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Earlier this week, we announced our partnership with Sling TV, DISH Network’s OTT provider. The partnership makes Sling TV’s premium inventory available programmatically through the SpotX platform, allowing advertisers to target custom audience segments with dynamic ads in live video and VOD. In tandem with this announcement, we joined Sling TV in New Orleans for the Digiday Video Anywhere Summit, a retreat that brings together top-tier video creators and media owners to discuss key trends and innovations in video. At our session on Wednesday, SpotX Senior Director of Business Development, Chris Ramirez, teamed up with Adam Lowy, who heads up Advanced TV & Digital for DISH & Sling TV, to discuss the rapid convergence of digital video and television and explore the challenges and opportunities that come along with it.

Their conversation centered on two important milestones along the path to convergence.

Programmatic Buying in Live and Linear TV

Just over a month ago, Sling TV rolled out a programmatic buying option for live and linear TV. As one of the first to market with a digital solution for a somewhat traditional TV bundle, we see this as the tip of the iceberg and with many larger broadcast and cable companies to follow suit.

This move by Sling was evidence of convergence in the works, bringing the data and measurement capabilities of digital video to the live and linear television environment.

Addressability & Audience Targeting

The ability to identify and target specific audience characteristics and serve ads accordingly is the key to effective advertising. However, Adam Lowy notes that in the live and linear television environment, there’s been a disconnect between the audience data needed to make that possible and the programmatic technology to power it—until now. Sling TV’s partnership with SpotX has brought addressability into the fold. By leveraging Sling TV’s anonymized first-party subscriber data, which is available to advertisers through the SpotX platform, we can now specifically target key audience segments with dynamically-inserted, highly relevant advertisements across devices. This partnership allows for precision targeting—with the immediacy of programmatic—to viewers of premium video content delivered via OTT channels; a “rarity” in the market according to SpotX VP of Strategic Accounts, Ben Abbatiello.

So, what’s next?

For complete convergence to be realized, there’s still a strong need for education in the market. Traditional and digital video advertising still exist largely in separate economies and technologies; professionals who are accustomed to traditional ad environments think in terms of gross ratings points, for instance, and need to understand the language of digital to fully grasp its opportunities. However, Lowy pointed out that the industry is moving in the right direction, as traditional advertisers hire for digital skillsets and appoint heads of advanced TV. It’s an exciting time to be in the space—stay tuned for more innovation on the horizon and read more about our partnership with Sling TV here.

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