Canadian Broadcaster Bell Media Banks On Premium Programmatic

BellBell Media, the broadcasting and radio subsidiary of Canadian communications company Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE), is bulking up on programmatic for its linear, streaming video and mobile platforms.

Using Videology, Bell Media is building an audience indexing and delivery tool for advertisers to plan and execute cross-platform campaigns. The first phase of the integration will go live in the third quarter.

“We are as concerned about cord cutting as anyone in broadcast is, but you always want to invest in the best possible programming and then find ways to distribute that content,” said VP of digital ad sales Kristie Painting. “We’re focused on various methods of distribution, where we have network subscribers, but also video on demand and online video.”

Bell’s reach is massive – in addition to its national footprint, Bell owns 30 local television stations under the top Canadian television network CTV.

Bell Media owns 106 licensed radio stations in 54 markets across Canada and its sister wireless service provider Bell Mobility has some 9 million subscribers. Think of Bell Media as a cross between a Comcast, Cox Communications and Verizon/AOL.

The company first leapt into programmatic last year, monetizing digital inventory for more than 200 sites and 30 apps via a private marketplace.

Bell Media primarily works with Index Exchange to set up private marketplace deals, which Painting claims is a lot more common for Canadian publishers.

“We’re very protective of our inventory and don’t want any sort of daisy chaining,” she said. “We have less than .04% ad fraud and non-human traffic so we’ve been careful about how we replicate programmatic in the television space.” 

With Canada’s digital ad spend predicted to nearly double its TV ad spend by 2019 (digital will account for 42.1% of total ad spend to TV’s 23.3%, according to eMarketer), broadcasters are looking for ways to carve out additional monetization opportunities.

Its work with Videology is designed to support Bell’s developments around enabling more programmatic execution in cross-platform TV (the company already provided linear audience segmentation, but will add more data application and delivery capabilities).

Videology will help Bell bridge the gap between its different technologies used to monetize linear, OTT and digital, such as the ad server and data management platform.

“For me to be able to say to a planner, ‘If you add VOD to your plan, you’ll get 10% incremental reach,’ is one thing, but to help them understand which viewers have seen a particular ad is another,” Painting said.

The vision for Bell is to use Videology as a data and audience hub of sorts, similar to carrier AT&T’s use. It would act as the centralized hub for ingesting advertiser first party, third party and possibly mobility data depending on legislative allowances, and allow the broadcaster to forecast yield across myriad platforms.

“You can have mobility data in the form of ad IDs, but you still need to de-identify it, re-aggregate it and figure out how to apply it digitally,” Painting explained. “You still need that data management piece, which I don’t think Videology replaces, but will certainly help us apply that data judiciously.”

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