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Pay TV can capture digital ad spend, says DISH ad sales exec

James Shears

James Shears

Pay TV operators can capture some of the advertising spend of media buyers that have hitherto ignored TV by focusing on automated selling, the provision of premium inventory, reliable data and targeting, according to James Shears, general manager, addressable and programmatic, at US pay TV provider DISH’s sales house, DISH Media Sales.

Speaking at last week’s Future TV Advertising Forum, Shears said that operators should consider carefully how they implement  ‘programmatic’ advertising – the automated buying and selling of ad inventory based on algorithms rather than human intervention.

“The key to how to do programmatic is around business. Do you want to give up control of distribution or own it? We are trying to control our own platform,” said Shears.

Shears said there were many advertisers who had never looked at TV but that could be captured by implementing the right strategy.

“We want to go after people with digital assets that just do not buy TV,” he said.

Shears said that TV offers key advantages over other media. “We have a ‘control hub’ that houses business data about how people watch TV. People typically watch TV consistently. If historically people have watched it the same way, we can create a ‘futures market’ in inventory,” he said.

Shears said that DISH had divided its audience into 50 demographic sub-groups to enable targeting, based on factors including location and propensity to view certain content.

The mechanism for triggering real-time ad auctions has been developed to cope with the fact that DISH is selling satellite TV airtime rather than online inventory. Once an audience of about 80,000 households is reached, this ‘triggers’ real-time bidding for particular inventory.

Shears said that DISH could offer a number of key benefits to “target the digital community”. It can provide additional opportunity related to the scarcity of premium content in a purely digital environment, it can create a “frictionless purchasing environment”, it can provide a full-screen experience, unlike the internet, and it can deliver “optimized reporting”.

“There are different programmatic solutions for TV on the market. You can have impression by impression buying, with targeted of households and maximization of the message from a full-screen experience,” he said.

Shears said DISH is now looking to take its advertising offer forward with new features.

“We are looking to create an infrastructure that allows you to buy audiences. We think we are in the first beta phase. There is an opportunity to bring in digital assets and impressions to create a more real-time environment,” he said.