We've all heard the good news: programmatic video is growing fast. New reports showing ambitious predictions are great clickbait fodder for the trade press and all of us video adtech people are happy to bask in these figures.This mojo, however, has been threatened by a raft of publicity around fraudulent traffic being a large part of that growth. And by large part we mean up to 70%. Some of the most important players in the industry, such as TubeMogul, Tremor and Vindico have ramped up their efforts in order to combat fraud but there is a lot more work to do yet.
Lamentably, this problem is actually self-inflicted. The buy side has applied display thinking to a branding medium. Instead of leveraging the power of the moving image, video campaigns' performance are measured with CTRs, and brands don't have much clue as to where their ads end up, except for some debatable audience reporting. This may be acceptable in a performance world, but does not make any sense when there is branding intent. Worst of all, it creates an extremely fertile environment for the fraudulent long tail to thrive.
This is not to vilify agencies or hint they have applied a display approach out of laziness. They are also playing with the cards they have: a world where quality video inventory is scarce. Alas, while it's only natural to obliterate any context interest in their buys, this is just making the problem worse.
In fact, the industry's dirty little secret is that premium publishers are struggling to find scalable programmatic demand for their inventory today. Individual private marketplaces are hardly sustainable in a world where trading desks are incentivised to drive CPMs down and have a large pool of cheap, uncontested inventory to choose from.
A few premium impressions are being bought for retargeting/reporting purposes, and to have logos on media plans, but the large budgets are still being spent elsewhere, in dark pools of inventory where the sun rarely shines.
The solution, and the opportunity, is obvious: ostracize the long tail and create a large pool of quality inventory where brands and agencies can safely trade and achieve their branding objectives. Needles to say, brands need to be on board and reclaim their right to know and control context.
Spain, forced to be creative in the midst of a tough economic environment, has been at the forefront of this revolution. Antena and Mediaset, the top broadcasting groups in the country, joined forces with Videoplaza to create Aunia, a premium programmatic environment where brands can purchase inventory with the peace of mind in being associated with high quality content. The initiative has proved very successful thus far, with tens of millions of impressions sold every month at a price that reflects that context is branding's best ally.
As advertisers wise up to issues with their media spend, as viewability metrics become required and light is shone into the dark pools of inventory so buyers know what they’ll get, we will see a 'flight to quality'. Publishers with premium inventory 'merchandised' as such via private marketplaces and other means will realise the proper value of their product. It will certainly not be an easy road. But it is the only one to success.