Buyers who often leave out mid-sized CTV/OTT inventory miss major benefits, study finds

Many advertisers are wasting opportunities and budgets when they leave out small and mid-sized CTV/OTT in their media buys, a new Forrester study found.

In an online survey of 307 media-buying decision-makers at agencies and brands, fewer than one-third indicated their CTV/OTT programs have met or exceeded their expectations. Meanwhile, advertisers who currently buy mid-tier inventory were twice as likely to exceed their objectives than those who do not.

According to the study, media buyers tend to rely on familiar, large-scale inventory from major OTT providers and traditional broadcasters; only 28% of respondents diversify their strategy and buy from small and midsized publishers. Often this is because buyers are pressured to deliver the most cost-effective strategy and disincentivized to pursue more diverse inventory sources that could potentially complicate the buy and lose margin.

On the contrary, the study hypothesized that “diversified audiences and specialized content of midsize CTV/OTT providers represent an opportunity for buyers to connect with audiences that have more distinctive characteristics…”

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Respondents who include mid-size inventory in their buy support this notion, reasoning it results in “higher quality,” “greater efficiency,” and a better ability to “reach audiences in a relevant context.”

“This study’s findings are consistent with what PubMatic has also seen. Today’s CTV marketplace has combined the high-quality aspects of linear TV with the data and scale of digital media. Brands that diversify their media buying across diverse CTV/OTT inventory are often more bullish on biddable environments, allowing them to make real-time optimizations that drive better campaign performance,” said Nicole Scaglione, vice president of OTT and CTV at PubMatic, which commissioned the study. “Too many brands have limited themselves to inflexible guarantees with high-cost CTV/OTT publishers due to unfounded fears about scale and complexity and are missing a major opportunity.”

To make the most of small and medium CTV/OTT inventory, media buyers need to lean on partners who have experience with more mature ad formats and the ability to provide a solution that reduces complexity, the study concluded.

“The promise of CTV/OTT is enormous for the media buyers who are motivated to diversify their approach. The consumer trend toward streaming media across a growing number of apps and channels proves that investing now will set media buyers up for dramatically better returns,” said Scaglione.