To Capitalize On OTT, Buyers Will Seek ‘Intimacy’ In Digital-Video Ad Transactions

"On TV And Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Scott Braley, general manager of advertising platforms at Ooyala.

If you’re a brand marketer, would you like to see your ad running alongside nauseating video content?

I thought not.

My point is one about which reasonable folks in our industry still differ – namely, the importance of what I call “intimacy” in digital-video advertising transactions.

Forrester estimates that video accounts for 44.7% of digital spending but 63.8% of ad fraud, and that programmatic video accounts for 66.5% more fraud than direct-sold video.

In recent months, more and more brands have insisted on quality inventory and proper environments for their video ads, and during the upfronts, the major legacy media companies emphasized their brand-safe environments. Brands are moving away from partners with “poor supply hygiene,” and the major media companies are happy to be the hygienists.

Facebook and Google -- the digital duopolists – are fervently addressing the issue and have taken several widely reported steps to reassure the buying community. Others are doing their part: Programmatic platform MediaMath said it will refund clients’ money if their ads “run on previously determined unsafe inventory” when using its curation system.

Yet skepticism – or at least apathy – persists.

While the majority – 56% – of advertisers and agency executives surveyed recently by Advertiser Perceptions said they actively avoid advertising with publishers they consider to be fake-news outlets, this leaves 44% who do not.

As verification services multiply, we read about agencies and publishers tussling over who pays -- as though the durability of a marketer’s brand is a minor annoyance.

While the ad industry works through the details, one thing is clear: Marketers are in the driver's seat, putting this issue at the top of their agendas.

The TV and digital industries are working to develop real cross-platform viewing standards to keep pace with evolving consumption habits. Success should lead to greater personalization, better informed buying decisions and the ability to build brands effectively across platforms.

OTT and connected TV (CTV), which combine the large-screen power of the “TV” experience with the addressability of digital, are poised to benefit from improvements in measurement, curation of ad experience and, consequently, the personalization all brands embrace.

This takes me back to my point about intimacy. I believe buyers will seek opportunities to optimize the looming power of OTT/CTV through intimate business relationships. All the efficiency, automation and scale imaginable will not help the serious buyer if that buyer doesn’t know what is being bought.

Will Facebook and Google be somehow marginalized in this scenario? Unlikely. Larger brands won’t eschew the digital duopoly but are certain to consider additional outlets and environments for their brand messaging and building. They want an engaged user base to help drive outcomes for their business. They’ll want reach, but they’ll also want true partnerships. On a more practical level, how valuable to a CEO is a CMO who’s just lining the business up to collect their soup from Google and Facebook?

Media companies, grasping the OTT/CTV opportunity, will expand digital-first offerings as they develop walled gardens of their own. Recently, a major media buyer told me he is expecting to transact more business with walled-garden partners; he’d much rather parse out his media budget across fewer, more strategic media partners. It’s safer for the client’s brand and it’s more efficient, ultimately.

He stipulated that the money would come with strings. Buyers want new thinking on how to establish and measure successful outcomes, better aligning those outcomes to the actual relationship between buyer and seller. Successful sellers will need to bear in mind that the goal of the marketer isn’t to drive the digital equivalent of GRPs – it’s to drive real business outcomes.

Another major string: building gates in the gardens. Even the best gardeners rely on collaboration. Buyers need to see performance metrics expand and evolve. They need more reliable third-party validation. Walled gardeners will need to play nicer with their neighbors by allowing not only for third-party measurement, but by partnering with buyers to develop unique insights on campaign performance.

Walled gardens need to open those gates a bit wider to allow in trusted buy-side partners and drive mutual success – the “intimate” way.

Follow Ooyala (@ooyala) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

 

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