Why connection counts in OTT

By Natasha de Mallet Hawes | Director, Ad Solutions, APAC



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July 21, 2020 | 6 min read

With the adoption of OTT on the rise, Natasha de Mallet Hawes, director, ad solutions, APAC at PubMatic, outlines what's needed to mature the channel.

In recent times we’ve seen a sudden and rapid growth of CTV and OTT which has been further accelerated by the increase in streaming subscriptions due to the COVID-19 quarantine. This has provided a huge opportunity for brands to reach their target audiences in a more addressable way. However, the proliferation of inventory, the growing collection of devices on which to watch, and the lack of established standards and processes mean that the industry across APAC is learning and building in real-time. As with any emerging format experiencing this kind of growth, there is going to be a steep learning curve. Our goal has been to move forward collectively to identify both the limitations and the opportunities and to bring those opportunities to the market.

The limitations seem clear. As buyers look at different channels and different platforms to buy through in today’s waterfall model, they face some inefficiencies. This is similar to earlier experiences with display advertising, where you could be the highest bidder but that didn’t mean you’d win, or that the publisher would even see the bid. Our focus is on ensuring there is a fair, equitable auction where the buyer who has the most valuable bid for an impression wins. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we’re in yet.

Natasha Pubmatic

When you add this to the need for agility and flexibility and further complicate it with nuances in frequency capping, competitive separation, and brand safety it becomes an even bigger challenge.

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We’re all consumers

Programmatic media brings the promise of true audience-based buying to television. However, traditional television, also known as linear TV, is a well-established industry with certain expectations, processes, and standards. For linear TV buyers, things like competitive separation and frequency capping are table stakes & as an industry, programmatic needs to evolve and adapt to that paradigm. The reasons these rules exist are clear. Any advanced TV user would concur that seeing the same ad multiple times is not a good experience as a consumer and doesn’t do the brand any favours.

This appreciation for buyer—and consumer—pain extends to other issues such as latency, which will be even more palpable as sports, sidelined by COVID, make a return and moves more into streaming. These challenges faced in a real-time environment is one reason some of this inventory has remained in the ad server and not moved into a programmatic auction.

Preserving the user experience

Latency issues, coupled with a lack of competitive separation, limited frequency capping, and questionable brand safety have combined to undermine the user experience. This is where everyone is aligned – whether you are an agency, advertiser, publisher, consumer -no-one wants a bad user experience. A publisher would rather not show an ad than risk a consumer having a bad user experience. The same goes for an advertiser and agency.

In large measure, it’s this focus on protecting the user experience that has driven us at PubMatic, over the course of the past year, to develop technology to overcome these challenges. Our OpenWrap OTT product works to erase the latency, guarantee the competitive separation, cap the frequency, and, at the same time, ensure a fair and efficient auction, whether ads are being shown alone or as part of an ad pod. Our overarching goal is to democratize all video, whether it’s from DSPs, ad servers, or exchanges into a unified server-to-server auction. What’s critical is to mirror the benefits of linear from a measurement, attribution, brand safety, and competitive perspective while simultaneously improving auction efficiency.

Underlying all of this is trust. Even if we build cutting-edge technology and provide great inventory, there will always be an incentive to look the other way on questionable inventory. A buyer needs to trust its supply-side platform to uphold standards and processes around inventory quality.

OpenWrap OTT was developed as a response to frustrations expressed by advertisers, publishers and agencies globally, however, we need to remember that the situation it’s addressing is continually evolving. Whilst we’re all learning and figuring out what will work best, we all need to continue to ensure we understand what’s possible and where we need to go as an industry. There’s also an education element that we need to bring to the table. As marketers determine the methods and means of OTT and connected TV advertising that is right for their brands and businesses—navigating the linear versus programmatic divide—the technology and processes that drive this buying will continually improve to meet buyers’ needs across the APAC region.

Natasha de Mallet Hawes is director, ad solutions, APAC at PubMatic.


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PubMatic (Nasdaq: PUBM) is an independent technology company maximizing customer value by delivering digital advertising’s supply chain of the future. PubMatic’s sell-side platform empowers the world’s leading digital content creators across the open internet to control access to their inventory and increase monetization by enabling marketers to drive return on investment and reach addressable audiences across ad formats and devices. Since 2006, our infrastructure-driven approach has allowed for the efficient processing and utilization of data in real time. By delivering scalable and flexible programmatic innovation, we improve outcomes for our customers while championing a vibrant and transparent digital advertising supply chain.

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