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10 Tips for Choosing a CTV Partner

The OTT landscape can be a complex one to navigate. Consumers have a dizzying choice of platforms to consume their favorite content. However, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: options for advertisers to connect with their audience via CTV are growing daily. Whether SVOD platforms are debuting ad-supported tiers or FAST platforms are gaining momentum, these options add eyeballs.

Brands should take time to consider their CTV advertising choices. Whether thinking about a first test or changing partners, it's essential to consider what is vital to the business. Here are ten things to think about when choosing a CTV partner.

CTV Platform vs. Full Service Agency vs. Specialized Partner

There are a few different ways to execute a CTV campaign. For this article, we will ignore the option of buying directly from a CTV publisher (e.g., ESPN). Working directly with a CTV-focused platform offers self-service and managed-service options. An advertiser or their agency can use both of those options. Considering the expertise level from the in-house teams' and agency partners' perspectives is essential. Hands-on Keyboard experience is vital for the self-service choice. An advertiser with an in-house team might need to hire for programmatic expertise to run campaigns successfully.

For advertisers working with an agency partner, the option to run CTV campaigns typically falls within the favored omnichannel DSP. Consider how much attention CTV gets across the entire programmatic media plan if this is the case. Is it being treated like any other line item?

Specialized partners, like SpotlightIQ, bring the strategic expertise of agency teams along with the flexibility of technology choice. Advertisers can think of this as augmenting their in-house team without needing an additional FTE. For agencies, working with a specialized partner can provide more support and insight than typical programmatic managed services.

Supply-Side & Buy-Side Tech

Regardless of the entry points discussed above, it's also critical to understand where the chosen platform lands between the sell and buy sides. A trustworthy independent buy-side platform will not prioritize inventory supply. It's essential to dig into the details if a platform offers both buy-side and sell-side technology.

Customer Suppression Lists

A critical component of any campaign is the ability to block existing customers from seeing ads. Many platforms now offer built-in CRM onboarding solutions. But in some cases, like in Banking or Financial Services, legal teams might require a specific approved CRM onboarding partner. Make sure to ask if the platform integrates with the necessary option.

First-Party Data for Audience Targeting

Once onboarded, can the platform turn data into lookalike models or 1:1 segments for loyalty message campaigns? Advertisers need to prioritize first-party data usage wherever possible. Legal requirements can override this suggestion, however. Choosing trusted partners will help when crafting a strategy based on first-party data. An advertiser should be able to trust their CTV partner.

Third-Party Segments

With the impending death of third-party cookies, does the CTV platform use third-party segments built on different identifiers? Cookies never existed in the CTV space, but it is crucial to consider third-party segments shared across other programmatic buys. Are they disparate? Whether it's IP addresses, UID 2.0, or RampID (or other identity graph IDs), how is the platform positioned to face a future of new identifiers?

Custom Bidding Algorithms

Buying platforms have different built-in optimization goals. The platform's proprietary algorithm governs bidding to CPM, CPA, CPV, or CTR goals. Typically, bidders are one-size-fits-all. Standardization means that the platform's advertisers share the same bidder, which evaluates the same signals.

Over the past few years, these platforms have launched new APIs, allowing the use of custom bidding algorithms. It is possible to create algorithms using the same signals that off-the-shelf platform bidders use. However, an advertiser may want to weigh the signals differently. They can also use first-party data in these algorithms. The goal is to build a custom bidding algorithm that prioritizes the most critical signals impacting an advertiser's business rather than what is essential to all advertisers.

Creative Support

Many advertisers began investing in video creation years ago. With the rise of video in social media channels, advertisers saw the storytelling potential. Using previously produced video assets in CTV campaigns is possible if they fit technical specifications and formatting requirements. Advertisers buying linear TV have assets ready to deploy in this new OTT world.

For advertisers needing support to get social media video ready for CTV or need production services to create a spot, consider if the CTV platform or partner offers creative production or editing support.

Inventory Curation

All paths between an advertiser and a consumer are not equal. Matching the audience and message at the right time is a primary goal of any advertising campaign. With the rise of programmatic, there are dozens and dozens of potential inventory sources. Along with many different sellers of the same inventory. Does the CTV partner offer fundamental inventory transparency? Is there a built-in supply path optimization (SPO) process? Often, there is a less costly path between an advertiser and a consumer. Knowing if SPO is a primary part of media buying is essential.

Data Collaboration

In the programmatic past, walled gardens or more sophisticated tech stack solutions acquired the first generation of attribution vendors. Meta and Amazon both offer advanced attribution solutions that work for many advertisers. Measuring across these walled gardens is still a tricky process. Recently, data clean rooms emerged as a solution to this measurement issue. Ask a potential platform or partner for their stance on data collaboration. They should either have a solution for this or be open to integrating with any attribution or measurement vendor.

Reporting vs. Insights

Generally speaking, platform performance reports can do an adequate job of telling a story. Reviewing the data leads any capable advertiser to make necessary optimizations within the platform. However, standing out from the competition requires answering "Why Did This Happen?" and not just "What Happened?" Can the partner or platform offer deep insights? Such as whether or not the audience composition changes over time and if the consumer experience changes along with it.

These are all critical considerations when choosing where to deploy a CTV campaign. The level of in-house vs. agency partner expertise, platform independence, and algorithm customization can separate an advertiser from the competition. If potential partners and platforms can't answer questions about most, if not all, of the ten things to think about, it's time for a change.

What to learn more? Contact us to discover how SpotlightIQ can immediately impact CTV campaigns.


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