Convergence is here: It’s time to break down the silos
Convergence of linear and digital is not a future state concept. It is here whether the industry is ready for it or not. Dan Brackett, CTO of Extreme Reach, stated that we all need to move into one video world. He said when you think about the Latin roots of the world television, it is perfect for everything we are talking about (“tele” means far off and “vision” means something seen in the imagination). From a content standpoint, there are more similarities than differences and it should be the same from the buying and selling perspective. 52% of media buyers say that buying of linear and digital video is now combined and 91% say it will be by 2021 (Source: FreeWheel Q4 2018 Video Marketplace Report). Thus, organizational silos such as having separate teams for TV and digital video need to come down. But that’s not all – the industry’s technical solutions also need to overcome these antiquated silos. In IAB’s latest Video Ad Spend Study (2019), more than 8 in 10 advertisers also agreed that a unified multi-platform buying solution (with TV and digital) is important.
OTT is simply TV in transition
OTT was top of mind throughout the day and was the focus of three sessions. We all know that ‘OTT’ stands for “over-the-top”, but what does that even mean? And is the term constrained to a specific device or a certain type of content? While still not universally accepted, everyone seems to agree that ‘OTT’ is a transitional term as traditional TV becomes increasingly digital in nature. Yes, there are nuances between a Connected TV and a mobile device in terms of the technology and measurement capabilities, but at the end of the day it’s all about following the audience—that same audience that was able to be reached on Linear TV 5/10 years ago, but are no longer there. The industry should be excited about this new “advanced” phase of TV and OTT which allow for better targeting and attribution capabilities, rather than scared away because it’s a new and often confusing term. A big focus for IAB is educating the marketplace on this quickly evolving landscape and how to leverage data-driven video, advanced targeting and attribution in their cross-platform campaigns.
Be open to OTT, but remain vigilant!
As OTT grows—and especially within the programmatic ecosystem—it will become susceptible to fraudulent activities as with other digital properties. Given the high value audiences and higher CPMs associated with OTT, it can be expected that bad actors will eventually invade the landscape especially as supply chains become more complex and use of open exchanges becomes more common. To ensure trust between buyers and sellers, transparency, verification and standards for detecting fraud will become even more important. As an industry, we need to be clear in our terminology, what specific sources of fraud may be and how it can play out especially outside the worlds of direct-sold and private marketplaces that today make up the majority of premium inventory sold in OTT.
What’s the right balance between audience and content?
TV buyers have been brought up in a world in which they know exactly where and when their commercials will air. They can verify it with their own eyes by flipping on the right channel at the right time. But as more and more TV buyers are becoming ‘Video’ buyers, they are losing out on the transparency that they used to rely on. While OTT allows for buyers to start thinking more ‘audience-first’ rather than ‘content-first’, it’s important to not lose control of one in an attempt to capture the other. Content is still king and marketers want to know what shows and in what types of content their ads are airing in. This continues the running theme—a call for more transparency in a way that levels the playing field between TV and OTT. Marketers demand both the targetability and audience-first approach of OTT as well as the transparency (“I know what I’m buying”) of Linear TV.
Data is critical for any marketing campaign but don’t let it to make you lazy!
There has never been more data available than there is today. To put it in perspective, IAB measured that in 2018 US spend on third party audience data and data activation solutions reached over $19 billion (Source: IAB, State of Data 2018). However, Nic Chidiac, Chief Strategy Officer at Rokkan, cautioned marketers not to let data make them lazy. Marketers can’t just stick with a strategy because one data point alluded that it was the right path one time. It is important to have a rigorous testing process in place and to make sure that you are connecting the data to the actual consumer. In the “Future of Data-Driven Video” session, Grant Gudgel, VP and Head of Teads Studio, shared their practice of “evidence based creative.” Every campaign is an opportunity to test, learn, and iterate. Marketers should be using campaign performance data to understand what’s working, what’s not working, and applying those learnings to future campaigns. More information how to implement a data-driven video strategy can be found in IAB’s recently released Data-Driven Video Best Practices Guide.