The Advantages of OTT Media Buying and How to Choose the Best OTT Buying Platform

Over-the-top (OTT) advertising is internet-based media streaming, as opposed to traditional cable or satellite television. Streaming services have been growing rapidly in the last five years, and many people have been dropping their cable or satellite in favor of OTT media — they are often referred to as “cord-cutters.” The need for advertisers to reach these cord-cutting audiences with scale and ease has manifested itself in the emergence of the OTT advertising market.

Benefits of OTT Media Buying

OTT media buying allows you to reach the cord cutters in your target audience, and there are many benefits to it. Here are a few examples:

Precise Audience Targeting

One of the biggest benefits of using OTT advertising is that you can target your audience more precisely than traditional linear TV advertising. You now have access to rich demographic, geographic, and behavioral data to leverage in your campaign targeting tactics. This means you can better segment your audience and craft your ads to be relevant for each segment in the audience, varying the creative messaging by TV households or, in certain cases, by individual devices.

Fluid Viewing Patterns

When you place an ad on traditional cable or satellite TV, your ads are only going to a few TVs in the house, and they are stuck in the rooms the TVs are in, typically playing during “primetime” hours. With OTT media buying, your content goes to any digital streaming device, even beyond the big screen TV. While people are often moving around the house when they use a phone, tablet, or laptop, they maintain the flexibility to watch streaming TV shows wherever they go. Streaming is so flexible, people are watching more OTT media content throughout the day (and not just during traditional primetime hours), so they are seeing even more of your ads, day or night. If you need to, you can still reach viewers during specific times of the day or specific devices.

Deep Digital Metrics

It can be difficult to measure the success of an advertising campaign on traditional cable or satellite TV,  because there is no easy way to track ad interactions beyond sample households. However, OTT media buying platforms make it easy for you to quickly and easily measure the success of your campaigns based on the deep and granular campaign data being collected as part of the digital delivery process. Almost everything is trackable in the digital realm!

Choosing the Best OTT Buying Platform

With OTT advertising growing in importance, OTT media buying platforms have become a key enabler for any media buying team. An OTT platform is a platform that helps you connect with different publishers so that you do not have to make deals with every publisher that you want your OTT ads to be viewed on. However, not all OTT buying platforms are created equal. Let’s take a look at some of the things to consider when selecting an OTT media buying platform.

Inventory Quality & Transparency

Every platform or reseller claims to have access to “premium” inventory and is happy to tout recognizable examples of brand name publishers they work with. Truth is, access to quality inventory isn’t all that differentiated these days, as publishers will accept money from most advertisers who are willing to pay for it. However, platforms don’t always deliver the inventory mix that advertisers might be expecting. Do you know what percentage of your media mix is recognizable, by impressions delivered? Do you know the mix of streaming apps you are getting? Are you getting true FEP (full-episode TV or movies) placement or is it really just short-form content that happens to be running on the TV screen? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, for every single ad impression, you may not actually be getting what you think you are. Any decent OTT platform will have this detail down to the individual impression delivered.

Real-Time Metrics

You need to be able to track the success of your campaigns, so you require a platform that will give you deep and accurate metrics. Metrics such as video completion rate, viewability, and conversion rate are some important metrics any OTT buying platform should be able to provide to you. The challenge, however, is in making it available to you in real-time and at the individual impression level, not just in aggregate for a campaign. Having data available in real-time is critical to driving a meaningful conversation between the media buyer and platform seller — you want to be able to make mid-campaign adjustments and optimizations where necessary so that there are no surprises at the end of the campaign. Do you want to heavy up in certain zip codes mid-stream? Do you want to swap out or test multiple creatives mid-stream and see what the impact is? Do you know what audience segments you are reaching? You can only do this successfully if you have real-time data available to you, easily accessible. Moreover, if the data is not available for every impression, it is difficult to verify and audit accuracy. This is where many platforms fall short and it results in a sub-optimal outcome.

Service Speed, Flexibility and Transparency

If you are using a self-serve platform like TheTradeDesk, you are on the hook for figuring out how to craft the best media plan, how to execute it and how to interpret the results. This approach works great for well-resourced agencies that have dozens of in-house media planners, media buyers, inventory experts and campaign managers to optimize the campaign every step of the way. However, many small agencies or buying groups don’t have the time, expertise or resources to take this self-serve approach. In such cases, the best alternative is to partner with a platform provider that will combine the best of offering sophisticated targeting, optimization and measurement software, along with a high-touch servicing layer and the willingness (and technical means) to provide total transparency into the entire process, all in real-time. 

Ask yourself these questions: Do you know what media placements can or should be included in your media plan? Do you know audience segments are being used for targeting? How long is it taking for your creative to get approved? How fast are your campaigns going live? Your campaign has been live for 3 days, do you know how it’s performing? Do you know what zip codes you are running in? Do you know how your campaign is pacing and whether or not it will deliver in full? The best platforms will give you answers to these questions through a combination of great reporting tools and great communication from a support team.

Resellers vs. Platform Providers – Whose Platform Is this Anyway?

Many vendors that offer OTT advertising have not built and don’t actually operate their own buying platform. They are primarily sales organizations that leverage someone else’s tech platform for their own purposes. This is a perfectly acceptable path to creating a decent offering for any fast-moving,emerging market like OTT advertising but it has its shortcomings. Having a deep understanding of inventory availability, controlling the media mix, understanding what data segments are being used for targeting, getting access to reporting in real-time, getting impression-level detail — these are all capabilities that are manifested within the underlying technology platform itself. If the OTT vendor is one step removed from the technology powering its offering, it will have more limited access and understanding of these capabilities. The result is usually less transparency, fuzzier communication, less flexibility and reliability in execution, and slower turnaround times for clients from their support teams. You should ask your vendor whose technology platform they are using and see what they say. In most cases, the tighter the working relationship between technology provider and support teams, the better the client experience overall.

We Are the Platform

For medium-to-small media buying agencies, a full-service OTT buying platform is the best way to go when you are running OTT ads. JamLoop offers a hands-on experience like no other. We built and operate our own proprietary DSP platform, so we have a deep understanding of the pieces that really matter to buyers: What publisher inventory is available, how the campaigns are pacing and performing in real-time, which zip codes you are running in, etc. Our account management team is intimately involved in campaign execution and, best of all, can share all of the meaningful campaign analytics in real-time so that you know exactly what you are getting, no surprises. Contact JamLoop today to get started!