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Frequency capping and connected TV

Roku stick and remote controlThere is a nice article published yesterday on AdExchanger.com about the issues with frequency capping in ads served to connected TVs. This is an issue I’ve mentioned in discussions with clients over the past year, strictly on an anecdotal level as a (then-new) owner of a Roku-enabled TV set.

Being my first experience with a Roku-enabled device, I was fascinated by the hundreds (or maybe it’s thousands) of channels in the long tail of Roku. Of course there are the channels for all the major video publishers, but then there are others for smaller services. Some of these small fry are “studios” presumably distributing content no one else picks up (EndemolShine has one), some use licensed content (every old, bad movie seems to be available) and some are specialty channels that use content that seems filmed by a high school AV class.

Anyway, the salient point is that aside from the channels run by TV networks, the remainder of the Roku channels seem to have a willy-nilly approach to serving ads. In particular, my pain point of frequency. I got so tired of seeing the same ads over and over – in the same piece of content – that I sat down once and counted. In one random viewing session that was 90 minutes long on the same Roku channel, there were six commercial pods. In these six pods, there was one ad that played all six times, another that played five times, and another that played four times. Trust me, these brands were not building much equity with me because I was sick of seeing them!

As a professional in the business, I know this strictly isn’t the fault of the brands themselves but rather the ad tech system lying behind each channel. But like a “civilian,” I don’t much care about whose fault it is, the brands bear the brunt of my annoyance.

The AdExhanger article does a good job of delving into the factors that are contributing to these issues – multiple firms serving ads, differences in how frequency is counted, the inability to count frequency for some devices, and little cooperation in sharing data between firms – and the efforts to try to mitigate this issue and perhaps eventually resolve it.

Digital’s promise and reality at odds again

Like so much to do with digital media – audience measurement, targeting personalized ads, and so on – the promise of delivering ads to connected TVs in the most optimal way for audiences exceeds capabilities. In the meantime, the audience suffers through not just the annoyance of pre-roll and mid-roll interruptions, but being hit over the head with the same creative multiple times.  Will improvement evolve or will the audience just have to grimace and bear it?

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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