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CTV Needs Nimble Innovation — Not 1.0 Ad Tech

[This post originally appeared on LinkedIn, here]

Throughout the first half of 2020, connected TV has become the most exciting medium in advertising. Growth is surging to levels we’ve never seen before, yet the current ad tech in place is (frankly) broken, with inefficiencies and impediments abound.

In a recent AdExchanger piece on CTV ad pod management, Allison Schiff noted, “anyone who’s streamed content has firsthand experience of what happens when ad podding technology misfires.” Ad duplication, creative wearout, blank screens, latency, time outs… the list goes on.

While the industry might have been content to gradually develop new technology to solve these problems, the pandemic and related economic conditions have given rise to a new sense of urgency among CTV publishers and programmers. As Seb Joseph of Digiday puts it, “what might have happened in three years, may happen instead in three to six months.” 

As one would expect, media sellers’ desire to realize the optimal value of every single impression has accelerated significantly — and with it has come a heightened focus on fixing the tech that’s currently in place. 

So, what’s causing these issues, and how do we fix it? 

As Madhive’s Adam Helfgott recently stated in Multi-Channel News, “[it’s] not a technology problem. It’s a legacy technology problem.”

The reality is that much of the ad tech available to publishers and broadcasters still leverages 1.0 web-based infrastructure, which doesn't work well in CTV. Further, much of the CTV ad ecosystem is reliant on programmatic waterfall auctions, which are efficient but often result in publishers not considering the highest bidders. This legacy ad tech and the monetization practices that come with it are adapting slowly, but not nearly fast enough. 

Recently, I spoke with Digiday on this topic, underscoring that “the biggest issue in the space is that you have a 50% fill rate that the industry thinks can be solved through server-to-server (S2S) integrations or with more demand.” Sure, these problems grab headlines, but more demand and S2S integrations don’t solve the crux of the issue. 

What we really need as an industry is nimble, disruptive innovation that reimagines the ad tech being used in CTV to address these inefficiencies. And this isn’t something we need penciled in for the back half of the year — it’s something that we, and more importantly publishers and programmers, need today.

The time for nimble innovation, the type that shakes up the status quo, is now.

We need disruption to re-architect the way CTV advertising is done, along with fairer bidding systems and more transparency. While the task may seem daunting, it’s simpler than we might think. In fact, VIZIO’s Travis Hockersmith recently noted in Multi-Channel News that “most of the issues in making the bidding process fair and assuring revenue optimization can be solved”. 

The solution isn’t rocket science (though our engineering team is busy solving complex problems), and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As an industry, we must collaborate to get there — ad tech, publishers and broadcasters alike. 

I’m incredibly proud of the work the Beachfront team has done this year to develop a solution to these problems in the form of Pod Bidding — and to solve other pressing challenges like those around IPv6

While others in ad tech were initially reluctant to embrace this type of innovation, we’re starting to see more collaboration, all to help publishers and broadcasters solve their most pressing monetization challenges for optimal yield.

After all, that’s why advertising technology exists, doesn’t it? 

As we move forward, we hope the rest of the ad tech industry will join us in working to bring new value and innovation to publishers and advertisers alike. If you’re interested in getting involved, please reach out to us here: