Channel 4 is going all-in on programmatic trading. The national U.K. broadcaster announced today at its upfronts that it is launching a video programmatic advertising exchange.
Dubbed the Premium Video Xchange (PVX), the service will let advertisers buy audiences programmatically across its All 4 video-on-demand service on any device, including TV screens, in early 2016.
The move will see another spurt of broadcast-quality video inventory injected into the programmatic space, letting more advertisers tap into the broadcaster’s valuable viewer data to send more personalized messages at scale, around hit shows like “Homeland” (pictured above) and “Fargo.”
Channel 4’s director of digital partnerships and innovation Jonathan Lewis said the move is critical if it’s to keep pace with changing viewing habits. “The PVX product gives advertisers access to identifiable audiences on All 4 across all platforms, and takes us closer to where we want to be in what’s a fully addressable on-demand world,” he said.
The broadcaster already made an assertive move into programmatic trading (guaranteed, not real-time bidding) earlier this year, with the launch of a private marketplace. The big difference with this announcement is that a single campaign can stretch across all platforms and devices on which All 4 is present, including “shared” screens like Samsung TVs, Xbox and Sony playstation consoles, and YouView.
It will also open up the opportunity to more agencies and advertisers, beyond its original pilot trading desk partners. It expects to double its programatic revenue to 30 percent by the end of 2016.
Initially, demographic data will be made available to sell this way, but in time that may be expanded to include interest and behavioral-based targeting segments; an area Channel 4 has been exploring for the last year or so.
But it’s not planning to stop there. The broadcaster is also investigating how to scale its programatic proposition further, including whether to start brokering inventory programmatically, on behalf of other premium video publishers, something it can do as a result of its partnership with Freewheel, according to Lewis.
“We don’t have any publisher partnerships signed, but it’s an area we’re going to be investigating because it gives us more scale and we have a fully operational platform that opens up quality inventory opportunities,” he added.
Channel 4 is also planning to bolster its in-house programmatic expertise, details of which are yet to be determined.
Opening up the ability to run campaigns programmatically across shared devices also gets it a step closer to its aim of being a first choice for advertisers who want to run personalized, addressable campaigns across any screen.
Carat global chief digital officer James Harris said unlocking more premium video inventory for brands “can only be a good thing” adding that although there is a steady flow of video impressions available in the market, they aren’t always in environments that are enticing for brands.
He added that Channel 4’s plan to look beyond its own inventory to scale its premium video inventory via partnerships with other publishers is a positive one if it is to achieve better scale, and will naturally widen the broadcaster’s typical competitor set to include the AOLs of the world.
Channel 4 has good reason for expanding its ability to generate more programmatic revenues. A study it commissioned from research firm MTM and comScore has revealed the programmatic campaigns it has run so far have been on average 72 percent more efficiently targeted than a typical campaign and delivered 24 percent better ad recognition and 20 percent higher spontaneous rand awareness.
MediaCom’s chief operating officer Josh Krischefski also welcomed the move, saying it will introduce greater targeting capabilities, and open up the potential for “richer, more immersive” and personalised ad campaigns.
He added that the injection of broadcaster quality inventory into the market will mean advertisers can better sidestep the “low quality inventory” of open video exchanges and could raise the bar in terms of overall inventory quality available.
“It’s great for the market as it will drive platforms to deliver on premium inventory, and it will bring accessibility to the best video environments for brands,” he added.
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