Home Content Studio 3 Ways CTV Advertising Can Get So Much Better

3 Ways CTV Advertising Can Get So Much Better


Imagine you’re deep into streaming game five of the NBA playoffs. After enduring the same car commercial countless times, frustration sets in: “Not that truck ad again. I’m not in the market for a car, but even if I were, I’d never buy this now because they practically ruined the game for me.”

Blaming the truck company alone is shortsighted. Ad frequency, lack of addressability and the absence of contextual relevance across CTV are due to a series of breakdowns in the ad serving process. A relative lack of demand from advertisers often results in one brand monopolizing ad slots. Furthermore, issues like poorly paced campaigns and improperly implemented frequency caps exacerbate audience dissatisfaction.

Yet, viewers also share some responsibility. By opting out of tracking their CTV viewing, they forfeit addressable or contextually relevant ads. And outdated privacy laws like the 40-year-old Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) make matters worse.

From frequency capping to more effective measurement strategies, solutions exist to improve CTV ad experiences. As live programming increasingly shifts to CTV, the programmatic ad industry must demonstrate that CTV can rival and surpass traditional linear television.

Fixing frequency

CTV is one of the bright spots amid uneven online advertising growth. Still, there’s room for improvement and faster progress.

Take ad frequency. Frequency capping is still challenging due to the absence of a universal creative ID for programmatically served ads in CTV. It’s why viewers are repeatedly subjected to the same 6-, 15- and 30-second spots.

This problem is compounded by the frequent omission of IAB categories and advertiser domains. Additionally, media file URLs have a complex nesting pattern within each platform they’re hosted on, making it challenging to replicate a TV-like ad break experience.

By normalizing media files and adding in missing categories and domains, however, ad servers can identify specific changes relevant to advertisers’ buying platforms and adjust ad frequency accordingly.

Updating outdated legislation


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Few, if any, demand-side platforms currently offer contextual advertising for CTV. A DSP that prioritizes contextual information without relying on device IDs could revolutionize the industry.

These constraints are held in place by regulatory frameworks like the VPPA, which places strict privacy restrictions on viewership data. But the law is sorely in need of an update that protects consumers while recognizing that a lot has changed since its 1988 enactment.

To fully grasp how out of touch the VPPA is, consider its origins. Often referred to as the “Bork Bill,” after Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video rental history was disclosed during his confirmation process, the act holds any “video tape service provider” liable for accessing a person’s private viewing information without their permission. It has since been used to curtail online targeting as the threat of negative publicity in high-profile legal proceedings, and expensive punitive judgments have made streaming networks wary.

However, industry players can help safeguard users’ privacy without hampering CTV ad effectiveness by partnering with advertisers who meet rigorous privacy standards and continually educate users on the benefits of data sharing.

Compliance and effective consumer outreach can lead CTV platforms to boost ad revenue while delivering a more satisfying ad viewing experience. It would be a win-win-win for all sides of the CTV ad equation.

Strengthening measurement 

CTV measurement remains rudimentary. It’s reliant on the usual pixel-based tracking methods, such as impression and quartile trackers. The most advanced feature available until now has been verifying user IP against lists of invalid traffic. But this does little to enhance the understanding of viewer engagement.

Hope is on the horizon thanks to the Open Measurement SDK (OM SDK) 1.4 from IAB Tech Lab, which promises significant changes in how viewer engagement is analyzed.

This new standard will enable publishers to verify that CTV devices are on and ads are viewable without relying on flawed proxies. More importantly, it will allow for the collection of precise engagement data, such as timestamps of user interactions – whether they change the channel, open a menu or interact with an “Are you still watching?” prompt.

These aren’t just technical improvements; they enhance ad relevance for viewers and provide advertisers with concrete data on viewers’ attention. All it takes is one major broadcaster to implement the SDK and let the brands see the outcome. As other CTV ad sellers and buyers see the depth of that measurement, a better and more engaging CTV ad experience could appear overnight.

A shared responsibility

Addressing the complexities of CTV advertising demands collective action. By prioritizing user experience, embracing innovation and navigating regulatory challenges, advertisers can unlock the full potential of CTV while publishers increase revenue and maximize yield.

For more articles featuring James Wilhite , click here.

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