CTV Advertising Best Practices: Q&A with The Trade Desk 

/ Thoughtspace - General, Programmatic, Strategy, Targeting

Your CTV advertising questions answered.

If you’re interested in streaming television advertising but have never run a campaign, you likely have many questions. How do I create an effective campaign? Is it worth the time and money? How will I know if it’s working? 

In this Q&A article, we sat down with two CTV experts – Jake Richardson, Director of TV Partnerships at The Trade Desk, and Hannah Huedepohl, Programmatic Operations Manager at Coegi. They answered common questions about connected TV so you can feel confident using this high-impact channel to reach your brand goals. 

What is something most marketers don’t know about connected TV advertising?

Jake: One of the biggest unlocks we hear from clients is that certain TV shows or events are not available for programmatic purchasing. While that was once true, we’ve made great strides with our TV partners. They have realized the value of having programmatic inventory. Now, anything available on linear can be reached via streaming or connected TV. That even includes things like live sports.

Hannah: Connected TV is not bought, sold, or delivered the same way as traditional TV advertising. With CTV, ad slots are not determined by certain air times or channels. Rather, CTV ads are shown one at a time to a specific target audience/viewer.

What’s the biggest misconception among advertisers about CTV?

Jake: Pricing – many believe connected TV is less ‘efficient’ than linear TV on a household reach basis. However, the true power of CTV advertising is that marketers can tap into consumers on a more precise data-driven basis, with individual households. This makes that inventory substantially more appealing than traditional TV where targeting can be limited to a DMA or age and gender at best. What’s a better use of budget: spending it on households that are not interested in your product or spending it on audiences that have shown interest or even purchased previously?

Hannah: The idea that premium TV content is only available on one platform. For example, a brand wanting to reach Bravo viewers can access them on Hulu, but also on other streaming platforms such as SlingTV, DirectTV Stream, and FuboTV.

How can brands ensure they are running ads on high-quality CTV inventory?

Hannah: Look at what you are buying before launching your campaign. DSPs, like The Trade Desk, package their premium CTV inventory into private marketplaces (PMPs) of different categories (News, Live Sports, Entertainment, etc). Without executing through PMPs, the buy is open to all inventory coming through as “CTV” in the bid stream. This can result in buying less desirable ad slots.

For more tips on selecting CTV inventory to maximize your budget, view the video below:

What targeting approaches should marketers consider to reach their audiences on CTV?

Jake: One of the most important pieces of advice we give to our clients and brands is to start with an audience-first approach. With linear TV, we use contextual parameters to help narrow our audience. However, with CTV we have incredible user data that allows more granular targeting. Relying on contextual parameters in an audience-first world hinders your ability to unlock CTV’s full potential.

Hannah: Consider what is more important to you: the platforms your brand appears on or the audience you want to reach. If you want to target a niche audience AND only be on 2-3 streaming platforms, you will likely lack scale. Instead, be open to casting a wider net in terms of inventory if targeting a small audience. On the other hand, be open to targeting a broader audience if you only want to appear on a few streaming platforms

How can brands control CTV ad frequency?

Jake: Ad oversaturation isn’t just wasting money. It diminishes the consumer experience with your brand. The benefit of buying CTV via platforms like The Trade Desk is that it allows for holistic frequency capping. This means you can control and leverage frequency across not just CTV buys, but across the entire media mix. 

How can marketers measure the impact of CTV advertising on business results?

Jake: Traditionally, we don’t think of CTV as a direct response channel. By combining CTV buys with your omnichannel digital approach, marketers can track traditional digital KPIs – even on CTV inventory. Leveraging the power of multiple digital channels working together gives advertisers the most out of their CTV buys. 

Brands and advertisers can also evaluate campaign efficacy in real-time and shift accordingly when marketing goals change. Also, you can add in data from retail media partners like Albertson’s, Target, or Walgreens for greater performance insights and, in some cases, to measure tangible sales results.

Hannah: CTV advertising success is not just measurable by front-end metrics like video completion rates or cost per completed view. I often recommend running a brand lift study. This provides insight into how your video ads impacted an audience’s awareness or consideration of your brand. CTV also allows for offline conversion tracking. This records how many times a viewer was exposed to your ads before taking a key action. 

What strategies can brands use to connect measurement results from omnichannel campaigns?

Jake: Omnichannel measurement is one of the key differentiators of platform-based buying, as compared to buying television in siloes. We counsel clients to bring as much of their existing digital buys into the platform. Then, they can measure campaigns across all of the publishers and channels. By leveraging linear TV audience data via our Audience Accelerator product, advertisers are also able to understand their linear TV footprint and adjust their digital channel strategies to ensure these buys complement one another.

Hannah: It’s important to take advantage of real-time measurement and optimization. CTV advertising offers more flexibility than linear TV. For example, CTV can measure which creative message worked best, as well as what audience responded the most with the final action, such as a product purchase. Those converted users can then be suppressed from targeting on other channels running in tandem. This ultimately leads to less media waste.

How is CTV advertising evolving to drive lower-funnel conversions?

Jake: Much of this shift is being driven by the addressability of CTV measurement; but also by emerging channels. More and more, we are seeing interactive creative that evokes a response. This comes through both third-party vendors and publishers themselves. We’ve found that new creative formats are increasingly able to drive toward brands’ KPIs thanks to technological innovation in the space.

Hannah: Pixels, site visits, and site activity can be tracked on any programmatic campaign, including CTV. As a result, you can measure CTV by the number of lower-funnel activities such as: 

  • Number of site visits driven
  • Cost per site visit 
  • Conversion rate of on-site actions. 

This allows us to refine TV campaign objectives beyond broad awareness and reach. 

What should marketers consider when balancing cost and effectiveness on CTV?

Jake: Since marketers can now activate in real-time on an individual household level, they can better determine which impressions are worth their dollars. Instead of spending money on ‘cheap reach’, media buyers can make every impression count. While CPMs may be more costly on a per-unit basis, omitting out-of-demo impressions results in biddable CTV with much greater inherent value.

Hannah: Consider what placements are going to elevate your brand’s position. Some are more costly but have powerful engagement. For example, supplementing your buy on a large live sporting event to reach many users on multiple streaming platforms can have a major impact worth the premium

What should marketers consider when putting together their CTV creative strategy?

Jake: Marketers should treat CTV creative much like they do traditional television creative. This is a chance to tell a story. It’s also an opportunity to engage closely with your customer on the largest screen in the room. 

Also, keep in mind that you can target a very specific set of viewers. For example, a food delivery service using the offerings at The Trade Desk could activate real-time weather data to target streamers with warm dinner options in Kansas City when it’s raining. I cannot understate the effectiveness of this kind of real-time pivot.

Hannah: As you tell your story, keep a cohesive narrative, whether you have 15 seconds or a full minute. Also, ensure your video is of the highest quality possible as premium publishers have thresholds on things like bitrate. Finally, run A/B tests to determine which creatives resonate best with your audience. 

How can brands be more innovative with CTV advertising?

Jake: One of the best things about CTV is the speed and agility and the ability to test and learn more quickly. You can improve campaign relevance and effectiveness in ways that can be challenging to achieve on linear. 

Hannah: Consider incorporating emerging ad formats and tactics to increase overall ad relevance and engagement. For example: 

  • Interactive ad elements such as map functionality or QR codes 
  • Dynamic creative optimization to deliver personalized ads to target audience groups
  • Real-time geographic data to deliver CTV ads to your target audience based on their location/environment 

Finally, what are your best tips for running a successful CTV campaign?

Jake: Iterate, iterate: iterate! The power of CTV is real-time feedback. Taking the data and measurement that comes part and parcel with a CTV buy will allow you to quickly adjust buying behavior. The end result is higher return on ad spend and less waste.

Hannah: To maximize CTV campaign success, focus on three key areas: audience, context, and measurement. 

  • Audience: Avoid wasting media dollars by taking advantage of addressable CTV targeting. Activate first-party audiences by purchasing data from partners like Catalina, retail media providers, or exposure data from Samba TV.  
  • Context: Make sure your ads are running around high-quality programming that is relevant to your audience. 
  • Measurement: Establish CTV campaign KPIs that are clear, meaningful, and trackable. This will enable you to attribute success and see its value in your overall strategy. 

Download our CTV Ecosystem Infographic here to understand the key terms and players in the streaming landscape. 

For more strategic tips and information, access our Connected TV Advertising Guide.

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