2020 was a tumultuous year for the advertising industry. The global impacts of Covid-19 restrictions drove significant shifts in the way people consume content, while brand advertisers and publishers struggled to deal with the demands of recent privacy legislation (such as GDPR in Europe and CCPA in the States) and the unprecedented complexity of a news cycle dominated by topics such as the pandemic, the US election cycle, the Black Lives Matter protests and Brexit.
As part of The Drum’s recent Predictions 2021 event, Tanzil Bukhari, managing director, EMEA, DoubleVerify, hosted a session exploring the key learnings he’d taken from 2020 and providing up-to-the-minute advice on exactly how advertisers can continue to drive campaign performance in 2021 through innovative, privacy-friendly solutions, and leverage breakthrough platforms such as Connected TV (CTV).
DoubleVerify provides online media verification and campaign effectiveness solutions for brand marketers, agencies, advertising networks, demand-side platforms, exchanges, and digital publishers looking to ensure quality advertising environments, campaign transparency and performance.
Bukhari said: “2020 presented some unique challenges, but there were also some new opportunities for us to focus on during 2021, specifically around a growing emphasis on quality standards and brand safety controls, and the emergence of CTV as a premium advertising channel. As we move into new mediums, we need to learn from the mistakes that we made as an industry in the past, so we continue to evolve and get better.”
Research from Innovid suggests that by 2023, 82% of households will have some form of a CTV device. 53% of advertisers are already shifting spend from TV and digital video to CTV.
“As the CTV ecosystem grows, so do the challenges accompanying it. As a verification company, one of the things that we’ve seen is a big increase in the level of fraud associated with CTV over the past year,” Bukhari said. “We found a 225% year-on-year increase in fraudulent CTV traffic, and captured over 1300 CCTV apps in the last 12 months. Over 500,000 different devices are detected every single day that are responsible for some form of fraud within the CTV environment.”
“There’s been an inconsistency around the technology and standards leading to a lot of confusion around CTV,” he added. “Operational inefficiencies, such as the number of tags you have to create and map together, has created a lot of angst for brand marketers and their agencies, so we need to find an easier way to engage in the CTV world.”
According to Bukhari, 2020 saw DoubleVerify bring real focus to the company’s strategy on CTV. He said: “We’ve developed reporting that enables a greater level of transparency across CTV. We’ve provided an ability to include and exclude certain apps and certain environments, based on whatever your requirements are. One of our biggest innovations from last year is a feature called video filtering, available within our video complete solution. Essentially, this provides the ability for brands and their representatives to apply some form of blocking in a CTV environment. We’ll continue to build on that in 2021 to drive a more granular level of control at app level, focusing on things like star ratings and user review.”
A question of context
Recent research conducted by DoubleVerify found that 69% of respondents would be more likely to look at an ad if it was relevant to the content that we’re reading. 67% of those respondents were open to viewing relevant ads from new brands, so long as they were in the right environment. Indeed, 44% of respondents had tried a new brand due to seeing a relevant ad alongside a piece of content that were they were consuming,
Bukhari said: “This sounds obvious but the fact that we still tend to target individual users, rather than considering the context of the content, is something that needs to change. The media landscape has evolved, the technology has evolved, and the innovation in the space has really driven new opportunities to leverage the potential of contextual advertising.
“Thinking contextually creates a number of benefits. Firstly, it ensures accurate content classification, so the brand suitability and targeting is on-point. It’s consumer privacy friendly, in that it doesn’t depend on third-party cookies. It extends reach and allows you to target broader audiences while still allowing for a certain amount of precision in finding audiences at a certain point in their buying journey. Finally, it reduces ad fatigue. The viewer only sees the ad in the right context, so it doesn’t feel as though the ad is following them around.”
Bukhari argued that establishing and enforcing a comprehensive ‘brand safety profile’ is key to negotiating the potential pitfalls of any new channel: “Marketers should ensure that your brand safety profile is accurately tailored to your brand values, that it understands what those values are globally, regionally and locally, and make sure that you have the right technology in place to balance the need for protection against the need for enabling scale.”