This year for the first time ever, the viewership share of linear television (i.e. traditional broadcast and cable) has fallen below 50%, according to Neilsen. But it’s not that people aren’t watching TV; it’s just that they are no longer watching it the way they used to: streaming is rapidly taking over and now represents nearly 39% of total TV usage.
CTV’s flexibility, accessibility and pricing make it a better deal for consumers, and its advanced advertising capabilities make it better for brands. (Whether CTV, and streaming in general, is better for content creators and distributors is another question entirely, and one that was at the center of this year’s high-profile Hollywood strikes, but that’s a topic for another time.)
“TV is [now] a performance machine, like search and social, with affinity-based targeting, audience segmentation, incrementality reporting and accurate real-time attribution,” said Jennifer Brickler, Customer Success Manager at CTV performance marketing platform MNTN in a recent webinar. “Reliably connecting the dots between views and action is now a reality for CTV.”
As we all set our sights on 2024, let’s take a look at three of the biggest advantages CTV offers marketers and how some brands are already tapping into that potential.
Get a deeper understanding of the current CTV landscape and how it can fit into your 2024 strategies with our free report, Demystifying Connected TV: How to Leverage Advertising’s Hottest New Channel.
1. Audience Targeting
“Connected TV has become the next scalable performance marketing channel, right alongside paid search and paid social,” said Brickler. “Brands can now tie revenue, conversions, website traffic and much more to their campaigns, all with the prestige of running commercials on the largest screen in the household.”
The CTV content environment also has improved: “Some of the best shows out there you can only get in streaming, so you’re not sacrificing quality by moving into this space,” said Taylor Ash, General Manager of CTV Inventory Development at demand-side platform The Trade Desk in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “In many ways you’re gaining a lot because you’re still getting the quality, but now you’re getting all of this additional opportunity to make more intelligent, optimized buying decisions on top of it.”
CTV also offers advantages over other performance marketing channels: “Audience-based targeting for connected television takes guesswork out of the mix — we can use third-party intent data, such as in-market segments [indicating users that are more likely ready to purchase], to determine who is in the buying phase for products,” added Brickler. “And we don’t have to guess the search terms that users are going to be using.”
“There’s no denying that one of the most effective parts of a linear TV investment is building fast scale,” said Sarah Monahan, Head of Retail and Ad Sales at Roku, one of the mostly widely used streaming interfaces in the U.S., in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “But we are now at a point where streaming can 100% do that too. The foundation is there, i.e. the audience and the scalable investments; everything else is just truly bringing to fruition the idea of marrying TV with the best of digital.”
While the effectiveness of linear TV advertising was incredibly difficult to measure — making traditional TV more of a top-of-funnel awareness play — with CTV, brands can track the effectiveness of their campaigns just as they can on other digital channels like search and social. “The summary of measurement solutions we offer looks a lot like a social platform or digital mobile offering,” said Monahan. “We’ve got a ton of first-party as well as third-party partnerships that enable us to measure the entire funnel, from brand awareness to incremental store visitation or incremental lift to your linear campaign — there’s such a rich breadth of capabilities when it comes to measuring CTV investment.”
“For direct-to-consumer brands it’s nirvana,” said Eric John, VP of the Media Center at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “These are companies that cut their teeth buying media on social media platforms and search. They want to be able to select an audience, upload creative and go. That is beginning to be possible on CTV. It’s like the ‘easy button’ for these brands that are already doing this everywhere else in digital, and it’s turning on the light bulb for a channel that they’ve always wanted to be in.”
3. Activations that aren’t Possible in Linear
When done right, video can be a very compelling medium, and with CTV, brands that typically didn’t have access to TV audiences can reach them with their video content: “In the paid search space, [advertising consists of] text ads that pop up when a user types in a specific search term, but with connected television you really bring the brand to life,” said Brickler. “You use that video creation to pull the audience in, and with performance TV those commercials are non-skippable.”
Additionally, because of the agility of these digital platforms, “you can shift your creative, and you can do it in a shorter turnaround time,” said Ash. “Typically in linear, you have to ship out your creative with more advance notice, and the way that it gets executed is quite different than in a digital environment. Also, you can deliver creative to one audience that’s completely different than [what you deliver] to another audience.”
Not to mention that CTV platforms often offer new ad placements not available on traditional TV networks: “On linear you’re primarily thinking about your 30-second spot and your 60-second spot,” said Roku’s Monahan. “That’s definitely a huge part of what Roku does, but now we’re also opening up our user interface so that a brand like McDonald’s can appear in Roku City [the platform’s screensaver/emerging virtual world]. Or there’s the banner on the home screen. There’s a lot of creative ways that you can think about your brand in connected TV that you can’t in linear.”
Want to learn more? Download our free report, Demystifying Connected TV: How to Leverage Advertising’s Hottest New Channel.