CTV: The Next Walled Garden?

For all of the growth in the CTV environment, no one denies that there are significant challenges to be tackled before it can realize its full potential. 

We asked Tal Chalozin, CTO and co-founder of Innovid, an independent advertising and analytics platform built for television, to discuss those that are most-cited by marketers. Not surprisingly, the dominant ones come under the general headings of lack of transparency and measurement standardization. 

What’s your overall assessment of CTV’s status now? Is the growth curve borne of the COVID stay-at-home mode flattening? 

Chalozin: CTV audiences skyrocketed during the initial months of COVID, and they're still seeing robust growth. CTV is actually commanding as much as 50% of many brands’ spend in video. 

What are the main obstacles to an even bigger role for CTV in media plans? 

Chalozin: Measurement and transparency are the clear concerns for marketers and agencies. As they look to plan and transact fluidly between traditional upfront spend and programmatic buys, the ability to see impressions, reach and frequency by inventory source is necessary to manage efficiency. If the source isn’t willing to share data about where the ad ran and what audience saw it, it creates a new black box or walled garden. 



Please be more specific. 

Chalozin: Buyers express transparency concerns in three main areas. 

One is duplication or overlay. The market is very fragmented, and very hard to understand when marketers are buying from individual sellers that may include app owners, aggregators, content owners, and programmatic platforms. Marketers need to see the big picture to ensure that they’re not buying the same audience multiple times and leaving other segments unreached.

A second area is assessing the value of impressions. Increasingly, brands are pushing to quantify how every impression contributes to their bottom lines. Many CTV users are digital brands, or ones driven by ecommerce purchases. Many of those buyers want to know if CTV viewership can be tied to some type of digital activity, like add-to-cart, purchase, app downloads, website visits or even search terms. 

Then there’s fraud. As more money comes into the CTV ecosystem, the bad guys want in, as well. Knowing what happened in other forms of digital marketing, buyers are understandably concerned about the threat of fraudulent CTV impressions — and there is well-documented evidence that the threat has grown in recent times. In CTV’s case, fraud isn’t necessarily a bot-generated impression that no human saw. It could be mislabeled IMPs that weren’t actually seen on CTV but somehow ended up being sold as such. 

Obviously, industry groups as well as individual players are working on the various technical and intra-industry coordination challenges. Is there an overriding priority or solution, in your view? 

Chalozin: Brands and their partners must demand that inventory sources and buying platforms share the granular data at the app or deal level. 

This will benefit everyone. For publishers, data sharing and collaboration ensures the ability to demonstrate the unique reach of their inventory. For media buyers, transparency into how ads alongside the same content accumulate across different screens is critical for planning and campaign management. 

With the premium AVOD platform landscape continuing to grow and an increasingly engaged viewing population, there’s plenty of incentive for everyone to help prevent CTV from becoming the next walled garden.

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