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Q&A: The power & potential of CTV in Europe


Ad Tech Attention Brand Safety
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Adam Lynch, Director Broadcaster Partnerships at Microsoft Advertising, talks to DoubleVerify about the importance of brand suitability and measurement in the CTV space

As more viewers shift from traditional TV to digital platforms, CTV advertising has experienced a massive global transformation over the past several years. Europe has a unique market dynamic that requires special attention when it comes to CTV media growth and investment.  

As part of their research into the power and potential of CTV in Europe, DoubleVerify, in partnership with IAB Europe, analysed the maturing European CTV advertising landscape. In addition to quantitative survey insights, they spoke with several leading CTV players across the digital advertising ecosystem, including Adam Lynch, Director Broadcaster Partnerships, Microsoft Advertising.   

Here, Adam discusses the importance of brand suitability and measurement in the CTV space, and how this strengthens trust and credibility of available inventory.    

For a deeper understanding of the European CTV landscape, download the full report here.  

DoubleVerify (DV): Why is brand safety and suitability considered a significant challenge for CTV investments, as reported by one-third of buyers and sellers? 

Adam Lynch (AL): Perhaps the primary reason here, is that most buyers are used to knowing where and when their ads are running. In Linear TV a buyer can pick and choose the spot and/or shows that they want their ads to run against, but CTV is way more dynamic. It has an almost endless volume of shows, some from very reputable sources, some from those that are less reputable. To help navigate this, buyers should work with trusted partners and platforms who have access to premium inventory, adhere to privacy regulations, and offer transparency and control over where, and how, their ads are delivered.  

DV: Why is it essential to measure quality in CTV advertising and in what ways does this measurement contribute to the effectiveness of ad campaigns? 

AL: Quality is really a subjective term and so I’m not sure it always contributes to the effectiveness of a campaign. For example, when talking about content creation/ production quality, a show produced by an amateur team, that ends up on a big service could still be seen as ‘quality’ by some brand advertisers.  It’s why I prefer the term brand suitability when we talk about ‘safety’ as it allows for improved agility. Suitable environments for one brand can be unsuitable for others, and will depend on several factors, including audience demographics, brand messaging and so on.    

DV: How does brand safety and verification contribute to building trust and credibility in the CTV space? 

AL: Technological advancements in the AI space have seen a vast improvement to semantic understanding and today, context in advertising is so important. What is the right context for one brand could be completely wrong for another. In the CTV space, we need to get to a point where a categorisation of “tag” is created to allow for better understanding of the context of the show. Once this is understood, brands can make an informed decision on what is right, or wrong, for their advertising strategy.  

DV: From the sell-side standpoint, why should the acceptance of tags be encouraged to enhance video-level transparency, and what specific benefits does this bring to both publishers and advertisers? 

AL: Simply put, if buyers want to use ad-verification then they should have the capability, and option, to do so. That said, there must be a high level of trust between publishers and third-party providers, particularly when it comes to brand safety or suitability. For example, if a new show is launched, are such vendors working with the publisher to define tagging of sensitive categories? I’d like to hope so, so that this becomes more standardised.   

There is also a question around timing of sensitive topics within a show, and how this should affect the tag. If, for example, there is one scene of nudity at the start of a show, but the ad break doesn’t appear next to it, appearing 15, 30, 45 minutes later instead, is that nudity still relevant to every brand? Going forward, it will be important for brands not to take a ‘broad stroke’ approach to categorisation as they did with keyword blocking during Covid-19 for example, to ensure that publishers can monetise their content and increase the advertiser's audience reach.  

DV: Is CTV viewed as being inherently secure, despite evident challenges and data suggesting otherwise? If so, what specific challenges undermine this perception, and how do advertisers actively implement strategies to proactively safeguard their investments considering these risks? 

AL: As with any inventory buy, this will depend on what, where, and how it is bought. Buying an impression on a show from a trusted Broadcaster, known to have gone through all the background regulatory checks through the likes of Ofcom to be “broadcast,” seems safe from a compliance perspective. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the show is suitable for your brand to be around. For example, if there is a show featuring a plane crash, as an airline brand you most likely wouldn’t want to appear next to it. Brands must first understand ‘what’ they are buying as a first step to proactively safeguard their investment. 
The ‘where’ is also crucial. Most people wouldn’t buy electronic devices, like mobile phones, from an unknown source in case they were faulty or counterfeit.  In the same way, buyers should be aware of the risks of buying from unknown, or untrusted sources.  Not only could they end up with data that has been manipulated to the wrong show, but they could also compromise their security, privacy, and reputation.  Working with trusted vendors and platforms, with proven track records with proven track records of high standards will ensure that you get the best value, quality and experience for your ad spend. Buyers shouldn’t settle for anything less. 

By Adam Lynch, Director Broadcaster Partnerships, Microsoft Advertising

Microsoft Advertising

Microsoft Advertisingoffers scalable technology solutions, spanning search, native, display, video, and retail media, to reach consumers across all aspects of their digital lives. Connect with more than a billion people using Microsoft experiences that have a proven track record of higher buying power and online spending or reach any audience across the open web. We operate one of the world’s largest global marketplaces and are using our data-driven platforms, audience intelligence, and AI-capabilities to transform the industry. We are committed to making the web work for everyone – consumers, advertisers, publishers, and platforms alike. Our end-to-end solutions and globally scaled advertising business serves partner properties, and buyers and sellers of media to help them deliver business results.  

Posted on: Wednesday 13 March 2024