Sky’s AdSmart Expands to NBCUniversal

Sky and NBCUniversal are uniting their advanced advertising businesses under the AdSmart brand, the two companies announced today. The unification combines Sky’s AdSmart and NBCUniversal’s Audience Studio into one offering, and marks the first joint advertising initiative between the two companies since NBCUniversal-owner Comcast completed its takeover of Sky last year.

Initially, the move is in large part a rebranding and repositioning of existing products. AdSmart was already recognised as one of the most advanced products in addressable TV advertising, and the unification brings Audience Studios’ specialism in linear TV optimisation under the AdSmart umbrella.

In areas where the two companies have similar capabilities, the offerings will be combined to give extra scale. For example, advertisers will now be able to optimise their linear TV spend against a selection of consumer segments across a combine reach of 50 million households, using Sky set-top box data in Europe and Comcast set-top box data in the US.

“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,” said Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal. “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.”

But the longer term goal is for each company to learn from the other’s solutions, in order to develop similar offerings in the future. AdSmart’s addressable TV advertising capability was picked out as one of Sky’s key attractions to Comcast, and NBCUniversal says it will look to learn from Sky and develop its own version in the US. Similarly, Sky will look to apply Audience Studio’s linear TV optimisation platforms for audience and context in Europe.

“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,” said Andrew Griffith, group chief operating officer at Sky. “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.”

Applying AdSmart’s addressable TV advertising capabilities in the US may not be a straightforward “plug and play” transition though though. Sky has had to adapt the AdSmart product while launching it in new European markets in order to comply with regional regulations, and some custom adaptation for the US market is likely to be required. It may also need to be adapted to fit in with Project OAR, a US consortium launched last week which will create standards for addressable TV advertising, which NBCUniversal is signed up to.

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