In a medium where more of the ad inventory is sold by the people who actually make the content, the software they use to facilitate transactions will have an increasingly important role.

After a decade in which so much display ad inventory was traded through open programmatic exchanges, the emergence of connected, over-the-top (OTT) TV ads is coming with a key difference – broadcasters want to stay in control of the ads they sell.

But that doesn’t mean they want to continue selling ads through traditional direct-sold insertion orders.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Mike Fisher, SVP of advanced TV and audio at Essence, a GroupM media agency, says supply-side platforms (SSPs) are becoming pivotal.

In control

“I truly believe that OTT is one of the safest forms of digital video that you can be buying programmatically,” Fisher says. “True television streaming content, that’s still sold directly by the end seller.

“We increasingly see our clients buy from who they’re comfortable buying from – the NBCs, the Viacoms, the Discoverys, the Hulus, the Comcasts of the world.

“Even though they’re executing it via programmatic pipes. They’re not buying in open auction because there’s really none of this inventory being made available inside of an open auction environment.”

Many of the networks Fisher mentioned have tooled-up with their own initiatives and platforms to sell ads. But many also want to use supply-side platforms to carve out private marketplaces or enable guaranteed deals.

SSPs in focus

“The SSPs have a really unique role in this space,” adds Fisher. “They’re not just a pipe for the publishers anymore, in order to get access to the buy side.

“They’re really also providing yield management, unified ad decisioning, server-side ad insertion, the ability to better manage a pod or an ad load, to more mirror television.

“That really becomes important as buyers look to migrate their linear TV budgets to streaming. As they look to say, ‘I still want to maintain competitive separation inside the (ad) pod’, or frequency rules that you would normally put in place with a direct buy.

“It’s really up to the SSP to develop the technologies that allow the publishers to do that.”

Evolving the SSP

By the same token, SSP vendors have to work hard to give publishers tools in a world where more of them want to take more control of their business and software.

They need to shake off the perception that the category still lingers in the older, open-auction programmatic world, where they facilitated long-tail, less-than-premium ads.

That is not something the TV industry is going to stand for.

So off-shoots like private marketplaces, which help publishers govern whom they trade with, may help assuage concerns.

Three tiers of viewing

Either way, Essence’s Fisher thinks the existence of both SVOD and a new wave of advertising-supported video (AVOD) services is settling down into a three-tiered co-existence.

  1. “The average consumer is going to subscribe to one or two premium SVOD services, (like) Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max,” he says.
  2. “And then they’re going to fill in the holes with two or three different lower-tier paid services like the on demand portion of Hulu, CBS All Access, or others, which has a lighter ad load, but still ad exposure.
  3. “And then that’s really where they’re then going to turn to the free ad-supported services like Tubi, Pluto, Xumo.”

Fisher thinks the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing this kind of setup. According to him, consumption has boomed but many networks have struggled to commission new premium programming, leaving lower-tier, library-based content like that offered by AVODs to fill the gaps.

This is from a Beet.TV series titled “The Accelerated Evolution of Programmatic OTT” presented by PubMatic.┬á for more videos please visit this page.┬á