TV3 Group explores ad technology for ‘platinum age of video’

Key Liberty Global unit will help Virgin Media company discover how best to use data

Pat Kiely, the managing director of TV3 Group. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Pat Kiely, the managing director of TV3 Group. Photograph: Dave Meehan


TV3 Group is working with the advanced advertising and data unit of Liberty Global, the owner of its parent company Virgin Media, in a bid to better position itself for technology-driven shifts in the television business.

Liberty Global, the cable group controlled by Irish-American businessman John Malone, set up the London-based unit in 2015, saying it would focus on “improving the TV viewing experience of our customers while protecting their privacy”.

Broadcasters are increasingly looking to exploit data from user sign-ins and subscriptions in the hope this will lift their fortunes in an advertising market dominated by the major tech platforms.

This data will be used to generate the kind of personalised content recommendations that are familiar to customers of streaming services, while it will also allow for more “relevant” advertising, according to Liberty Global.

TV3 Group managing director Pat Kiely said the broadcaster had the potential to “not only keep up with media consumption trends, but – you know what – set a few of them ourselves”.

The company will introduce so-called addressable advertising “in 12-18 months” through the partnership between Virgin and rival Sky announced last June, he said.

Addressable advertising means the ads served to viewers of linear television in the commercial breaks vary according to location and demographic information. This enables television advertisers to pinpoint their target markets, as they would through digital advertising.

TV3 Group is on track to rebrand as Virgin Media Television in the second quarter of 2018 and all three of its channels – TV3, 3e and Be3 – will be given new names. But this is unlikely to be the only change at the company, which is exploring new distribution routes for its content to reflect the habits of the on-demand, mobile audience.

“We have really moved from a golden age of television to a platinum age of video,” Mr Kiely said. “The bus trip to work in the morning can be the new prime time.”

A broadcaster such as TV3, allied to broadband, mobile and cable provider Virgin, can reach audiences “that new media can only dream of”, he added.

An unexpected decline in the Irish television ad market meant 2017 was a “difficult” year. However, TV3 is poised to attract new viewers this spring thanks to its first Six Nations rugby tournament and the launch of entertainment show Ireland’s Got Talent.