As one of the first live TV streaming services to market, SLING TV combines the best elements of cable TV and internet streaming. Its advertising offering manages to satisfy both brands and viewers – a rarity in today’s age of ad blockers.
We spoke with Kayla Yee, Account Executive at DISHMedia to learn more about SLING TV’s current offerings, why brands should invest in their services today, and what we can expect to see from programmatic advertising in the near future.
Q. How would you describe SLING TV to brands and advertisers?
Launched in 2015, SLING TV’s live TV streaming offering was the first service of its kind in the world. With it, viewers can use their TVs, tablets, phones, and computers to watch live and on-demand programs that would normally be limited to cable and satellite TV.
We are one of the leading Connected TV providers in the space and offer premium content to all of our subscribers looking to watch the channels they know and love. We’ve grown our footprint immensely in just half a decade or so. Today, SLING TV is one of the largest virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPD) in the industry, with 2.4 million subscribers and over 12 million monthly unique users.
Q. What are the primary advantages and / or challenges that came along with being the first live television streaming service?
The live TV streaming space has evolved significantly since we launched our product, but I will say that rising tides do raise all ships. For us, there was definitely a learning curve but as the first to market in the space we do have some advantages like consumer awareness and the best programmatic engine in the OTT space. Today, when customers think of live streaming – they think of SLING TV.
Q. SLING TV offers video, data-driven video, addressable advertising. How do you go about selling programmatic and addressable inventory and what makes SLING targeting unique among its competitors?
We really focus on what the client is looking for. By examining their KPIs we work with marketers to lay out the parameters of their campaign and, more importantly, what kind of buy will align best with their goals.
In the case of programmatic, being able to customize and be flexible with their campaigns is one of the biggest selling points. Determining whether the buyer is looking for something evergreen or looking to buy impressions during a short-term event, or what scope of audience they’re looking for is important when building a successful strategy.
With targeting, we always put data first. As publishers, we have access to deterministic first-party data that is available to utilize for targeting, in a privacy-compliant manner, in all of our clients’ campaigns. We also have partnerships with almost all major third-party data partners which allows us to data match and reach households on both a 1:1 household level, via addressable advertising and broader contextual scope.
Our rich first-party data provides the ability to create segments beyond your standard age and gender demos. For example, if you are looking for “vacationers” we are able to use the data that we have to curate those specific segments to reach those audiences.
Q. What is the biggest challenge facing brands as it relates to programmatic tv advertising?
This is a great question. Relatively speaking, programmatic is still in its infancy stage in terms of widespread industry adoption. We also understand that there’s a learning curve. So one of the biggest obstacles we have to overcome is educating clients on the value and benefits of investing in programmatic so that they are more comfortable with fully embracing it. Programmatic is a great tool to use for those looking to work with a flexible budget or get in on the ground floor for seasonal tentpole events. It’s easy to get started and we’re always happy to walk buyers through the process.
Q. For movie releases, we tend to think of hitting the broadest audience possible, but are you finding that instead of casting a wide net, clients are now using SLING TV’s advanced targeting capabilities to attract niche audiences? Does this open the door for smaller brands (with smaller audience segments) as well?
I’d have to say – yes and no. It goes back to understanding what the advertiser’s goals are. There’s always going to be clients who like the big “awareness” play and want to cast a wide net (to make sure their brand name gets out there), but for some campaigns that doesn’t necessarily make sense.
So instead of going with the broad buy, some brands are being more intentional with their targets. Some smaller brands do prefer to take the latter route because it allows them to prioritize their most important audience first because the level of granularity we offer via audience segmentation opens up the opportunity for them to reach their more niche target market.
Q. What’s top of mind for SLING TV in 2021?
Live sports have been huge for SLING historically, and high investment in games continues to be a trend year over year. With the Olympics and new athletic seasons coming up we do have auctions set up for July and also in the Fall for sports (on both collegiate and professional levels). Entertainment is also a strong vertical for us whether that’s reality TV or lifestyle programming around things like home improvement or cooking. We have a variety of verticals that subscribers tune in for.
On the product side, we’ve recently launched a newly designed SLING TV app. The updated look gives users a more personalized streaming experience making discovering and enjoying content easier than ever. The new app is currently available on select Amazon Fire TV devices and will be rolled out across all devices throughout the year.
Q. Any future predictions we can expect to see as it relates to programmatic in 2022 and beyond?
A lot can happen in programmatic, which is one of the reasons we love working in the programmatic space. Data is and will continue to be a big piece of the conversation going forward.
How various players integrate data will continue to change, especially with cookies going away). As a result, first-party subscriber data will be more important and deterministic data overall. Specifically in programmatic exchanges.