As consumers and households continue to adopt streaming and connected TV services, either as a substitute for or in addition to traditional/linear TV, Connected TV (CTV) advertising is proving to be a versatile and increasingly necessary channel to integrate into a brand’s strategic media mix. Connected TV advertising covers a broad range of executions that can be tailored to desired business outcomes and it’s versatile enough to work for established brands, challenger brands or upstart direct to consumer (DTC) brands seeking exponential growth. In order to achieve proper execution, it is important to fully understand the entire versatility of the channel. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of Connected TV advertising as well as the best ways to approach this channel – with and without traditional TV integration.
To start, what exactly is Connected TV?There has been some confusion the marketplace about what exactly Connected TV is. The simplest way to think about it in relation to advertising – is that Connected TV is TV programming streamed through an internet–connected device. The device itself could be a Smart TV manufactured by Samsung, Sony, Vizio and others, with embedded internet connectivity. The device could also be external hardware like Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast or Amazon Fire that connects the your TV to the internet. Gaming consoles such Playstation and XBox also serve as Connected TV devices.
What about Hulu advertising, for example?The content that is streamed to Connected TV’s can come from any number of sources, including Hulu, and yes, you can advertise on Hulu to audiences that are not paying for the upper tier “No Ads” Hulu experience. While Hulu advertising is top of mind for many marketers, given their premium content and massive audience footprint, there are many other channels and content to consider. There is distributed content through providers such as Hulu, Sling TV, AT&T Now, or HBO Max. Networks like ABC, ESPN, Discovery or MLB.tv also have channels for Connected TV. Additionally, there are unbundled apps such as Crackle, Vevo or Pluto.tv. that make their content available on Connected TV devices. The ongoing expansion of channel lineups, content and app offerings provide a rich media palette for advertisers and marketers to find their audiences.
Pulling the right levers for success in Connected TV advertisingConnected TV advertising offers a broad range of executions and there are many levers to pull to test and find your core and incremental audiences. These executions should be built to drive the intended business outcome, whether that be top of funnel brand awareness, mid funnel lead generation or bottom of funnel conversion. The rich data sets and fine nuances across channel, programming type, and device type, should be uniquely leveraged to reach specific users and achieve specific objectives. It is also important for brands to note that the nuances within Connected TV vary greatly in quality and cost. For example, an ad delivered to a highly targeted, niche audience and delivered within premium network content during primetime hours on CTV provides a different value and experience than a CTV ad delivered to broad demographic on mobile device in-app in off peak hours. With the sheer amount of options and the level of fragmentation and that exists, it can be difficult to fully understand exactly what is being bought and placed. If you are merely looking at delivery metrics to gauge performance, then media dollars can be easily wasted. Working with an experienced Connected TV partner can help to avoid these pitfalls.
Targeting and Tracking for Top Exposure with Connected TV advertisingThe most valuable aspect of Connected TV advertising is the ability to apply granular audience targeting in order to identify high value users and bid specifically to place messaging in front them. In order to reach these highly valuable users, buyers and strategists must layer data, targeting, inventory, and bidding strategies in order to create effective and efficient buys. In addition to targeting, the ability to track and attribute your campaign to measurable actions such as post-exposure activity is beneficial for several reasons. Like other digital channels, CTV utilizes digital signals to track user’s activity after ad exposure. Connected TV executions rely on cross device mapping in order to create a device graph for each household, and measure activity on other devices tied to that IP address. With cross device mapping in place, marketers can see if a user who was served a CTV ad on their Roku device later visited a brand’s website on another device connected to the same Wi–Fi router. This kind of direct attribution is beneficial because an individual’s ad exposure can be tracked to a user’s activity and optimized to sequential touches to drive conversions and ROI. Additionally, ROI value is further enhanced when CTV is executed as part of a holistic digital campaign that includes display, social, and search. CTV is extremely effective for top of funnel efforts, while complimenting other digital channels if the right strategies are deployed to ensure all channels work in harmony. These other strategies can include sequential message delivery, funnel modelled audience profiles, and re-engagement strategies that drive influenced actions. Beyond brand awareness and exposure, CTV can be leveraged with performance-based objectives in mind. Whether it is utilizing tracking and attribution to tie exposure to conversions, or as part of a re-engagement strategy to connect with users who have expressed interest but not yet converted, CTV is able to deliver high value messaging to specific users with specific influence in mind. CTVs ability to be measured with high accuracy through pixels and cross device measurement means that even with view through attribution, the exposure these ads generate should be viewed as high value. An additional benefit of a CTV campaign is its use as a testing platform to prove a creative or audience hypothesis, before rolling out to more mass reach channels like linear TV. Because CTV sits in between digital and traditional channels, it provides a platform to understand response and engagement with content and audiences with the flexibility of digital execution. Therefore, it is a great way to experiment with audiences, creative, programming, and other variables to collect data that can be used to make decisions across channels. CTV can uncover audiences that are likely to respond to your product or disprove audiences that will not respond. The campaign can identify data points for programming and interests within existing audiences; potentially preventing an expensive buy on a network that is not likely to perform, and it can deliver response metrics to different creative tests; helping direct creative teams towards more effective messaging. All of this can be accomplished with lower investments and within shorter time frames as statistical relevance can be reached quickly – if it’s executed well.
How should CTV be integrated into a brand’s marketing mix?
- Connected TV advertising can be executed in many different ways, but it should always be tied to the intended business outcomes of the advertiser and brand.
- Connected TV is an excellent option to utilize as a testing vehicle for linear TV executions. Marketers can target specific audiences and measure responsiveness to an ad to determine whether messaging or calls to action are resonating prior to a much larger linear TV rollout.
- Connected TV is also a great complement exisitng linear TV buys, providing as an extension of reach and frequency that connects with cord cutters and cord-nevers, improves overall exposure rates and provides strong attribution signals.
- Connected TV can also be run as an extension of pure digital buys. Connected TV ads can fill the funnel with high value sight, sound, and motion touch points in conjunction with a re–engagement vehicle and retargeting messaging to drive deeper influence throughout a user’s journey.