Vevo injects programmatic flexibility into CTV ad inventory through Publica partnership

Vevo is expanding capabilities and avenues for its connected TV ad inventory, announcing Wednesday a new global partnership with Publica by Integral Ad Science that opens programmatic opportunities.

Partnering with the CTV ad server, acquired by IAS in 2021, plays to Vevo’s aim of maximizing revenue against its CTV inventory, Vevo EVP of Revenue, Distribution & Data Operations Natalie Gabathuler-Scully told StreamTV Insider, as it sets the music video network for future evolutions of the advertising and CTV spaces.

For Vevo it follows the company’s strategy of ubiquity both in terms of distribution of its music video channels, which are available on a variety of platforms including FASTs, and the types of advertising sales environments it can participate in. Vevo has already seen success with direct-sales teams, and through the Publica partnership Vevo’s premium CTV inventory will be available via a programmatic unified auction, offering premium ad slots within streamed ad breaks.

Publica also brings ad-tech for enhanced buying techniques, with ad pod decisioning that aids in frequency management and competitive separation – two elements desired by advertisers and that help deliver a better user experience.

“We’re constantly looking to evolve our ad tech stack to make sure that we’re set up for where we want to go in the future, and I think a big part of that now is programmatic,” Gabathuler-Scully said. That means partnering with the right companies for tools that aid not only with local, but build for global needs.

Notably, as Publica’s tech is platform agnostic, Vevo’s not limited in terms of the SSPs (supply-side platform) it can plug into, she said, which opens up more avenues for programmatic revenue.

It’s neutral party role in the ecosystem is one of the differentiators Gabathuler-Scully pointed to in picking Publica as a partner, where unlike some players, the company isn’t selling or trying to build its own marketplace and is squarely focused on ad-tech. This drives Vevo’s broader goal of becoming a large premium programmatic partner in the CTV marketplace.

Gabathuler-Scully expects programmatic to become a much bigger portion of Vevo’s business than it is now and sees “it growing exponentially over the next couple of years.”

That’s in part due to automation, as she expects many brands and agencies to want to buy in a more effective and efficient way, where the programmatic technology toolset provides flexibility for them to do so.

Vevo isn’t the only one taking notice of programmatic for CTV. Of the $25.09 billion in projected 2023 U.S. CTV ad spend, eMarketer expects a whopping $21.52 billion to be programmatic, meaning “close to 9 in 10 CTV ad dollars are programmatic,” according to the firm. By the end of 2025, eMarketer projects U.S. CTV programmatic video ad spend will jump to $28.95 billion, accounting for 89% of total CTV video ad spend.

Vevo has already pegged and pursued CTV as a major growth area. In December 2022 CTV accounted for 50% of Vevo’s ad sales revenue, up from just 4% in Q1 2020. CTV’s share of Vevo’s ad revenue has continued to grow since then, according to Gabathuler-Scully.

Competitive separation, frequency management

In addition to a unified auction, advanced ad serving from Publica gives advertisers granular controls to target and optimize.

Ad pod decisioning is another element. This enables Vevo to guarantee an advertiser first pod placement or to own a pod by brand category. For example, auto brand 1 from SSP A and auto brand 2 from SSP B won’t show up in the same commercial break next to each other – helping with competitive separation advertisers want. For advertisers, Vevo said the capabilities translate to less ad waste and clutter, less brand confusion, and better recall. Alongside buy-side frequency management, it means viewers don’t need to sit through multiple commercials of the same brand or type.

A key feature is “being able to rely on Publica and their technology to help suss that out to help us continue to carry what’s important to us, which is the user experience to the consumer,” she said.

It also brings a level of familiarity as frequency management, competitive separation and buying the first slot in a pod is similar to what advertisers can already do in standard TV commercial breaks.

And Vevo says real-time transparency into programmatic auctions through Publica tools ensure advertisers don’t lose supply path optimization (SPO). For those unfamiliar, SPO relates to the demand and response time, and optimizing involves reducing latency that can be injected into the process when “calls” and “responses” for ads go out due to the need to traverse multiple hops across different technologies that sit atop each other within the ad sales ecosystem, Gabathuler-Scully explained. Publica’s SPO is all about making sure it’s serving the best ad and quality and rendering and delivering the impression in the quickest way possible. Publica already groups advertisers who are possible opportunities for that impression, so it’s ready when the “call” comes, thereby reducing that latency for the return, she said.

Vevo also has previously focused attention on AI-powered tools for contextual targeted CTV advertising based on elements like mood or theme. With partnerships like Publica, Gabathuler-Scully said it’s building towards a future where it can offer a lot of those products in a programmatic fashion.

Essentially, Vevo’s working to set itself up to ensure “we are ready for however buying is done, in whatever market that is,” Gabathuler-Scully said.