People who buy things are still worried that the ads they’re paying for will run on TVs that have been turned off. This is a persistent frustration that some say is due to technology problems or a lack of clarity.

According to the Wall Street Journal, GroupM and iSpot found in June 2022 that 8% to 10% of connected TV impressions happened when the TV was off. This wasted about $1 billion a year for marketers.

The study found that one cause was external devices sending streaming content. This meant that if a user turned off their TV device, the streaming device would still be able to send bid requests. The error caused 17% of impressions from outside devices to be sent when the TV was off, according to the study. On the other hand, smart TV apps almost never had this problem.

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Buyers are still very careful about the ads they buy to make sure they don’t play when the TV is off, even after more than a year. Two buyers say the problem is better now, but it’s still there.

One buyer, who asked to remain anonymous so they could talk openly about business relationships, said, “Publishers are fixing the game to benefit themselves, and that’s why we need full transparency.”

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It’s hard for advertisers to make sure their ads show up on a TV that’s actually playing. This is a good example of how hard it is to buy streaming video because the ad tech and deal structures are still set up for straight TV or online video, not connected TV, which is a more hybrid medium.

However, being open is not always easy when people in the same business don’t agree on what the real problem is. Also, it’s not easy to measure things while the industry is still making tools and guidelines.

Head of brand investment Matthew Kramer said that MediaMonks began looking into the number of ads that ran when the TV was off a year and a half ago. Their results were similar to GroupM’s, which were between 8% and 10%. Now, the number of times TVs are out of stock is in the low single digits.

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Kramer says that this drop is because the firm is focusing on doing more deals directly with content owners.

“The publisher might not be to blame because there are so many touchpoints that they don’t know about,” he said. There are more chances for misunderstandings or scams to happen when there are more links in the chain.

Kramer said that fraud could make effects fire on a TV that isn’t even on. However, a second buyer who also follows the problem and asked to remain anonymous said that the main problem is that different devices have trouble talking to each other technologically. Because of this, making deals directly with companies might not help.

READ MORE: As The Two Largest Cable TV Companies Struggle With Cord Cutting, Comcast And Spectrum Have Lost Over 2.4 Million TV Customers So Far In 2023

“You need to look at more than one piece of information. You need to do some research right now.” – Matthew Kramer is the head of brand investment at MediaMonks.

That buyer said that the number of ads playing from outside devices when the TV is off has gone down a lot since last year, but they wouldn’t say how much.

The buyer’s firm worked with publishers to put “are you still watching” labels on shows that people had already seen three or four hours.

Two other buyers thought that part of the problem was that authors were trying to make more money by selling more impressions than they were worth.

READ MORE: Cable TV May Become Even More Expensive As More Lucrative Deals Are Signed By Local ABC, CBS, FOX, And NBC Owners

Some people who work in the industry don’t know how long TV-off ads will hurt the business. Smart TVs are continuing to win market share against other devices because ads that play when the TV is off are less of a problem. According to streaming media intelligence company Conviva, viewing time on Smart TVs increased by 31% between the second quarter of 2022 and the second quarter of 2021. However, viewing time on connected TV devices only increased by 7.8%.

“I think this problem will go away on its own,” said Shailin Dhar, founder of Method Media Intelligence, a company that measures digital ads.

Not enough data points

People who want to know how much they waste on ads that play when the TV is off are still having a hard time finding a single source of truth.

READ MORE: Pay TV And Cable Lost 5.8M Subscribers In 2022

MediaMonks found out how often people turned off their TVs by looking at data from set-top boxes, smart TVs, and cameras that pick up what’s showing on those TVs.

Kramer said, “It looks like there isn’t a single silver bullet.” “You need to look at a number of different records.” You need to do some research right now.”

Some ad tech companies are working on answers. For example, iSpot made a tool that can track how many impressions ran when TVs were off. It was first made available in test form in October 2022 and to the public in the first quarter of this year.

Phase two of the study is being run by GroupM and iSpot, but it hasn’t been made public yet.

As for the IAB Tech Lab, it has new technology that publishers can use. For example, its open measurement SDK has a “TV off” feature and a “Are you still watching” signal. The tech can be used on tvOS and Android TVs right now. Later this year, the trade group will add support for Samsung and LG TVs, according to Shailley Singh, COO and EVP of product.

“The IAB spec isn’t being used by everyone yet,” the first buyer said. “Once it’s added, it could help measurement partners read this data more deeply.” We still can’t stop it if it doesn’t get to real-time bids, though.


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