To Reach CTV’s True Potential, We Need a Mindset Shift

(Image credit: LG)

Connected TV is surging. A record 92% of U.S. households are now reachable via CTV, and brands are paying attention. Advertising spend on CTV grew 57% in 2021 to $15.2 billion, and is expected to rise an additional 39% at the close of this year to $21.2 billion, making it one of the fastest-growing ad sectors. The television has always been the “gathering place” of our homes, and being connected to the internet, rather than through broadcast waves or cable, isn’t changing that any time soon. 

What makes all of this particularly exciting is realizing that CTV advertising hasn’t even reached its full potential. CTV users watch streaming content across any number of platforms from Netflix to Roku and any number of FAST channels. Performance across all those platforms are siloed, meaning advertisers can’t track or evaluate campaigns as a whole, but are left to piece together insights from each platform they advertise on. 

Our industry is also still working through how to properly attribute action by a viewer to an action taken in the market. Did the 30-second ad pushing Oreo’s double-stuffed cookies cause a viewer to make a late night order while binge watching Love Island? Directly correlating a purchase or action to viewing an ad on CTV is still an area for growth.

As a result of these factors and more, CTV campaigns tend to be oriented around increasing “brand awareness,” a well-known, but admittedly vague metric. Measurement after the fact typically consists of a brand lift study, which can tell you generally how an ad performed and whether it measured above or below expectations. But, such studies are largely ambiguous and after-the-fact.

While many different attribution platforms are starting to come to the foreground and deliver interesting capabilities around CTV, there is still a lot of connective tissue that’s missing for the whole piece to work well. By shifting strategy to focus on yield and performance-based outcomes, advertisers and sellers can get the most out of CTV and utilize it as a true performance marketing channel.

Reconsider What CTV Really Is
When brands think of connected TV, they think “Like Hulu, right?” In reality there are multiple platforms available and connecting across all of them is essential—CTV is everywhere. People watch CTV on any internet-connected device, be it on their smart TV, gaming console, tablet, phone—or all of the above. 

In fact, there is a mean of 3.9 CTV devices per TV household. This suggests an opportunity for advertisers to think about how to reach consumers everywhere they are and take an omnichannel approach to marketing on CTV.

A/B Test and Iterate (a lot)
In a traditional digital campaign, advertisers launch new creatives all the time, and ruthlessly A/B test messages. While this practice doesn’t happen much yet in CTV, it can and should. 

A/B testing provides advertisers with real data that's optimized, allowing for creatives to constantly be iterated upon and made more powerful so that they can transact better. Taking advantage of A/B testing is the new type of creative thinking and action required to turn CTV into a true performance channel.

Gain a 360-Degree View of the Customer
Advertisers know a lot about their target audience, as do CTV sellers. By bringing the two together, brands can implement digital targeting to get a fuller picture of their customer and who they’re reaching. 

With tools like affinity or lookalike audiences on top of existing targets, advertisers can achieve a bigger pool of inventory and viewers to target.

Think Like a Direct-to-Consumer Brand
Ecommerce destinations and direct-to-consumer companies like Nike do a great job using CTV to drive traffic to their apps and sites for sales. QR codes, overlays and squeezebacks are all formats that are well suited to performance marketing on CTV, and can drive a new level of action (and attribution) beyond general media buys and old-school brand awareness. Every brand should put direct-to-consumer thinking in their approach to CTV advertising.

CTV is digital and real-time. It’s designed for both brand awareness and performance marketing, where yield and outcomes can be optimized. Leaning into all of that is the only way to realize CTV’s full potential—for brands, advertisers, sellers, and content creators.

Kris Johns

Kris Johns is the Senior Vice President of Advertising at Wurl, the leader in powering streaming TV.