How programmatic is bridging the gap between linear and CTV/OTT in 2023

Jessica Cobbe, vice president, product, Unruly

With new advancements and improvements in programmatic ad buying and targeting, 2023 looks like a year set for a great deal of change in the world of connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) environments. 

These changes will significantly impact the programmatic landscape regarding linear and CTV/OTT planning and buying. New tools and integrations — such as new real-time bidding protocols and cross-channel planning solutions — will be increasingly critical for advertisers to streamline these efforts.

Growing adoption of OpenRTB 2.6

One example of changes underway for 2023 is the integration of OpenRTB 2.6, the latest update to the IAB Tech Lab’s standard protocol, which provides many benefits for CTV. The biggest is that it creates a greatly simplified process for buying and selling inventory through ad podding akin to linear TV.

Unbeknownst to some, it was previously impossible to select ad positions within a commercial break in a single ad call via programmatic ad buying. Unlike linear, this meant that ads were slated into breaks in randomized order — limiting publishers from applying a premium on coveted ad pod positions (i.e., first and last ad placements during a break) and limiting advertisers’ control over where their ads appear.

With the rise of CTV/OTT viewership and the increased shift of linear spend to those platforms, brands will want a more TV-like buying experience, and publishers will want to maximize the value of their inventory. In response, SSPs and DSPs are hurrying to get their integrations up and running early in the year.

Increased use of contextual targeting 

While it’s not new in advertising, contextual targeting will become much more popular and powerful in CTV/OTT environments in 2023. 

Historically, the challenge with contextual targeting in programmatic has been a lack of one standardized way of categorizing the data in the bid stream to determine the context of the content (e.g., genre, ratings, etc.). However, many advancements have been made within the past year. 

For instance, a select few advanced SSPs cracked the code on how to make sense of the metadata — enabling advertisers to target not just by ratings and genres but down to the show level, just like TV. This privacy-safe solution finally creates an easy way for advertisers to align their messaging with specific content through programmatic, and more brands will be activating it next year.

More innovation in planning tools

The world of holistically planning, buying and measuring CTV/OTT and linear campaigns is complex. Still, throughout 2023, more advanced tools will create a more seamless path for cross-channel buying, targeting and precise measurement — primarily for the open web.

It’s no secret that walled gardens make it challenging to be efficient with ad spend. The fact that their data, especially ever-valuable ACR data, remains in a silo makes it challenging for advertisers to control for audience duplication or measure the success of their campaigns based on a standardized currency. 

Even so, within the past year, there has been a lot of innovation, particularly on the DSP side, especially when it comes to identifying attributes of consumers and using those insights to plan their cross-platform buys. It is more than likely that SSPs will seek to work in similar ways in the year to come.

By and large, programmatic technology for CTV/OTT is improving and fast. Next year will bring about a much more TV-like experience in how ads are delivered and where they’re seen — getting buyers closer to planning their CTV/OTT and linear buys in parallel.

Sponsored by: Unruly

More from Digiday

Women’s sports marketing boom ‘huge up and coming opportunity,’ spurs new agency services

Women’s sports are having a moment. Brands, media companies and agencies are looking to get in on the action.

Creators still turning down work as the Hollywood SAG-AFTRA strike continues

The Hollywood strikes were supposed to be a game changer for many of them, but the situation hasn’t quite lived up to the hype.

Agencies move on from creating content for specific platforms to focus on short-form video

Given the rise of short-form video, agencies that focus on the format, rather than specific platform expertise, will reap the rewards.