5 Reasons for Unfilled Inventory – And What To Do About It

Article Featured Image

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.]

Streaming Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues
Related Articles

Next Up for Netflix: Re-imagining Streaming Through Ad & Content Models

Ashwin Navin of Samba TV discusses the ways that Netflix, even with its recent hiccups, has the legacy and the leverage to continue to reinvent the distribution model to find new ways to extend the value of its multi-billion dollar content investments.

Contextual Targeting: TV Advertising's Next-Level Move

Modern TV advertising is in a growth phase. Advertisers face new challenges as the landscape shifts from broadcast and cable to a new world of AVOD and FAST. Asrah Mohammed of Waymark discusses contextual targeting, a strategy that could help navigate this new landscape.

Increasing Liquidity for Streaming VOD Inventory

When one looks at the world of CTV/OTT ad buying, an odd trend emerges: There appears to be more buying against linear streaming inventory than against VOD streaming inventory. This seems odd because viewers are much more engaged with VOD titles—that is the very nature of on-demand viewing. VOD inventory should be more desirable from an advertiser's perspective, but this is not reflected in what is happening in the market.

Why Advertisers Must Embrace OTT Services' Ad-Supported Models in 2023

As the fight for eyeballs intensifies, we are seeing more and more companies diversify their monetization strategies to include ad-supported revenue models that scale their advertising offerings and capabilities. As companies like Disney and Netflix debut ad-supported models, marketers and advertisers can take advantage by integrating themselves into the OTT mix to create campaigns that hook viewers in.