getting bigger. The industry has demanded a global premium video offering, and now, one will finally exist,” she said. “NBCUniversal and Sky are committed to setting the highest possible standards and transforming the ad experience. Bringing our advanced advertising solutions under one global structure is the first step in our journey.”
Comcast won a bidding war for Sky over Fox, which had used its stake in the European pay-TV giant as a key building block in its media empire. While Rupert Murdoch long had designs to roll up 100% of Sky, regulatory scrutiny in the UK hindered the process significantly and ultimately the $40 billion Comcast was willing to pay carried the day.