In this week’s ‘Buy-Side View’, we chat with Tom Fryett, head of programmatic development EMEA at Omnicom Media Group. In this interview Fryett discusses why he wants to wave goodbye to last touch attribution, how OTT is bringing down barriers to entry for TV advertising, and why video can be useful for brand building and short term sales, but not both at the same time.
What is your biggest bugbear when it comes to video and OTT advertising?
My biggest bugbear is that video and OTT, included as part of ‘digital’, are still often assessed by a last touch (view or click) model in terms of attribution.
A few of the criteria Omnicom Media Group place more value on when it comes to video would be click-to-play, sound-on, pre or mid-roll, instream video in a large player situated prominently on a page, alongside broadcast-quality content. We see the value of this approach come through in econometrics or multi-touch algorithmic attribution, but it’s not always in place. Last touch remains the most commonly used model across digital channels.
However, last touch attribution will also unfortunately reward mute, below-the-fold, in banner video on dodgy sites. Even worse for OTT, if you’re only partly measurable or not measurable at all, then the value of that ad on the big screen in the living room is lost to the system.
The issue is one of evolving measurement to keep pace with the consumer and fortunately, as I would like to say bye to this bugbear once and for all, OMG are innovating in the space of TV attribution, with the help of forward-thinking technology partners. These include VideoAmp, Google, Sky and more, with each market typically having its own play here depending on the landscape.
How is your agency adapting to the competition from consultancies and the trend towards in-housing?
From my career perspective, starting in TV teams before moving into more digitally focused roles within OMG, I was media audited from the outset by external companies consulting the client on whether we were doing a good job versus a wider pool of advertisers. The clients I worked with also had different in-house capabilities depending on sector – for example, I worked with an insurance aggregator that bought their own search and a finance client where my TV report had to plug into their in-house attribution.
There are new versions of this of course. In my team we evaluate our inventory and data sources at the most granular level we can, working directly alongside those in planning and investment roles across OMG agencies. I think this proximity of to those who are considering the wider plan to ensure nothing sits in silo, or are executing that plan, remains a powerful offering of agencies. The consultancies are undoubtedly competition but it takes years to operationalise large scale buying operations with great talent, it can’t just be done overnight. I see this proximity of teams at OMG delivering better business outcomes first hand every day, for all different types and needs of advertiser, whether we’re activating or playing a consultative role.
Which do you think video advertising is the most effective for – generating awareness and brand-building, or driving short-term sales?
The recent research from Unruly and Peter Field using the IPA Databank really chimed with what I’d seen at an individual client level. That video can produce long-term brand value or short-term sales, just not all at once. It backed up being ruthless in deciding what role it’s going to play on that campaign and not get distracted by a platform’s latest shiny new feature.
Where video’s role is well defined, we see good examples of both. Be that e-commerce retailers where the addition of video on the product page drove an uplift in sales and fewer abandoned baskets. Or as others in the ‘Buy-Side View’ series have said, it’s tough to beat video for story-telling. It can drive an emotional response like no other channel through the power of sight, sound and motion, which is great for building brands.
Are you investing in OTT advertising? How will the shift towards OTT change your TV buying strategy?
We’ve had widespread adoption of OTT opportunities as part of AV strategies across the group. In terms of its impact on our TV buying strategy, it has expanded the strategy beyond buying alone. We’re having conversations now with broadcasters and platforms about how we can develop partnerships that bolster a client’s first party data set, both for planning and attribution. This is opening the AV channel up to a wider pool of advertisers. If companies can bring their first party data to bear in a TV-viewing environment it brings down a big barrier to entry that existed in the past for many brands of too much wastage.
What could agencies do better to help clean up the industry?
We find going to the publisher or broadcaster directly, cutting out any middlemen if they’re adding no value between us, has a big impact on the challenges facing the industry. My team at OMG are focused on finding optimal routes to premium video supply. When you do the work around that, it really brings to the fore who in the supply chain truly delivers transparency.
One example is where we have leveraged our scale to move further down the supply chain to have a direct relationships with the supply-side platforms (SSPs). As a technology, they were previously the exclusive domain of the publisher while we worked in turn with our demand-side platform (DSP) partners. Taking control of the SSP is providing us with new data points and as a result more insight than ever before. This supports better performance but also helps us address industry issues like ad fraud and brand safety.
Which ad tech solution has delivered the most impact for your business?
I think ads.txt had a big impact, given how simple it was and how effective. It’s not just helped fight the issue of ad fraud, but for us also laid out in black and white the convoluted marketplace we’d managed as an industry to collectively create and at OMG we could see we needed to address this on behalf of our clients.
By deploying our own crawler and collating that insight available from ads.txt at scale, we saw in some markets, publishers worked with an average of twenty resellers. We recognise the appeal of working with resellers but for OMG as an enterprise-scale buyer, if you have truly premium inventory we want a direct relationship with you. We knew that publishers worked with multiple partners before but ads.txt gave us the proof.
For video, which we know is unfortunately more attractive to fraudsters with its higher CPMs, complementary initiatives like ads.cert and app-ads.txt from the IAB Tech Lab are welcome.
Which metrics do you value the most when it comes to video and OTT advertising?
Meeting publishers and broadcasters, the most useful metrics remain those around their audience if they have their first party data strategy in place. Even better if they can contextualise it versus their competitors and the wider ecosystem. That means having insights on your viewers bolstered by data partnerships we can share in, which will also prove that you have unique reach. Given the role video and OTT commonly plays for us in plans as part of a wider AV mix, the amount of “light TV viewers” consuming your content is also a key one for us.
Which person in the industry inspires you the most today?
Kara Swisher, of the awesome Pivot podcast. While I’m waiting on platform five for the train to Kings Cross she reminds me that I’m part of a wider, fast-moving world of media and technology.
Out of all the video and TV advertising campaigns you’ve been involved with, which are you most proud of?
We were all very proud of one for an entertainment client, that ended up receiving awards recognition for what was an industry first for its time. We jumped on an opportunity to use what were then features in beta within The Trade Desk DSP, to run connected TV activity across multiple EMEA markets. This is thankfully easier today, but back then required a lot of preparation with SSPs like SpotX, to establish private marketplaces with publishers to secure supply. It was a key proof point for us as a group that the infrastructure was in place to activate CTV campaigns across multiple markets centrally. Most importantly though, the campaign was a success versus the client goals. It delivered cost effective reach that even stood up to benchmarks from linear TV, without sacrificing quality in terms of completion rate or programming.