Programmatic Trading will Eventually Open Up the UK’s VOD Market


Jaime SingsonThus far the UK has lagged behind the US when it comes to opening up the top tiers of broadcast-quality video inventory for programmatic trading. Whilst this is sometimes attributed to lethargy on the TV side, the reasons are often far more complex. Here Jaime Singson, Director of Product Marketing at Sizmek, explains how UK broadcasters and everyone else in the advertising ecosystem could benefit from a shift to programmatic advertising.

On demand video content has radically altered the concept of media and programming from the consumer, broadcaster and advertiser points of view. Advertisers are especially eager to reach consumers in this environment that combines TV’s huge reach and premium content with the targeting capabilities of online media. In the US, this desire has fuelled the growth of programmatic video on demand, which has been a positive force in helping advertisers reach their audience, while growing revenue for content creators and broadcasters.

Yet in the UK, regulation has made it somewhat difficult for advertisers to access video on demand inventory. In a hugely fragmented media world, this has hampered video growth and kept advertisers from leveraging some of the value-add solutions they need to achieve higher ROI. The market has come to the conclusion that automation could be a game changer for all parties, but in order for it to take root, the ecosystem needs to be opened up to the abundance of partners and technologies that have materialised.

The majority of video on demand in the UK is handled by broadcasters, who must both host the video content on their servers and ensure that all ads meet the Code of Broadcast Advertising. While these regulations are designed to protect broadcasters, they also limit advertisers’ ability to target and automate their video on demand buys, which in turn limits how much revenue broadcasters could make from their enticing VOD inventory.

Outside the UK, brands and agencies rely on third-parties to handle, process and serve the creative, which allows them to develop omni-channel strategies that leverage additional media and other connected devices for consuming video. Contrast that with what’s happening within the UK, where those third-party ad technologies are effectively shut out due to the tight restrictions on ad creative. The consequence is that advertisers miss out on a holistic, transparent view of their campaigns, as well as the benefits of targeting, viewability and verification. An open video on demand ecosystem would simultaneously appeal to advertisers and ease the burden for broadcasters, helping advertisers achieve the kind of video on demand that will lead them to even greater investment going forward. Fortunately, the ice is beginning to thaw within some of the traditional structures, clearing the way for a competitive and open video market.

This opens the door to innovation. Opening up the ecosystem grants advertisers access to better engagement metrics, data, and insights that they can use to understand and target their video on demand advertising. Access to workflow tools, dynamic creative, and interactive advertising further improves the experience on the advertiser side and should lead to greater investment. Quite simply, these tools open up a new world of targeting and creative that looks less like the traditional TV experience.

The key to an open, expanding British video on demand market is choice, and the ability for advertisers to assemble the players they want to use to run their campaigns, rather than being forced to pick a partner and then handing the publisher or broadcaster all of the power. The third-party pipes that deliver ads to broadcasters are now opening, and everyone stands to win. Opening the ecosystem up even further will require demand-side players to lobby broadcasters and explain the benefits of open technology stacks.

Broadcasters may want guarantees of high-quality video, but advertisers and agencies want to control their own destinies by picking vendors they feel comfortable using. A new age of openness will lead to greater demand and, in turn, competition that results in higher inventory prices for the broadcasters themselves. Enhanced ad tools will make video on demand a better experience for advertisers, consumers and broadcasters.


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