Why CTV offers advertisers more than just an awareness play

Incubeta US
(Image credit: Incubeta US)

Until recently, Connected TV (CTV) was viewed as a bit of a gimmick by many advertisers and their media planners. However, as in so many other parts of our lives, the pandemic has changed everything.

Before the pandemic, CTV inventory wasn’t regarded as scaleable or premium by advertisers. In the U.S., for example, the very top inventory in advertising has long been the annual Super Bowl spots, which are normally booked well in advance by major corporations as part of a big-budget deal for ad inventory spread throughout the year. 

The next tier of premium inventory, such as the slots accompanying the popular Thursday night shows on the major U.S. networks, also attracts direct buys by major and challenger brands trying to cut through to their target audience. You would have to move a long way down the buying chain before you got to the inventory available on CTV, that’s no longer true.

One of the main reasons that advertisers continued to invest in the big cable networks was their dominance in broadcasting live sports. However, as live sports were canceled during the lockdowns, consumers turned to streaming channels, such as Hulu and GoogleTV, to get their live TV fix at cheaper costs, with the medium seeing an 81% YoY increase in 2020. And this shift in media consumption has changed TV viewing habits for the long haul

The perception of CTV is fractured within the industry, which causes a diverse approach to buying and selling. What advertisers have favored in the past will dictate how they feel about the marketing channel moving forwards. 

For example, there are advertisers who have always focused on linear TV for effective advertising, who will have a very different approach to those who are experienced in buying programmatic display ads. Since CTV has become a huge channel within programmatic display, it’s likely this group will be better prepared for CTV’s rise than those that have solely focused on linear. Then there are those who just see large-screen advertising as nothing more than an awareness play—missing the full value and potential that lies within CTV.

The advertisers who are now waking up to the measurability of CTV are realizing it can be measured and tracked in a way that linear TV cannot. Advances in attribution technology mean that CTV can be used as a short-term performance tool (and its impact on other channels such as social can be accurately measured) while still delivering the same long-term brand awareness benefits of old-school TV advertising. 

However, regardless of the different perspectives or understanding of the CTV supply chain, it’s important to recognize that CTV buying is a specialty and isn’t something that can be traded in the same way as display. To gain the most from CTV and maximize results, advertisers need to use technology that is bespoke to CTV delivery. The results will be premium with robust analytics and measurement, as well as compelling creative aspects that can help engage your target audience. 

Switching to CTV
When the pandemic happened, the volume of people staying home and streaming almost doubled. CTV inventory was suddenly of interest to more brands - bigger brands - than before, and not just because it was cheaper than its linear equivalent. 

Brands that have already been spending budget on linear TV ads saw their audience shrinking and fragmenting across CTV providers such as Netflix, Hulu, and Prime.  The trend towards CTV is not simply a shift of budget, it's a re-evaluation of how the consumer is behaving today in 2021.

CTV is also attracting advertisers who have never bought CTV inventory before, who have perhaps preferred to use catalog or email-based marketing in the past. The big story for those guys is that you no longer have to put aside millions to make a splash with a TV campaign. You can now do it for a fraction of linear TV budgets, with much more flexibility over how and when the campaign is rolled out. “Davids” now have an opportunity to compete with the “Goliaths” of their market space.

What’s more, from a creative and commercial point of view, CTV can be data-driven and addressable with interactive, shoppable content. Soon, consumers will be able to watch an ad, click the on-screen button or banner (or simply talk to your TV) to trigger a purchase instantly. Alternatively, further information can be requested from the brand to be sent to your smartphone or other digital devices. Do you want to know the price of the denim jacket you just saw in an ad? You got it.  

The CTV space is evolving fast. Whatever your brand’s previous relationship with advertising in the past, it makes sense to find out where CTV fits into the future of your media planning.

Ed Camargo is managing director for Incubeta US.

Ed Camargo

Ed Camargo is managing director for Incubeta US.