"On TV And Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.
Today’s column is written by Tim Ware, vice president of advanced television at Telaria.
In my last column, a little more than a year ago, I outlined the philosophical differences between programmatic TV and digital video buyers. While both approaches have their virtues, I proposed that in the end it doesn’t really matter because measurement will unify and propel this fast-growing business.
One year later, our ecosystem has never been in a greater state of disruption. What have we accomplished, and where are we going? While I believe it still comes down to measurement, there are additional variables that have been nagging digital video natives for some time.
I hope that when we look back a year from now, these challenges will no longer be stumbling blocks. The four issues to focus on right now are targeting, fraud, viewability and completed views.
It’s ironic that the traditional legacy TV business and leading MVPDs have seemingly cracked the code to deliver addressable one-to-one targeted campaigns, thanks partly to ad tech companies, such as INVIDI, Visible World and Cadent.
Meanwhile, targeting across the full connected-TV (CTV) ecosystem proves to be more challenging since the CTV landscape spans video game consoles, streaming media boxes and smart televisions. Myriad devices, with a variety of device IDs but no universal ID (yet), make it difficult to establish a broad-stroke standard the industry can fully embrace.
At same time, the publishers and media companies producing CTV content haven’t untangled their growing “web” of apps, often developed by third parties but mostly lacking consistent technical features across operating systems. In the interim, exciting data companies such as Tru Optik, Neustar, InScape and Acxiom offer compelling solutions, while hardware manufacturers like Roku and Samsung lead the pack in harnessing first-party data to deliver addressable OTT advertising.
I may be a hopeless romantic, but fraud should be much harder to perpetrate with “premium” video, particularly with video streamed into TV sets. The video industry has a massive head start as it’s already educated about the nuances of ad fraud through traditional digital ad formats. The Ads.txt initiative has gained traction and appears to be a very significant contribution from the IAB that will send unauthorized sellers fleeing like roaches.
But Ads.txt is still primarily used by premium publishers that only use a handful of supply-side platforms. It appears to be less relevant for second-tier domains that want to list as many sellers and resellers as possible to achieve widest reach. Certain key descriptive data is also not included in Ads.txt files, such as video vs. display or country of origin.
Some publishers are enhancing value and functionality by adding comments and formatting to help interpret and organize Ads.txt files, but this needs to be scaled. We can expect that Ads.txt 2.0 will transition to a more sophisticated solution with more robust features because the core goal of eliminating confusion and minimizing wiggle room for bad actors is vital.
At its most basic level, there’s no real measurement for viewability in CTV. But common sense suggests that viewability should have no issues on the TV set. We all know that when ads are on screen, they are 100% viewable. It’s the biggest set in the house, and while it only registers as one impression, there is often more than one person sitting in the room watching that ad.
So while viewability may hinder some buyers, let’s really focus on measuring the quality of viewers and co-viewers so that we can more quickly capitalize on all the benefits of advertising on connected televisions. SlingTV and comScore’s recent announcement of measuring targeted addressable OTT offers the first evidence of the possibilities and indicates where we are all heading.
Engagement levels and, subsequently, completed views are higher in advanced TV environments than in linear TV environments. Connected TV viewership allows publishers to deliver a more logical, targeted and dynamic commercial load to an end user in the living room on a big flat screen in many scenarios.
Linear TV’s blaring, highly cluttered ad breaks filled with national ads and tune-in promotions, plus two minutes per hour of local ads, have unintentionally created a less premium environment than now typically seen in advanced TV. It’s no wonder that consumers typically tune out completely, whether it’s making a sandwich, multitasking or taking a bathroom break. The more data we can get on completed views and agreement on what they are worth compared to partial completions, impressions and the like, the faster this format can truly take off.
There is some work to be done, but none of these issues are insurmountable. As data becomes ever more central to advertising, it will play a major role in solving each of these stumbling blocks. Beyond that, it will add a rich layer of insight to TV campaigns that digital folks have craved for so long. As more formal measurement and currency factors are put in place to support the next generation of targeting and measurement, tackling fraud and viewability will bolster advanced TV spending in the coming broadcast year.