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Despite the Boom, Biddable CTV Has Some Big Problems to Address

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CTV is booming. According to new research, the proportion of advertising campaigns run via CTV is set to increase substantially over the next two years, with brands attracted to CTV’s increased levels of attention versus other channels, as well as its potential to bolster omni-channel campaigns.

As a medium, CTV promises a blend of the dynamic, real-time benefits of digital with the brand safe, lean-back-and-enjoy experience of linear TV. However, unlocking this promise will require some work within the ecosystem. While two-thirds of European media buyers engaging in programmatic CTV buys, either via managed service providers or through self-service platforms, concern about unintentional and indirect inventory remain.

While programmatic CTV offers the combination of linear TV's large reach and digital advertising's targeting and measurement potential, the industry must ensure inventory quality and opaque buying processes don't affect CTV advertising in the same way they affected digital advertising. To say it more directly, if we don’t act together, there's a risk of repeating past cycles.

Delivering on the promise of CTV

TV targeting has evolved past GRPs and Nielsen ratings – now buyers can target potential consumers with incredible accuracy. The market is responding to those advancements by shifting dollars into biddable CTV. For that trend to continue and scale, we need to continue to work together to provide transparency in measurement, including log-level reporting rather than relying on walled gardens to grade their own homework.

Additionally, the same things that create friction in the consumer CTV experience – poorly timed or intrusive ad breaks, ad repetition, ads designed for linear TV copied-and-pasted onto CTV, or that seem to be neither in context or personalized – give buyers pause and cause worry for publishers who seek to maintain a premium user experience. And these issues have plagued CTV for many years.

While upfronts and direct deals aren’t going anywhere, the biddable part of the market is undoubtedly massive – open exchange and real-time bidding currently account for 54% of CTV buys across Europe. However, within that, there is inventory of varying value that has been classified as CTV, such as dating apps, games, and even fireplace apps that can be installed on glass-on-wall devices but aren’t what the average consumer would call ‘TV’.

The result of all this is a simmering lack of confidence in biddable CTV among advertisers. Publishers, too, aren’t getting the full returns from their premium content due to being packaged with unintentional inventory, which causes devaluation across the entire marketplace. Without remediation, programmatic advertising on CTV is at risk of cycling through some of the same patterns of digital.

Avoiding mistakes of the past

It’s clear that we need to take some action to clean up the CTV advertising ecosystem. How do we do that? To ensure future success, we need to eliminate a lack of transparency, low-quality inventory, or questionable metrics - in other words, we need to demonstrate efficiency and efficacy.

The first step is to ensure that all content is properly classified so brands and agencies have absolute certainty about what they are buying. Dating apps, games, and online video shouldn’t be classed as CTV – and deal IDs should contain app names of everything in the deal.

This isn’t to say that this type of inventory shouldn’t be monetized through ad revenue, but premium CTV inventory must exist in its own category so buyers can have full confidence in what they are bidding on, where their CPMs are going, and the efficiency of their working media.

As well as transparency in what's being bought, it’s also vital to build trust in how CTV advertising performance is measured. Rather than getting involved in a race to the bottom with vanity metrics, greater clarity is required from platforms about how their methodologies work so brands can gain deeper insights into their campaigns.

Takeaway: We must create a fair and transparent ecosystem for all

With CTV, we have a great opportunity to take the positives from digital advertising like measurement and precision while maintaining the brand-safe environment of linear TV.

And if done correctly, the rewards for doing so will be felt across the entire ecosystem. If advertisers can place their full trust in CTV – what they are bidding on and the efficiency of their working media – it will drive innovation, including things like personalized, interactive experiences.

When this happens, it’s easier for publishers to achieve a fair value for their premium content – revenues which they can reinvest into creating more premium content to the benefit of viewers. To get to this point, the industry must work together so we can reach a fair and transparent value exchange between publishers, agencies, brands, and DSPs; all the while working to preserve consumers’ CTV experience.

[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from OpenX. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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