Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

How to master Connected TV advertising

by Gijsbert Pols, Lead Product Strategist at Adjust 

During the past year and a half, UK viewers have massively engaged with Connected TV (CTV) — TVs that are connected to the internet, smart TVs or devices that can plug into a TV to display online media content, such as streaming devices. In 2020, 40.9 million people in the UK watched video content on a connected device , up from the previous forecast of 38.6 million. This upward trend is only set to grow, with CTV adoption predicted to increase to 44.4 million by 2025. 

This means two things. First, the bulk of the UK population will at least combine traditional TV with CTV. Second, an ever growing number of people, particularly young ones, will watch TV exclusively via the internet. But it doesn’t end there. The sheer ‘connectedness’ of the internet opens TV up to endless innovation in terms of experience, formats and interactivity. With TV traditionally being the centrepiece of the home, so many entertainment options will emerge in ways we previously couldn’t imagine. 

The same thing goes for mobile advertisers. CTV is going to offer them opportunities to market their apps that go well beyond what they’ve become accustomed to during the last decade. But where to get started? How to figure out whether it pays off? And what are the opportunities to explore at the moment? 

Buying CTV ads

When buying CTV ads, mobile marketers will find they have a headstart compared to other buyers, as they are already familiar with the programmatic landscape. According to eMarketer, at least 60% of CTV inventory was forecast to be sold programmaticly in 2021.

Still, CTV inventory buying is a different game. Major content owners, such as WarnerMedia or Disney, do not always sell their inventory themselves. If they do, they won’t always sell it programmatically, and even if they sell it programmatically, the chances that they offer open exchange are small. For example, 90% of Discovery’s programmatic transactions are running via private marketplaces. 

The nature of inventory suppliers is also very different. Some streaming services, like Hulu, have their own DSPs, or demand-side platforms, selling their own inventory. Device suppliers, such as Samsung Ads, sell inventory as well, but largely via direct deals. There are hybrid cases, such as Roku, which is both a device-supplier as a streaming service (with the Roku Channel) and offers inventory both via direct deals and in programmatic open-exchange. Well-established DSPs like The Trade Desk and Xandr also offer CTV inventory. 

What supplier you should go to as a mobile marketer depends on your goals (branding, user acquisition, retention, etc.). If you’re just starting to explore CTV, it may be recommendable to start with a DSP you are already familiar with. For a more advanced approach, an inventory supplier, such as Roku’s OneView, enables you to implement holistic campaigns across CTV and mobile, and you can  include desktop and even linear TV as well. 

Region will also play a major role in your choice for an inventory supplier. Mobile marketers in the UK will find themselves in a comparably comfortable position, as many ad-driven streaming services (AVOD) have managed to build up strong traction with British audiences over the last few years — Pluto, XITE and the Roku Channel being among them. 

Audience targeting

There are a number of ways to approach CTV campaigns and whom you want to reach with them. Probably the easiest one to implement is contextual targeting, which can be very powerful in a CTV context. To use a simple example: potential players of a medieval strategy game will be found easier among the audiences watching Vikings than those watching Jane the Virgin. To assure good contextual targeting on CTV, mobile marketers can already team up with companies that have integrated with all the big inventory suppliers and can deliver high-quality contextual data. Peer39 is one example. 

Another approach to consider seriously in a CTV context is cross-device targeting. Ninety percent of audiences use their mobile phones while watching TV. Mobile marketers, in particular, can make good use of this so-called dual screening by showing ads on a specific CTV audience segment and following up with ads on the mobile devices of the same audience. Doing this not only affords potential customers the ability to act on what they see, but it also allows you to get a much better idea of the impact of your CTV ads. Marketers can set cross-device audience targeting by working with a DSP that has both  CTV and mobile inventories.

Campaign measurement

Although CTV affords a lot of exciting opportunities for marketers, measurement for this channel is still fragmented and has a lot of legacy issues. Moreover, industry standards have only recently been developed. Mobile marketers have specific measurement challenges, and the cross-device gap is the biggest one. When measuring the impact of their CTV campaigns, marketers are basically trying to measure the impact of something happening on CTV devices on mobile devices. 

So let’s walk through all of the options mobile marketers have. 

DSPs

A good start for measurement is the aforementioned DSP, as there are usually no additional costs involved beyond your master service agreement. If you are running campaigns on Xandr or Roku OneView, you will have immediate access to very insightful data on the success of your campaigns. In many cases, you will find that you can import your first-party data on app installs and post-install events to DSPs in order to refine measurement and also improve your targeting.    

There are downsides of using the DSP for measurement purposes. Obviously, it is a bit of asking the butcher to appraise his own meat. But there are more important objections. DSPs can only offer you data from their own inventory. That means you won’t be able to relate the performance of your CTV inventory with this supplier to other CTV campaigns, let alone campaigns you are running on mobile devices. 

TV attribution companies

The demand for measurement of linear (i.e. traditional TV advertising) has produced a substantial number of TV attribution companies, including  Visual IQ and TVSquared. Many of these companies have been investing in CTV and will be able to offer you robust measurement solutions. However, like the DSPs, TV attributers offer an isolated view, looking at your CTV campaigns only. They will enable you to analyse your CTV advertising as such, but not within the context of other campaigns you are running. 

Another downside of TV attributers is that they can’t offer you data on the assisting power of CTV advertising for your other campaigns. For instance, when you are running campaigns on Facebook along with CTV campaigns, there will be a segment of users you acquire via Facebook that have been exposed to your CTV ads. For a more advanced analysis of your campaign, it is very important to figure out what the difference is between this segment and others, and answer questions such as ‘Are users coming in via Facebook spending more money in my app when they have also seen CTV ads?’ or ‘What is the retention rate of users that have been exposed to CTV ads?’ 

MMPs 

To be able to answer such questions, you will have to rely primarily on a mobile measurement provider (MMP) that is capable of attributing your connected TV campaigns and can deliver limitless multi-touch campaign data. Only MMPs are capable of assigning credit for conversions across all marketing channels and thus enabling you to understand the value of your CTVs campaigns in the context of your entire marketing mix. 

However, not every MMP will have the attribution methodology and partnerships available to do so, so be critical in your assessment. And again, for your first steps in CTV advertising, navigating on the data provided by your inventory supplier will prove sufficient in most cases.  

Much like how the smartphone changed the way in which we think of phones, Connected TV will soon change our perception of what a TV can be — and those who can take advantage of this growing medium now are best positioned to be the biggest winners.

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