Connected TV has officially met the reach of broadcast television. Streaming and connected TV devices exploded in 2020 as more consumers stayed home and cut the cord. As of 2021, there were just shy of 214 million connected television users, and that number is projected to increase to 230 million by 2025. In order to get full reach, brands cannot rest on just linear television buys alone – they must also lean into connected television.
In tandem with the upcoming deprecation of the third-party cookie, there is a substantial opportunity for marketers to better reach consumers through this premium medium. However, it is critical to approach connected TV strategically, to connect with your broader business goals in order to achieve the best return on your investment.
Here are some connected TV strategic recommendations that Coegi leans on to create optimal user experiences for our brands:
Balance Audience and Contextual Targeting
The best thing about connected television compared to traditional television is that marketers are able to offer more customized targeting approaches beyond generic demographics and gross rating points. Instead, we are able to take it several steps further by having targeted reach and frequency in an environment where consumers tend to watch 90%+ of the video ad to completion. When analyzing how to reap the most success from targeting, it is important to balance both audience and contextual targeting. Audience targeting offers a lot of benefits in drilling down to behaviors, interests, purchase history, among other characteristics. However, because televisions and the relevant devices are most often shared across entire households, you cannot always be sure that the person who you are trying to reach is always the one in front of the screen. Furthermore, as third-party cookies become a thing of the past, pixel and cookie-based, probabilistic audiences will lose their potency and fade away from marketing tactics.
Knowing this contextual targeting on connected TV is going to become increasingly valuable. While programmatically bought connected TV ad placements aren’t able to target down to the program level, we are able to achieve scale by targeting specific networks, content genre categories and major live events (i.e. the Superbowl, the Oscars, etc.). Knowing your brand and how your preferred audiences index against specific television content is likely to become essential as you look toward the future of connected TV strategies. While these types of premium placements are often more expensive with CPMs often ranging between $40-50, it is critical to communicate the value of having brands’ content run alongside highly recognizable content, elevating the trustworthiness for newer brands and energizing excitement around existing brands.
Take Advantage of Automatic Content Recognition (ACR)
Linear television continues to be a successful medium for many brands due to the cost efficiencies associated with the buy. However, they are certainly not reaching 100% of their target audience through this channel. In order to have greater reach, utilize linear extension through connected TV to reach other consumers in your target market who have not been exposed to your ad through linear television. Another option is to reinforce reach and frequency by retargeting those who were previously exposed on linear television on a connected tv device.
Furthermore, ACR offers a great opportunity to have a new way to competitive conquest. You can serve connected TV ads to consumers who have watched your competitors’ commercials, giving an opportunity to gain greater awareness against a broader audience and potentially gain some untapped market share.
Understand Where the Greatest Areas of Opportunity Exist – Omni-Channel
As with any omni-channel marketing strategy, it is important to consider how your target market tends to engage with media and where they tend to spend the majority of their time. Currently, the greatest volume of users fall between ages 25-44. However, due to the brand safety associated with the channel, it is possible for marketers to safely reach younger audiences as well. Beyond this, there is a word of mouth element to connected TV. Inmar Intelligence reports that Unruly found that “compared to linear TV viewers, ad-supported CTV users are 71% more likely to tell a friend about a brand, 53% more likely to search for a brand and 52% more likely to buy a product…”
Furthermore, this can be done effectively by taking more of an omni-channel approach to the CTV world and following the consumer wherever they are watching television.
Some marketers have become concerned by the fragmentation of connected TV – there are now so many streaming services that it feels challenging to unify the experience. In the interim, consider having a presence beyond the Hulu’s of the world and also tap into the connected TV walled gardens of Amazon Prime and YouTube TV to extend reach, have more of a holistic approach to the opportunity across the consumer base, and unify measurement accordingly. While these are our recommendations today, we are also aware that digital media and trends are changing at a rapid pace. Chief Strategy Officer at LiveRamp, Jay Prasad, recently said in a recent webinar: “Yesterday’s strategies weren’t built for today’s media.”
Measure Performance – Weighing Environment and Reach
Ads on streaming platforms tend to have really strong video completion rates, typically exceeding 90% but often reaching closer 97-99%. This makes the placement very valuable for brands who understand the power of storytelling. But how do brands evaluate success? Unique reach is certainly one metric to consider – how do I get my message in front of a lot of people and achieve broader awareness goals? However, it is important to also consider what placements are going to elevate your brand’s position. Some networks and programming opportunities are more costly than others, but also have powerful engagement (supplementing your local TV buy on the night of the Oscars with a presence on streaming devices watching). Overall, connected TV adds value through brands’ ability to evaluate performance against qualified audiences, reducing waste and allowing opportunities for optimization. It’s not just about reach and frequency on connected tv – it’s about targeted reach and frequency, placing dollars where there is minimal waste and greatest opportunity.
Furthermore, for brands who really want to go the extra mile, advanced measurement tactics such as brand lift and foot traffic studies can be layered on to gain additional learnings beyond media metrics.