Evolving Mobile and Connected TV Inventory

Over the last several months, the ad-tech industry has been in overdrive to resolve the conflict surrounding display viewability. Advertisers and their agencies are all for a stronger display viewability standard, as it strengthens their confidence in consumer exposure, engagement, and likelihood to convert. But publishers are rightfully concerned that under the new standard, their inventory──and more importantly, their revenues──will implode and be subject to more expensive vendor technology to further validate inventory. Additionally, publishers might need to dramatically redesign their sites to account for the new standard, which risks audience engagement and adoption.

Given the abundance of display inventory and cheap prices, some industry leaders suggest that viewability is just the metric we need to recalibrate supply and demand. This shift is likely to enable publishers to show the true value of their audiences and content, increasing pricing and returning some power back into the hands of publishers. However, something is awry. Many buyers are looking to TV metrics as a way not only to align currency between digital and TV, but to eliminate waste in display inventory paying only for validated audiences. This could put yet another strain on publishers, who now will not only be required to maintain high viewability standards, but will also be required to guarantee their audience demographics within the inventory purchased by advertisers.

In a fascinating twist, mobile video and connected TV inventory are quickly scaling to become an intriguing opportunity for TV buyers. This emerging inventory has some distinct advantages over display. Mobile video is personalized, highly engaged, and full-screen; connected TV is also full-screen consumer-selected content, plus it is typically exhibited on a living room’s 40-inch-plus screen to multiple family members. The advertising can be bright, beautiful, and as exciting as the content itself. But most importantly, it is absolutely viewable!

So this raises the question: Will digital media buyers opt for mobile or connected TV video inventory over display? This inventory sounds too good to be true──highly viewable, free of ad clutter, and large-format units with consistent measures to TV. What could be wrong with it? There are some inherent challenges with both mobile and connected TV.

  1. VAST Only: Currently, most mobile and connected TV platforms are only capable of running the VAST standard ad units. This restricts the use of flash creative and VPAID standard, eliminating rich, interactive creative units.
  2. Limited Measurability: Most measurement vendors (MOAT, Integral Ad Science, etc.) use the VPAID standard to measure interactions, viewability, and audiences.
  3. Minimal Addressability: Without browser cookies in mobile browsers and connected TV platforms, buyers are limited in the audience data which they can leverage for creative selection and delivery. There are some options to use publisher login data or panel data to target approximate audiences, but limitations exist and make it very difficult to connect to all the audience information collected and used on desktop devices.

Despite these limitations, many people are looking to these platforms to help align TV and digital buying and therefore create a more unified media plan. Additionally, media owners are quickly making mobile and connected video inventory available via their programmatic pipes and using a variety of methods for addressing and measuring target audiences. Will this new ad platform take the place of today’s cluttered, viewability challenged display ad units?

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