Channel 4 to launch programmatic VOD ad platform
Joseph O'Halloran
| 12 November 2014
The UK's fourth largest broadcaster Channel 4 is to offer for the first time in Europe a digital marketplace to buy advertising programmatically, offering access to its first-party viewer data.

4oDThe programmatic service will begin from 2015 on Chanel 4's new All 4 on-demand platform and will allow agencies to buy video-on-demand (VOD) ads against its unique audience segmentation as part of an exclusive partnership with Freewheel. Other partners include demand side platforms (DSP), Videology and TubeMogul.

Initial brands to trial the targeted VOD ad product, which offers advertisers audiences based on their interests together with their actual VOD behaviour, will include Missguided, P&G,, Baileys and Results will be released to the industry in 2015.

Commenting on the move, Channel 4's head of digital & partnership innovation, Jonathan Lewis, said: "Our data strategy has enabled Channel 4 to lead the global digital TV ad market. Channel 4's unique first party data already offers advertisers superior targeting against our engaged, young, upmarket audience on our growing VOD platform and the radical addition of automation and programmatic buying is a another game-changer for the commercial TV VOD industry in 2015. With demographic targeting now representing over 20% of our total digital advertising revenue and the world's first ever individually personalised digital campaigns with Coca-Cola and Burberry our data strategy continues to future proof our business, driving increased revenues and creative innovation."

Explaining the rationale for choosing the newly re-branded on-demand platform for the service, Channel 4 revealed market analysis it had taken in partnership with Cog Research and Neuroscientist Amanda Ellison at Durham University, which found that advertising on TV on-demand players outperforms YouTube and other online video networks, social and auto play video platforms for viewer acceptance, engagement and attention.

Channel 4 said that the research results identified the real differentiators in the digital advertising market the 'way' in which viewers consume VOD content is as important as 'what' they consume. It showed that Channel 4's currnet on-demand player (4oD) grabbed 80% of respondents' attention versus YouTube's 20% and that the latter's visual environment increases the work a viewer's brain has to do by 50% as they process what to watch next whilst the ads are playing, reducing their ability to concentrate.

Further research also found that the ABC1 audience definition widely used by the UK media industry was largely out-dated. The broadcaster said that representing 54% of the UK adult population, the ABC1 definition hadn't for some time correctly outlined an upmarket 'High Capital' audience with both the economic means and a progressive attitude many advertisers want to reach. In fact, it calculated that a fifth of the high capital group would not be classified as ABC1 using the current definition.