Show of hands: How many of you have watched TV via the internet?
Keep your hand up if you’ve watched the same ad repeated multiple times, or even ads for competing brands, within the same ad break while watching online TV?
I suspect many of you still have your hand raised. With explosive growth in over-the-top (OTT) video offerings — such as catch-up TV, live TV streaming, and video-on-demand services — 'competitive separation' is a challenge that many publishers face.
Yet for both publishers and advertisers, there are automated controls that can be deployed to prevent your message from being spoiled by frequency or competition issues.
For the delivery of online video ads, quality has many variables from the audience to placement and load time to viewability. Controls must be in place to manage this array of factors.
Competitive separation — giving media owners the ability to separate creatives whether the campaigns are executed traditionally, programmatically, or from third-party tags — is one such control issue with which many have trouble getting their heads around. As OTT video audiences have grown, so has the chance of ad fatigue for many publishers. Competitive separation helps solve this issue by allowing publishers with long-form content to fulfil an ad break with creatives from various sources and de-duplicate categories or advertisers (landing page URL) across sources.
For instance, a publisher could ensure that if the first ad is a Coca-Cola ad from a direct-sold demand source, subsequent ads in the pod would not be from competing brands — regardless of the source. Competitive separation controls, the likes of which are available in the SpotX ad serving platform, give audiences a relevant and diverse set of ads each time, preventing the ad experience from being spoiled by excessive repetition.
Using podding to control frequency and placement
Engaged in a TV-like viewing experience and watching their choice of premium highly engaging content, OTT audiences are highly valuable to advertisers.
Without programmatic controls, however, ads delivered in this environment are placed randomly, rather than in a controlled and optimised fashion. With the aid of podding technology, publishers can fill an ad pod with multiple ads from a single ad request. They can be programmed to play in a particular sequence, as the diagram below shows.
From a publisher’s perspective, podding maximises efficiency and fill, offers more control and is a better experience for the audience. The system eliminates duplication by using a single ad call to fill multiple ad slots, rather than individual requests for each ad within the pod.
Not only does this erase the possibility of ads repeating or running next to competitors’ ads, it also means fewer ad calls between various platforms, easing latency and infrastructure loads. Pods can also be configured to maximise ad revenue - for example, a 90-second pod could be programmed to ad call lengths of 15-second, 45-second, 15-second and 15-second.
From the advertiser’s perspective, podding delivers more control and greater effectiveness by facilitating de-duplication and competitive separation. Coupled with the use of standard identifiers, SpotX enables advertisers to control frequency across all environments, even those without advertising identifiers like some smart TVs.
Ask your technology partner the right questions
Simply calling three ads at once is nice, but it doesn’t really resolve the issues mentioned above. At a minimum, to truly reap the benefits of podding, your technology partner should be able to provide the following features:
Tight controls over ad delivery, such as:
- Maximum pod duration
- Maximum duration per individual ad
- Minimum duration per individual ad
- Maximum number of ads
Tight controls over ad content, such as:
- Automatic ad deduplication
- Competitive separation
With such rapid growth in the digital delivery of full-scale TV content, it’s natural for the industry to be playing catch-up on some of these challenges the digital environment creates. Taking the time to get your ducks in a row from a technology perspective can pay dividends for both the advertiser and publisher in the long- and short-term. From the consumer’s perspective, a user experience without annoying ad repetition and an experience that mimics the traditional TV delivery format is also a far better result.
Christopher Blok, country manager ANZ, SpotX