To Crack Open CTV’s Data Issue, Give Publishers the Benefit of the Doubt

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Interest in CTV advertising has taken off like a rocket, and if you are reading this, you probably don’t need me to tell you that. Countless missives have been written about how CTV is changing advertising, that there’s not enough inventory to meet demand, measurement is substandard, or even that there is not enough data available.

That last piece is a big sticking point, as buyers want more granular data about the CTV content in order to better target CTV inventory, while publishers want to protect their interests, fearing that granular data will divide inventory so finely that yield will plummet. In other words, buyers are interested in bringing an online video sensibility to CTV. 

That breaks down because by definition, there is far less CTV content than online video content. However, the demand to better understand, track, and measure ad impact and unlock the promise of CTV is not going away.

Fortunately, in what feels like a deadlock, there is actually a solution for both sides to try something new.

A matter of optimization

The biggest trends in digital media have converged, as supply-path optimization comes to the CTV space. Tatari’s recent acquisition of the CTV SSP TheViewPoint shows that it’s not just the big holding companies that are trying to optimize the path from advertiser to inventory. There’s a clear benefit here for the CTV publishers, and they can go a step further.

The trick to granting advertisers more intelligence and protecting revenue is to build a process of optimization that connects insights from both the supply side and the demand side. This data bridge approach allows for specific supply-side insights and optimizations to not only enhance campaign performance but also feed back to the demand side. Of course, the same strategy can be applied to use insights garnered on the demand side and bring them forward to the supply side. This type of partnership approach, fostered by technology, creates more value for advertisers and publishers alike across the multi-billion-dollar CTV landscape.

Supply-side targeting is a flip of the traditional programmatic media buying script, where advertisers bring their DMP-created first- and third-party data segments to their DSP of choice, and use those insights to determine in real-time which impressions to purchase. This is great for the buyer as well as for the supply side. 

Optimizing on the supply side represents a new way of making a buy, while still combining both data and media signals. Adding this layer of optimization ensures CTV ads work while making more use of the publisher’s first-party data set. When used in concert with proven CTV strategies, such as the inclusion of companion campaigns, CTV performs even better. It drives performance and maintains consumer privacy, which are the two goals every advertiser is seeking right now.

Data without oversharing

This kind of supply-side optimization works much the same as it always has, with advertisers identifying the audiences that they want to reach with their CTV ads. The difference is that with supply-side optimization, the buyers are then letting either the publishers or an intermediary create matching segments based on the channels and/or content that the audience is consuming.

Going a bit deeper into the weeds, this curated inventory, matched with the selected audiences, is then delivered in a single Deal ID, which is then dropped into a campaign as a single line item.

There you have it: a programmatic CTV campaign where the advertiser picks their audience and gets access to show-level data, without the publisher taking a hit on revenue.

Revisiting the private marketplace

The kind of optimization described here is best achieved in some form of a private marketplace. Truthfully, the road to success for CTV is likely paved with private marketplaces that maximize opportunity and revenue for both sides.

Open markets are probably ideal from an advertiser’s standpoint, but it’s unlikely we’ll see CTV turn into an open market commodity the way we’ve seen online video or display. Mistakes were made in the past that cut too deeply into publishers’ bottom lines, and CTV platforms have too much leverage to let that happen again. 

That said, there is an opportunity to take some of the best strategies from decades of linear TV buying and selling and bring that forward. Adding intelligence on the supply side for CTV, while at the same time empowering the buy side to use that data to deliver scale, ensures that video has the breadth to do what it does best: power awareness and build brands.

In this case, the extra step on the supply side is merited. Supply-side optimization is an easy upgrade that can maintain targeting and efficiency for advertisers. As CTV continues to grow, it’s critical that advertisers get more comfortable with private marketplaces and curated inventory deals in order to activate their CTV campaigns.

Dave Rosner is CMO at Audigent.