CTV has come to a (data) fork in the road. What next?

On TV and videoA column that explores opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

By today’s column Pier 39 CEO Mario Diz.

One of the brightest places in the landscape of CTV advertising. Like all emerging media, advertisers are eager to follow customers wherever they go. And since CTV combines the time-tested value of TV engagement with the precision of digital shopping and targeting, marketers salivate for much more: more inventory, more data, more possibilities.

But the big question is: how willing is the ecosystem to deliver what advertisers want?

Currently advertisers buy CTV in two ways. But CTV is fighting over where to invest, especially as new advertisers enter the sector and investment accelerates.

Will CTV’s future lead to integrated linear direct shopping or digitally driven programmatic practices where data-infused optimization and transparency requirements are evolving? Or will there be some combination of both?

Old-fashioned route

Usually, whenever an industry comes to the road fork, there is an urge to stick to the status quo. At the moment, CTV is a seller’s market. Advertisers are shouting to get in front of consumers who can no longer be reached through traditional linear TVs. They are willing to use strategies that mimic their linear campaigns wherever possible.

To do this, many people are buying CTV commercials in the same way that they would buy commercials for linear TV. They are spending bulk through traditional IOs, either directly through the OTT platform or through media deals managed by an agency. This approach comes with a lot of control – and the level of reporting that advertisers want. In a competitive market, buying directly guarantees that the ads will be clear, giving advertisers the impression of their choice.

But with the confidence of reporting and clearance, there is a downside for advertisers: modern strategies like optimization never work. If a section of a particular program or content drives performance, advertisers have limited options to change and optimize their spending.

Direct, but make it programmatic

Part of CTV’s popularity is that it combines TV and digital targeting capabilities. It is natural that ad buyers will want to maintain a sense of security with premium content as well as use traditional audience targeting. This is the advantage of the private marketplace, which allows direct purchase on specific CTV platforms that are programmatically distributed to the target audience.

This approach brings advertisers one step closer to the real potential of CTV, but still limits transparency, control, and modern optimization strategies. Advertisers can make purchases from premium providers, but the question arises when the reporting comes out.

What kind of programming was there with my ad? Was it new programming or old content? Was it comedy, drama or live sports? Did one type of programming get more results than another?

Both are the best in the world

To this day, a certain level of control and transparency is missing from outside direct transactions, so advertisers have little confidence in buying in this way. But if advertisers finally get the insights they need, they can use modern digital media techniques to find the audience they are accustomed to. Indeed, the future may be some combination of linear and programmatic strategies, as this will allow for performance, optimization, transparency, and confidence in programming.

If CTV is the future, advertisers need modern data and insights, instead of relying on the same level of reporting used in the last half-century of TV advertising.

The CTV train will keep humming, don’t get me wrong. But the complaints and rumors will grow louder, which will lead to conflict over the way to buy CTV in the future.

Publishers will protect their investments, and some will not market their inventory. This is the same battle that has taken place on digital displays with ad networks and history itself is bound to repeat itself.

Follow Ad exchanger (@ Adexchanger) on Twitter.

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