The Polar Report

The Polar Report: Industry Insights #3

December 14, 2021

Welcome to The Polar Report, a curated view of what’s happening in the world of digital Monetisation, Audience Development and Measurement. This week we explore the death of the third-party cookie, the creation of ‘clean rooms’ and Google’s Privacy Sandbox, as well as how the NBA used attention metrics to increase ratings for live games.


Publishers look to 'Clean Rooms' to solve falling ad revenue

In the wake of increased privacy concerns around online consumer data, publishers are turning to ‘clean rooms’ to support their operations once third-party cookies are retired. This comes with plenty of challenges, including finding new engagement methods and optimisation strategies, as well as using first-party data to find audiences within clean rooms (which will be especially difficult for those who do not already have a first-party data network).

Increases in privacy will shift the power back to publishers, who will be the authority on their audience.

Traditionally advertisers have used publishers as an access point to reach audiences. Now, while relying more on their own first party data, advertisers will combine it with the publisher's context for improved messaging.

This concept of clean rooms is not new to social; advertisers can already map their first-party data to logged-in social users. However, as platforms like Facebook struggle with iOS14, and with YouTube not forcing a login, it's given a window of hope to own platform publishers.

Given the fragmentation across media platforms, as the article highlights, the concept of 'identity' is dying, Contextual relevance is growing and clean rooms look to be the future of scalable relevant advertising.

Full article on AdExchanger

Rakuten's AVOD platform Viki restricts ads to 2 mins per hour

What is the best balance to strike in terms of the total ad run time on AVOD platforms to drive revenue?

The fewer ads shown, the more expensive the audience-favoured ad placements. Conversely, the higher the ad load, the lower the price, which can result in a lower retained audience.

Viki, a Rakuten owned AVOD streaming service, has set its total ad load to 2 minutes per hour and waits until 8 minutes into a show before showing any mid-roll ads. This is likely to improve user experience, but it also risks constraining ad revenue because there is a limit to how much can be bought by advertisers. Ad load considerations are not something exclusively reserved to our new world’s AVOD platforms like Viki. It’s something all media owners have to consider in regards to monetising audiences without deterring them.

Traditional broadcasters have become accustomed to fixed ad slots throughout linear programming. However, with the introduction of digital and the ability to serve ads before, during and after viewing sessions, it is often too tempting to increase volumes when audiences start to dwindle.

We’ve seen Facebook come under fire for too many sponsored posts being promoted in-feed, forcing them to change their algorithm to prioritise friends posts. Equally, some website publishers make it hard to identify what’s an ad and what’s content as a result of squeezing so many display placements in view. Although ad load is primarily a user consideration, advertisers are also looking at publishers who serve too many ads, as this might dilute their own messages.

YouTube (the biggest AVOD platform globally) used to run one pre-roll ad on anything under 10mins and only a percentage of those ads would be non-skippable. Changes to mid-roll criteria (now over 8mins) and introduction of higher value formats (non-skip auction ads) will have had huge impacts on YouTube’s revenue without having to change its audience scale.

Viki’s move is a statement to attract audiences in the first instance, and in the future they will likely take YouTube’s lead on pushing the value up through advertisers and longer sessions.

Full article on Digiday

Audience Development

YouTube reveals new tool to identify content gaps

As reported on Tubefilter, YouTube is testing a new feature that will help creators to identify content areas that are being underserved. The experimental ‘search insights’ are set to help creators identify ‘content gaps’, i.e. areas where there may not be high-quality or relevant videos that meet a search query.

This is a really interesting tool release from YouTube that has far greater connotations than simply giving creators more information on what videos to produce and what’s performing.

Search data is nothing new and has been available to creators through various keyword volume tools. It’s interesting in terms of optimising meta-data behind videos but don’t feel it’s going to be the vital metric behind channel performance.

Search is one source of traffic but when it comes to audience development, the primary traffic sources by volume will be Suggested and Browse features. Any channel owner looking to build and develop their audience will be looking to optimise this traffic first if they want long-term success on YouTube.

Where the new search insights are especially interesting is for media owners looking to build potential new formats or launch new channels into categories. If you can identify demand, in the first instance it will give producers more confidence investing in these new ‘content gaps’.

The final consideration after all the data analysis will be the advertising demand for this audience or content. YouTube is a revenue generating platform for most creators and that ultimately dictates what type of content they create. As such, we feel that content gaps will naturally form over time in line with advertiser demand.

Full article on Tubefilter


CMA has Google agree to improved privacy rules

A GOV.UK press release reports that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating Google’s Privacy Sandbox proposals, which intends to phase out third-party cookies on Chrome by the end of 2023. The CMA has taken steps to prevent Google’s actions leading to a situation that would reduce consumer choice and negatively impact the revenue of Google’s competitors. The fundamental issue the CMA had with Google’s initial proposal was that the proposal was geared to support Google. A means had to be found that would improve user privacy in a way that did not impede competition.

This is an important step for advertisers and publishers to prevent Google from controlling pricing around measurement. Google is already the market leader in search technology so all eyes have been on how they’re building products for a cookieless world.

It is a positive thing for both companies, as Google being more transparent will help to build trust with the advertisers and publishers that operate within its massive ecosystem.

Full article on GOV.UK

Deloitte claims addressable TV will win on reach over targeting

This article from MediaPost refers to a Deloitte analysis noting that addressable TV advertising still has a long way to go in order to replicate the success of traditional TV advertising (and indeed this seems unlikely in the immediate future), but that the means of achieving this will be through extending reach.

There is a lot of opportunity in addressable TV and it is growing fast. For years this growth has been driven by the view that addressable TV provides a more targeted extension to traditional linear TV buys. Deloitte’s research challenges this view, stating that serving the same ad to more people will determine its success as a media buy.

With TV’s ongoing battle with social platforms for audience attention, addressable TV looks to be an interim solution for brand focused advertisers looking for reach and scale. But there is still the tricky question of measurement holding addressable TV back.

Nielsen are working on a number of new ways, but the ecosystem is not built for unified measurement. There are pockets of providers that can do this within walled gardens, as we’ve seen highlighted under the new ‘clean rooms’ approach. It is, however, still very fragmented and advertisers will not scale their spend until they have confidence it’s delivering incremental reach beyond their trusty TV buys.

Full article on MediaPost

The NBA increases ratings using attention planning

A few weeks ago we wrote about how Omnicom Media Group is beginning to use attention metrics in the planning stage of a campaign. Now, we have an example of this metric yielding results, with the NBA increasing their ratings using “attention units” to gauge which media placements best hold attention at different times of the day. By placing their ads in these high-performing placements, “the NBA saw a 36% higher tune-in rate for live games”.

It’s not entirely clear whether attention will become a leading metric in measurement, as we feel it’s more a new way of planning. However, Adelaide and IPG have got a great case to move the “attention unit” into mainstream planning on CTV.

This predictive planning is already happening in traditional digital buys where you would weigh budget toward line items that are deemed ‘more valuable’. The value to advertisers will of course change depending on the campaign goal but generally those likely to watch longer will always be prioritised.

Adelaide have done well branding a product, but the concept of adding genre and time of day is more akin to categorisation than measurement. There are often wider incentives involved in agency and technology provider partnerships. For example, we’ve seen Mediacom partner with Openslate to address brand safety in response to pressure from clients on its own brand safety procedures.

The fundamental problem with media technology is that it will always struggle to measure sentiment and emotion. We rely on platform metrics like watch-time, engagements and reach to shoe-horn optimisation benchmarks into a largely emotive environment.

Ed McElvain (Mediahub) addressed it perfectly: “we may or may not be able to know the action someone took… but we can use attention to influence our buying…” We couldn’t agree more.

Full article on AdExchanger