Advertisers Want the Process of Buying CTV to Feel More Like Traditional TV

Last year, advertisers spent an estimated $10.3 billion in connected TV programmatic display ads, an 82% increase from 2020, according to eMarketer.

Yet for such a big chunk of change, advertisers often don’t know much about the shows or other ads their spots are running against, which can lead to ad frequency issues, wasted budgets and—at worst—fraud. With a fragmented landscape of sellers, advertisers are buying with inconsistent visibility.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Tech Lab is taking a stab at addressing some of the challenges of transacting CTV programmatically with OpenRTB 2.6, a new set of standards released in Dec. 2021. Public comment is closing today, Monday, Feb. 7. RTB stands for real-time bidding, the instantaneous trading process advertisers use online to buy from publishers in digital auctions.

“Our objective for OpenRTB and CTV is to make the transition of ad spend from linear TV to CTV as seamless as possible—by developing the standard to bring ad buying of CTV inventory in line with the way traditional TV advertising is bought and sold,” said Shailley Singh, senior vice president, product at IAB Tech Lab, “with the added benefit of flexibility enabled by digital real-time ad bidding.”

The standardization of buying inventory can help connected TV keep its edge over linear TV, said Kevin Cahn, associate vice president at Kepler.

“CTV—for all of the wonderful targeting and measurement [capabilities]—struggles to replicate some of the nuances of the linear space,” he said.

Bringing greater transparency to inventory

“The biggest problem in connected TV is program level transparency,” said Brad Stockton, svp of U.S. national video innovation at Dentsu. “In linear TV, I know every spot that ran down to the program and the second.”

Advertisers want to be able to have as much information about the content they’re bidding against, especially the TV show itself, said Ryan Eusanio, managing director of digital activation at Omnicom Media Group, who in October 2021, wrote a call to action for CTV standards. Whereas this is the norm in linear TV, CTV publishers and content networks either don’t have the capability or the willingness, concerned that it might hurt sales.

“The TV world has existed for a very, very long time,” selling ads against shows, Eusanio said. “I don’t necessarily believe [CTV] sellers when they say this is going to kill [their] business.”