5 Reasons for Unfilled Inventory – And What To Do About It
If streaming video is the definitive entertainment medium of the 2020s, and advertising is the definitive business model behind it, then Ad Ops and Rev Ops are the most critical job functions in the business of streaming.
Given the complexity of selling ads, it’s no wonder that the job Ops teams undertake is hugely demanding. There’s no time to pause, constant fire-fighting, and little opportunity for thinking ahead. It relies on always-on data streams coming from multiple sources simultaneously. At the heart of it is making sure available inventory is sold.
In our work with streaming platforms, we see several key areas where more can be done to ensure advertising reaches those available ad slots. In a bid to help under-fire Ops teams, here are five of the most common reasons for unfilled video inventory, along with suggested solutions.
1. Poor Performing Partners
Selling Partners, or Resellers, are key to scale. The good ones push up CPMs and improve fill rate. But the temptation to connect to too many partners can be all too great and leave you with a drag on your fill and revenue.
So sit down and map out your partners against your KPIs. Gather data that will show you where each rank on metrics like Bid Rates, Use Rates, and winning CPMs. Set thresholds for each metric, and if a partner isn’t delivering, simply disconnect them.
Ditching the dead wood and streamlining your partners should immediately improve your delivery rates.
2. Creative File Problems
Remarkably, one of the most common reasons for ads not rendering is that the creative file itself was input or trafficked incorrectly. It could be as simple as the wrong file type, incorrect bitrate, or misnamed creative file.
First, check that Ad Starts match Impressions. If there’s a discrepancy, there’s an issue in delivering the creative file. The Error Code data, ideally found in log files, should give a better understanding of where the issue has occurred.
3. VAST Errors
The VAST specification enables the wonderful world of video sharing. But the same reasons that it enables interoperability, also mean it’s volatile.
Again, error codes are your friend here. Dig into the specific errors to find out where a problem has occurred, and cross-reference these by dimensions such as Campaign ID, Device, OS, Time, and Content. That will point you to the resolution.
4. Slow Reaction Times
Advertising is fast-paced, and TV streams 24-hours a day, yet often Ops teams are not able to access their data until a day (or more) later. Often reports are provided weekly. This is simply too slow.
With ad revenue dependent on swift reactions to problems, and data-driven optimisation, reaction times must improve. If teams are empowered to respond to issues in real time to the problems listed in 1. 2. And 3., inventory can be filled quicker.
5. Lack of Demand
It may seem that more demand should naturally equal more inventory gets filled. But it’s not quite that simple. Buyers expect a linear-like experience from CTV, which means no competitive alignment, frequency capping, and CPM floors. These requirements can create scarcity, and scarcity increases price.
If sellers can create the right (data-driven) conditions then yield can increase, even if total fill rates don’t. But if fill-rate is still your goal, perhaps focus on content optimisation, rather than ad ops.
There’s no panacea to the problem of inventory going unfilled. It’s a case of ensuring the right resources are in place to closely monitor the situation, around the clock, and issues are dealt with immediately. Time is of the essence.
[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from Watching That. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]
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