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29 October 2015

US Dish betas programmatic RTB auctions with key partners

We have always thought that the Dish Networks management team in the US was ahead of the curve, and had strong views about how rapidly OTT video was going to take off, but its move this week to embrace programmatic real time bidding for TV inventory was still a surprise.

It looks to us like this is a move to sell spare, previously useless, advertising inventory, off-cuts from its own Addressable Advertising system which downloads adverts to the 8 million DVRs its customers own, and spits them into segments of advertising which Dish owns. For the most part Dish owns a few minutes per hour, out of the 20 minutes plus of advertising on its screens, with the rest controlled by the channel owners.

So it sells slots based on demographic and geographic data, and has quite a few oddments left, which this new system is designed to sell. At the same time we see this as prepping its Sling TV OTT service to use the same service and build advertising over time, with content that comes with less pre-attached advertising.

It has certainly partnered with the great and the good from the “new” programmatic real time ad industry in IponWeb, who provided the core software for the online market, and also with DataXu, Rocket Fuel and TubeMogul, who all offer systems which help buyers select the right kind of programmatic advertising.

IponWeb offers custom-built real-time trading based on its u-Platform software, for delivering real-time media trading platforms and currently powers 50 existing markets across the Americas, Europe and Asia. DataXu is a provider of cloud based programmatic marketing software for brands and agencies. Rocket Fuel is a public US company and offers similar ad technology and recently acquired the New York-based ad tech company [x+1] for $230 million.

TubeMogul also public, offers a real-time bidding platform to help major brands and advertising agencies to reach audiences across multiple devices.

Comcast was perhaps the first major US pay TV operator to move into programmatic advertising through Freewheel 18 months ago. Freewheel at the time said that it had customers like 21st Century Fox and Viacom as well as Comcast rivals, like Dish and DirecTV. That acquisition is perhaps what triggered this move by Dish to build out its own platform.

The new Dish programmatic TV product offers programmatic advertisers access to the sitting room large screen, and relies on impression-based viewership information from Rentrak. It breaks targeting criteria into 80 segments such as age, sex, education, income, the presence of children in the household, etc.. At launch Dish said it would broaden those demographics to make the selection even tighter, but boasted that the advertising could have a “per impression” control of targeting, frequency, trafficking, and buying across 8 million US households.

The system is in beta right now, and executives admit that although it is not yet targeted at Sling TV, it will be tried on that in time.