Blog: Sky AdSmart and the Curious World of BVoD

When it comes to advertising on television, the perception common among many businesses is that it is expensive and unfocused—an activity reserved for those companies with the deepest pockets and the broadest target audiences.

Whilst there are many ways for almost any business to enter the world of TV advertising, the outlay required and the uncertainty of results means brands are often reluctant to take that first step, choosing instead to devote their budget to less risky, more targeted online marketing channels.

With BVoD (broadcast video on demand) comes the potential for broadcasters to smash these barriers, and offer advertisers a more accessible route to the nation’s favourite channels and their huge audiences. Step up: Sky AdSmart.

A New Way

With its AdSmart platform, Sky claims to have “levelled the playing field”, providing advertisers with the opportunity to reach a mass market in a sophisticated, highly-targeted programmatic fashion. Eschewing the need for a big investment or commitment to buying ad space across an entire network, the “revolutionary approach” offered by AdSmart gifts minor brands the same access to TV advertising as major brands.

Too good to be true? As a professional media buying agency, more than familiar with the traditional approach to TV advertising and the barriers that come with it, we wanted to find out!

What Is Sky AdSmart?

You may not have realised it, but when it comes to broadcast television, different households watching the same programme are often shown different ads during commercial breaks. Brands advertising through traditional broadcast mediums no longer want to—or can afford to—waste their ad spend targeting individuals who will never be interested in their product, and Sky AdSmart facilitates this demand for precision-based marketing.

In practice, the Sky AdSmart platform allows advertisers to target a selected audience of TV viewers based on several demographic and psychographic metrics. In the same way that online advertising lets businesses choose to advertise only to those audiences relevant to their product, the AdSmart platform allows brands to target specific audiences in a specific region watching specific shows at specific times; AdSmart even allows brands to target ads based on their specific household composition.

This means that TV ads are shown only if and when the pre-selected relevant audience is watching. In such an instance, a business’ advertisement is shown, and—in theory—they get to speak directly to their ideal audience.

Sky Advertising vs. Traditional TV Advertising

Advantages of Sky AdSmart

Cost

TV advertising has traditionally been an expensive business and one that requires a significant upfront investment. With the production costs of a TV advert, the purchase of media space, and the ongoing campaign management fees, even the largest budget is soon exhausted.

Adsmart’s precision radically reduces the investment required of a brand that is new to TV advertising. True, the production costs remain, but with your company only paying for ad space when it decides it’s likely to generate sales, the initial outlay is much lower, and the potential ROI much greater.

Targeting

The average viewer in the UK watches 3 hours, 22 minutes of television each day, with 68% of adults exposed to more than 50 linear TV adverts in the same 24 hours.

The unrivalled power and reach of TV make it perhaps the most effective form of direct marketing—yet, the traditional ‘throw enough mud at the wall’ approach to TV advertising is often clumsy, unwieldy, and onerous.

By facilitating demographic targeting, Sky AdSmart can focus and streamline the whole process, making TV advertising an enticing prospect for businesses with a limited budget, but a strong grasp on the makeup of their ideal audience.

Content

Sky Media is home to the nation’s favourite channels, and through AdSmart, you can align your company with these trusted institutions. Furthermore, you can choose to advertise only on shows which you think will benefit your brand (and avoid those programmes which you think might harm it).

Disadvantages of Sky AdSmart

Standardisation

BVoD is a young technology. With Sky, ITV, and Channel 4 (among others) offering advertisers access to their own programmatic advertising platforms, those brands that are new to TV advertising often find themselves struggling to navigate the mess of technical formats and device standards. This leaves advertisers with a greater upfront cost to bear at the production stage, often offsetting any potential savings made through the format in the first place.

Performance

Assessing the performance of a brand ad campaign is a tricky proposition through the Sky advertising platform. The metrics provided are often surface-level and don’t give much indication of how an ad is faring with its target audience.

This lack of data can make it difficult to assess whether a campaign is successful, and necessary changes can often only be made at a much later stage.

Privacy

Many users are unaware that Sky AdSmart exists, let alone that their viewing habits are being monitored and used to deliver targeted advertising.

While the platform is designed to be unobtrusive, some users may feel that their privacy is being invaded, and this could lead to a negative reaction toward the brand being advertised.

Additionally, upcoming EU e-privacy regulations could impact the way in which AdSmart operates, perhaps even killing it before it’s had a chance to find its feet.

Sky AdSmart: The Future of TV Ads?

When it comes to advertising on TV, Sky AdSmart offers brands a simple way to enter a space that was previously off-limits. With an unrivalled opportunity to generate sales and build brand awareness, AdSmart is a powerful tool that should not be ignored.

That said, the platform is not yet optimised to the stage that Sky purport it to be. It is not a tool that can be set up in just a few seconds; nor is it one that can be easily monitored or tweaked.

With a savvy strategy and deft marketing insight, it can be an incredible tool for those who choose to use it effectively, but—for now, at least—our advice is to proceed with caution.

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