READING TIME: 5 MINUTES
There isn’t a single media company that’s not in a major rush to understand digital transformation. The journey we’re on at Sky UK is to connect TV to the full digital ecosystem. The technology which underwrites this proposition allows a customer to move fluidly between platforms. You can pick up seamlessly where you left off watching a TV show, even if you’re now on a tablet during your commute. This has benefits for both marketing and ad sales.
In the UK, competitors such as Netflix are really interesting and we don’t consider them not to be a threat but we’re living relatively well side by side at the moment. In that sense, the UK media landscape is quite different from America. In the States, there is a great deal of cord cutting from the cable companies because viewers can go direct to HBO or Showtime, for instance. By comparison, in the UK, cable and satellite television delivers such a high-quality service and a wealth of content, we still see headroom for growth. Many subscribers with a cable or a satellite contract will have a Netflix account on top. Another crucial difference between the two markets is exclusive content and rights. HBO content in the UK, for example, is only available on the Sky platform. Sports rights also make a massive difference.
Still, we’re learning from the competition. Sky launched our own over-the-top competitor called NOW TV and recently, we’ve released full series runs of drama on-demand before linear broadcast. This isn’t necessarily affecting the amount of overall viewing but it’s helping the user experience and the stickiness of the platform.
MarTech in the mix
At Sky, our relationship with MarTech is an interesting one because we get to experience multiple touch points. From a marketing perspective, we’re the biggest advertiser in the UK. From a sales perspective, we’re one of the top sales houses in the UK. More than $1 billion of ad sales now go through Sky. We are a major broadcaster as well as a major player in video, digital and addressable TV.
Much of our focus is now on data and how we use it to acquire new customers, to sell more products and to increase the yield and volume of advertising sold. Beyond this, data has the potential to personalise customer experience.
In order to do this, we call on market-leading technology, some that is unique to us and others built with partners. We’re the biggest customer of several of the leading marketing and enterprise technologies in the UK. But technology obviously extends beyond marketing for us to things such as our world-beating set-top box.
Sky’s MarTech acquisition play
We’re looking to technology to harness the data that’s in our own systems and our partners such as Adobe’s data management platform. That allows us to manage and control audiences. We can see whether audiences or segments are current customers, lapsed or high-value prospects.
There’s marketing technology and enterprise technology in there and there’s a big management piece linking to CRM. That then connects back to the ad sales piece where we use data to generate personalised advertising and sequential messaging across all platforms including TV.
Working with advertisers
We’re working to get to a place where there is an audience buy across all platforms. At the moment, they’re relatively siloed but we’re moving to shift that. Given our technology and data, it’s a huge opportunity for us. For brands advertising on our various channels, there is a responsibility for us to explain what the propositions are. It’s an interesting dynamic. How much do we need to explain the technology in order that someone can understand what the opportunity is? We were very obsessed with technology at the beginning and now we’re much more focused on the benefits.
For us, addressable TV is a very exciting proposition. We can overlay an ad over the linear television break because we’ve turned set-top boxes into ad servers which hold information about the household. Advertisers can add their own data allowing us to create custom segments greatly increasing the number of use cases for TV advertising.
Next up for Sky, we’re working on how our TV ecosystem can function in an increasingly programmatic world. It’s a piece of work that we’re right in the middle of. We have a relatively complex environment and there are no vendors that can currently provide technology that meets UK broadcast standards so we’re working with them on it.
TV isn’t dead
When it comes to the media landscape, people really want to know what the future is for TV. It’s a golden age for content and for the viewing experience, but there’s significant noise about declining younger audiences.
In the UK, broadcasters are finally admitting that younger viewers are migrating away from linear TV, but increasingly we can now prove that they are just watching TV in new ways. Part of it is a measurement problem in that there is no uniform measurement across platforms. Our research shows they are watching masses of video-on-demand, they’re watching Netflix and they are watching YouTube, although nothing like the amount Google would have you believe.
Today our customers watch increasing amounts of VOD, both on TV and on players on the move. We’re all about making an exciting, multi-layered viewing proposition with stunning content. Data underpins the delivery, personalisation and marketing of it as well as an addressable, sequential advertising offer.
British TV is in very good health and we’re utilising the best of MarTech and ad tech to ensure it stays that way.
David Fisher will be speaking at the 2016 MarTech Symposium.
David Fisher – Head of Digital at Sky Media
David is the head of digital at Sky Media where he oversees all non-spot advertising for Sky including digital sales, commercial strategy and programmatic across online, mobile, VOD, non-linear, delivery of market defining platforms and ad opportunities.