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Digital Advertising on OTT: Exclusive Interview with dataxu

dataxu, like many ad tech companies, was born in the display advertising era. The demand side platform was early in building one of more prominent ad buying software ventures nearly a decade ago.

And as digital media has evolved, so has dataxu. A few years ago, that meant leaning into its full omnichannel capabilities, including advanced TV buying, explained Chris LaHaise, dataxu’s Director, TV Solutions.

In this case, that means connecting with a whole different constituency. One that doesn’t necessarily live and breathe ad tech: TV buyers.

“In 2019, we will see the industry continue to change and update how we think about buying TV. One of the major changes that we will see is regarding marketer expectations of audience-based buying. With innovations in advanced TV recently, full 1-to-1 addressable capabilities are possible to a scale never seen before and this will quickly become the standard for audience-based buys, as opposed to indexing and proxies.”

LaHaise knows TV well; he’s closely tracked rapidly changing advertiser expectations in an era marked by ad-free binging and on-demand streaming.

“One thing we’ve heard is that advertisers still want commercials on TV,” he said. “But they don’t want to be number four in a pod of 10 ads anymore. We are bringing the digital experience to all forms of TV.”

That won’t be easy. But it may be necessary.


Chris LaHaise

What is your company doing to transform TV advertising?

dataxu empowers marketers and agencies to connect with real people across TV and all other channels, capturing consumers attention when and where it matters most. TotalTV™, dataxu’s comprehensive advanced TV solution, enables audience-based planning, targeted buying, and measurement across connected, linear and addressable TV. It’s a robust set of solutions tailor-made for today’s modern planners and buyers, and enables desired audiences to be reached at scale.

What are the opportunities for your company in OTT advertising?

dataxu is creating opportunities for OTT advertisers in four meaningful areas: direct 1-to-1 audience targeting, true frequency management, outcome-based attribution, and aggregation of premium supply from an increasingly fragmented pool of inventory.

What’s wrong with the conversation right now?

What is wrong with the conversation is that we don’t even know if we are speaking the same language yet. How do you discuss OTT in a meaningful way when it is unclear what OTT actually is? When one partner claims access to 50M HHs and another claims 20M HHs is it because one has better supply relationships or because they simply disagree on which devices qualify as OTT?

Where are the biggest challenges for the industry?

The biggest challenge in the industry is standardization. First and foremost is standardizing the language as referenced above, but also the technology and KPIs. One of the great successes of traditional linear television is that it has a universally accepted currency in the form of Nielsen measurement making it very simple to determine success and compare campaigns no matter which networks or partners you use – OTT is lacking here.

What is the biggest threat to a thriving OTT environment?

Inventory quality and fraud pose a major threat to the OTT ecosystem as the traditional verification services have yet to create products that can cover these impressions in the same manner they do for digital. Despite this, ad dollars are flooding into OTT making it a prime target for bad actors looking to cheat their way to a quick buck. There are ways to manage these risks and operate in a clean environment but it requires an active and diligent partnership from parties on the demand and supply sides of the equation.

What development do you think is most important to watch right now?

The fragmentation of the inventory landscape is a very important development to watch. In the past it has been sufficient to place a handful of key buys with a few major players that held all the inventory, but as content creators are seeing the rewards from their product reaped by others, they are now launching their own applications to capture greater value. Viewers can’t find everything they want from one or two apps anymore and buyers need to recognize that to maintain their reach they need to find ways to simply and effectively find viewers wherever they land.

How do you think networks will adjust the upfronts?

Upfronts are not going away, even as OTT grows there will still be a desire to plan and buy television in an upfront manner to reserve the highest quality inventory and achieve economies of scale. Scatter buying is likely to increase due to the ease of use from real-time buying platforms and benefits of audience-based buys, but content is still king and networks still have the right to hold out the cream of the crop for direct buys.

What has more upside? Addressable TV advertising or OTT? Or do they converge?

They are already converging, with the right technology. OTT is a fully addressable advertising format. Advertisers are already taking advantage of the benefits of the digital nature of OTT by running direct 1-to-1 household targeted campaigns and following up with advanced attribution, the two defining characteristics of traditional addressable TV.




You’ll never talk or think about OTT the same way again.