Why ad podding will star in the next season of TV advertising

With both Netflix and Disney Plus going ad-funded, a new type of media buying is bringing the AVOD experience closer to its linear counterpart. Storytelling on CTV just got simpler…

FreeWheel’s Stefanie Briec looks at a new technology that will take TV advertising to the next stage – dynamic ad podding. The article will explain what ad podding is, how it differs from current advertising methods, and what advantages it brings.

Ad spend follows the audience and right now, viewers seem to enjoy tuning in to Connected TV (CTV) channels. Long-form premium video in particular is attracting attention, with ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) viewership increasing +15% YoY between 2021 and 2022.

Broadcaster video on demand (BVOD) experienced +22% growth in the same timeframe.

In light of this growth, it’s only natural for marketers to want access to premium VOD inventory.

To capture their ad investment, media owners and distributors should focus on supporting marketers’ priorities such as managing frequency capping, brand safety, and competitive separation. Advancements in technology make addressing these challenges possible, with dynamic ad podding being a technique with many advantages.

Why is dynamic ad podding such a big deal?

Ad pods have brought the CTV experience even closer to its linear counterpart, since these back-to-back ad sequences are shown within long-form video content in much the same way as traditional TV ads.

Ad podding technology allows media owners to build a pod of multiple ads with one ad request, rather than many, which streamlines the trading process and ad delivery. Dynamic ad podding takes these advantages further, as publishers can now combine ads of different durations to fill a pod.

If a dynamic ad pod is 90 seconds long, for instance, then it could display three ads of 30 seconds each or a combination of 30-second and 15-second ads. This flexibility is hugely beneficial as publishers can create ad sequences of any duration to match different forms of video content.

What viewers want, viewers get: quality video experience

In the UK, connected viewers believe video platforms such as AVOD have the most qualitative ad experience (64%) when compared to social media (22%) and user-generated platforms (14%), according to a recent FreeWheel study.

The ability to watch premium video content of their choice, on a large screen with quality audio, makes CTV and video on demand services highly appealing to viewers.

While AVOD and BVOD services can therefore offer marketers a strong opportunity to reach and engage target audiences, both advertisers and media owners must safeguard the viewing experience as they harness the potential of these services.

With ad podding, broadcasters and digital publishers can deliver a comparable experience to linear TV and effectively insert digital video ads in premium environments. The technology can also prevent the same ads being replayed within individual sequences and across multiple ad pods, improving the overall experience for audiences. The relevance of the ads is another important element to consider.

Almost half of UK CTV audiences appear to prefer ads that reflect their personal hobbies and interests, while nearly three in 10 like ads that relate to their current lifestyle.

As CTV occupies the digital video space, audiences aren’t as familiar with seeing ads on VOD platforms as they are on linear TV. So, marketers have a lot to gain from leveraging advertising technology that ensures a quality, linear-like ad experience.

The ad buyer checklist Free access to content is a primary reason for trying AVOD services for nearly three-quarters (74%) of UK AVOD viewers. In the current climate, with half a million UK consumers deprioritising SVOD services due to rising living costs, it’s not unreasonable to expect even more eyes will turn to ad-supported platforms.

Marketers looking to seize this opportunity seem to have their eyes on BVOD services as these environments follow the robust regulations of linear TV.

Replicating the same level of quality and brand safety should be a priority for all publishers in the AVOD space. In 2018, global streaming service Pluto TV launched in the UK and is now a strong case study for AVOD success.

Home to over 250 live channels, alongside on-demand films and TV shows, Pluto TV uses ad pod management solutions to give brands more control over their ad buys.

By ticking the ad buyer checklist – brand safety, competitor separation and optimal ad load – Pluto TV enables brands to build stronger connections with viewers in a highly engaging environment.

Using dynamic ad podding, Pluto TV can seamlessly insert ads into the viewing experience while delivering contextually relevant messages.

In turn, this drives measurable campaign performance and higher viewability rates, with the publisher experiencing view-through-rates (VTR) of more than 95% when ads are served as part of a curated ad pod.

Media owner priorities: efficiency and transparency On the other side of the ecosystem, media owners benefit from ad podding’s ability to unify demand sources and efficiently fill the slots they offer.

This technique answers a number of important questions for the sell side, including which ad buyers are purchasing their premium inventory and what kinds of ads audiences are viewing as a result.

With a clearer understanding of what ads are being served, media owners can continue to ensure the quality of their premium video environments.

Moreover, ad podding allows publishers to fill all available slots with one ad request, but also allocate a separate cost to each slot. Dynamic ad podding expands on this capability by optimising the amount of ads displayed to maximise publisher revenue. So, sellers can trust that the technology will automatically adjust a one minute ad pod to have, for example, four 15-second slots or two 30-second slots.

All this while ensuring competitor separation, which provides advertisers with additional benefits such as improved ad recall and brand favourability. The benefits of dynamic ad podding can be felt across the TV ecosystem, but most importantly, with connected audiences too. The control, transparency, and flexibility it offers buyers and sellers means they can actively focus on building an exceptional viewer experience.

By keeping ad loads at a sustainable level, using linear TV as a benchmark for quality, and adopting solutions that improve the relevance and delivery of ads, marketers and media owners are ensuring VOD platforms are viewer-centric spaces.

By Stefanie Briec, Director

Head of Demand Sales UK & International

AudienceXpress at FreeWheel