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Audience Is Coming To CTV, Brands and Publishers Can Benefit

The huge popularity of streaming media over 2020 left a lot of linear buyers with a dilemma; buy CTV or lose your audience. CTV has a lot going for it – premium content on the big screen with the promise of targeting and addressability. But, the inventory is scarce and brands are wary about buying outside of their established TV partnerships.  

There is a huge untapped opportunity in CTV, and it’s audience-based buying. Advertiser fears don’t have to come true. What happened to audience-based buying on digital media doesn’t have to happen on CTV. The industry doesn’t have to contend with the demise of third-party cookies or murky middle-men. With a smarter audience-first approach to media buying, advertisers can cut through fraud and take advantage of the scale they can get outside of their cozy legacy network relationships – in the UpFronts or in the programmatic market. 

CTV Trends Influence Next Generation Audience Buying 

A recent Advertiser Perceptions survey found that media buyers prefer to buy with established networks when it comes to CTV, with about 40% going to UpFront commitments. However, programmatic will make up 50% of CTV spending in 2021.  

It is just a matter of time until these two ways of buying and selling start to intersect. Once advertisers start getting more comfortable with the “digital” half of CTV, they’ll start acting a lot more like their digital counterparts, looking first at where their audience is, not just which content partners they are most comfortable with.  

This shift will start to color UpFront negotiations. Brands will look for ways to expand their own first-party data using publisher and third-party partner data. They’ll also want guarantees that whatever they commit to buying will reach their target (and not just demographics – search, click and purchase behavior will factor in, too.)

 The focus on the audience will also affect the programmatic CTV market. Brands will start to shift from programmatic guaranteed deals to more dynamic deals. Publishers will start to feel the pressure, and will have to decide if they are willing to float their CTV inventory on the open market. For quality publishers, the shift will be worth it, as brands will compete for that perfect combination of good inventory and good audiences. 

Recommended Blog: Why Customers Share Their Data with You in the Cookiepocalypse Era?

A Smart Approach To Audience 

Audience-based media buying helped propel programmatic to eat up 85% of digital advertising. Unfortunately for digital advertisers, third party cookies and bad quality data made a lot of audience targeting suspect, which is why digital media is embattled by the privacy wars with Google, Apple and governments around the world. But, CTV buyers don’t have to suffer through those same dark times. We can learn from digital and start out with a quality approach to audience buying.

 While the “cookiepocalypse” isn’t going to affect CTV in the near term, there are many other identity and privacy considerations that have yet to be resolved.  There really is no unified identity solution that exists for CTV, and it seems that every media owner, device manufacturer and distributor of content is taking their own approach.  It’s important to work with partners that have a strategy for unification that is flexible enough to handle these issues in a way that is also in tune with the latest developments. While we all want a consensus approach, it’s likely to be a moving target for the next few years.

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Accept the Size of Real Audiences 

In digital media, buyers became numb to inflated audience numbers. Desperate for scale, campaigns promised access to millions of qualified target audience members – higher numbers than what existed in reality. It took years for media teams to start questioning RFPs that promised a reach of 10 million “high income single dads with SUVs” and the like. 

CTV has a problem with scale, and so buyers that start to look at audience might be tempted to do the same thing, throwing caution to the wind and buying big audiences that aren’t verified. This problem can be contained, but buyers need to be focused on accuracy.  

Start Transparency-First  

Fraud in CTV happens when supply chains are opaque. Companies that have been through supply chain optimization are prepared to be transparent, and that’s where brands should buy. Audience data, like inventory placements, can be verified and scored, which helps contain risks even further. 

Buying CTV inventory programmatically doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind. Buyers can pick and choose partners to buy with based on stringent rules across data and inventory. Performance will be better, prices will be accurate and partnerships will strengthen. 

Embrace Real Performance

Another issue that plagued audience-based buying on digital channels was the focus on gameable metrics like clicks. Brands that focus on attributable, verifiable metrics won’t see their media buy veering toward unsavory partners if they stay level-headed with their metrics. 

 Good measurement requires time and investment, but delivers feedback that can help optimize spending rather than pad a middle-man’s margins. While it’s not always straightforward to measure the results of a CTV campaign holistically due to multiple buying models, tagging infrastructure and measurement objectives (brand vs. behavioral KPIs), it’s worth it to build a good measurement program early to get going on the right path. 

The promise of CTV comes in the combination of quality content and addressability on the big screen. While brands are already eating up quality CTV inventory, they have yet to embrace audience buying in full on the channel. One day, we’ll see targeted, personalized commercials on CTV. But this can only happen when brands commit to understanding their audience and creating smart media plans that make the most of that knowledge.

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