Navigating The New Frontier of CTV

For nearly 80 years, TV has been the primary source of entertainment and news in the US household. What started out as a few TV networks broadcasting their feed through the airwaves, soon evolved to hundreds of channels delivered through a TV cable subscription. TV has evolved yet again with internet-connected TVs. With Connected TV, we now have access to thousands of apps, networks, publishers, and channels. I have even heard of our current era being called “the golden age of TV.” With Netflix, Hulu, Apple, Disney+, and Amazon making award-winning shows, and producing theatrical quality movies for release directly to their platforms, the viewing experience is better than ever.

However, with so much change comes unique challenges. There are more choices for consumers of how to consume content on the TV, and advertisers now have more choices to spend their budgets and reach their audiences in TV than ever before. Everything from live sports, to catalogs of movies, to the proliferation of non-ad supported programming that is now made available through streaming or time-shifting, has made the TV experience complex for both consumers and advertisers.

For consumers, while this has given them the control they have long desired, it has also created a new paradigm of how they access their beloved content:

Do you keep a cable subscription, do you switch to an IP delivered skinny bundle, or do you subscribe to various publishers and services a la carte? But not all services are created equal. Some services have some of the content they want, and some content can only be accessed through a cable subscription or through a publisher’s owned and operated app. This fragmentation has caused increased consumer confusion.

And then there is the problem of how certain publisher apps are only available on certain streaming platforms. HBO Max, for instance, a highly anticipated new streaming service, was launched without being accessible on the Roku platform.

Why were they ok to launch without the largest CTV streaming platform to access their content? Are we watching another cable arms race, where the cable companies paid carriage fees to have programming content on their platform? With the proliferation of walled gardens in the CTV and Smart TV space, it feels as though this might be a happening all over again. This hurts both the consumers, as well as the advertisers.

Consumers need to ensure they are buying a Smart TV, or OTT streaming device, that provides access to all the content they want. Buying a TV used to mean size and picture quality. Now it is also navigating which make and model will provide access to the apps and the content on the screen that they want or need

Advertisers are quick to follow the consumer eyeballs as they migrate to CTV. However, CTV is still fairly nascent in the world of media, and subsequently, it poses many challenges:

While CTV is similar in media quality to TV, it’s delivered like digital. Advertisers love the large screen for the impact their video creative delivers through sight, sound and motion, but advertisers see it as a way to buy like digital – and want to buy their audience. The problem is there is tremendous fragmentation, causing difficulties in how to reach a given audience in CTV, not to mention the inflated costs of CTV.

To reach the largest percentage of a given audience in CTV, advertisers are forced into making several buys across various publishers and platforms. There are also a growing number of platforms attempting to build walled gardens. This poses another challenge as advertisers attempt to thread together disparate audience targeting, as well as reporting and measurement, as these walled gardens will have their own preferred vendors or solutions. This results in wasted spend, over frequency, lost reach, increased pricing, minimized targeting, and fragmented measurement, which is ultimately not good for the space.

Advertisers are forced to make difficult decisions in what they buy, as well as how to logistically execute and measure campaigns in CTV. Then there are also the issues of ad fraud in CTV. CTV is hard to police, and with that, middlemen are taking advantage of supply chains that are less transparent, where buyers and sellers might not have a direct relationship. Additionally, according to eMarketer’s 2019 Digital Ad Fraud report, 19% of worldwide OTT impressions were invalid.1

At ENGINE Media Solutions we are uniquely positioned to solve these problems, as we own an SSP and Exchange, ENGINE Media Exchange (EMX), built for CTV, that has hundreds of direct integrations with both the premium content apps, as well as the aggregators, distributed across all TV manufactures and streaming devices for CTV.

In addition, we sit on a unique 1st party data set that provides more precise and recent audiences for our advertisers, with the ability to also access 3rd party data. This allows us to serve ads across any OTT device, or Smart TV, ensuring audiences scale, manage for frequency, while unify audience targeting, and measurement.

We are distinct in that we sit at the publisher level, across all platforms, and can scale buys in a safe and uniform way. We are manually looking at every source of content our advertisers could be distributed through and are vetting it for brand safety and fraud. We ensure that the publisher definition matches that of the content and that the traffic patterns align with the available inventory. We are also working with several ad tech partners to scan traffic to look for fraud. Through all this, we can offer a fraud-free guarantee.

By placing a CTV buy through ENGINE Media Solutions, you can aggregate premium, direct sourced inventory, create economies of scale efficiently, maximizing media budget, ensuring more media budget goes towards media while reaching the audiences you want.

Written by JC Clarke, Vice President at ENGINE Media Solutions.

1. https://content-na2.emarketer.com/digital-ad-fraud-2019