Video is fundamentally different from all other digital advertising formats, and it must be planned, executed, and measured as such. What’s more, video has converged with OTT, VOD and essentially all programs accessible via Connected TV, which brings both opportunity and complexity. Finally - based on the availability of cross-screen audience and ratings data - video is on a collision course with linear broadcast, cable, and satellite TV, which has its own arcane processes, systems, and economics.
As such, video advertising investment must be reimagined and reinvented. It must be liquid - agile enough to quickly move to quality inventory when it becomes available - and value based: focused on meeting key business outcomes as opposed to conventional and rigid campaign parameters.
It must be accountable, adaptive, and above all, smart.
Scale at low cost: The myth that made a home for fraud
By continuing to expect endless scale in programmatic video, while insisting on flat investments and rote optimizations, we invite fraud, botnets, and spoofers to flourish. Further, the lack of transparency that is still rife in the market is a form of fraud. And PR that seeks to make the admission of taking undisclosed fees into a triumph - because “look, now prices are even cheaper!” - has made us all look like shady players.
Loose data modeling: How we undermine good intent
We also tout a third-party data marketplace which, when we look at Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) campaigns, yields in the ballpark of 50% accuracy. A data marketplace that stitches identity layers and behavior using methods such as IP extension to tell elaborate consumer stories is yet another way that we are doing buyers, sellers, consumers, and ourselves as adtech providers, a disservice.
Legacy software & technical debt: Why buyers are bound ’n gagged
Digging into campaign performance is time-consuming and labor intensive. And, given the limitations of today’s buying and measurement platforms, the cost of that exploration is prohibitive. Consider the time required to create and implement better approaches to optimization.
Currently the easiest and typical way to provide value is to:
1. Have a handful of DSPs on the roster
2. Employ a variety of tactics (i.e. roster of audiences to target, mostly flat bidding)
3. Set up as separate Insertion Orders/Campaigns without unified frequency and assigned bespoke budgets
4. Join spend, viewability, and ad server data
5. Move budget between DSPs and tactics
This fragmented approach is typical of today’s programmatic executions because it creates an illusion of control and the ability to ‘optimise for performance.’ But, given the underlying software is lacking, the only way it scales is for programmatic teams to spend hours inside Microsoft Excel each week, yet spend only a handful of hours within any given adtech platform, and ultimately analyze only topline data.
And they must do all of this just to move budget between items on a roster! The result is that quality, transparency and liquidity are thrown out the window.
A better way to buy
It won’t be easy but we can start by creating new investment strategies, data solutions and software applications that are purpose-built to tackle video’s inherent challenges: scale, fragmentation and fraud.
Make investment more accountable: We must support enterprise decision-making by permitting real-time results to guide investment instead of prescribing a fixed amount of budget to a specific target, such as a domain, screen, or type of player. Yes, buyers want to set priorities and preferences, but they must be able to automatically shift budget to those impressions where performance is being achieved in the moment -- and quickly!
Move to higher quality data & analytics practices: We must reduce the acceptance and usage of poor data modeling methodologies, piled-on aggregated data sets and other low integrity analytics. We must demand 1:1 matching of data assets while ensuring both their validity and their privacy protections. That’s a win for everyone.
Remove the Barriers to True Optimization: In order to achieve dynamic, real-time optimisation for superior performance, we must move away from manual decisioning derived of exported spreadsheets. We need an integrated suite that makes it easy to manipulate data to quickly derive insights, and then immediately deploy them to inform transactions.
This requires a slick software platform that sits over the top of sophisticated data assets, yes. But it has the power to liberate people from Excel. And when we are freed from sifting manually through thousands of rows, opportunities for greater granularity and precision arise.
Let go: It’s time to let go the safety net of prescribed budgets. We are called adtech, so let’s innovate and automate. Let’s rethink the challenge of achieving performance in a supply constrained market.
Once we take this leap, we can create fast-twitch feedback loops, turn data into learned insight, refine our investment and optimization stratagems, and reap the rewards of a thriving industry once again.