Dish Launches Programmatic Strategy to Lure Digital Advertisers to TV

It's all about making things easier

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Dish is making a play for digital advertisers to come to television, by launching a programmatic strategy, which its ad sales division, Dish Media Sales, is beta testing beginning today.

The satellite TV provider partnered with digital ad technology provider Iponweb to build the marketplace, and is beta testing with three demand-side platforms: DataXu, Rocket Fuel and TubeMogul.

Dish says it is the first pay TV producer to offer an "impression by impression" programmatic marketplace. "That's not how TV works, but it's exactly how the digital ecosystem works," said Adam Gaynor, vp, Dish Media Sales. "And so we're giving the digital marketplace an opportunity to be on television in the way that they're used to purchasing and transacting media." In addition to attracting digital advertisers, Gaynor is hoping to lure former Dish advertisers, and other brands who haven't worked with them before.

"The platform is designed to have multiple monetization strategies so the partners will be able to interact with their clients in a bidding scenario, but me and my direct sales team will be able to use the platform for private marketplaces if we want," said Gaynor. "It's not just so we can enter the digital marketplace, but also to help our existing clients have a level of automation that makes things easier."

This is an extension of Dish's addressable advertising technology, where Dish delivers targeted ads to the DVRs of its more than 8 million households, which are dynamically played during commercial breaks. Dish receives two minutes of advertising time each hour (for a total of 6 million 30-second spots per year) on the cable networks it carries.

Dish is embracing programmatic advertising as it attempts to monetize the inventory not covered by its addressable advertising, and capitalizing on its first-party data that brands are increasingly interested in. While digital ecosystem buys can be flawed due to to ad blockers and bots, "the beauty of the digital ecosystem is that buyers have control," said Gaynor. "So we've taken our addressable platform, which already delivers to the household and we can already use data to find the households that match. Now we open it up transact in the digital ecosystem."

As Dish's addressable advertising, which was beta tested in 2011 and officially launched a year later, has grown more detailed and complex, the company says its programmatic platform will be more simplified. "We're going back to 80 segments that we're putting into the system—[including] age, sex, education, income, presence of children—and we'll allow that digital world to find that audience," said Gaynor. "But instead of finding it in a display ad below the screen or below the fold, they're going to see it on a 60-inch screen in someone's living room. I expect over time, we will do more data in that platform, allow brands to bring their own data and all the things we're able to do in the addressable world right now." 

While Dish Media Sales handles ad sales for both Dish and its OTT Sling TV, the company's programmatic offering will only be available on Dish during the beta testing. "As the product grows, I absolutely expect that we'll be able to bring in Sling inventory, that we'll be able to bring in VOD inventory and other inventory on the set top box that's not necessarily linear commercials. But right now, it's TV," said Gaynor.

Dish is the latest outlet to branch out into programmatic advertising. Just last Tuesday, Hulu announced its own programmatic strategy

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.