Best practices for OTT success
This article was originally published on AdWeek.
By every measure, OTT (aka Connected TV or CTV) viewing is the new normal. With three in four U.S. households now consuming content on streaming services, advertisers and brand marketers are shifting bigger budgets into this rapidly growing channel. In fact, 78 percent of marketers plan to buy ad inventory on streaming TV within the next 12 months, according to a SteelHouse survey.
But for some marketers, the complexity and fragmentation of the OTT ecosystem remain hurdles to widespread adoption. To reap the benefits of OTT, you’ll need a deeper understanding of the solutions available.
What are the key considerations for developing an effective OTT buying strategy? Here’s our playbook to simplify the media-buying process to reach the vast and highly engaged streaming audience.
Data is king for OTT targeting
Data is fueling the OTT landscape, but targeting and execution capabilities vary significantly among OTT providers. When planning their media buy, marketers need to consider whether they’re buying audience or content. Or maybe both. And when you’re doing data-driven targeting, where is the data coming from and how accurate is the viewer profile?
The latest OTT advancements allow marketers to use audiences instead of content to plan their campaigns. Audience segmentation can be truly deterministic and addressable down to an individual level. Data can be collected based on viewership and matched back to the individual within a household. Using non-personally identifiable viewer data, marketers can analyze content and match it to channel, program, and ad placement data to better understand what types of viewers are watching each type of programming and what is triggering their purchase decisions.
In addition, first-party data collection on some OTT platforms offers the capability for online and offline attribution. This can give marketers richer insights on desired actions taken by a viewer that has been served an ad.
Inventory quality matters
Brand safety remains a paramount concern and advertisers need to understand what they’re buying. Since not all OTT quality is the same, determining inventory quality is imperative for marketers. Many providers claim they have directly sourced inventory, but it is important for marketers to know exactly where the inventory is coming from to ensure that their ads are running in a brand-safe and fraud-free environment.
What questions should you ask? Is it a direct buy with a network or ad solution platform, or through programmatic channels that source inventory from open exchanges and non-guaranteed PMP deals? Which is the right combination to give marketers what they need to ensure brand safety and provide the greatest reach?
When it comes to comparing OTT pricing, quality matters. With programmatic exchanges, there is no placement guarantee on where an ad will run since bidding is often pricing-based. And there is no guarantee on brand safety when inventory is purchased on open marketplaces. Unsold inventory on open exchanges is often referred to as “remnant.” Reputable sellers of premium video content command higher CPMs, since that inventory is often more scarce.
Understanding the nuances and differences in the value of buying directly sourced premium video inventory versus buying from an exchange will safeguard advertisers from transparency, quality and brand safety issues.
Set clear expectations on measurement
New OTT audience insights and analytics tools enable marketers to better quantify OTT campaign results.
The good news: The industry is making progress in creating standards for OTT measurement. The Media Rating Council recently released an updated version of the IAB Digital Video Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines. Despite the progress, many marketers are still grappling with how best to measure OTT.
Marketers should consider Verified Completion Rate (VCR) as the critical KPI for OTT. Many consider this to be the most accurate metric. OTT VCR rates should be above 95 percent because with true OTT, fast-forward is disabled and viewers must watch the ads to view the programming.
Above all, having alignment on KPIs and metrics begins with setting clear expectations on OTT spend and determining which ad solutions can deliver the biggest ROI on the impact metrics that matter. As marketer KPIs become clearer in OTT, the need to prove value through brand or sales lift — as well as foot traffic — will be instrumental to validate the value of increasing OTT ad spend.
The OTT industry has evolved significantly in just the last two years. It’s clear that consumers favor ad-supported TV options and streaming TV ads are effective. With richer, data-driven insights, new audience buying tools and improved measurement capabilities, advertisers are fully able to leverage the power of OTT advertising to engage and leave a lasting impression with their target consumer.
Jim Wilson is president of Premion, a new growth division of TEGNA focused on over-the-top video and advertising. He has spent 20 years at the forefront of media and technology, including launching the games business at Universal Studios and serving as CEO of Atari.
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