As consumers spend more time with connected devices like smart TVs and mobile phones, advertisers have more ways to reach audiences through over-the-top (OTT) channels. The pandemic led people to spend more time watching streamed video, including platforms that sell ad inventory in pods.

“It’s become increasingly clear that OTT has taken center stage both with consumers and within our industry,” Sean Buckley, chief operating officer of video advertising platform SpotX, said in this interview with Beet.TV. “We’re seeing the ad dollars move even more aggressively into OTT than were anticipated, given the acceleration of these consumer trends.”

800% Growth in CTV Ad Inventory

To improve the consumer experience, the makers of TVs have added features like Wi-Fi connectivity and improved menu systems to help viewers organize their connected TV apps without buying any additional hardware.

“If you go back three or four years, most consumers would go out, buy a smart TV, but hook up some sort of auxiliary hardware to access their OTT content. The common viewpoint was those auxiliary hardware providers gave a better user experience, had a more robust app ecosystem,” Buckley said. “Increasingly, consumers are accessing their OTT content directly through their smart TVs.”

SpotX saw more than 800% growth in ad inventory for OTT apps accessed directly through a smart TV from March to October last year. Meanwhile, about 38% of all CTV ad spend through SpotX’s sell-side platform (SSP) was the result of consumers accessing content directly through a smart TV.

“In some cases, the device manufacturers are able to take a share of inventory from third-party apps for distribution on their platform, similar to the carriage deals folks are accustomed to in the television ecosystem,” Buckley said, “but many of them have launched their own direct-to-consumer apps. That presents a new ad inventory opportunity for them as well. We’re helping those companies monetize that inventory, and really harness the power of the first-party data that they have to enhance the value of the inventory.”

Bringing SSP Services and Ad-Serving Together

SpotX also expanded into ad-serving services with last year’s investment in SpringServe, aiming to help media owners manage programmatic demand alongside direct-sold campaigns. They also developed a forecasting tool to provide transparency into booked inventory, making it easy for media owners to see programmatic availabilities.

“We’re intertwining traditional direct sales with programmatic campaigns, to give much more granular tools to media owners who really need to navigate the setup and execution of campaigns across both models, Buckley said. “We’re focused on holistic forecasting, particularly with audience-base buying becoming so much more prominent, and assembling the podded ad-delivery concept in a much more effective way.”

More 30% of SpotX customers have adopted its ad-serving, and have seen double-digit gains in revenue, he said.

The company also has partnered with major advertising holding companies on the programmatic efforts. SpotX last year signed an agreement with WPP’s GroupM to serve as the primary partner for all programmatic digital video and over-the-top (OTT) inventory. The ad holding companies have expressed an interest in working with fewer vendors, while deepening their relationships with a select group of service providers, Buckley said.

“The concept of supply path optimization (SPO) has been in other digital formats for a while, now. We see unique applications for OTT and have forged a number of partnerships with the major holding companies,” he said. “There’s a lot of complexity around inventory rights, the monetization of live events that we’re helping with, improved planning and forecasting around audience and content visibility, and streamlining work flows for agencies.”

Magnite, the SSP formed after last year’s merger of Rubicon Project and Telaria, this month agreed to buy SpotX for $1.17 billion in cash and stock from European broadcast giant RTL Group.

You are watching “Addressable Advertising: A New Reality for Linear TV,” a Beet.TV leadership series presented by SpotX. For more videos, please visit this page.