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19 August 2021

Ad Summit panelists disagree on future of addressable TV

Announcing that advertisers should start committing a considerable 40% share of TV ad budgets to OTT, when today’s average is just 14%, raised more than a few eyebrows at this week’s Stream TV Ad Summit. Of course, as the event name suggests, no speaker from the panel that followed was going to disagree with Justin Evans, global head of analytics and insights at Samsung Ads.

His company’s reasoning is that streaming-enabled homes are being starved of impressions, while homes without smart TVs or connected TV devices are a shrinking pool of opportunity.

David Porter, SVP and GM of Addressability at dynamic ad insertion company Canoe Ventures, was the only panelist to directly address this hypothetical 40% ad streaming budget target, hypothesizing that Canoe has the capabilities to execute that in an AVoD world today.

Lighting up live linear, as Porter put it, is more difficult, as it requires different technology which Canoe is investing in through industry SCTE standards. Canoe is actively working with cablecos and programmers, enabling them to self-serve – by marking any unit they want in inventory and dynamically serving addressable ads via the Canoe footprint.

This, Canoe claims, is the largest addressable linear footprint out there, buoyed by relationships with over 100 networks and serving over 2 billion impressions every month into VoD.

As the token vMVPD on the panel, all eyes were on fuboTV’s SVP of Advertising Sales, Diana Horowitz, who surprisingly was out on her own when projecting the future of addressable. While Horowitz is bullish that, by 2024, all addressable TV will just be TV, therefore doing away with separate panels at events like Stream TV Ad Summit by then, others were less optimistic.

Synamedia’s Daniel Wohlfart, Principal Product Manager for Advanced Advertising believes the maturity levels required for addressable to blend into the background of pay TV are not quite there, envisaging multiple panels covering multiple technologies in three years’ time.

Porter’s view was much the same, pointing to future nuanced discussions in areas like how to optimize across multiple goals at the same time, how to build 30-second creatives, always-on attribution, and creating feedback loops between ad tech vendors and advertisers.

And as the panel’s resident technology expert, Wohlfart made sure to keep everyone in check, including reminding us that not all content consumption happens on connected devices – a message core to Synamedia’s advertising business. The vendor’s mantra is about making sure the entire ecosystem can be seen as an addressable opportunity, not just on contemporary devices and networks, which is why Synamedia is focusing efforts and building tools geared towards making everything addressable, from the set top connected to a satellite dish, to CTV apps – allowing it to provide proper full viewability metrics.

Synamedia does this via a number of mechanisms, including delivering ads over satellite links where they are stored locally on DVRs and spliced. Whatever operators choose, whether locally-hosted ads or head-end splicing, Wohlfart emphasized the need for a combination of available technologies with robust back-end infrastructure that can resolve households IDs and other data sources. These can be mapped to end devices that might not be connected in the classic sense, at which point audience targeting logic can then be applied.

No ad tech discussion is complete without addressing the addressable advertising privacy elephant in the room. The short story is that making a household addressable requires connecting that household to a database of interests, which therefore makes that household a privacy concern.

Rather than plateauing, Wohlfart sees the privacy problem proliferating as more and more countries open their doors to addressable advertising, although he described the industry as being in less of a mess today than it was before that fateful day when GDPR arrived in 2018. Today’s issues are more about privacy being met and less to do with technology vendors coming up with solutions to problems, according to Wohlfart, as he believes most problems have been solved for, which is not the answer we expected.

“Now it’s a matter of adopting and making sure everyone moves in the same direction. We continue to adopt all standards for every region, whatever framework is in place, so we make absolutely sure we support their legislation,” Wohlfart exclaimed.

Synamedia has been battening down the hatches internally and Wohlfart credited the IAB for bringing out a strong transparency framework which, if adopted by content providers, can be used in conjunction with content management platforms to send detailed descriptions of consensuses to ad tech vendors like Synamedia, so that it can ingest those and act accordingly.

Diverting the spotlight back to our resident vMVPD, fuboTV’s Horowitz delivered a stunner of a statistic – claiming that viewers have been watching 134 monthly hours of content on average in the so-called post-pandemic months. That works out at more than 4 hours a day, which is a crazy high number that Horowitz has evidently been enjoying dangling in front of advertisers.