Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

The NDA Roundtable PART 2: Should brands be developing ‘CTV-first’ strategies?

NDA ran a roundtable discussing connected TV and the opportunities it presents. On the roundtable, we heard the thoughts of Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer at Boots; Melissa Blaha, Head of Product, Data and Analytics at Finecast; Daniel White, Group Director, EMEA at DoubleVerify; Andy Jones, Head of Agency Development at Samsung Ads; Alex Debenham-Burton, VP, Head of Reservation Media at Essence Global; Rhys McLachlan, Director of Advanced Advertising at ITV; and Charlie Glyn, Ad Technology Lead at 4 Sales (Channel 4).

For many years, the industry has been defined by the idea of striving to be ‘mobile-first’. However, with the emergence of connected TV (CTV), is it perhaps time for us to be thinking ‘CTV-first’ instead?

“For the majority of advertisers, it’s seen as a means of incremental reach. There are hard to reach audiences, especially the younger ones,” said DoubleVerify’s White.

“The other thing I’m seeing in conversations with agencies is that a CTV-first approach is appealing for those advertisers that haven’t necessarily moved into TV or haven’t seen TV as a major part of their media plans in the past.”

The whole picture

Despite the appeal of going CTV-first for some within the industry, Boots’ Markey prefers to look at things from an “audience-first perspective” – an approach which takes into account the focus of a campaign before thinking about where to launch said campaign. 

An example provided by Markey was around the Boots Advantage Card loyalty base of 15 million people. If the health and beauty retailer wanted to reach these customers, it would look at what it can do through CTV with the likes of ITV and Channel 4. On the other hand, for a Christmas campaign, where the retailer will be looking to attract a larger number of people into its stores, a broader approach would be used.

“It’s about who you want to target and through what outcome,” Markey explained. “There’s always going to be a role for traditional TV. It’s still powerful, and there’s no other way to reach certain audiences at scale and with impact. But there will come a crossover point, where I think CTV will become even more mainstream, but we’re not there today.”

ITV’s McLachlan agrees that putting CTV first is perhaps not the best strategy, instead suggesting that advertisers should be looking at the TV landscape as a whole.

“We’re encouraging advertisers and agency partners to think about a ‘total TV’ strategy – and you’ll see other folks around town speak to the same as well,” said McLachlan. “How are we holistically thinking about all the platforms, all the channels, that are available to us? And how are we activating those to the best of our ability to drive business outcomes?

“It’s really motivating for legacy broadcasters to re-evaluate priorities and business strategies to ensure that we’re able to capitalise on this trend.”

Behavioural shift

The driving force behind there even being a consideration around going ‘CTV-first’ has been the rapid growth of the channel over the course of the pandemic. The past couple of years have transformed how people consume content, and accelerated the adoption of what was already a fast-growing medium.

Finecast’s Blaha thinks that consumers will continue to adopt CTV, as long as the amount and quality of content on those platforms continues to meet their expectations.

“Consumers want to watch the content where it’s available,” said Blaha. “They want to watch the shows and the things that their friends are talking about. And, if that’s on CTV, then you’ll naturally continue to see that trend accelerate. I’m thinking about the way that people like Netflix and Disney are investing in shows. As they continue to be major content investors, I think you’re going to continue to see adoption of those platforms naturally, because people want to watch those shows.”

And this feeling was also shared by both Channel 4’s Glyn and Samsung’s Jones.

“We saw such a surge in TV consumption at the beginning and, whilst it’s dropped as we’ve started to come out of the lockdowns, I think it’s been quite clear that there’s always going to be a really prime position for TV and for content. Whether it’s CTV devices or not is irrelevant. We just know that’s how people are consuming their content,” said Glyn.

“As long as there’s top quality content, there’s going to be a CTV market. It’s not the same as digital display, where everyone is using the internet in various guises and forms. It’s so content-driven when it comes to CTV consumption.”

Jones added: “What viewers really understand and love is great content. They don’t care what channel it’s on, they just care about the content and, increasingly, at their convenience. That’s not going to go back.

“We have to have a broad content choice, and we have to help users with that content choice, but the convenience is here to stay. The competition for our beloved traditional broadcasters is that they are now competing against every app that’s available on the TV for that viewer’s attention. The challenge that they’ve got is that those apps are spending billions globally on content.”

Despite this, Essence’s Debenham-Burton warns that advertisers have to be careful about the way they view CTV and the stats around that, because “there are so many premium CTV channels which don’t take advertising”.

“You’ve got the obvious ones like Netflix, Disney+, and Prime has elements of it,” he said. “There are also platforms like DAZN which, again, have no commercial opportunity from an advertising perspective. So, I think sometimes we blur the stats around CTV, which are hugely relevant and correct, but that’s very different from the commercial opportunity for advertisers.”