App Targeting Isn’t Good Enough For Modern CTV Buying

Alex Chatfield, VP, Marketplace Development, Xandr 

Once upon a time, desktop display advertising was the central way for brands to reach digital audiences. It was a simple process: “I want to appear in The New York Times. I will target nytimes.com. My ad is live on nytimes.com.” While desktop display still plays a prominent role in digital campaigns today, the video and CTV space is growing as brands’ strategic buying format of choice.

In 2020, US CTV spending was up more than 40% with no signs of slowing soon, making it a competitive area with potential for savvy buyers. Unfortunately, the premium video marketplace is more complicated than yesteryear’s desktop display world and requires new tools. The rapid shift to premium video has resulted in an education gap with many desktop display buyers on a steep learning curve and applying legacy techniques to this new channel.

App lists and site lists are blunt instruments in a nuanced market

Premium video content is largely consumed today via applications, downloaded either on a consumer’s CTV or mobile device. Unlike the web, where a site has a single address that you can target, applications have a unique address, or app bundle ID, for each app store that a consumer might use to download it. For buyers, this represents a challenge, as they have to gather and maintain a list of every app bundle ID in order to fully target a single app like Discovery GO.

While app targeting can be useful when targeting an app like Discovery GO, its capabilities fall meaningfully short when trying to target Discovery ad inventory holistically. Woefully for those targeting bundle IDs, a large percentage of content is accessed via distributors – virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) like Hulu, Sling TV and AT&T TV, and free ad-supported TV (FAST) applications like Pluto TV, WatchFree and TV PLUS – where the application often represents hundreds of different channels and a variety of content. If your only targeting tool is application targeting, you have no way to reach a consumer who is streaming Discovery on Sling TV without also including every other channel/show on that application.

Another hurdle in this new and fragmented space is reporting. DSPs today don’t tell buyers that app bundle ID “B00BI60DMU” (which represents the TBS app on Amazon Fire) and app bundle ID “9pjmtvpcn31k” (the TNT app on Xbox), for example, are both owned by WarnerMedia. It only tells them how much they spent on those app bundle IDs. In a premium video marketplace that’s populated by large media conglomerates like Disney, WarnerMedia and A+E Networks, this reporting gap limits a buyer’s ability to negotiate and track spend against commitments.

Filter to eliminate duplication and find more of the right consumers

So what does all this mean? Buyers should focus on reaching premium video audiences through platforms that invest in video content metadata and offer a standardized deal taxonomy – like Xandr’s Premium Video Catalog – rather than through app bundle ID targeting. To successfully reach full audiences across video/CTV inventory, buyers need to use deals, which provide more granular and targeted access to specific content across every consumer access point.

As buyers continue their quest to reach specific, interested audiences wherever they’re watching, they should prioritize scaled solutions that enable distinct deal filters across a number of categories, like parent media company. Such solutions will be key for solving broad challenges like cross-screen, deduplicated reach as well as more nuanced matters like reporting and negotiation.

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1 Comment

  1. Bravo Alex! RMT and Semasio have created the system that enables selection of contexts that exalt the power of each specific ad by resonating psychologically and emotionally with the selected contexts. Third parties validating the results provide data which shows that the ROI and branding lifts are doubled by the increased resonance precision when the specific CTV program is known not just the CTV network/app

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