SSAI is Causing Problems for CTV Measurement

  17 December, 2019

Glenn PereraOne of the most commonly cited barriers to growth for CTV and OTT advertising is measurement, and there are a number of factors contributing to this problem. There’s still confusion over the terms we use, and there are technical hurdles too which need to be overcome.

In this Q&A, Perera discusses why it’s important for terminology to be cleared up, and discusses some of the technical barriers to preventing CTV fraud.

The term ‘OTT’ can mean lots of different things to different people, does this cause problems when it comes to measurement?

Currently, half the advertising community defines OTT as television-like video content delivered to any screen – computer, mobile, or connected TV. The other half defines it first by the device, followed by video content specifically delivered to a CTV. Given that measurement is approached differently depending on the device content is viewed, there is an assortment of factors to consider. There will be no agreement on the metrics chosen to measure OTT advertising performance while the definition is unclear. The IAB has begun to address this confusion by releasing an advanced TV matrix that defines the terms in use, but only with input from the entire ecosystem will we align on the terminology and prevent unnecessary confusion.

We’ve heard about measurement being an issue for CTV for a while now, are we making any progress?

Measurement remains a roadblock in quantifying the impact of CTV. With the increasing number of technological devices, measurement of digital advertising has grown in complexity and can be particularly challenging for emerging technologies. As an industry, we are inching closer to standardisation for video measurement. The Media Rating Council (MRC) recently released its long-awaited draft proposal for a new cross-media audience measurement standard, imposing stricter rules for digital companies reporting on video impressions, and how broadcasters report commercial viewership. And we’ve announced a verification solution for connected TV that partners directly with the largest video publishers to verify that video ads are played to completion, and free from invalid traffic. We are undoubtedly heading in the right direction, but some industry changes still need to happen.

Server-side ad insertion is used extensively in CTV advertising, does this cause any specific problems for measurement?

With server-side ad insertion, ads are joined up into a single video stream alongside the content, so information about the device must be correctly passed on by the server component. In some cases, this does happen but there are instances when it does not, meaning those ads could be flagged, incorrectly, as invalid traffic. The solution here comes in partnering with publishers to understand the data signals being sent, and to ensure that any missing or non-standard signals and unrecognised SSAI data points are corrected. Here, we see again that transparency and collaboration between verification vendors and the supply side is crucial to achieving accurate CTV measurement.

Which metrics should we be looking at when measuring CTV?

Looking at viewability as a key metric, the expectation today is that TV screens are inherently viewable. However, as the technology required to measure viewability is not universally supported across connected TVs, this is not possible to validate, yet. As such, video that reaches completion and is fraud-free is considered an acceptable ‘success’ metric for viewability. With video standards still disputed across the industry, the answer to what CTV measurement should look like is an ongoing challenge – but a challenge we must face together to determine an industry-wide standard.

You spoke at New Video Frontiers earlier this year about the importance of cross-industry collaboration for CTV’s problems. What exactly does the industry need to be collaborating on?

Collaboration is, and will continue to be, extremely important. As the ecosystem transitions to a wholly digital, internet-enabled TV landscape, there is one truism – cross-market collaboration and engagement with both the buy-side and sell-side of the industry will be critical to getting future measurement right. Short-term, the industry must agree on consistent definitions for both CTV and OTT to ensure wider understanding. In the mid-term, an environment of collaboration based on transparency should be fostered, where buyers receive unambiguous data points from sellers. The final goal must be unity on what success looks like for digital advertising in a CTV platform and OTT environment. Collectively, there is the opportunity to establish consistency in the early stages of CTV development and adoption, but we will only achieve this when all parties work together.

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