A list of questions to grill your agency partners when it comes to advanced TV spend

How we think of TV will never be the same again with the rise of CTV and OTT. This has also changed how advertising is served to consumers as well as how ads are sold to brands and how their impact is measured. The attraction and potential of advanced TV, in theory at least, is that it enables advertisers to combine the impact of broadcast TV, with the addressability of programmatic digital media buying. For many brands, TV remains the biggest single medium in which they invest, delivering the best ROI and awareness of any channel. However, with digital media now accounting for more than half of all media space traded, the line between TV and digital blurring.

In light of that the Ebiquity’s Tech Advisory team partnered with ISBA to outline 3 key questions brands should as their agency partners.

  1. Inventory check

Agencies often offer advertising for advanced TV as bundled, inventory media deals. This is how agencies in the past initially used to offer display advertising sold programmatically - although many advertisers now routinely challenge their agency partners about what goes into the makeup of inventory media deals for digital display.

Inventory media is media that agencies (and agency holding companies) buy in bulk, upfront, and at their own risk from media owners, publishers, and platforms. With inventory media deals, agencies act as agent and principal, and this can create conflicts of interest. The principal challenge for advertisers with inventory media is that it is sold to them blind.

Agencies argue that inventory media delivers significant savings and economies of scale, but to benefit from inventory media deals, advertisers are required to waive their audit rights.

The right questions then to ask are:

  • Where and in what format will our ads be running in my advanced TV buys?
  • Who will see our ads? Can we be certain they will even be viewable by humans?
  • What guarantees are there that our ads will be seen by our target audience?
  • How can we be certain that our ads are appearing in brand safe environments?
  • Can we use ad verification software to determine where our ads are running?
  1. Deep dive on data

It is often claimed that advanced TV advertising packages offer brands greatly enhanced opportunities to target audiences that can be hard to reach, particularly audiences that can’t be addressed effectively by linear TV.

As a result, CPMs for advanced TV are becoming increasingly expensive. However, it can be challenging for advertisers to know what targeting and audience data have been applied to the buy.

Advertisers should ask if and how postcode data have been applied to buys to deliver specific target audiences.

  • What layers of data have been applied to the buy?
  • Do the data applied to the buy justify the premium price demanded?
  • How has targeting data been collected and is it accurate?
  • For mass market products essentials used by every household, such as milk, butter, or washing up liquid, do we even need to focus our sell to specific target audiences?
  • What reporting metrics will we get back from our advanced TV campaign?
  1. Contract review

Ebiquity’s contract compliance division, FirmDecisions, recommends that the terms and conditions of advertiser agency contracts should be revised both regularly and frequently.

This is particularly true in the always-changing digital marketing ecosystem. Where new ways of buying new forms of media are introduced by agencies, advertisers should look to see this reflected in updated contractual terms. Wherever possible, these terms should deliver as close to 100% transparency as possible.

Advertisers need to ask if the contract or master service agreement (MSA) covers advanced TV. Along with that they must ask:

  • When can we review our contract to ensure that it covers advanced TV buys openly and transparently?
  • How can we bake transparency about advanced TV buys into our contract?

In addition to inventory media, data, contracts, and testing, the other area that advertisers should hold their agencies to account on advanced TV is account management. They need to ask:

  • Do our current AV teams have the necessary skills to manage advanced TV as a self serve buy?
  • What are the options for near real time of optimisation of our advanced TV buys?
  • What are you doing to ensure that our advanced TV inventory is both safe and appropriate for our brand?
  • How do you guard against ad fraud in our advanced TV buy?
  • What’s the difference between managed and self serve buys for advanced TV?
  • We understand why you want to offer us a managed / undisclosed service for advanced TV, but what other options are available?

To assess its potential to extend reach, to reduce wastage, to refine targeting, or to extend digital advertisers should also run AB tests to compare the impact of enhancing existing campaigns with advanced TV options.  

“We are aware of agencies suggesting to their clients that they run tests running well into six figures using their proprietary, black box solutions, with minimal transparency into the inventory media deals being sold. Before investing such significant budgets, advertisers should test on a smaller scale,” said the study.