Home On TV & Video CTV Ad Buying Is About More Than Just Premium Versus Programmatic

CTV Ad Buying Is About More Than Just Premium Versus Programmatic


On TV & Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video. 

Today’s column is by Matt Sattel, VP of global brand partnerships at OpenX.

Brands today often look at CTV inventory through two different lenses. Either it’s premium, walled-garden inventory that’s negotiated and purchased via upfronts and NewFronts – or it’s open programmatic inventory.

It makes sense that advertisers don’t treat programmatic CTV the same way they treat walled-garden inventory. It’s shown on a long tail of apps and falls outside the linear relationships they’ve built up over many years.

However, they can – and should – take a more deliberate approach to buying CTV inventory outside of the NewFronts and upfronts. 

With a focus on data, brands not only have the ability to buy this CTV inventory more confidently because of an added layer of targeting; they also gain the advantage of buying in ways that can directly complement their premium spends. ID-based buying, ACR data and affinity targeting helps brands get greater value that fits hand-in-glove with premium buys. 

The spotlight on ID-based audiences

Audiences have the benefit of adding value to a programmatic CTV impression. Brands can feel more confident that they are reaching the right individual or segment, which opens up their willingness to buy across a broader variety of sites. Publishers not only benefit from higher demand but can also start to build out more data-driven offerings that create a “virtuous circle” where brands see increasingly more value and continue to spend.

Despite discussions around using first-party data to tap into these lucrative audiences and buy on CTV, it’s still early days. While NBCU announced their NBCUnified data offering in January, other premium media companies like Disney have only recently announced their intent to help buyers reach their own audiences. 

In the meantime, advertisers have their own first-party data to build a more strategic approach to programmatic media buying on CTV. But there has to be more to the strategy than data alone. Brands also need the ability to map that data to an ID graph to increase accuracy, scale and measurement. Testing is the name of the game. Brands should use their test budgets to identify good match rates, high campaign performance and insights for attribution.

Combine ACR and audience insights for smart incremental reach


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Advertisers can make use of programmatic impressions with an incremental reach strategy on CTV that ensures it complements their linear buy. Samba TV reported that, while linear impressions went up 19% in Q4 2021, unique reach only increased 6% on linear TV.  

With ACR data, brands can find audiences that haven’t been exposed as frequently on CTV apps. And ACR data can help brands make sure they aren’t over-exposing either. If someone has already seen a high frequency of ads on linear ESPN, ARC data can help ensure that they aren’t targeted across programmatic.

Target affinity groups for more precision

With audience data driving the strategy, brands can start to see CTV impressions for more than just content adjacency. Affinity data, from retail to travel to auto, can be layered over a CTV audience buy to help brands find specific segments and use more relevant messaging. 

Google has been making noise about its own affinity-based segments, which are becoming available through a host of CTV content providers, both premium and mid-market. While Google’s segments are a bit “black box” in nature, a host of publishers are partnering with major data owners to unlock affinity targeting with more transparency for the buyer. 

Gain insight and control

In CTV, publishers have been hesitant to allow brands to “cherry pick” ad placement, especially when they buy on the open web. While the practice continues to be something publishers resist, audience buying allows brands to be a bit choosier on programmatic content. 

Programmatic buying is not the place to carefully select impressions based solely on content and context. The open web for display and video flourished when brands focused on audiences. That’s where it will flourish for CTV. 

Audience buying on display and video evolved at a time before brands had their own audience data and before transparency was the norm. Now brands are savvier, more technical and more in control. These factors should not only instill confidence in an advertiser’s ability to find value on programmatic CTV; they can also help make programmatic CTV work harder and smarter than the digital channels before it.

Follow OpenX (@OpenX) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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