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Moving towards an OTT standard for targeted advertising

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By Andy Jones, CTO, Adstream & David Springall, CTO, Yospace


When DVB recently announced its plans to pursue an industry standard for targeted advertising we couldn’t have agreed more with their sentiment. Having recently presented an OTT-specific targeting standard at NAB – part of a Yospace / Adstream collaboration – we wanted to put forth a summary of our most important findings, and crucially, what needs to be done to make efficient OTT advertising a reality.

TV programming is increasingly available online, opening the door for digital advertising with impressive reach and rich targeting options. Beyond Sky’s AdSmart, this is really the first time advertisers in Europe have been able to deliver targeted ads against TV programmes. However, for this to reach the same sophistication as other forms of online advertising, media, advertisers and technology providers must come together to drive standardisation.


Standardising OTT ads presents 3 major challenges:

  1. Preventing lost ad space
  1. Managing clearance and rights
  1. Providing visibility of the results


Preventing lost ad space

An Ad Management Service (ADM) is responsible for inserting ads into an OTT stream, and in the case of Yospace’s platform, will automatically transcode the ad to perfectly match the content stream specification. However, the ADM cannot insert an ad that has not been previously prepared, and any incompatible ad must be skipped with the commensurate loss of revenue for the broadcaster until the ad is available.

To address this, each element of a targeting system needs to be considered during the advertiser’s campaign brief, making effective capture of media targeting parameters an essential part of the production of targeted content. Without standards and a system for managing the transfer of targeting information, real campaign effectiveness cannot be realised. A trusted chain of custody such as that created by the Adstream and Yospace integration is essential.


Managing clearance and rights

Tracking and managing usage rights is a well-established process in TV advertising, where rights are the responsibility of the media agency and brand.  But the contracts for this content are often negotiated up front, not limited to, but often with the media channels clearly defined, and with limited geographical specifications. As a result, media agencies tend to be cautious about exposing TV content to online platforms for fear that it will cross borders and playout across media channels which were not part of the upfront rights contract.

Campaign management platforms such as Adstream advocate storing content and rights in a single platform with contract information directly associated with each ad, allowing programmatic ad serving to be moderated. This would not only allow advertisers to safely push their existing TV content onto OTT platforms, but also pave the way for more sophisticated OTT-specific campaigns in future.


Providing visibility of the results

This challenge requires that ad metrics, in the form of standardised metadata, are stored against the ad itself, allowing for cross-platform reporting.  This metadata would ideally be applied by the creative and media agencies, and carried with the ad throughout its entire lifecycle, creating a documented chain of custody.

As we have learned from mature digital advertising vehicles, accurate measurement is key to improving creative, reducing wastage and identifying ad fatigue.

Yospace has seen a significant uptick in campaign effectiveness through a collaborative approach between the media owner and the advertiser.  In many cases, we find that a single traditional TV ad would be more effectively represented by up to 15 different variants to be served across a targeted environment.  Whilst all these pieces of content may have the same overall theme or overall message, the nuances of that message are augmented for each variance in demographic data, from gender, age range, geo-location, as well as any customer intelligence gained from broadcaster metrics.


To conclude, a model in which ads, rights and metadata are properly formatted, and stored in a single location accessible by programmatic platforms and 3rd parties such as Yospace is required to remove the barriers to true programmatic OTT advertising. In such an environment, high quality media can be scheduled and served through dynamic ad insertion with a greater ad inventory, greater immediacy, and greater level of measurement.

We’re very much looking forward to following DVB’s progress in establishing a standard for targeted advertising.  In the online world, a joined-up approach to the OTT ad workflow is essential if the true value of targeting advertising is to be realised.

If you’d like to explore this topic further, we recommend reading Yospace and Adstream’s programmatic OTT white paper, which you can download here.

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