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Marrying Simplicity and Complexity in CTV is Key to Success

With consumers spending more time streaming digital TV content via connected TV (CTV) devices and platforms, now is the time for brands, content producers, and technology companies to knuckle down and get CTV advertising right.


Bringing audience addressability to TV advertising

From a data perspective, the surge in viewership has produced fascinating insights that have the potential to bring real audience addressability to CTV providing a key differentiator and advantage over linear TV. Content producers have adapted quickly to solve for brands’ investment dilemmas by creating flexible, customisable advertising solutions enabling brands to reach new CTV audiences, maximise yield, and deliver on campaign KPIs.

Now that CTV advertising is growing at an exponential rate, we need to make sure that we continue to build on the great foundations that have been laid.

Creating experts

For media buyers and agencies, there are a number of challenges that must be addressed. Firstly, who is going to be responsible for buying? TV buyers are skilled in understanding linear TV audiences, usually working with Nielsen ratings and BARB data whilst measuring performance against brand metrics. Digital video ad buyers are skilled in identifying precise audiences, across multiple channels, working with data from multiple sources and measuring (predominantly) direct response metrics. The problem with CTV is that it sits between these two teams, in response some media agencies have evolved and created specialist ‘screens’ teams that adopt a holistic approach to buying. While doing so, agencies need to exercise caution and avoid creating over-sized teams in an effort to appear ‘big’ in CTV.

Ad-funded CTV content providers, ad tech companies, and the wider industry need to continue to collaborate to educate the buy-side to expert level, and define the best path forwards for the OTT industry to grow and ultimately thrive. Brands need to ensure their creative agencies invest in fresh, engaging messaging that is sympathetic to the OTT channel rather than re-purpose linear TV creative in order to maximise performance. Crucially, we need to collectively share learnings.

The view from the sofa

In the eyes of the consumer, TV advertising is TV advertising regardless of the way in which the content is accessed and what happens in the background. Currently, many technologies don’t have the capability to apply a programmatic strategy across several impressions, much less a multi-hour viewing session.

For the consumer, this means the potential for over-exposure to a single ad, and/or lack of variety. A simple solution is an algorithm that takes into account competitive separation and frequency capping that then selects a diverse set of creatives from a variety of brands and categories for each ad pod. Keeping these solutions as simple as possible is key - if we over complicate the technology, we run the risk of stalling the growth of CTV which could have long-lasting implications.

Getting measurement right

The current challenge is that addressability breaks the Nielsen rating and BARB data. While that’s not a problem for digital buyers, it is for linear buyers who need to understand what to do without Nielsen as well as how to convert GRPs.

In the rush to find a common currency for CTV the temptation to adopt the lowest common denominator needs to be avoided. The last thing we need is a crude proxy for performance otherwise we will fail to understand the true benefit of linear and advanced TV holistically, both for brand performance, direct response and everything else in-between.

2021 and beyond

In the coming years we may continue to face uncertainty and CTV will continue to evolve and grow. More than ever, businesses need to adopt a flexible approach to everything from how content is produced, how opportunities are identified and presented to advertisers and how we deliver to end consumers. Businesses that are able to bring insights and flexibility are the ones that may see long term success as they will be able to align the migration and evolution of consumer viewing habits with the needs of the brand marketer to deliver their KPIs whilst actioning on those valuable data insights that programmatic provides as a channel.


Words by Paul Woodrow, Associate Director, Advertiser Solutions - EMEA at PubMatic