“On television and videois a column exploring the opportunities and challenges of advanced television and video.
Today’s column is Ruby Resendez, Director of Digital Solutions at Stirist.
Today’s CTV landscape offers marketers a new frontier to leverage more personalized targeting and reach than traditional linear TV ads. And advertising sales follow the buzz.
According Omnicom Media Group, ad spend for connected television (CTV) grew 40.6% year-over-year in 2020 to more than $9 billion, “making CTV the fastest growing industry in the world.” US digital advertising market”. eMarketer projected that in 2021, CTV’s ad spend reached nearly $15 billion, an increase of 59.9%.
Marketers looking to reach these new audiences may be tempted to use open auctions available through demand-side platforms (DSPs). Open auctions appear to democratize and simplify the buying of CTV ads as they allow marketers to set parameters for viewers or inventory, allowing them to place ads quickly and affordably on funded streaming services by advertising.
But there is a better way.
Server-side ad insertion is not ideal
Open auctions are risky. The emphasis is on price and compliance with broad criteria. But it is not uncommon for fraud and frequency issues to prevail. Ads can be shown in an undesirable environment, to fake viewers in misrepresented inventory, or to the same audience repeatedly.
On the web, many terms, metrics, platforms, and technologies used in open auctions are agreed upon. But CTV is still emerging and is a more complicated and fragmented market with many walled gardens.
For example, each streaming service has its own app. And for viewing, services are routed through various platforms, such as Roku or cable systems. There are different standards for measurability, often depending on the application or platform. Fraud detection techniques are still trying to catch up. The IAB, for example, noted that invalid traffic detection developed for the web often does not work well on CTV.
Additionally, server-side ad insertion (SSAI) is common on CTV. It combines ads with content for seamless insertion into a video stream. But SSAI spoofing has resulted in massive fraud that is hard to detect. Ads measurement comes from these ad servers, but it is possible that scammers can insert themselves into the servers and create fictitious viewers.
In April 2020, for example, a huge Operation of the ICEBUCKET robot has been updated. Fraudsters impersonated more than two million CTV viewers in more than 30 countries. And an SSAI-based CTV ad fraud scheme was discovered early last year after scamming advertisers for up to $50 million through fake CTV inventory.
Use concierges for less fraud and better targeting
The best way to avoid fraud and less than optimal inventory in CTV: direct relationships. Buy curated packages from specific platforms or apps, use private marketplaces that offer verified households and devices, or opt for DSP packages, including those provided by channel owners like Disney and Samsung Ads.
Beyond fraud prevention, concierge ad buying also has another major benefit: advertisers can better target their ads with optimal frequency.
Ad placement in open auctions is often defined by general criteria. But curated offers — which often rely on information known only to data providers, platforms, or channel owners — can target inventory from high-quality vendors and publishers with more specific characteristics of viewer households. Think of “high-end zip codes with consumers watching lots of sports channels.” These offers also help ensure high-quality placements and completion views and make it easier to block fraud.
Even though viewing data is anonymized, curated offers are more likely to offer sophisticated audience targeting that goes beyond even what’s offered on the web. This is because CTV’s Walled Gardens has more specific data about users and their viewing habits. Reliable DSPs with solid frequency standards help avoid oversaturation. Packages that can target audiences in this way can also limit ad frequency, an important factor when ad repetition is common on many streaming services.
As CTV matures, avoid unnecessary risks
Streaming services are fundamentally changing the way television works for viewers and advertisers, but the CTV environment is still under development. Open auctions are risky due to fraud, frequency, and poor quality inventory.
But marketers can avoid these risks and achieve better targeting by using curated channels and packages to generate the best value – and the most reliable.