Welcome to the first in our series of partner spotlights. DV works with partners across the ecosystem – from brands and agencies to DSPs, SSPs and publishers. In this series, we explore the solutions our partners bring to the ecosystem, and how we work together to ensure efficient and effective media buying.
Since 2014, DoubleVerify and SpotX have collaborated on industry-leading protections for video advertisers. We work closely with SpotX to bring transparency to the marketplace – evaluating inventory across channels – including CTV – to ensure quality and drive performance for advertisers. We also help media owners understand how buyers see their inventory and are able to address any technical issues that come along – even in emerging environments like CTV.
We sat down with Nick Frizzell, VP of Operations, Inventory Quality & Planning at SpotX, and dug into their solutions, and our partnership:
How does SpotX provide value to advertisers? To publishers?
SpotX gives advertisers direct access to premium publishers, guaranteed inventory placement, and full campaign transparency across all screens and streams. Our technology is built for those publishers to help them manage their inventory and ultimately drive revenue.
What is the nature and tenure of your partnership with DoubleVerify?
DoubleVerify has been a valued partner of ours since 2014. We use DoubleVerify to identify and filter invalid traffic, which we then remove prior to a buyer being able to access it via SpotX. We also audit all impressions across all screens with DoubleVerify, looking for issues such as device, app, or domain spoofing. Our ultimate goal is for buyers on SpotX to worry less about inventory quality so they can focus more on driving results with their campaigns, and DoubleVerify has been a critical partner in accomplishing that goal.
How much CTV inventory do you offer through your platform and what types of providers do you partner with?
So far in 2020, OTT (which includes CTV) represents more than 70% of the available inventory on our platform.
Beyond DoubleVerify, we partner with a variety of providers from across the digital landscape including DSPs, DMPs, analytics and measurement players, interactive advertising vendors, publishing platforms, and SSAI technology providers. For an idea of the media owners we work with, check out SpotX’s sellers.json file.
How is CTV different from digital video delivered through other channels?
When it comes to inventory quality, there are a lot of differences from digital video through other channels that make CTV prone to bad actors if media buys are not executed with due diligence. For instance, CTV lacks VPAID support and is behind in transparency programs such as app-ads.txt and in standards for how inventory is labeled. Most importantly, server-side ad insertion creates an additional layer of complexity when thinking about ad validation.
What steps have you taken to combat fraud and vet partners?
Inventory quality and ad fraud prevention are our top priorities, not only to protect buyers in the ecosystem, but also to protect media owners on SpotX from falling victim to bad actors. We accomplish this through a mixture of great partnerships with folks like DoubleVerify, an in-house Inventory Quality team, and by leveraging in-house data sets. We also participate in industry initiatives that encourage transparency and help eliminate the bad guys, such as the IAB Tech Lab’s ads.txt, app-ads.txt, sellers.json, and SupplyChain object programs.
While data is critical in decision making around fraud, SpotX prides itself on taking a common-sense approach. We do not work with media owners who are not adding value to the ecosystem and do not allow any middlemen to transact in the CTV space. Our team is constantly vetting live placements to ensure a good user experience and we understand that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. And we act on that.
As spend has shifted to CTV, how has SpotX adapted?
As you would suspect, bad guys follow the money, and we have certainly seen this to be the case for CTV. Since CTV is an emerging medium for programmatic delivery, the industry is trying to catch up on things like app-ads.txt, standards, and validation techniques. This has created the perfect scenario for some bad actors to thrive. Thankfully, partners like DoubleVerify have helped us identify any bad actors and ensured they are not able to transact on SpotX.
In January, SpotX was part of DV’s launch of the industry’s first CTV Targeting Certification for programmatic platforms, designed to protect advertisers from fraud and invalid traffic in the CTV space.
Outside of our partnership, we are extremely strict on which media owners are allowed to monetize CTV. The business rules we have in place only allow direct and reputable partners (device manufacturers, programmers, broadcasters, vMVPDs, etc.). Cutting out any middlemen and unknown entities has been a critical step in reducing the chances of any funny business.
Our company has also been working to make CTV transactions more seamless for both buyers and sellers. We created technology called Audience Lock that protects data leakage and addresses emerging privacy concerns. We also built infrastructure to deliver campaigns based on 1st- or 3rd-party data sets, while helping buyers mirror their traditional TV buys in the programmatic landscape.
Live streaming is becoming increasingly popular. What is the opportunity and what should advertisers be aware of?
Yes, live streaming is rapidly growing and advertisers are looking to shift some of their dollars from linear to OTT for marquee events and live sports (when they return). Fox called this year’s Super Bowl the most live streamed in history, with 3.4 million people streaming—up 30% from last year. This past fall was also the first time live-stream audiences of presidential debates surpassed those of traditional broadcast.
eMarketer reports 32% of households can only be reached by CTV, so advertisers that do not invest in OTT for live streaming or otherwise are missing a sizable audience.
Where do you see the biggest threats and opportunities in digital video advertising over the next year?
Inventory fragmentation is one of the biggest challenges facing the OTT ecosystem in 2020. The many new ad-supported streaming services create a challenging environment for buyers, and they will need to rely on partners to navigate new measurement, frequency, unified reporting, inventory rights, and scalable workflow challenges.
Ad fraud will be an ongoing threat in the next year. Bad actors continue to enter the supply chain and evolve their tactics. The entire digital advertising industry must move faster and develop stricter guidelines to stave off criminal activity.
In terms of opportunities, data activation will unlock immense value for media owners and advertisers. First-party data activation is increasingly prioritized within advertising strategies on both sides, which will open up new opportunities for improved segmentation, refined targeting, and greater insight.
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