Seven Common Mistakes to Avoid Making When Buying OTT/CTV Ads

By TechNext Archives
Cover image for  article: Seven Common Mistakes to Avoid Making When Buying OTT/CTV Ads

The change that COVID has created has many people's heads spinning. When we talk about change, there are many types of change. Businesses face evolutionary, revolutionary and disruptive changes. Depending on where you sit, you will view the last 18 months as either revolutionary or disruptive change on your business. The word "revolution" means "a turnaround" -- a sudden, complete, or radical change in something.

The face of TV advertising will never be the same. In 18 months, we saw changes that we expected to have taken five-plus years. When consumers have to perform an action differently for a period of 60 days or more, this new behavior becomes a learned trait and generally we see very little shift back to the "old way" of doing things.

Leaders from all walks of the TV ecosystem have acknowledged this change and in fact there has been an incredible shift in seats for leaders who are now responsible for the streaming platforms we have all come to know and love during. From HBO Max to discovery+, just about every broadcaster and cable company now has a growing OTT/CTV offering. It is not surprising that most marketers have jumped into streaming with both feet and the market is exploding. If you have not already done so, it is time to do it.

Ninety percent of 18-54-year-olds primarily stream TV through one or more streaming services.

With this rapid change, there is ample fraud and bottom feeders trying to take advantage of misinformed buyers. It is imperative that as a buyer (or consumer of streaming services) that you are informed and do not make the same mistakes so many others have made in the last few years as OTT/CTV has matured.

Let's jump to the seven common mistakes buyers are making.

  1. Do Not Buy Fraud! Many sellers will have you believe that because they are buying from publishers directly that there is no fraud. This is so far from the truth it should make your head spin. COVID turned out many large-scale fraud schemes. Fraud is now over 30% in most platforms. Buyers need to demand that they buy from platforms that are using an MRC-approved pre-bid fraud solution. TAG certifications are nice, but unless they are third-party audited anyone can essentially pay for these certifications. Roku remains a major fraud problem based on recent reports on CTV SIVT and GIVT.
  2. If You Are Doing Audience Buying, Personalize Your Ad! If you are going to spend the money to address an audience, use creative that speaks to that audience. The worst thing you can do is to serve a generic spot after doing an audience buy. This is a wasted opportunity to convert that target customer -- do not waste the opportunity or your ad dollar!
  3. There Is No Such Thing as "Free"! All too often, buyers will ask why you can’t give me so and so for free, the other vendor did. If one vendor offers a service for free and another does not, be sure to understand if you are comparing apples to apples -- often, you will find you are comparing apples to chocolate bars. (That's right, not even apples to pineapples.) Ask hard questions and demand transparency. Demand full transparency on all things including price, platform, inventory, data, etc. That trip you were just offered or gift you got was paid for by you (or at least your company).
  4. Inventory Quality Matters! Anyone that tells you that a mix of audience-targeting and quality publishers does not matter is someone who is trying to squeeze more long-tail pubs through on your dime so they can make more $$. Among thousands of campaigns, in comparing campaigns that were purely audience targeted with ones that were audience targeted but also bought premium pubs, the ones with a hybrid mix always performed remarkably better. You can draw your own conclusions on why this is happening, but it may be as simple as if someone is paying for something vs getting it for free, that they are more willing to pay for value. That equates to also buying products from you.
  5. If a Seller Cannot Sell You All Premium Inventory, They Are Likely a Reseller. Platforms like Amazon, Hulu and others are very strict with not allowing resellers to gain access to their inventory.
  6. Do Not Over-Message Consumers. Keep an Eye on Frequency! The one thing that annoys consumers more than irrelevant ads are ads that they see repeatedly. Streaming compounds this issue because there are already fewer ads in a pod. Find a partner that can help you do device-level frequency, try to avoid partners that work on average frequency because you will inevitably end up in a world of unhappy consumers who have seen too many of your ads.
  7. Understand the Value When You Buy CTV/OTT from Your Print Partners. Resellers are everywhere in the space. Print, OOH and similar companies are effectively ad-networks. They are arbitraging media costs and there are ample number of platforms that offer transparency.

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