Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

CTV Leaders: Chris Edwards, Director, Media at Rakuten Advertising 

NDA has launched an interview series, CTV Leaders: Building the Future of TV, featuring inspirational leaders across the industry. Next up is Chris Edwards, Director, Media at Rakuten Advertising. Chris has over 20 years of experience working across the advertising industry. Prior to Rakuten Advertising he worked for leading media houses including AOL, Hearst, Glam Media.

What is the biggest opportunity for advertisers AND consumers in CTV at present?

Since launching our free-to-view AVOD offering in 2019, the past four years has welcomed enormous development and growth in awareness of the CTV space across Europe. Looking at the devices alone, the multitude of apps available now means a huge array of content is discoverable as soon as the consumer turns on their TV. The variety of choice is endless, whether people are choosing to stream on demand or watch live.

This breadth of choice for consumers means there’s now a huge audience out there who are shifting from pay-per-view consumption to free-to-view alternatives. In our 2023 CTV study we identified 46% of respondents will be cutting paid subscriptions amid the economic uncertainty we’re experiencing at the moment. So for advertisers, CTV provides a great opportunity to engage those difficult-to-reach audiences who’ve moved away from pay-per-view.

What are the biggest challenges and how we will overcome them?

We’ve conducted another study recently that looks at the attitude of media buyers towards CTV advertising across Europe, with a particular focus on brand safety. This research identified scale and lack of transparency as two of the most significant challenges the industry is facing at the moment. To overcome these barriers, Rakuten Advertising has developed a new solution: CTVision+.

Not only does this solution transform how advertisers navigate the fragmented CTV landscape, it also provides impactful brand placements to diverse and captive target audiences in transparent and brand-safe environments. It does this by providing a single gateway to European streamers through our unique media portfolio of Rakuten’s owned-and-operated publisher content, alongside a collection of premium CTV publisher and platform partners.

What technology or innovation in the sector are you most excited about?

In case you couldn’t tell from my previous answer, it’s got to be CTVision+. I am super excited to be taking this to market in the UK and introducing the scaled and transparent opportunity to all existing and new partners.

What is your favourite CTV ad or piece of content at the moment and why?

Whilst I do keep up with all new and exclusive releases in the streaming space, most recently I have discovered reissued shows on Disney+ such as Mr Mercedes, based on a Stephen King novel, as well as the Sons of Anarchy spin off show, The Mayans.

What is your most proud achievement in the CTV sector to date?

My background in print advertising in Women’s Lifestyle magazines saw the regular challenge of Luxury Advertisers fighting for the first ad page or outside back cover. So, I was very proud to provide a bespoke CTV solution to a luxury advertiser that could only be delivered with digital-like targeting in the CTV space.

It included a whitelist of programming & genres, alongside an impactful first spot in the ad pod, whilst ensuring the same ad pod was free of any competitors. That’s what I love most about CTV – its ability to combine the branding power of the big screen with the unique capabilities of digital media.