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Industry Contributor 12 May 2022 - 3 min read

BVOD frequency capping: By going too low, relying on programmatic methods, advertisers risk zero ROI – and the problem is getting worse

By Shaun Lohman - Founder & Managing Director, Adgile Media

Debate around BVOD frequency capping continues: Adgile’s Shaun Lohman says the firm’s analysis of more than 100 BVOD campaigns suggests the opposite – too little frequency – is also a major issue in half of campaigns, and it’s getting worse. He thinks programmatic traders rarely understand how to deliver an effective TV campaign and that adtech providers have largely failed to adapt to BVOD requirements. In the meantime, advertisers may be better off buying with one publisher and taking control.

Ever since broadcasters fixed ad buffering issues, without doubt repeating ads are the most annoying aspect of the user experience.  However, our analysis of over 100 BVOD campaigns shows quite clearly that this not the main issue advertisers face on BVOD. Instead, advertisers should be looking closer at how much of their BVOD investment achieves a weekly frequency of just one or two.

Linear TV planners have for decades worked on delivering minimum frequencies with as little excess as possible, however the data available online allows us to be much more specific in determining the optimum frequency for BVOD campaigns. 

Although different for every brand and campaign, an effective frequency for BVOD is generally between six and 12 per week, based on the millions of impressions and resulting brand engagement Adgile has analysed over the past year. While repeating adverts are indeed annoying, they at least work in gaining attention, and can be controlled to a certain degree with frequency capping. Too low a frequency and an advertiser gets little benefit and almost no measurable return from their investment at all.

By analysing BVOD campaigns from many of Australia’s largest advertisers, it’s obvious that minimum frequency is not being planned for, whilst the fear of ‘annoying’ consumers often results in a frequency cap being placed that prevents the optimum frequency from ever being achieved. 

In many cases frequency is not even reported on. Our analysis shows that up to 60 per cent of an advertiser’s BVOD investment is not reaching an effective frequency. While 10 per cent is attributed to those annoying repetitive ads, a massive 50 per cent of advertisers’ BVOD spend is not hitting the mark because the frequency is too low ­– and the problem is growing. 

The driver is quite simple: BVOD audiences are growing faster than advertisers are investing in the channel. 

Advertisers are spreading their limited BVOD investment too broadly, either across too many broadcasters, or without appropriate targeting to narrow the audience. When not actively managed this prevents advertisers from achieving an effective frequency. Most would be better off spending with a single publisher and frequency capping and/or applying a targeting overlay, thus providing their campaign with a better chance of working optimally. Better still would be to ensure that their investment on TV is adequately apportioned between BVOD and linear.

Programmatic vacuum

Because BVOD is often managed by programmatic traders within agencies and advertisers direct, the scientific, peer-reviewed research into how to deliver an effective TV campaign is rarely understood yet alone applied. It’s startling that 60 years of accumulated TV knowledge is being sidelined, and even more staggering that the delivery rigour that is applied to linear TV delivery is absent from so many BVOD campaigns.

It certainly doesn’t help that the adtech layer powering most of the buying and selling of BVOD is directly inherited from technology designed for performance banner campaigns, a medium with the complete opposite objectives of TV. The result is that the simple levers and parameters expected in the digital media world don’t yet exist for automatically managing a campaign towards an optimum frequency. Perhaps that is an opportunity for some of the smarter ad tech firms to solve.

In the meanwhile BVOD campaign traders need to once again borrow from linear; plan, measure and optimise campaigns considering reach and frequency. Simply managing the ‘pacing’ of your campaign doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. 

Every advertiser should have the same level of visibility and control over their BVOD investment as they do over their linear. It’s paramount that advertisers follow viewers online and shift their investment accordingly, but they can’t expect to sustain remotely similar business outcomes if it’s not performance managed. 

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Shaun Lohman

Founder & Managing Director, Adgile Media

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