How programmatic pipes ease the woes of CTV buyers


Connected TV advertisers know their ads are playing on the big screen, but don’t know much else about the content they’re facing.

And they have had enough already.

“It’s crazy that, given where we are advanced tvwe can’t do some of the same things that we could do with linear TV,” said JiYoung Kim, director of products and services for GroupM’s North American business, during a session at the Advanced TV Summit. ‘IAB Tech Lab in New York on Thursday.

Digital ad targeting and contextual data have become more savvy over the years. But the fact remains that CTV buyers often lack visibility into the network, program, or distribution channel on which their ads are airing.

It’s almost enough to wish for the good old days of program guides.

Do my bidding

Inventory transparency may simply not exist in a world of walled gardens. But there are ways to get buyers more information to feed into their bidding systems.

CTV advertisers have insufficient inventory descriptions, according to Neal Richter, director of advertising science at Amazon Ads, who was also speaking at the summit.

And transparency will decrease in CTV as more television content becomes available for addressable purchases. Because advertisers need to understand both their video purchases and their audience across all channels without involving so many sourcing, measurement, and DSP partners.Comics: I want my CTV!

The future of CTV will not be 100% programmatic interconnectivity, said Mike Fisher, vice president of advanced television at GroupM, agency Essence. But the current idea is to move forward on common bases for an identity-based measurement currency.

There’s still no common currency for single reach and single frequency, Kim said. “The problem is that there aren’t a lot of incentives for our [media] partners to come together and share this type of currency, not yet.

This incentive is on the buyer side, she added.

If an ad misses its audience, overbooks, or, worst of all, runs highly unbranded content, it impacts consumers’ opinions of brands, not programming. (All I have to say is “Applebee’s” and you know what I mean.)

Programmatic push and pull

Data is a competitive medium of value, but publishers are reluctant let go without a valid reason. And the burgeoning privacy norms around online targeting do nothing to increase that likelihood.

There is something for sellers, however, Kim said. If the sell side opened up to more programmatic data, it would inform inventory with stronger CPMs and buyer interest because attribution would be better.

It used to be that programmatic was nothing more than “commoditized ad holes” on the open web, Amazon’s Richter said. But now, programmatic ad buying has evolved to include content signals that can deliver much more targeted messages that drive business results.

Vendors seem to agree that programmatic can help clean up TV measurement, which is still a big mess.

“Buyers just want to reach their audience without having to differentiate between GRPs for one channel and impressions for another,” said Andrew Tint, managing director of programmatic partnerships at DISH. “And we rely on the support of DSPs and SSPs to enable that level of execution.”

As more linear TV shows come online and more streaming services add ad-supported options (Disney+, HBO, Paramount+, etc.), open ad technology will have more leverage to request data and will have a chance to prove whether or not programmatic request offers more value than direct sales activity.


Even for the most sophisticated companies with excellent first-party data programs, addressability isn’t a magic bullet for measurement, Kim said.

So what should a buyer do?Comics: room for more?

An agency could, for example, use a single DSP for all of its purchases to avoid some fragmentation of inventory and identities. But the trade-off would be to exclude certain partners and media networks from their purchases, Kim said, which is unrealistic.

But, as buyers and sellers continue to come and go on measurement, more technical standards in programmatic TV supply chains could help.

The IAB Tech Lab, for example, recently expanded its Open Measurement SDK specs to CTV, so media can get the same treatment as with ads.txt and Sellers.json.

But the work is far from over.

“Programmatic isn’t just a budget,” Fisher said. “It’s a tactic.”


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