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Why the oRTB Content Object is Key for Programmatic TV

Content Object

Amid accelerating deployment of programmatic technology in TV, the openRTB Content Object has become an essential ingredient for buying and selling television media in real-time.

As the television and programmatic advertising ecosystems converge, several interesting applications and technical specifications are playing a more prominent role in how TV ads are bought and sold. 

Innovative addressable TV specs are unlocking 1:1 advertising opportunities across broadcast television inventory. Competitive separation and deduplication rules, which have long been table stakes for highly-curated commercial breaks, are becoming commonplace for dynamically-constructed ad pods. And traditional creative review processes, once a tedious (yet necessary) task for programmers, are being automated at scale — just to name a few examples.  

While many of these evolving solutions are playing a pivotal role in the convergent TV arena, one critical, but often-overlooked, specification is the Content Object. Part of the IAB Tech Lab’s openRTB protocol, the Content Object helps bring powerful contextual data to programmatic marketplaces, enabling media sellers and buyers to seamlessly transact in real time off key information that historically has been used to inform direct TV buys. 

As the leading convergent TV advertising platform, we often find ourselves speaking with media sellers and buyers about the opportunities surrounding the Content Object, and how it can best be deployed. Below, we’ve answered some of the most common questions we hear, hoping to shed some more light on why the Content Object is so key for programmatic TV:

1. What is the IAB oRTB Content Object?

The Content Object is one part of the IAB’s openRTB standard, which is a widely-adopted transaction protocol used for the programmatic buying and selling of media (in real-time). The oRTB protocol has a number of different object specifications for both bid requests and responses, including metadata like geography, users, devices, and more. 

As a bid request specification, the Content Object is a set of standardized information shared by media sellers that is specific to the actual content or program in which an ad opportunity is available, rather than the app or bundle. Exchanging this type of information enables media sellers and buyers to transact off highly-valuable content metadata, such as a TV show’s name, rating, or genre.

2. What are the types of metadata included and exchanged via the Content Object? 

The Content Object includes a wealth of contextual metadata, spanning 25 available fields in total. The metadata supported by the spec includes information common in episodic television, such as the specific series, show, episode, genre, and rating. Other information like production quality, program language, whether or not the opportunity lives within a livestream, and so forth, is also supported via the Content Object — a full version of which can be found in section 3.2.16, here

3. How are programmatic media sellers and buyers using the Content Object, and what are the associated benefits?

Media sellers use the Content Object to automatically provide prospective media buyers with valuable information on the context or program in which their ad may appear (again, as part of the bid request). This is critical within programmatic marketplaces specifically, as advertisers are increasingly seeking more flexibility and transparency into their campaigns from both a content targeting and ad delivery perspective. 

By transacting off the Content Object, media sellers earn premiums for their inventory by making it more transparent and enticing for buyers, which helps to drive up demand density (e.g. the number of brands bidding on their inventory). Media buyers meanwhile benefit from greater contextual targeting insights for premium TV programming, ensuring brand safety against key client criteria while allowing for more relevant and impactful advertising on the big screen. 

4. More broadly, why is the oRTB Content Object so important as programmatic and TV converge? 

As programmatic technology and oRTB protocols are increasingly deployed in both connected and traditional television, it becomes critical that consistent parameters and taxonomies are established to inform the buying and selling of TV media.

Historically, episodic TV inventory has been sold directly against a combination of audience ratings and show-level information. Ensuring the latter of these two (valuable content data) is exchanged consistently between media sellers and buyers in an automated fashion via programmatic is critical to helping all parties accomplish key objectives, from either a yield optimization or an advertising impact standpoint. 

This is all the more important as privacy regulations evolve and as viewing behaviors proliferate across cable, broadcast, and connected TV. Establishing platform-agnostic and privacy-conscious transaction standards, such as via the Content Object, is key for building both a sustainable advertising ecosystem and interoperability across systems. 

5. What should media sellers and buyers be doing in order to take full advantage of the Content Object?

If you’re a media seller, configure your bid requests to pass all relevant information within the Content Object. This ensures your inventory is made available to all relevant advertisers who are interested in buying against specific shows or genres, which ultimately helps you drive greater demand density and yield. 

For media buyers, configure your advertising platform — whether that be a DSP or an internal trading desk — to accept and read the Content Object. This is a crucial first step that will allow you and your end brand clients to unlock highly-valuable contextual metadata for campaign targeting and private marketplace (PMP) curation.

To learn more about the Content Object, and how you can capitalize on all that it enables from a yield or advertising impact standpoint, reach out to us here: 

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