Programmatic developments in CTV Advertising

Published on
June 1, 2023
It's Programmatic... but not as we know it

There has been significant movement recently in the world of programmatic advertising, with the lines between Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) and Sell-Side Platforms (SSPs) becoming blurred to the point where new acronyms are being suggested. One of the main drivers behind this shift has been the growth of connected TV.

But why is this happening?

Connected TV has emerged as a powerful medium for advertisers to reach their target audiences. With the rise of streaming services and smart TVs, consumers are increasingly turning to CTV for their entertainment needs. However, unlike traditional programmatic advertising channels, the open marketplace model is high risk and should be approached with caution.

Buyers tend to prefer deals and programmatic guaranteed options because they want to know exactly where their ads are being shown. Domains don't exist, bundle IDs are indecipherable, and Device IDs are not consistently passed. Show-level data is rarely passed through the full bidstream. This can be attributed to technical setups or inventory sources closely guarding valuable data assets. Moreover, data signals can be halted at any point along the supply path, presenting a challenge in efficient buying. Therefore, deals serve as the primary way to ensure peace of mind in this context. Although the open RTB framework aims to enhance data signals in the bidstream, it is unlikely to bring about the scale required for true holistic buying in the near future.

From the perspective of a DSP, the piping to transact is crucial in deals, but the logic and decisioning tools are less significant. Buyers often dictate how much of what they want to buy rather than looking for an identifier among millions of domains or apps. For this reason, it makes sense for DSPs to directly approach the smaller pool of CTV inventory providers, as it is manageable for them without needing to invest in the skill sets and tools of a full SSP.  

On the other hand, in a world where guaranteed buys are dominant, buyers have begun asking SSPs if they can transact directly. This has led SSPs to explore alternative routes outside the traditional DSP > SSP flow, allowing buyers to purchase directly from their platforms.

M&A activity in the space has been building up to this point, as both sides seek a future beyond the traditional bidstream. (In short, SSPs are building ad server technology to manage direct deal management and incorporating their offerings, while DSPs are exploring ways to become more involved in the buyers' planning process.)

It's programmatic, but not as we know it.

So, what does this mean for planners and buyers?

As is often the case in digital advertising, the promise of a streamlined workflow has paradoxically made things more complicated. There are now more options available for purchasing the same inventory, and the landscape of inventory, data, and measurement paths is constantly evolving.  These new methods of buying must be considered and managed. At LightBoxTV, our platform is designed to address these challenges by enabling media planners and buyers to bring multiple teams, activations, and inventory sources onto a single plan.

We have recently organised a series of Lunch & Learn sessions focusing on connected TV within this dynamic landscape. We will now be dissecting this topic further through a series of weekly blog posts. Starting next week, our first post will delve into the concept of fragmentation in TV buying, exploring its true implications and discussing effective management strategies.

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