Q&A: How advertisers are optimizing CTV ad spend and measuring success

In a fragmented media landscape, programmatic CTV offers brands a powerful tool for reaching engaged viewers on the largest screen in their homes. 

However, a lack of industry standardization, frequency capping issues, low-quality placements and other factors undermine the effectiveness of programmatic CTV campaigns. As CTV grows in popularity, advertisers are focusing on its more actionable aspects and data to drive business growth.

In this Q&A with Blockboard CEO Matt Wasserlauf, the conversation highlights how programmatic teams address these challenges through advanced technology, transparent campaign measurement and strategic partnerships as advertisers optimize their CTV spending to achieve maximum impact and ROI.

In your experience, what are the primary challenges advertisers face with ad fraud in the programmatic CTV space?

Matt Wasserlauf: Ad fraud is a $22 billion problem. So it’s not only a problem, it’s a big problem. For the advertising marketplace, which for the most part is using verification companies, they’re getting post-verification results. However, they struggle to eliminate the fraud. They try to show you where they’re running in made-for-advertising sites and bots and such, and then they’re clawing back the dollars. It’s a very cumbersome process. So we must be better, smarter and faster about protecting our customers’ investments.

How can advertisers ensure high-quality placements for their programmatic CTV campaigns in a fragmented media landscape?

Matt Wasserlauf: It’s important to pick a platform that will provide you access and transparency to the log files to see specifically where your ads are running. It’s not a common practice in the industry, unfortunately. Today, most agencies and partners won’t supply the log-level data as it’s very labor-intensive, given that brands often run on 40,000 sites. No one wants to do that level of work as it’s time-consuming and tedious.  Quite frankly, we question why brands are running on 40,000 sites to begin with, as you likely aren’t getting quality views from their prime prospects. Brands have the right to know where their ads are running and that they are running in the right quality environments that will deliver the outcomes that brands expect and deserve.

What steps is Blockboard taking to improve placement quality and foster transparency? 

Matt Wasserlauf: The largest companies in the world — whether it’s Google, The Trade Desk or Meta — are working in black boxes and not providing that transparency that major marketers are asking for, including log files. So what these major marketers are doing now is they’re looking for alternatives, and one of those alternatives is Blockboard. I’ve been an early mover in this digital video ad industry, and I saw that this lack of transparency in the supply chain was a problem from the mid-2010s. Marketers weren’t getting the transparency they demanded, from the log files to the outcomes of how their ads performed. We have a very satisfied customer base excited about getting a clear view of how the supply chain is performing. We’re hopefully embarking on a new era where transparency is a big theme among major marketers, and that’s where the market and industry leaders have to move. That’s what I hope will come, especially as AI takes hold in advertising.

Artificial intelligence is accelerating marketing processes and workflows but also fueling ad waste. How can CTV advertisers tackle that shift? 

Matt Wasserlauf: With AI, it will become increasingly difficult to eliminate or protect the customers’ investments on those 40,000 sites you’re advertising on because AI will allow those 40,000 sites to become 4 million. We want to ensure that when we use AI and its power, we protect the advertiser and their spend and run ads to the right people. 

We conducted a beta test with our new product, BlockAI, and Proactiv skincare (internal test conducted May–June 2024). We used generative AI to scrape the web, understand who is in the market for skincare products, and target those customers through digital video. So we use the breadth and vastness of all these great video providers, from Netflix to CNN, and when we see somebody in the market for a skincare product, we will serve them a Proactiv ad. That’s how we’re using BlockAI and AI in general. It’s impacting their sales and outcomes tremendously. The results have been extraordinary. We reduced the CPA by more than 50% and increased sales by over 200%.

How will the conversation around programmatic CTV change in 2025? 

Matt Wasserlauf: It’s going to become very outcomes-based. So, where we’ve worked traditionally in digital video over the last 25 years has been chiefly in branding. So advertisers have looked at media metrics, predominantly reach and frequency. I think that will completely shift in 2025 to an outcomes-based world. And marketers — both brand and performance marketers — will start looking at that secondary KPI as the primary KPI. That’s how I see it shifting.

Everybody talks about this next era of cookieless that we have yet to conquer and embrace. For marketers, CTV will be a key element of that era, as it offers alternative measurement and tracking to cookies. It’s also a booming marketplace. IAS found that 60% of U.S. households owned a CTV device in 2023 and predicts the viewership will reach more than 242 million users in the U.S. by 2026. Blockboard provides marketers with those cookieless metrics today, but the rest of the market needs to catch up.

Sponsored by Blockboard

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