The digital video takeover continues. Last year, it accounted for nearly half (44%) of the overall display market. Now, video absorbs two-thirds of all online budgets and is set for a 25% rise in ad investment by the end of 2019.
So it’s no surprise that efforts to boost video returns are also increasing, via automation.
Helped along by connected TV (CTV) and the over-the-top (OTT) ecosystem advances, the volume of video spend flowing through programmatic pipes has grown rapidly — doubling in size since 2016 — and is due to keep rising, making up 43.4% of overall programmatic display.
But mastering programmatic video isn’t easy. To get it right and reap the rewards of large-scale video efficiency, there are five key things every brand must do.
1. Understand the nuances of digital video
First up is recognising the fragmented state of video. While TV takes the lion’s share of video viewing — enthralling audiences for 2.24 hours per day, versus 1.29 hours for other digital video — its definition has expanded, now including multiple screens and CTV services.
On the positive side, this has enhanced programmatic scope. With half of UK homes already subscribed to streaming platforms such as Netflix, consumers are embracing non-linear TV viewing, and as ad-supported streaming services gain popularity, brands can serve automated, data-driven ads across wider audiences.
But it also means budgets have more distance to cover. If brands want to maximise programmatic effectiveness, they must understand their audience’s viewing habits and target ads precisely — which brings us to the next point: investment.
2. Allocate budgets based on where and when audiences are viewing
The rise of on-demand CTV means viewers are watching what they want, when they want, which means the notion of “prime time” can vary depending on the audience.
Brands need to deliver ads in the environments that offer the best opportunity to engage their particular audience. This involves working with agencies and their technology partners to build digital video strategies that optimise multichannel exposure, linear and offline included.
To make sure every penny generates a strong return, brands must first ensure decisions are based on a deep and accurate understanding of how and where their audiences view content and respond to ads.
At the moment, we are still seeing, in the main, TV budgets and digital video budgets planned and spent separately. As the digital video ecosystem matures, we will see convergence of traditional TV and digital video buying.
3. Master the art of buying through private marketplaces
Due to high demand for CTV inventory, much of the available supply is transacted through private marketplaces (PMPs), and sought-after content often sells out before reaching the open market.
Publishers, including The Guardian and News UK, have publicly voiced their preference for programmatic direct deals and the sentiment is widely shared by video-first publishers. As such, advertisers need to be adept in transacting via PMPs to reach CTV consumers at scale.
Brand marketers can activate video campaigns, including CTV, with curated, multi-publisher PMP packages that cover specific needs.
Advertisers can target based on parameters from back-to-school season and holiday shopping, to viewability guarantees, and obtain full visibility into what premium video inventory their ad dollars are buying programmatically.
4. Prioritise quality over quantity when it comes to your tech stack
In addition to selecting technology providers with high evaluation capabilities, brands would also be wise to keep stacks trim. Issues with confusing programmatic supply chains are not new, but they haven’t gone away.
In the same way that publishers have steadily decreased the number of technology partners they connect to, buyers should take heed. For desktop, display and mobile, the maxim that more partners equals less transparency holds true.
At this relatively early stage of CTV adoption in the UK, brands have the chance to avoid similar mistakes by only adopting genuine "fit-for-purpose" tech. In doing so, they will not only reduce complexity and costs, but also obtain a clearer overview -- as well as control -- of exactly where their money is going and how it is performing.
5. Put context first
Finally, GDPR has sparked a global movement toward tighter data regulation that is leaving brands stuck. Although they are keen to respect consumer rights, data is crucial to keep ads relevant.
As digital advertising faces a cookieless future, brands will need different ways to align video messages with audience interests at speed; and the obvious answer is a renewed focus on context.
Solutions from platforms like IRIS.TV can analyse videos directly from publishers' content management systems and provide the contextual category information to programmatic buyers, enabling brands to instantly target content that matches campaigns and audience tastes. In this way, publishers and advertisers can ensure the content and ads are compatible contextually and deliver a superior viewing experience.
While the experience of mastering programmatic display might provide some guidance for video, brands should not rely too heavily on previous knowledge. Video, and CTV, is its own beast and to get the most out of it, brands must overcome its unique mix of programmatic challenges -- targeting limitations, audience fragmentation, transparency and measurement issues.
By using the right technology to blend an understanding of audience viewing habits and context, while allocating the correct budget allocation and metrics, brands can ensure that they leverage its vast reach and that their investment delivers worthwhile, trackable revenue and results.