As the calendar turns to April, advertisers and publishers turn their attention to the all-important upfront season. Of course, CTV disruption and the rise of digital channels make every subsequent upfront more important.
This added complexity and the annual entry of new CTV advertisers means there is a lot of confusion around best practices and what advertisers should prioritize as they get valuable face time with key decision-makers at the publishers.
With addressable linear and CTV blending together, there is more data and intelligence that publishing partners can provide to advertisers, many of which are table stakes for any advertiser looking to optimize their spending. Too often, publishers are defensive about sharing their data because they believe it is proprietary or could be used to minimize investments. Advertisers must be clear about their intentions with this data and demonstrate that it will likely lead to more investment and potentially higher CPMs with that publisher.
This year, advertisers should use the upfronts to demand more from their publisher partners. Here are the actions and goals advertisers should prioritize.
Demand transparency from the walled data gardens
It’s this simple: Advertisers need identity data to run successful modern campaigns. While there is ample discussion about data privacy, it is possible for publishers to provide authenticated yet anonymous data that helps advertisers make smarter decisions.
Advertisers should insist that publishers share critical data needed to measure unique reach across publishers and outcomes, like site visits and purchases, for their campaigns across channels. This includes sharing key identifiers like IP addresses and device IDs, the former of which is often considered the most common identifier for CTV advertising.
While there is debate whether that identifier will eventually go away like the cookie, it is a crucial component of optimizing campaigns today and helps advertisers build a database of intelligence that will come in handy if anything is introduced to replace it.
Request publishers share metadata to enable optimization
Make sure your publishing partners share as much information as possible about when, where, how and to whom your ad was served. This important context provides advertisers with more ongoing control over which content they want their ads to reach. While the industry is still awaiting a universal taxonomy that makes the sharing and ingesting of their content more streamlined, getting whatever metadata any individual publisher can provide, in whatever format they use, is much better than nothing.
Surprisingly, too many publishers are not even sharing the content that the ad is featured on, which enables advertisers to understand which streaming content performs best for advertisers. This way, advertisers can prioritize which of the different genres and device types are performing better for their particular ads.
Use the above data to influence campaign buying and targeting
Publishers sometimes hold data from partners because they’re worried it will lead to reduced budgets and CPMs. Advertisers should make clear they will use the data to make targeting and buying decisions, which can and should lead to increased budgets and CPMs, provided they are able to access the inventory that is most valuable to them.
Most advertising campaigns are omnichannel, so accessing this data allows advertisers to create custom audiences and extrapolate insights to other buys. It also makes cross-screen measurement more viable, providing greater opportunity to tie specific ads to specific sales occurring off the television.
Advocate for greater interoperability and standardization
While this is not a goal with an immediate payoff, advertisers should collectively impress upon the publishers and their industry bodies to work collaboratively to create greater standardization for the entire marketplace.
What has passed as individual data sets and identifiers have held up until now, and while CTV is still a much-desired medium, advertisers will sour on it if they are unable to easily optimize their campaigns across publishers. While publishers’ tendency to be protective of one’s proprietary data is understandable, it is absolutely a case of rising tides lifting all boats: The ongoing success of this industry requires advertiser confidence in being able to maximize their investments.
Bringing it all together
The upfronts are a dance between the wants and needs of advertisers and publishers. While advertisers understandably want as low CPMs as possible, the smarter play is focusing instead on the sharing of crucial data that helps them optimize campaigns, drive deeper intelligence and make smarter decisions on where and when to advertise.
By letting publishers know you are not just chasing the lowest CPM possible, you establish greater trust and create the foundation for a lasting partnership where data is shared more freely, which enables you to make smarter decisions.