Getting OTT/CTV Advertising To Work Right

Getting OTT/CTV Advertising To Work Right

Craig Berlingo is the product lead for CTV & OTT at PubMatic. In this piece, he explains how the online advertising industry can make OTT advertising solutions that are scalable, effective and most importantly, that work.

It’s no secret that advertising through OTT and CTV isn’t perfect.

As a relatively new medium, advertisers have been searching for ways to deliver a TV-like advertising experience over digital pipes. But ad tech wasn’t really built for devices like TV.

This has led to clunky experiences for viewers, as publishers attempted to glue together different processes to create a solution fit for OTT and CTV without using cookies or JavaScript.

But glued together solutions don’t scale well – even as CTV and OTT has continued to grow in popularity.

And then COVID-19 happened

If creating a scalable and effective CTV/OTT ad tech solution wasn’t a priority before COVID-19, it sure is now.

As content consumption has surged during the pandemic, OTT viewership has grown, and so too has inventory. Direct ad sales have not been able to keep up with the boom in supply, so publishers are turning to new channels like programmatic.

And with all the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, many advertisers are now looking for more flexible solutions – shifting spend away from upfront buys and into programmatic channels that allow them to be more nimble. Programmatic is built for making decisions within tens of milliseconds – making it perfect for buyers navigating fluctuating supply and a changing economy. It gives them the option to experiment – they can buy some CTV and see what the impact is on a campaign.

At PubMatic we’ve recently introduced OpenWrap OTT, a Prebid-powered header bidding solution that centralises 100 per cent of direct and programmatic demand in a server-side parallel auction.

For the first time, this will make header bidding available at scale for OTT inventory, meaning publishers can have all demand compete together, advertisers can access all OTT inventory and viewers have a more seamless experience.

Ad Pods

CTV/OTT has given rise to the ad pod.

An ad pod is a group of ads expected to play back-to-back in one commercial break – similar to ad breaks in broadcast television.

For publishers, moving beyond a particular ad slot to an entire ad pod can be a big challenge when they have relationships with buyers who want to use different platforms. Not to mention the issues around making sure there aren’t two advertisers from the same category in a pod and avoiding repeat ads.

At PubMatic, we’ve built our technology on Prebid, meaning it’s possible to do a parallel bid across multiple exchanges. This also removes manual processes and replaces them with machine learning.

It means publishers can ask PubMatic to fill an ad pod by assessing all sources of demand and finding the best combination of creative that will result in a positive user experience and optimal yield.

But perhaps most importantly, using Prebid increases transparency and, in the process, improves people’s confidence in the industry, ensuring, for example, that no vendor is putting its thumb on the scale and favouring its own demand.


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