Dish to Woo Digital Advertisers With Programmatic Exchange for Targeted TV Ads

Automation, Real-Time Bidding and Targeting on Household Level

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A Dish Network satellite on display near a selection of TVs in a store.
A Dish Network satellite on display near a selection of TVs in a store. Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News
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Dish Network is hoping to woo digital ad dollars with a new programmatic marketplace that takes automated, targeted TV buying to a new level.

The satellite giant said it is testing a programmatic exchange that lets advertisers buy commercial time during live and DVR-playback TV on an impression-by-impression basis, targeted down to the household level and using real-time bidding.

"We want to give digital advertisers the opportunity to purchase linear TV but in the same way they are used to buying," said Adam Gaynor, VP-media sales, Dish Network. "This will allow us to tap into part of the ecosystem we haven't been a part of."

The goal is giving TV marketers greater ease and efficiency in buying addressable inventory, which has been a highly manual process, according to Mr. Gaynor. "This creates automation in addressable," he said.

Addressable ads target specific households that match criteria set by the marketer -- like people in the market for a new car -- and are inserted dynamically into commercial pods.

The reach of Dish's exchange will be limited to the company's 8 million addressable households. The inventory will come from the two minutes per hour of local commercial time in cable programming that is allocated to the pay-TV provider.

Buyers will bid on TV time perhaps a week or more away, but the test will partly aim to see what buyers want and what timing works best.

While initially the platform will rely on a real-time auction, Mr. Gaynor said there will be opportunities to create private exchanges with marketers and agencies.

Dish Network isn't the only one testing how programmatic advertising, which is common in digital, can work in TV. Mr. Gaynor said what makes Dish's offering different than others out there is it allows advertisers to buy on an impression-by-impression basis, the same way they do in digital, rather than identifying a 30-second unit that over-indexes on a particular target.

The Dish Network's marketplace is currently being tested with several ad tech firms including DataXU, Rocket Fuel and TubeMogul. The platform will be opened up to the industry after the completion of successful testing, the company said.