"On TV & Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.
Today's column is by Lynn Chealander, Director, Product Management, Xandr.
Imagine the Air Buddies franchise churns out a 15th movie, and you’re rightly excited to see it on the big screen. But when you get to the theater, you discover that tickets simply guarantee you a seat; you won’t find out what’s playing until the movie starts. Most people wouldn’t buy that ticket. Why risk getting stuck in the latest Blumhouse slasher movie when all you want to see is a dunking golden retriever?
Marketers, who are just as sensitive to content as movie audiences, are not always so lucky when buying video ads. Historically, there has not been a standardized way to talk about video content in programmatic advertising. This has been a burden for both buyers and publishers, who are often forced to use manual workarounds to provide basic transparency into video content.
Fortunately, the industry is beginning to invest in standardized contextual metadata; these efforts are crucial if marketers are to get the most out of programmatic OTT.
What is content metadata and why does it matter?
Buyers put a lot of value in contextual relevance, but often their ability to understand what they’re buying stops at the URL or app level. Content-level metadata goes one level deeper, describing the actual video rather than its more generic environment. Types of content metadata include genre, rating, and duration. Today, these can be shared across the ecosystem via standard parameters in the content object, as defined in the OpenRTB spec.
Let’s use the WNBA All-Star Game as an example. It’s in the basketball genre, is suitable for all audiences, has a duration of 3 hours, is being aired live, and is an event. But without content metadata, all a marketer would know is that an ad is for sale on a CTV app like AT&T TV Now. Providing deeper context allows publishers to access more specific demand, e.g., if the marketing team for the 15th Air Buddies movie wanted to target live basketball events.
Broad adoption of video content metadata would give buyers more control over the content they align their ads with and the audiences they reach. And it would help media owners access demand for contextual audiences, streamline curation, and ensure ads served align with their content, creating a better user experience.
Taxonomy is the key
While OpenRTB provides a set of standard content parameters, it does not define a standardized taxonomy for the metadata shared within many of its most prominent parameters. But fragmented metadata, such as a single genre inconsistently labelled as “humor,” “comedy,” “funny” and “comedic,” is a massive roadblock for a buyer trying to scale a contextual-based audience campaign. A content taxonomy – or a system of classification that predefines allowed values for each parameter – is necessary to reduce friction.
Publishers, of course, use standardized taxonomies within their own content management systems, but they are often proprietary. The challenge now is for platforms – with the help of industry groups like the IAB – to partner with publishers and buyers to unify these varied publisher taxonomies into a single marketplace-wide taxonomy. This is a crucial step for platforms that wish to provide a single view of content across multiple supply sources.
The benefits are clear
To help marketers get the most out of programmatic OTT, the industry must prioritize increasing the amount of contextual metadata available to buyers. This requires partnership between publishers and platforms to describe all OTT content using industry-defined parameters and standardize the metadata within those parameters using a consistent taxonomy.
Industrywide adoption of such parameters and a push to standardize the metadata will create network effects for publishers, support transparent contextual targeting and reporting, and improve access to curated premium video audiences.