OTT ad barrage: Are advertisers & platforms taking note?

The industry admits there is lack of awareness about impact of higher or lower frequency capping on the campaign output & says OTT players need to know how to pace the campaign for being output-driven

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Published: May 24, 2022 8:39 AM  | 6 min read

“Seeing a similar ad in all ad slots doesn’t work, in my opinion. I always wonder why the advertiser wants to spend over and over again with no return on investment when there clearly are ways and tools to do the right frequency capping,” Laura Quigley, Senior Vice President – APAC at Integral Ad Science (IAS) had quipped in a recent meeting with e4m while talking about the challenges in the digital advertising space. And rightfully so, the growth in digital platforms and the rise in the power of content have created this challenge of lack of adequate frequency capping.

As FoxyMoron (Zoo Media) Media Director Umesh Shashidaran explains, “Lack of frequency capping across platforms in the digital ecosystem is a major issue. Some major spenders may use it but it is not extensively used in India. There is a lack of awareness regarding the impact of higher or lower frequency capping on the campaign output. Hence, advertisers tend not to use it. There is an option of deploying a frequency cap, however, on some platforms, the delivery is not guaranteed, which is another hindrance to the adoption of frequency capping. Currently, a major chunk of spends happens on non-programmatic platforms leading to lower adoption of cross-platform frequency capping.”

But how can advertisers and marketers work together in tandem to solve this issue – baffling the viewer with similar ads multiple times and being obtrusive in their content-viewing experience?

Frequency Capping and Its Nuances

It is very important for advertisers to note that frequency capping is not just about the number of times a product is shown to the viewers but also in the way it is projected and the creative vehicles chosen. Customisation is the key.

DDB Mudra Group Country Head & Managing Partner – Integrated Media Rammohan Sundaram notes, “Frequency capping is not a new phenomenon, it has been there ever since there have been ad-servers, it’s just that it hasn’t been used smartly. Imagine, I show you 5 ads of the same brand with different creative renditions and I have you intrigued enough that you click twice and land on the landing page to seek relevant information and you don’t get it. That is the first mistake most marketers do, if there are 5 different feature-driven communication then there need to be five different landing pages that directly attribute to the ad banner one clicks on, which seldom is the case.”

This is a mistake that advertisers can’t afford to make when attention spans are limited and further emphasises, he added. “Now that you know you have two very relevant ad-clicks on communication, has the brand taken enough pain to customise their re-targeting campaigns where they now can personalise the communication so that there are continued interests? No. Re-targeting happens but is not customised. So, when you do not do things correctly, whatever frequency capping you end up doing, there is not much improvisation on the campaign that happens in India.”

Ad-Driven OTT Platforms Major Pain Point?

There are several OTT-watchers who often complain of advertising bombardment during programmes, most of which happens to be a repeated tale of the same brand pushing the same creative again and again. It becomes even bigger an irritant during binge-watching sessions where even relevant ads start seeming to tax.

While Shashidaran feels there is a lack of advertiser interest in putting ads on certain platforms leading to the same ads being shown multiple times, Sundaram elaborates, “If the deal size is large and the audience size is low then naturally OTTs would not want to have any capping because they would want to consume the entire deal value. If the demand mix is poor then naturally you will continue to see the same ad till the time the value of the PO is delivered. It’s pretty easy to do (frequency capping) on two of the main OTT platforms like YouTube and Hotstar. Other than those the demand flow is not still up there to worry too much around frequency capping on OTTs at least.”

On the other hand, Shashidaran highlights, “It’s a question for the OTT players as to how they pace the campaign for being output-driven, instead of just burning the inventory to deliver the guaranteed views or impressions.”

How Do Advertisers See It

The advertisers are getting serious about frequency capping and how they are interacting with the audience via multiple platforms.

The CMO of a leading confectionery brand tells e4m, “We are very much serious about how we interact with our customers and we do not want to be obtrusive in any manner. We, therefore, put a lot of focus on customising the campaigns for the viewers and also use a multi-channel user-engagement approach. We have also run initiatives wherein people can scan in the code on our packaging to view our content when they deem it fit. Going further we are going to get only better in how and where we catch the attention of our consumers.”

Head of Marketing at Visa Sujatha V Kumar shares, “We leverage Visa’s proprietary tool which takes into consideration factors like historical campaign learnings, competition spends, Marketing and Business KPIs, and campaign structures to determine the optimum frequency. Once the ad frequency is determined, media thresholds and digital campaign setup ensure that we maintain the required frequency.”

Will The Situation Improve?

Marketers are quite positive that it will happen. A senior media planner says, “Yes, the advertisers are getting more serious about this. While they want to be quite visible in the initial phases of the campaign, they are utilising programmatic tools to check the relevancy of the ads for user sections and work on mapping the intent and ad cycle. But there is a lot of work that needs to be done not just on the advertisers' end but also on the platforms’ side. Getting good content is one of the most crucial things to drive interest from multiple advertisers. And we know how sub-standard the content is on most of the ad-driven OTTs right now in India.”

“One positive trend, we have observed is the feasibility of reaching the same user through multiple touchpoints. By deploying digital channels programmatically, the required frequency is built and capped across platforms. As more and more OTT platforms open up their inventories for programmatic buying, the frequency cap can be implemented. The OTT platforms via programmatic buying will have to allow shows as parameters for frequency setting for the advertisers to be able to build frequency touchpoints across various shows instead of the single show which is being binge-watched,” Shashidaran added.

Sundaram concludes, “With the advent of SmartTV that scenario is changing dramatically and you will see a lot more ads on OTT when the SmartTV story grows. Samsung is doing a good job on the same and soon when we have legitimate numbers, this will change and money will move from TV to OTT where the device is no more the mobile phones but the SmartTVs.”

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