Frequency Capping and the Challenges for Connected TV

By Mary Vestewig  | 

Connected TV offers a big opportunity for advertisers. According to recent estimates from eMarketer, there will be more than 181 million connected TV viewers in the US in 2018, with the audience expected to grow to more than 194 million by 2021. Yet as the medium continues to grow in popularity with viewers and advertisers, many marketers recognize the need to evolve their connected TV ad approach. One example of this is the industry’s recent challenges with frequency capping, a situation that allows an ad to air more times than intended to the same connected TV consumer. What’s causing the frequency capping problem? And what other challenges remain to be solved to help connected TV reach its full potential? Here are three areas to address.

Too much fragmentation
Perhaps the biggest challenge for advertisers and publishers to address with connected TV ad buying is the multitude of hardware platforms currently used by consumers. As noted by Ryan Reed, director of innovation for TV and video at Lotame, in a recent interview, there are simply too many connected TV platforms to make campaigns easy for advertisers. “In connected TV, you have to cater to Roku, Amazon, Apple, Xbox, PlayStation and smart TV manufacturers. There are a lot of different hardware platforms, and it creates a technical challenge.” This lack of a unified buying and selling platform also means that many advertisers must use manual review processes to determine campaign reach and frequency. The media buyer Modi Media, for example, utilizes a mix of connected TV ad air times, household info and IP addresses to figure out who saw their ad and how often.

Not enough inventory
A second challenge for connected TV is related to the first. Due to the current level of fragmentation, it can be challenging for advertisers to achieve the necessary scale for connected TV campaigns. Many advertisers find that they must purchase connected TV inventory directly from the hardware manufacturers of connected TV devices, or from over-the-top service providers. This piecemeal approach can slow down campaigns, causing them to fall short before they gain the necessary traction. The lack of inventory also impacts the frequency capping issue above. Because of strong advertiser demand, publishers may accidentally overestimate how much inventory they have to offer, a situation that can lead to higher-than expected frequency when the campaigns are completed.

 Need for a universal identifier
Last but not least, connected TV ad campaigns suffer from the lack of a universal method of identifying consumers. The majority of today’s digital and mobile campaigns rely on tracking tools like cookies and mobile device IDs, tools that are used to determine which consumers have seen a campaign and how often. But this same set of identifier tools doesn’t yet exist for connected TV, a situation that adds to the challenges related to solving frequency capping. This is to say nothing of the measurement challenges for advertisers, particularly when campaigns run across multiple devices like TV, connected TV and video.

There’s no question that connected TV is at a crossroads. More consumers tune into connected TV than ever before, offering a big opportunity for advertisers to capture today’s elusive digital viewer. But in order to capitalize on the success of connected TV, advertisers, publishers and even hardware manufacturers will need to come together to solve challenges related to inventory, fragmentation and consistent measurement. It’s only then that this promising new ad medium will be able to flourish with consumers and advertisers alike.

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