Advertisers have more ways to buy commercial time as media owners open up their connected TV inventories to automated auctions. ViacomCBS, whose media brands include CBS, MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Paramount, has expanded its range of programmatic offerings as ad-serving technology grows more sophisticated.

“Programmatic at ViacomCBS right now is a number of different transaction types,” Leo O’Connor, senior vice president and head of programmatic advertising at ViacomCBS, said in this interview with Beet.TV. “We’re supporting private marketplace (PMP), programmatic guaranteed (PG) and strategic exchange partnerships with marketplace platforms.”

With more households connecting their TVs directly to the internet to watch streaming video, the goal is to provide an uninterrupted viewing experience between programming and ad breaks. Viewers shouldn’t be aware that programmatic auctions for dynamic ad insertions are happening in real time.

“Ad serving in CTV is a highly complicated thing to pull off, when you think about adding the dimension of time to ad serving,” O’Connor said. “When a user is watching a stream, you have to factor for a lot of things that happen with time. You don’t want dead air.”

‘Material Level of Revenue in Programmatic CTV’

Technological advancements in the past two years have programmatic placements on ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) services more common. ViacomCBS owns Pluto TV, an AVOD service that offers a mix of live channels and on-demand movies and shows. Pluto is free for viewers to watch, with programming that includes ad breaks in pods.

“Live ad breaks, which is a huge part of our business, is another thing altogether,” O’Connor said, highlighting the ViacomCBS’s different brands such as MTV and CBS News, while Pluto also carries live channels separate from its VOD content.

O’Connor said there’s a place for advertising on live television, especially for live sporting events like the Super Bowl or specials like MTV’s Video Music Awards, on CTV platforms like Pluto.

“While this is a very mature business, and it’s growing very fast, we’ve already hit material level of revenue in programmatic CTV,” he said.

To support continued growth, O’Connor sees a need for privacy-compliant audience identifiers that support ad targeting, and an acceptance of industry standards among buyers and sellers of TV advertising.

“There’s certainly a need for us to have a ubiquitous, privacy-compliant identifier for us to trade, and for the industry to really grow,” he said. “We ultimately need to harmonize around a common set of tools.  We’re working with partners with a lens toward that.”

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