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State of Streaming Video Ad Measurement, Targeting Key Topics at OTT.X XFronts

State of Streaming Video Ad Measurement, Targeting Key Topics at OTT.X XFronts

Streaming video ad measurement and targeting were key topics at the OTT.X XFronts conference May 21 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

Chance Johnson, chief commercial officer at Nexxen, said many ad buyers are buying blindly.

Indeed, making sense of data and industry confusion were key topics at the conference, right down to the very definition of the new content ecosystem.

“I think I would change the messaging. Get rid of every single acronym and just call it streaming television,” said panelist Jeff Clark, CEO of Active, which has 20-plus FAST channels. “No one knows what FAST TV or OTT is.”

“The business is just a bunch of acronyms,” agreed Jeff Clanagan, president and chief distribution officer at Hartbeat, Kevin Hart’s multiplatform entertainment company.

Fragmentation in the advertising marketplace has yet to be unraveled or even be confronted at such venues at the recent New York Upfronts, which focused, as is traditional, on flashy content, speakers said.

“I was just surprised that there wasn’t more conversation about audience targeting, about data, about measurement, about distribution,” said keynote speaker Scott Bishoff of Canvas Worldwide, who noted the industry doesn’t seem to be coming to grips with the new advertising marketplace.

“The upfronts are truly a spectacle,” said Nexxon’s Johnson, who said they were “very much a carryover from the linear TV world.” He said the upfronts need to more clearly address the diversity of television distribution.

“The platforms should be able to tell me how I should distribute my investment,” he said.

NBCUniversal’s Mike Hood, SVP of advertising and partnerships, took issue with the fact that no company addressed how to combat ad distribution fragmentation, pointing to the highlighting of his company’s One Platform advertising technology product at the New York upfronts. The platform utilizes first-party data, precision targeting, automated buying, and outcome-based measurement.

“You now no longer have to decide I wanna buy a show. … We have moved way beyond that,” he said.

Keynoter Raquel Rodriguez of R2 Media said the technology is there to help advertisers make the connection between impressions and product buys.

“For the first time, marketers can create and executed finely tuned media buys,” she said, with campaigns that “take people from impression to action.” A tracking pixel can track the impact of ads, she said.

“Not only can they tell you about impressions but what they did afterward,” she said.

But the ad load often isn’t being distributed efficiently, in part because of blunt advertising targeting.

“I think it’s driving us all crazy seeing the same ads over and over,” said Field Garthwaite, co-founder and CEO of Iris.TV.

One effective way to reach consumers is via contextualized ads, which read the emotional context of the content being viewed and match the ad to it, he said.

Jeff Ratner, president of media and analytics for Quigley Simpson, noted there is a danger in the fact that ad buyers have “ceded some of the control of a media planner to an algorithm.”

Chip Russo, president of Truthset, noted that data can be deceiving, citing the fact that a colleague rented a house and, even though he was not Hispanic, “somehow the IP registered him as Hispanic” and served up ads in Spanish.

Platforms and studios, including Vizio, Cineverse, Shout! Studios, Revry, ElectricNow, Ngimitu and TBN, also presented their wares at the event.

While offering no new details about Vizio’s pending acquisition by Walmart, Vizio executives touted:

  • the primacy of the company’s TV home screen (Viewers spend an average of 44 minutes a day there, they said.);
  • a new animation feature on the home screen;
  • the sponsored “Vizio Recommends” feature for those lingering on the home screen that links directly to the sponsored app and that is available to quick-service restaurant partners;
  • a “Hispanic Collection” page rolling out June 1;
  • Vizio’s branded content studio with shows such as “The Pantry” with Tom Colicchio, which allows viewers to buy items while watching using a QR code;
  • a new game section (more than 43% of Vizio’s audience identifies at gamers);
  • a news room, with headlines, current events and, this year, election coverage;
  • a new “Sports Hub” for live sports, launching later this year, with the ability to customize league and team preferences;
  • an 84% increase in the catalog of content (more than 300 live channels, 50 local channels, and more than 15,000 movies and shows on demand) and the doubling of viewing hours this year at Watchfree+ (Vizio’s owned and operated FAST service), which Vizio’s Katherine Pond said was the second most watched free ad-supported app on Vizio’s platform;
  • a new collaboration with marketing company Curve Interactive;
  • and the launch in just a few weeks of pause ads on Watchfree+ featuring such launch brands as Warner Bros. Pictures, Sonic, Dunkin and Baskin-Robbins.

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