The sale of ads in connected TV environments has reached an “inflection point” because recent advances in software are allowing TV publishers to exert more control and reap more efficiency from the channel.

That is according to one executive in the box seat for the connected TV revolution.

“We are now seeing supply that’s available to be monetized in CTV, exceeding or growing faster than the demand is growing,” says Lauren Wiseman, who oversees OTT and programmer partnerships at Xandr, AT&T’s advanced advertising unit.

In this video interview, Wiseman puts that change down to three main trends:

1. COVID-19 content

“Right now, a lot of us are at home consuming tonnes of content – much of that is ad-supported,” she says.

EMarketer now estimates CTV ad spending will reach $10.81 billion in the US in 2021.

That is up 56% from two years earlier, and represents around 15% of total US TV ad spending.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted increased connected TV viewing, including increased demand for subscription VOD. But there is a view in the industry that SVOD growth will eventually saturate, leaving ad-supported CTV services in a favorable spot.

2. Header bidding

Increased efficiencies from “header bidding” technology is encouraging some broadcaster and distributors to expand the partners from whom they accept ad demand, Wiseman says.

Header bidding is the technology that allows publishers to entertain ad bids from multiple auction services simultaneously, rather than in sequence, thereby encouraging best and highest bids. Wiseman says header bidding, which started in digital display advertising, has now evolved to suit connected TV.

“What we’re seeing now in CTV (is that) header bidding, particularly Prebid, is a very widely adopted technology in the display world,” Wiseman says. “But there’s a lot of nuance and complexity in CTV.

“What we’re seeing with Prebid is that we’ve rebuilt that technology to consider ad podding and competitive separation, really the needs of the publisher to degenerate revenue, the needs of the user to have a decent viewer experience and not see the same ad over and over again, and the needs of the buyer to make sure that frequency capping and their rules are enforced.”

3. Top of the funnel

Wiseman also thinks connected TV, despite all the promise about precision targeting at the household level and digital-style control, is starting to be used a lot like traditional TV ads.

“The third trend that we’re seeing with the growth of CTV is, CTV moving up-funnel,” she says.

“What are the use cases that CTV is solving for? What are the use cases that programmatic is solving for? In some cases, programmatic is backfill and that’s a great use case for it when impressions aren’t sold through a direct sales team.”

Supply and demand

All of that makes the role of supply-side platforms (SSPs) important.

Wiseman says she has learned something important from offering Xandr Monetize, the company’s own ssp.

“An SSP’s role is often to provide incremental demand to what a direct sales team is responsible for or enable a direct sales team to sell programmatically,” she says.

“So that’s where we’re leveraging Xandr audience segments based on AT&T data to help drive new and differentiated demand into the marketplace in addition to powering a broader marketplace as a technology platform.

You are watching Where We Go From Here: The Lessons and Opportunities of 2020, a Beet.TV series presented by Xandr. For more videos, please visit this page