The definition aligns with what the VAB has seen as a level playing field between traditional TV, streaming services and digital platforms, and which it’s demanding the Association of National Advertisers embrace if the network group is to support its efforts to pilot a cross-media measurement initiative. The VAB has pulled out of talks to support a viewership panel to back that effort, citing concerns about undue influence from digital platforms.
Among the things the VAB and FreeWheel Council are proposing in their premium video definition are full brand safety disclosure with third-party tracking and day part log level disclosures to buyers. Those are things that programmatic buying of connected TV inventory from affiliated free ad supported networks (FAST) and ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) don’t necessarily deliver, according to buy side executives. Dentsu, for example, launched a program with GumGum in September to allow keyword buying of CTV that would allow for such safeguards, but the effort is starting with only limited support from supply-side and demand-side platforms.
“The standards that we’re held to,” said Mark McKee, general manager of FreeWheel, “must be a definitive checklist for the rest of the buying community. Don’t hold TV to a higher standard than you would anything else you buy. In fact, you should focus on that standard, because it’s at the top of the bar.” He acknowledged that FAST in particular, as a relatively new part of the industry, isn’t always offering the same level of tracking and disclosure as AVOD and linear TV networks.
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“We’re hoping that this really does have a strong impact on the marketplace,” said Danielle DeLauro, executive VP of the VAB. “This is something that the industry has been wrestling with for a while. Television has been held to a different measurement standard for years. However, with convergence, it’s really coming to a head in the past year or so. With this checklist, it’s a standard way of marketers being able to look at this and say, what is premium?”
The FreeWheel-VAB checklist is more of a discussion starter than the end of the discussion, DeLauro said.
“We always are looking to reach across the table and to discuss this more openly,” she said. “We would absolutely embrace [having digital platforms weigh in on the definition] and and have this be a cross-industry initiative.”