First Ad Slot Targeting: Bringing Linear Offerings To CTV

A Q&A with Erica Schwarz, Director of Product Marketing

April 12, 2022

The concept of first ad slot targeting is not new. In fact, it’s existed for decades in traditional, linear television environments. Brands that want their advertisements as close to the entertainment as possible have long been able to do so – thus maximizing brand awareness and their media investment. The challenge, however, is that this offering was not yet available in connected TV (CTV) environments, where consumers are continuing to shift their attention. 

Until now. 

Unruly’s parent company, Tremor International, is officially bringing first ad slot targeting to the world of CTV, enabling brands to position their ads adjacent to relevant programming and ensuring prominent placement.  

So, what exactly does this mean for today’s brands, channels, and TV viewers? I sat down with Director of Product Marketing, Erica Schwarz, to better understand the power of first ad slot targeting and its implications on the CTV market. 

First and foremost, can you explain what first ad slot targeting is and how it works? 

Sure thing. Essentially, each commercial break during a TV show or series is known as an ad pod, and each ad that runs within that pod is known as an ad slot. With first ad slot targeting, brands are able to ensure their ad is programmatically placed in the first slot of a pod – e.g. directly next to the content – across Unruly’s premium supply of CTV publishers. It’s all thanks to a custom technical setup we’ve established with a leading ad server within the platform. 

What are the main benefits of first ad slot targeting for brands and advertisers? 

While all slots within a pod are obviously valuable, the logic is that placing your ad in the first slot of a commercial break increases the opportunity to be seen by consumers – mostly because (as we all know) viewers frequently use commercial breaks to grab snacks, use the restroom, etc. But the closer you are to the entertainment, the greater the odds are that your brand’s message will resonate. 

The first ad slot is also a great spot for a brand to contextually align their messaging with the content. For instance, if an audience is watching an X-Men movie and a studio wants to promote their upcoming superhero film to those consumers, then that first slot would feel more relevant to the content. This kind of placement has been a popular strategy in linear TV environments for decades, and we’re thrilled to be bringing this offering to CTV. 

What about the benefits for channels and content providers? 

Beyond enhancing the overall experience for viewers, channels and content providers have the opportunity to boost their revenue by charging more premium rates for these more premium ad slots (a practice that’s long been the norm in linear CTV).

Additionally, we’re in the midst of rolling out last slot targeting and competitive separation through Spearad, which will grant publishers even more flexibility and control over ad breaks.

And last but not least, what’s your favorite show on TV right now?

Good question! I enjoy watching a lot of shows but my favorite is probably The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.