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By: Walt Horstman

As we know, CTV (Connected TV) provides substantial value for marketers with many options to activate campaign strategies – from Programmatic Guaranteed deals and Private Marketplaces (PMP) to Managed Service activations with a traditional I/O. Advertisers and industry leaders are increasingly recognizing that the landscape of CTV is markedly distinct. At Advertising Week New York 2023, I hosted a panel to dig into this topic and hear firsthand from experts about what makes the CTV advertising space unique when it comes to activating campaigns.

With a whole host of options, marketers, agencies and publishers must determine the best approach for their campaign strategies that align with their goals in this new world. To learn how experts in the industry make these decisions, I spoke with four advertising professionals with different perspectives on the evolving space. Simran Kaur, Associate Director of Programmatic at Essence Mediacom, and Allison Goreham, Senior Media Director at Warner Bros. Discovery, came with the lens of marketers and advertisers, whereas Melanie Brown, Vice President of Advanced Television at Tubi, and Ally Appelbaum, Sr. Director of Publisher Development Self-Serve at Nexxen, provided the perspective of publishers.

This expert mix allowed us to explore the nuances between Managed I/O, Programmatic Guaranteed and PMP and how these activations have different drivers behind them. When interested in a campaign structure like a traditional, linear TV campaign, advertisers can opt for a Managed I/O. Whereas Programmatic Guaranteed provides real-time information on how the campaign is pacing and doing with a pre-negotiated Cost Per Thousand (CPM). And lastly, PMP gives flexibility to bid on inventory from different suppliers through a programmatic infrastructure.

In addition to the uniqueness of each activation there are varied reasons to use one over the other. As Simran noted, advertisers and agencies are regularly assessing how certain activation strategies are better for risk mitigation depending on the time of the year, with Programmatic Guaranteed providing a more reliable strategy in Q4 when inventory is tight for example. Agencies and advertisers are considering these factors increasingly more when creating a campaign.

This was merely one of the insightful revelations I gleaned from the panel. Two other significant takeaways stand out, offering valuable insights for those seeking a deeper comprehension of this dynamic landscape. Firstly, the traditional scarcity mindset is undergoing a shift in this era of CTV. Secondly, the burgeoning significance of transparency in media buying is becoming increasingly evident.

Scarcity Mindset Shift

When thinking about advertising in the context of traditional, linear TV, points of negotiating leverage have always been about supply scarcity. Sellers have historically used scarcity to negotiate higher rates to their own advantage. But CTV advertising has flipped the scarcity mindset on its head for advertisers and agencies.

Scarcity in linear television has historically been a negative – a point of stress for advertisers and agencies who want to maximize their advertising spend. However, as Allison highlighted, scarcity within the CTV advertising landscape proves to be a valuable asset for many. Scarcity in CTV shows that the media buy is “special” because there is only so much time the advertisers have to capture their audiences’ attention. With large events like the Super Bowl or Grammys, investing in a scarce ad buy may benefit the campaign in play.

Combined with the precise targeting of CTV advertising, advertisers and agencies must shift their mindset when working on CTV campaigns compared with a standard commodity in linear TV. This mindset change also impacts activation strategies and the relationships between buyers and sellers. Both parties will need to adapt to this shift in the perception and handling of scarcity.

Adding Transparency Adds Value

To more precisely target and build accurate audiences, there is a looming question about how to manage data and content transparency. In linear TV, agencies and media buyers have insight into the networks and programs they are buying. Along with the rich data CTV advertising provides there is an expectation that publishers will need to provide more transparency around their content, which will in turn impact how agencies make their buys. As CTV continues to scale up, with agencies and brands putting more spend against it, publishers will need to be more transparent with what they are selling to keep the steady stream of ad buys.

In the panel, Melanie noted that while this increase in transparency is overall good for the industry, even from her perspective as a publisher, privacy still needs to remain key. She stated that there is a belief that it is prudent to not put all data into the bid stream and maintain some lack of transparency in order to keep consumers’ data secure.

Even with this potential for data transparency with some level of consumer data privacy, there is still an opportunity to improve the ad inventory with the addition of more transparency. Publishers can begin to “artfully discriminate” inventory – putting varying values against buys to maximize revenue while allowing agencies and media buyers to select inventory quality and audiences that align with their campaign goals. This potential solution for the transparency conundrum will help add value for all involved.

As Ally shared, it is an ongoing battle to find balance where publishers need to feel comfortable about the data, they are sharing but also not give too much away. Instead of allowing agencies and media buyers to “cherry pick” their ad buys, packaging the supply in a smart way will create value to those on both ends of the spectrum.

While there is no right or wrong way to build a CTV campaign, there are a variety of considerations to take into account when deciding what activations to leverage. From time of year to scarcity to transparency of data, when building campaigns advertisers, agencies and publishers have a new set of criteria to keep in mind – which will only continue to evolve as CTV advertising grows in popularity.


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