"On TV And Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.
Today’s column is written by Alex Chatfield, VP of marketplace development at Xandr.
A major challenge for buyers in the new and quickly growing video/CTV landscape is reaching consumers at scale. Unlike the programmatic display ecosystem, the premium video marketplace is fragmented across inventory owners (due to carriage agreements) and almost entirely deal-gated, or in other words, not available on the open exchange.
While there are a number of other hurdles, access to inventory is at the top of the list.
This inaccessibility may come as a surprise due to the influx of premium video and CTV content we’re gaining access to as consumers. However, the complexity of the path to premium video content, as well as the sheer number of paths, can be daunting and enormously time consuming for buyers.
In order to fully address this burgeoning opportunity, buyers must be cognizant of when, where and how they are reaching consumers. Taking the following steps will help remove friction and inefficiencies in the premium video marketplace, ultimately ensuring that buyers reach valuable audiences in premium environments at scale.
- Leverage deals and cross-device graphs to navigate consumer access points. The growing number of content providers and access points – programmers and broadcasters, MVPDs and vMVPDs, CTVs and smart TVs – means there are several ways to reach the exact same consumer on the exact same content. As a result, buyers looking to efficiently execute high quality video and CTV campaigns need to source, negotiate, and set up PMPs with every seller. This gives their programmatic buying platform the optionality to reach an audience across all available paths, increasing buyers’ chances of reaching those viewers at the lowest possible cost. This approach has made many media buyers nervous, as they worry about overexposing an audience by reaching them through multiple paths. Fortunately, cross-device graphs with frequency capping capabilities are able to manage this challenge, ensuring a positive ad experience for consumers and an efficient media buy for brands.
- Form direct relationships to better understand seller monetization stacks. The video/CTV marketplace today is dominated by old school waterfalls and sellers who send unique ad requests to different supply paths. SSP partners are incentivized to sell any and all inventory they have access to, meaning they’re not always prioritizing efficient supply paths for buyers. For the most efficient path to supply, buyers must speak directly with content owners, vMVPDs and connected device manufacturers to understand their monetization stack and identify which SSP(s) to set up deals with. For example, let’s say a media owner sells inventory through SSP A, SSP B and SSP C. If a buyer solely relies upon SSPs to access said media owner’s inventory, they could be missing out on access to additional inventory, and therefore audiences, sold through SSP B and SSP C. As a media buyer, having direct relationships with sellers provides critical information to ensuring you access 100% of a publisher’s inventory across all the platforms it works with at all possible price points, leading to maximized audience reach and lower CPMs.
- Utilize a standardized deal taxonomy to unlock new opportunities. The programmatic infrastructure for premium video and CTV is still nascent. Currently, targeting signals that are critical for buyers to understand an inventory’s worth are generally missing; these include content genre, rating (e.g. age bucket, like all audiences, 13+, etc.), live or VOD, duration, and program type (episode/movie/event/etc.). However, a standardized deal taxonomy can help facilitate a more direct exchange of information between buyers and sellers, unlocking new targeting and reporting that aren’t otherwise available through a DSP.
For buyers looking to access premium video at scale, a significant and concerted effort is required to set yourself up for success. Buyers need to be weary of shortcuts and out-of-the-box solutions that lack a defined and rigorous approach. It’s important to ask questions and understand incentives: the difference between doing this right and haphazardly is critical.