Measurement, Transparency And Accountability Are Big Themes in CTV This Year

“On TV And Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

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Much has been made about the shift to CTV during the pandemic, and as advertisers follow the eyeballs and companies race to capture a larger share of the streaming ad market dominated by established players such as Roku and Amazon, the big conversations this year will be around measurement, transparency, inventory and even the future of linear TV.

Duncan Smith, chief media officer and global client president at advertising giant Dentsu, tells AdExchanger that when it comes to CTV, everything has to start with measurement and planning – and discusses how one of the biggest challenges in media today is that of accountability.

AdExchanger: How do you expect your investment in CTV inventory to change in 2021 vs. 2020?

DUNCAN SMITH: Dentsu has always been ahead of the curve in terms of the proportion of our clients’ media investments going toward addressable and connected TV and we don’t expect that to change this year.
We were already seeing significant shifts in consumption from consumers toward an on-demand model – not just through streaming services but also through DVR and regular cable.

Covid has accelerated that exponentially and with aggressive inflation in certain areas of the broadcast space, we will be continuing to ensure our clients’ dollars are increasingly invested in media that can be held more accountable for delivering on outcomes with less waste and greater flexibility – all of which CTV can offer.

When it comes to CTV, the industry is actively trying to solve for addressability as well as measurability and transparency. Is one a greater priority over the other? 

I think everything has to start with what you should be measuring and then how you’re planning on doing that. One of the biggest challenges in media that we’re still facing today is that of accountability.

Pulling apart the individual contribution of media alone – outside of sales promos, creative content, weather, etc. – has traditionally relied on advanced modeling, correlation analysis or just inference. Mainly due to the large gap between an impression served in a medium like TV and the opportunity of the audience to act upon it.

That gap has closed considerably, and with CTV we have the opportunity to tie the data we have on the viewer directly to an action – be it a purchase, a digital interaction or something else.

Establishing how granular to get with that data will inform how addressable the vehicle needs to be – individual, household, zip code – and the agencies that can act with the greatest fidelity in this space across all media, such as Dentsu, with our M1 and Merkury platforms, stand to offer their clients the greatest advantage.

As CTV grows, how has that changed the role of national linear TV? 

I don’t think it has changed its role necessarily, but it does mean advertisers and agencies need to be far more on target, less wasteful and more deliberate about when to ‘turn on’ linear in future. For advertisers with broad audiences and mass market products that need to maintain frequency and reach against those populations with a degree of cost efficiency, linear TV is still a very powerful tool – although inflation in certain areas is quickly squeezing that efficiency somewhat.

It also still delivers significant impact against large scale audiences and provides shared viewing occasions around premium and entirely brand-safe content (even if that content may not be brand appropriate for all).

However, those appointments to view are starting to be accessed in larger numbers through alternative platforms such as OTT, CTV, mobile apps and the like, so it’s imperative that advertisers and their agencies develop new ways to plan, buy and optimize video holistically.

At Dentsu, we’ve been pioneering tools in this space for a long time and are now starting to take an audience-based approach to linear TV, allowing us to deliver the same accountability and integration with all other channels as we have seen from our people based digital and addressable media.

What are the most important changes that need to happen in an organization for linear TV buyers and digital buyers to work together? 

First of all, it’s about structure. Within our Amplifi organization – the trading arm of Dentsu Media – we have had combined video teams for the best part of a decade. Those teams deal with inventory from national broadcasters to in-stream placements in OTT to negotiating YouTube and pre-roll activity.

Creating an activation arm of the agency that mirrors the audience’s consumption encourages that team to think and work more holistically and, as new starters have come into the network afresh, we’ve ensured that the fundamentals of media execution have evolved to incorporate more digital capabilities from the outset.

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