Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Beyond the Hype, What Does CTV Hold for Marketers?

By Tyler Kelly, President of Basis Technologies

As consumers shift from linear television to streaming services and platforms, marketers are largely celebrating the immense potential of addressability in Connected TV (CTV) advertising. Serving different streaming viewers different ads based on their audience persona can drive superior results in specific segments and power advanced attribution.

But CTV is still a relatively new channel for marketers. How is inventory on the channel really bought, sold, and tracked, and where are those deals most favourable to buyers? What is the state of CTV CPMs? And where should marketers focus their attention this year to reap the emerging benefits of the channel?

By taking a closer look at the landscape of CTV ad inventory, narrowing in on what affects pricing in the channel, and understanding attribution goals and challenges across CTV, marketers can position their brands to capitalize on the format’s opportunities.

Where to find the right CTV deals

As with much of digital inventory, marketers can buy CTV spots via open bidding, directly with publishers, or via guaranteed or non-guaranteed private deals. The key is to ensure you’re getting premium placements on this channel that has high CPMs, not just spraying and praying.

If you’re buying CTV inventory via the open bidding, ensure that your media buying team is taking advantage of targeting parameters to allow ads to show up where your customers are in a way that speaks to specific segments. For example, contextual targeting provides a privacy-safe option to target audiences based on content categories, devices, and broadcast types. This ensures the content of the audience’s experience aligns with the ad, boosting receptivity.

Through private marketplace deals, advertisers can reach premium publisher audiences to which only a select group of advertisers have been granted access. Layering on contextual, first-party, and demographic data reinforces the efficacy of this deal type.

Why CTV prices are relatively high

CTV has become known for pricey CPMs. It combines the targeting and measurement capacities of digital with the big-screen engagement capabilities of TV, setting up

marketers to make a big impact while speaking to a narrow audience of their choice. That’s highly valuable.

On top of CTV’s twin attention and targeting advantages, it is also coming to the fore at a time when traditional digital categories such as display and social are suffering from adverse market forces. The deprecation of third-party cookies on the open web (coming up for Chrome) and mobile identifiers on iOS has marketers craving targeting and measurement capabilities on other channels. CTV is stepping into the vacuum.

While CTV offers shiny and legitimate opportunities, especially in the context of the rest of the digital landscape suffering from privacy changes, its value will be questioned if marketers can’t prove its impact. And that’s where attribution comes in.

How to align on attribution to overcome fragmentation

Despite CTV’s promise, the channel faces distinct attribution challenges due to fragmentation. CTV is home to numerous platforms, digital ad supply chain partners, and devices. Even the way marketers measure TV viewership is rapidly evolving, as a sector that was once defined by one currency, Nielsen’s, is shifting to a multi-currency environment with different advertisers and publishers selecting divergent options.

Marketers can overcome fragmentation’s challenges by aligning on KPIs. Top options for CTV campaigns include video completion rate, reach, the top-performing tactic (or apps, devices, and domains that most impact audiences), impressions delivered, cost per completed view, and frequency of exposure.

By documenting the metrics they’ll be using to understand campaign performance and then seeking out the tools and talent required to connect the dots, CTV marketers can develop benchmarks, evaluate campaign effectiveness, and home in on the tactics, creative choices, and targeting methodologies that drive outcomes.

CTV can deliver with the right strategy

Marketers shouldn’t rush into CTV simply because it’s a shiny object. CPMs are high for a reason — captivating ad formats, more direct buying channels with publishers, and targeting and measurement possibilities — but marketers will need to plan to capitalize on those opportunities.

On the creative front, CTV ads are often delivered on big screens with very high resolution, so preparing to meet those production standards is table stakes. As for

targeting and measurement, aligning on KPIs and figuring out how to gather and unify performance data is critical.

CTV will continue to grow in users and content, and marketers should explore how to take advantage. Determining where to find the right deals, developing compelling creative, and creating a measurement strategy will allow them to do just that.