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CTV Myth Busting: All CTV is Made Equal—Hint: Not Even Close

by Clay Cohen, August 27, 2020

Key Takeaways:

  • 50% of the most premium CTV inventory is set aside for upfront reservation-based buying.
  • The premium CTV marketplace is inherently supply constrained.
  • Marketers need to look at all TV investments through a converged lens.

As TV investment professionals and digital marketers work tirelessly to navigate the rapidly evolving TV landscape, it’s more important than ever that their connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) strategies evolve with the dramatic shifts in consumer behavior and increased time spent across all screens.

Advertisers seeking leaned-in, high-value audiences will be well served to dive deep into the nuances of this surprisingly complex ecosystem. While advertisers may think they’re leveraging these formats to the fullest, simply adding CTV inventory as an activation “checkbox” on their media plan often results in poor delivery and disappointing business outcomes.

All CTV is not premium

Premium content is professionally developed, original, and broadcast TV-quality. Premium CTV is also typically long-form or episodic, with full-screen creative ads. These foundational qualities are what drive these desirable audiences to the big screen every evening.

But what truly sets premium CTV apart—like all good things—is limited inventory supply, the motivating reason for investment teams to reserve it ahead of time. Buyers are willing to make commitments in advance to sellers for large swaths of inventory in order to ensure access to the most premium selection. As a result, they get the sellers’ best rate based on long-standing negotiations and follow-through on commitments that forge lasting relationships.

The upfronts still exists for a reason

The enduring tradition of the upfronts and the digital-native Newfronts is the supporting business infrastructure for reserving premium CTV, among other types of media.

Despite the disruptions of Covid-19, a recent survey of broadcast executives revealed that 85% still believe reservation-based buying is the best system for premium media to trade hands. Furthermore, 78% said that the Upfronts and NewFronts will be back to business-as-usual as soon as the pandemic is under control. 

That’s why nearly 50% of the most premium CTV inventory is set aside for upfront reservation-based buying. And, as a result, programmatic-only traders are able to neither access nor execute premium CTV content at scale. Savvy TV advertisers have already taken the best and left the rest. 

That doesn’t mean there is no value in remnant CTV. Rather, it gives those brands and agencies without enormous spending power—whether or not they have access to upfront and NewFront negotiations—enhanced opportunities to activate their messaging with “on demand” reach as the year rolls forward.  

Premium content is irrelevant if you can’t plan against It

CTV and OTT inventory exist on a fluid spectrum across many content providers and access points, including broadcasters, cable and sports networks, streaming services, aggregators, vMVPDs, exchanges, and DSPs. And while this complex web of partners all provide unique paths for advertisers to reach their audience, not all of them are equal in cost and benefit, and many of them miss the big picture entirely.

As noted, a large percentage of premium CTV inventory is simply unavailable for purchase via programmatic pipes and is preserved exclusively for upfront buyers. This means that buyers must expand their planning capabilities and choose their activation paths carefully.

Many DSPs and trading platforms make bold claims that they can access inventory across “100% of broadcasters,” but just because they can programmatically buy some CTV inventory from all broadcasters doesn’t mean they can plan against or purchase any broadcaster’s complete portfolio.

For truly comprehensive planning across the entire pool of premium inventory, buyers should ensure that they’re investing in technology that can combine and optimize across both direct-sold and programmatic CTV together, ideally in tandem with their upfront linear TV investments.

CTV is an important part of a larger strategy

While CTV is increasingly becoming the cornerstone of brand-building campaigns, it is still a single piece in the larger puzzle of converged advertising in which today’s buyers can leverage all screens, across all deal types, to reach their audiences efficiently at scale. 

Whether identifying their target audience, optimizing a media plan across multiple channels, or negotiating in the upfronts, today’s most strategic marketers need to look at all steps of the TV investment process through a converged lens. Only then, with a comprehensive view of available inventory and the many paths to activation, can advertisers optimize reach and frequency across all TV and digital screens.

Knowing the right type of CTV to buy and how to maximize its performance is an exercise in resource management and trade-off optimization. Think of it as a stock and bond portfolio that you need to manage holistically in order to ensure you’re getting the greatest possible return on your investment. With the right tools and partners with strong expertise in portfolio optimization, it’s easier now than ever to refactor CTV into your holistic strategy.

Buy and activate across all CTV categories

Advertisers need a partner that can help them minimize trade-offs while delivering objective achievements and audience outcomes across all the different CTV categories. Only Amobee’s converged solutions can plan across all premium and programmatic CTV, maximizing the impact of your CTV investments.

Find out more about Amobee’s CTV planning and allocation capabilities. Contact us today at Solutions@amobee.com. You can also test your knowledge of the CTV marketplace with our Amobee Myth Busting Quiz on Adweek, and watch our recent webinar in partnership with Disney and Zenith Media on Creating Flexibility in Your Upfronts: A New Era of TV Planning.

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