Ad Frequency On Streaming TV Sucks. Let's Fix It

  • by , Featured Contributor, November 10, 2022
I don’t talk to anyone who watches ad-supported streaming services regularly and doesn’t complain about how poorly managed ad frequency is. The same ad will be shown over and over during the same show, frequently back-to-back-to-back. The same ads all week on the same shows, over and over again.

Sure, legacy TV has issues with frequency sometimes too, particularly if you watch a lot of the same network at the same time all week. But the promise of digital advertising and all its whiz-bang technology was supposed to fix that issue.

So, what’s up? Why do we keep getting hammered with redundant ads?

It’s not a technology problem. The campaign management systems, digital ad serving systems and sell-side platforms all have technology that can help us execute meaningful frequency caps on creatives and campaigns.

It’s not a data and identity problem. There are plenty of identity flags (device IDs, IP addresses, viewing pathways), identity tools (matching services, creative IDs, clean rooms, data-management platforms) and predictive probabilistic audience models to dramatically reduce the vast majority of the bad frequency.



OK, then why hasn’t it happened?

Fragmentation is a problem. Buyers of campaigns on streaming channels frequently leverage multiple different demand-side platforms, sell-side platforms and owners of access to the same inventory pools (device companies frequently reserve inventory for their own sale on publishers' inventory, agencies frequently receive their own pools of inventory from suppliers to resell to clients) when they execute programmatic campaigns.

If processes and technology are not in place to help them each understand what ads each person or device has seen, it is vertically impossible to expect that the viewer ad frequency experience can be managed. If there are three different pathways to the inventory and each operates with a three-per-day frequency cap, the user might very well get the same ad nine times each day.

How can this be solved?

Needs to be a priority. Solving this problem requires cooperation and collaboration from the multiple stakeholders, particularly the publishers, devices, sell-side platforms and buyers. It’s not rocket science, but it will take focus, hard work and time. Solutions to the problem will have to be prioritized.

What if the broader streaming industry doesn’t solve this?

Walled gardens will gain. Platforms like Google/YouTube and Amazon are making great strides here. You can be sure that, over time, they will make a good user ad experience a competitive advantage for attracting and retaining viewers. And, for sure, Netflix will do it as well.

Are you happy with your ad frequency experience on streaming channels? Are you ready to be part of the solution?

8 comments about "Ad Frequency On Streaming TV Sucks. Let's Fix It".
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  1. Maarten Albarda from Flock Associates (USA), November 10, 2022 at 6:40 p.m.

    Very much in agreement:

  2. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, November 11, 2022 at 7:21 a.m.

    Last month a colleague leaned in my office door and said he was watching individual news
    stories on a major cable news website.  He read 9 stories and was served the same pre-roll ad 8 times. Kinda wears-out the sponsor's welcome.

  3. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, November 11, 2022 at 8:04 a.m.

    Totally agree James. As an industry we either get this right soon or we will really slow down the development of this media channel.

  4. Howard Shimmel from datafuelX, Inc., November 11, 2022 at 9 a.m.

    Dave, as discussed at the Beet TV Retreat this week, it's also a platform inoperability issue. Signals only connect linear and AVOD/CTV after the fact. As you've stressed for years, planners need to do a better job leveraging more networks/dayparts to drive up reach and decrease frequency. But we've got the data and analytics now to be able to anticipate where linear R&F will hit, and use those signals to make sure AVOD/CTV is complementary, and not exacerbating the frequency issue.

  5. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, November 11, 2022 at 10:02 a.m.

    Great point Howard. I should have led with the platform interoperability issues. Your piont on anticipating where linear spots will be and leveraging AVOD/CTV to not only drive incremental reach but also manage frequency, whether that is supression or extension.

  6. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, November 11, 2022 at 1:35 p.m.

    But problem exists with repeat of ads on same website. If this is a cross channel problem that wouldn't happen. Why do publishers/ad supported digital nets show same ad over and over in the same program?  Because that's how they deliver impressions that were over-promised. This is something they control and do nothing about. 

  7. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 11, 2022 at 4:54 p.m.

    According to some estimates about half of CTV commercial placements are bought programmatically---which may be part of the problem----- compared to direct- with -seller buys where---I assume---avoidance  of excessive frequency scheduling  is part of the deal between buyer and seller. 

  8. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, November 13, 2022 at 4:15 p.m.

    Terrific dialogue that surely endorses the fundamental importance of a common cross-platform, audience based, Eyes/Ears-On, currency (versus device based currency) that would provide meaningful frequency of "contacts" analysis aginst the brand's target group together with a meaningful Eyes/Ears-On reach estimate.  Frequency capping is about controlling the  frequency of true contact with the audience for the ad not simply the number of spots with the goal of maximizing target audience reach within very specific time frames depending on the brand, category, and creative message, e.g., recency! 
    Maarten: Agreed.  Where is Erwin Ephron when we need him!!!

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