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    Brands ‘hungry’ for CTV transparency, says Integral Ad Science chief exec

    Lack of visibility around where ads will be placed is still a major challenge for marketers, explains Lisa Utzschneider.

    Marketers are still “clambering” for transparency in the connected TV (CTV) space according to Lisa Utzschneider, the chief executive officer of adtech and verification company Integral Ad Science (IAS).

    When brands buy programmatic CTV inventory, they often have no idea what channel or even what show an ad will be served on – there is almost no visibility. “It’s early days in this world of transparency in CTV, but that is the number one challenge marketers share with me,” Utzschneider tells us.

    Earlier this week, a report by PubMatic revealed that more than half of US advertisers and 82% of UK brands would increase their CTV budgets if they knew more about the shows their ads air around.

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    “When you sit with marketers – say at L’Oréal, for example. If you ask L’Oréal, ’Why don’t you move more of your marketing dollars into programmatic CTV? What is stopping you?’ Well, the reality of traditional marketers investing in linear TV is that they love the transparency.”

    In a bid to improve transparency, IAS acquired CTV ad server Publica in August 2021 for $220m. As the two companies integrate, there are plans for more granular CTV solutions, including contextual targeting, near real-time ad monitoring, filtering and blocking at a video level.

    “We’ve married up IAS buy-side data and the Publica CTV data and now we are providing transparency to the L’Oréals of the world. We can now say that, in addition to device and app, we can tell you what channel and what show – that is marketers are clambering for.”

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    IAS says that – subject to a publisher’s disclosure – it can tell advertisers the network the ad was served and can provide details about a show’s genre, its IAB category or rating. Its near real-time verification reporting verifies the media quality of a CTV campaign in real-time and its CTV monitoring and quality alerts notify buyers by Slack or email if an ad placement goes wrong.  

    IAS also recently acquired the AI company Context. Combining the ad server tech from Publica and the frame-by-frame recognition of Context, IAS will soon detect and classify items, locations, logos and people within video content.

    Marketers are also “hungry” to crack transparency and brand safety in live entertainment, according to Utzschneider, who adds that advertisers are seeing audiences flock to live and thus want to move more of their marketing budgets over.

    She adds: “There are two universes. There is recorded, which is much easier to control and verify, and then there is live. Marketers are very enthusiastic about the recorded solution, but live in general – live video, live gaming, podcasts – this is where marketers are hungry for us to lean in and really crack that nut.”

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    IAS made its first foray into live verification in 2020 when it developed its multimedia classification tech. The technology, which classifies video, audio, image and text within a live feed, was initially built to ensure Covid-19 news was brand safe.

    Utzschneider says cracking live will be a “crawl, walk, run” process. ”It will be incremental”.

    “Marketers recognize they can’t get the replication with linear TV, and also the user engagement is different, but they just want to understand what they are buying and are they getting the value for it especially as video demands a higher CPM.”

    IAS enters gaming and audio space

    Away from CTV, IAS has been reviewing what it calls “new advertising frontiers“ with the likes of in-game advertising and audio top priorities.

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    “Gaming is an area where marketers recognize the rapid adoption and recognize how big the marketplace is, but they want to rest assured that when they run an ad that it is a suitable and brand-safe environment.”

    In July, IAS tied with in-gaming advertising platform Anzu and is in early discussions with Twitch to gain access to inventory. In the audio space, Spotify and IAS have teamed up to create a brand safety framework for podcasts.  

    “I’m bullish about the verification space. It’s ripe for disruption,”  Utzschneider concludes. 

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