Sky being chased by Orange, Canal+, ProSiebenSat in addressable ads

While it has become trendy in advertising to knock the new and flatter the old, there were some key new announcements at the Future TV Advertising Forum. We are used to being told ad nauseum how wonderful Sky is, for its 4 year old Adsmart program, which has introduced addressable advertising in the UK, and this year it has moved across Europe to Germany and Italy. But this year we also saw moves from Orange working alongside Canal+ and a new experiment from ProSiebenSat, worthy of considerable note because it is built around Germany’s broadcast broadband hybrid protocol HbbTV.

Germany is now reaping the benefits of moving early in this hybrid format, circa 2009, and also for not making the system too complicated or overly structured. At the same time the UK adopted what has become YouView, and there are, as yet, not even any experiments using this technology, perhaps because it is overly restrictive.

ProSiebenSat’s Thomas Port, MD of Media SE, told the audience experiments began there a year ago using data to select the right advert for the right audience using “Switch in” to replace those which are on the broadcast stream.

The Switch-In service is sold in three layers, of different advert numbers and reach as classic, freestyle and XXL, and Port had clear data on its success. Normal advertising which did not use these addressable functions raise awareness of the client in 24% of an audience with 5% being able to actively recall the brand’s name. Switch in at the classic level led to 31% being aware of the brand, and 14% being able to recall the name, while at the XXL level this went up to 38% of the audience being aware, and 20% on recall. That’s four times as many being able to remember what brand ran what ad as existing advertising.

The addressability at the lowest level allowed selection of a geography or a device type, refined down to an IP address, it can send a different advert depending upon the weather and also use AG+ demographic data, age, gender, whether single or married, and can target specific time slots.

Basically all campaigns to date have been extensions to normal advertising, with replacement ads or switch-ins added to the select audience, usually 4 switch-ins per device although we were unclear over what period of time. Now ProSiebenSat is moving towards predictive behavioral targeting, and can deliver different campaigns to different segments – for instance this may be as simple as showing a single man a car advert involving other single men, and the family using a car when advertising to a family.

“There are privacy issues in Germany,” Port said, and a knowing flutter of sympathy came from the audience, and he explained that although it is far easier to export data from a home in the US and even in the UK, in Germany there was just about enough data allowed to leave the home to just about get the job done, but only if you knew what you were doing.

Port said that his experiment, about to go mainstream now that 200 campaigns have been completed, yielded the highest paying adverts of his entire company. He talked about reaching just under 50% of the audience using the broadband connection of HbbTVs to insert the Switch-in adverts, having access to some 43 million people, in about 18 million homes, showing that addressability in broadcast, was ready to become a real force in Germany.

The two speakers from Orange and Canal+ told of an 18 month experiment that they have been involved with using the return data acquired from the IPTV operators in France. Thibault Mathieu, director of Anticipation for multiscreen services at Orange, called for law changes in France, “It is illegal to broadcast one thing to one member of the audience and then to change it for another,” he informed an incredulous conference, but this change was now understood by politicians and well under way.

Orange will be ready to hit 60% of the TV audience in France when that change is made, because that’s how many set tops are connected to a two way broadband system and Orange has a 40% market share of those devices.

The proof of concept was initially carried out on “Replay” audiences – on demand, back catalog delivery, and uses anonymized data, with a high degree of privacy, achieved by changing the unique identity of each set top once every day, and this still relies on an opt in process from the viewer. It uses the SCTE 35 ad insertion rules which use cue tones in MPEG transport stream to drive ad insertion, and the two companies shared it across multiple operators, all those who took Canal+ content (which is all of them in France).

This September Orange and Canal+ went onto a proof of concept for Live TV channels, and they now have an SNPTV (official French advertising syndicate) agreement in place for personalized advertising and are about to begin the business in anger.

Mathieu pointed out, “30% of viewers zap during the ad break in France, and we had to build a new generation of media player for the set tops to cater for this.” He then showed how a campaign worked, taking a viewer out of the multicast for one ad break from a list of say 5 consecutive adverts and then putting them back into the multicast for the next adverts and then high-jacking them once again, later in the ad break. While he did not give out effectiveness details in the way that ProSiebenSat did, we could hear the sounds of salivating agencies behind us, keen to take the new concept to market in both Germany and France as soon as they got out of the room.