TV advertising is changing along with technology, which is giving everyone plenty of new terms with which to enlighten or obfuscate. Forget TV sets, for one thing. There are connected TVs, digital video players, smart TV apps, streaming devices and wired gaming consoles. Figuring out how to connect with TV viewers through all these prisms can confuse even the most seasoned media buyer.
"There are 600 classes of devices," said Eric Hoffert, senior VP of video tech at ad tech provider AppNexus. "The inventory is on the big screen in the living room, delivered digitally over IP. Publishers can activate their connected TV inventory on Roku, Android, Xbox, Apple TV."
As the ad industry takes on an ever more digital focus, even veterans of traditional TV need to know how to speak the new language, said Tal Chalozin, chief technology officer at video ad platform Innovid. "A lot of people are coming from broadcast TV and the terms are new for people," Chalozin said.
It's enough to make a buyer feel disconnected. Here are some of the key terms, from the fairly basic to the worst jargon.
Any type of TV screen that can stream digital video. Connected TV doesn't require a TV set that comes out of the box with an internet jack, the so-called smart TV. Viewers can feed TV-over-the-web to their sets using streaming devices like a Roku, an Amazon Fire stick or a video game console. Now information can flow both ways, and ads can do new things.
A traditional TV term that's coming to life in connected TV. Nielsen does its best to estimate how many people watch traditional TV, even when a group of people watches a single TV set at once. So advertisers there already pay for each person that Nielsen estimates sees their spots. (Problems arise when outsiders show up at Nielsen-family homes and aren't counted in the room.) Streaming TV providers also eventually want credit if multiple people watch, but the metrics so far treat each stream like a single viewer. There's no industry standard for tackling the problem, so expect some spirited negotiating down the line.
Dynamic ad insertion, or the ability to swap out one ad in a TV show for another. This can be done in video on demand, for example, to avoid playing an outdated commercial for a viewer who's watching weeks after a show's first air date. But as more linear TV streams are delivered over the internet, the desire is growing to dynamically insert ads there more often and for more reasons, ideally sending different messages to different consumers watching the same program on the same day.
Full-episode programming, fast becoming a catchall for any premium content. But really it means long-form, episodic shows. That type of viewing is limited online, and advertisers want it. Watch for more digital powers to start bankrolling longer-form, TV-like series, particularly as they try to give marketers safe spaces in which to advertise, away from the user-generated content that can generate unwelcome headlines for big brands.
Another traditional TV term that's becoming essential to connected TV. Ad pacing is a big deal in any setting. Nobody wants to see the same ad constantly. But as audiences grow for connected TV, the current blight of repetitive ads is becoming a bigger problem. Technology can help digital video platforms keep tabs on frequency, and frequency capping can prevent ads from running after a predetermined umpteenth time. But marketers' demand for streaming video is the biggest factor in making sure there's a variety of spots available to rotate through.
Over the top, jargon for accessing TV content without going through a cable or satellite set-top box. Cord-cutters and cord-nevers use connected TVs, TV apps and streaming TV devices like Apple TV for their OTT viewing. The term implies traditional pay-TV distributors are being cut out of the equation, but companies such as Dish Networks have introduced their own OTT products.
Server-side ad insertion, putting the ad technology into the hands of the sellers. You could also call it an ad-blocking blocker. Whoever streams the content can stitch the ads directly in, allowing the ads to load faster and preventing ad blockers from detecting them. But it also keeps the advertiser at a distance. The advertiser won't have as much direct visibility into what sorts of viewers are seeing the ad, for example, because the delivery is all done on the publisher side.
Video multiple ad playlist, an Interactive Advertising Bureau guideline that standardizes a way for video content owners to define the number and timing of their ad breaks plus which kinds of ads can appear in them, even when the video content owner does not control the video player. (That's not a challenge that traditional TV ever faced.)
Virtual multichannel video programming distributor, as opposed to a non-virtual one like a standard cable TV provider. A virtual MVPD delivers a bundle of TV content via the internet instead of cable or satellite feeds. Some vMVPDs include Dish Network's Sling, PlayStation Vue and AT&T's DirecTV Now.
A video supply-side platform. SSPs are familiar to digital publishers, which use them to offer ad inventory. Now the video piece is growing quickly, with most major SSPs like AppNexus selling video ads in auctions just like any other inventory. Of course, a video marketplace requires more bandwidth and support on the technical side to transfer video files seamlessly. Some ad tech companies like Beachfront specialize in just video.