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Why Is Ad Frequency Such a Huge Problem for Streaming TV?

Dave Morgan
Dave Morgan  |  Executive Chairman
Published: Nov. 16, 2022

I don’t talk to anyone who watches ad-supported streaming services regularly who doesn’t complain about how poorly managed ad frequency is. The same ad will be shown over and over during the same show, frequently back to back to back. The same ads all week on the same shows, over and over again.

Sure, legacy TV has issues with frequency sometimes too, particularly if you watch a lot of the same network at the same time all week. But the promise of digital advertising and all its whiz-bang technology was supposed to fix that issue.

So, why do we keep getting hammered with redundant ads?

It’s not a technology problem. The campaign management systems, digital ad-serving systems and sell-side platforms all have technology that can help us execute meaningful frequency caps on creatives and campaigns.

It’s not a data and identity problem. There are plenty of identity flags (device IDs, IP addresses, viewing pathways), identity tools (matching services, creative IDs, clean rooms, data-management platforms) and predictive probabilistic audience models to dramatically reduce the vast majority of the bad frequency.

So then why hasn’t it happened?

Fragmentation is a problem. Buyers of campaigns on streaming channels frequently leverage multiple different demand-side platforms, sell-side platforms and owners of access to the same inventory pools (device companies frequently reserve inventory for their own sale on publishers' inventory; agencies frequently receive their own pools of inventory from suppliers to resell to clients) when they execute programmatic campaigns.

If processes and technology are not in place to help everyone understand what ads each person or device has seen, it is vertically impossible to expect that the viewer ad-frequency experience can be managed. If there are three different pathways to the inventory and each operates with a three-per-day frequency cap, the user might very well get the same ad nine times each day.

How can this be solved?

Make it a priority. Solving this problem requires cooperation and collaboration from the multiple stakeholders, particularly the publishers, devices, sell-side platforms and buyers. It’s not rocket science, but it will take focus, hard work and time. Solutions to the problem will have to be prioritized.

But what if the broader streaming industry doesn’t solve this?

Walled gardens will gain. Platforms like Google/YouTube and Amazon are making great strides here. You can be sure that, over time, they will make a good user ad experience a competitive advantage for attracting and retaining viewers. And, for sure, Netflix will do it as well.

Are you happy with your ad-frequency experience on streaming channels? Are you ready to be part of the solution?

Find out how Simulmedia’s unique TV+® platform for TV and streaming advertising provides unified access to premium linear and CTV inventory across all networks and publishers. Request a demo or email us at advertise@simulmedia.com.

An earlier version of this blog was originally published by MediaPost.