CTV Ad Inventory–Understanding Programmatic TV Supply

CTV Ad Inventory–Understanding Programmatic TV Supply
By Madhive Marketing
January 23, 2023

When you combine the targeting capabilities of digital with the power of the biggest screen in the house, it’s no surprise connected TV ad spend was expected to hit $21.2 billion in 2022.

But one thing’s for sure—the current CTV landscape is fragmented. 

Advertisers can buy CTV ad inventory from a variety of sources, including smart TVs, dongles, publishers, and adtech vendors. With all these options, CTV inventory can get sticky. We’ve got you and your buyers covered in this quick, need-to-know overview.

What is CTV ad inventory?

CTV ad inventory refers to any opportunity for brand messaging to run alongside streaming TV content, such as 15- and 30-second commercial spots. CTV ads inserted into these inventory slots are delivered programmatically (in an automated fashion).

These video ads are similar to the content you see on traditional TV—they are professionally produced media advertisements. While the ad delivery, audience targeting, and measurement capabilities of CTV more closely reflect digital, the content is more similar to TV.

Where to get CTV inventory

When it comes to CTV ad inventory, there is no shortage of places for advertisers to go. It’s possible to buy CTV inventory from: 

  • Smart TV makers including VIZIO, Samsung and LG

  • Dongle manufacturers like Roku, Amazon and Apple

  • Content owners and publishers like Hulu, YouTube and broadcasters

  • CTV demand-side platforms and marketplaces operated by adtech vendors like Madhive 

But that doesn’t make all providers equal. 

While CTV advertising is experiencing massive growth, there are still gaps in options and service models from one provider to the next in terms of quality, scale, ad inventory, performance metrics, and access. The right CTV advertising platform (and partner) will bridge the gap for you and help you scale across a fragmented market. 

Related content:How to evaluate CTV advertising platforms

How to buy CTV ad inventory

Just like there are multiple sources of CTV inventory, there are also a number of different ways to buy it. Some of the most popular options include:

  • Direct sales. Advertisers can go direct to a streaming service provider like Hulu, which has a self-serve platform that allows advertisers to purchase CTV inventory across its platform. The downside of buying direct is that advertisers are limited to inventory on the streaming provider’s owned properties (e.g. only Hulu).

  • Programmatic marketplaces. Marketplaces provide a wider breadth of options and inventory across a variety of streaming properties. Additionally, a CTV ad platform like Madhive allows advertisers and content providers to connect via private marketplaces, which are invitation-only marketplaces where premium publishers make their inventory and audience available to select buyers.

How to evaluate CTV inventory

With ad dollars flooding to CTV, fraudsters are not far behind. 

That’s why it’s important to understand what you are buying/selling and work with CTV partners who validate every single impression. This requires multiple layers of defense, including cutting-edge technologies like ACR, machine learning and cryptography. 

Additionally, it’s important to understand what your CTV partner can provide. Here are a few capabilities to look for in a provider:

  • Impression-based measurement

  • Video completion rates

  • Reach and specific inventory sources

  • Tools for frequency control

  • CTV measurement that includes top- and bottom-of-funnel metrics

  • Brand safety/CTV ad fraud prevention features like advanced fraud modeling and cryptographic validation

Related content: How to Prevent Ad Fraud in OTT (5 Methods We Use)

Creating a cross-device experience with OTT inventory

The best CTV experiences happen across devices.

OTT advertising is an umbrella term for video advertising served over the internet—which includes ads that are streamed on a connected TV (CTV), as well as video ads streamed on computers, laptops, and mobile devices.

CTV ad inventory can be combined with OTT inventory to reach viewers on a variety of devices at various stages in the buyer’s journey. 

For example, an auto dealership may serve a broad, awareness-based ad for a new line of vehicles on a consumer’s CTV. Later, this same auto dealership could send another ad to the consumer’s iPhone, advertising the specific models available at their local dealer.

Related content: Auto Dealership Marketing: 5 Reasons to Add CTV to the Mix

Get started selling CTV advertising today

Nearly 40 million households cut the cord cut the cord in 2022, and everyone in the industry is vying for their attention—especially content providers. 

More and more broadcasters and local media groups are adding CTV ad inventory to their mix, but they rarely rely on their own tech stacks to do so. Local media groups like TEGNA, Scripps, and Fox rely on a full-stack CTV advertising solution to bring OTT/CTV inventory to their advertisers—and with Madhive, it’s easy to get started. 

Check out how one media company used Madhive to transform into a one-stop CTV shop for local and national advertisers alike.

Case study:TV broadcaster debuts streaming advertising platform, achieves 600% revenue growth