Get Connected to Connected TV

By Carrie Viviano

As media buying and planning has transitioned in recent years, the path to placing those buys has shifted as well. Today, there’s nothing more enticing than to be given a nice, cushioned budget to plan and buy against in order to meet client goals and KPIs—but with advertising spend decreasing for many brands beyond the consistent players in the space (alcohol, clothing, pharmaceuticals, and a handful of CPG), it’s time to contemplate new ways for the smaller players to stretch their budgets. One of the ways companies are doing this, is through Connected TV.

Wait, what is Connected TV?
Connected TV is content delivered from a video provider to a connected device via internet that’s outside of the closed networks of traditional cable and television providers, such as Dish and Comcast. Chances are if you’ve purchased a TV in the past 3 years, you’re already utilizing Connected TV—Your TV has apps like Hulu or Pandora already installed and you’ve probably already agreed to the terms & conditions, allowing access to your household data. This shift in TV consumption allows the consumer the power to engage with their content on their own terms through any size screen, not limited to a television set. This transition has occurred due to a myriad of scenarios, to name a few, the preference of consuming TV content on demand, time shifted TV, and the affordability of smart TVs. According to eMarketer, within the next 4 years Connected TV viewing is on pace to increase by 15% and cord cutters will continue to increase by 36% as well.

Connected TV ads are shown to viewers when they load an application on their Connected TV or CTV device. For example, if a user wanted to open the Spotify or Pandora application to listen to their favorite music channel, they would select the application and a 0:15 second video ad would play before reaching the channel home screen. The experience can be compared to a pre-roll ad. The video asset typically is 0:15, yet can be 0:30 seconds and disrupts the user before the selected content they have chosen to view appears on screen.

It’s worth noting that Connected TV is not addressable TV, which directly allows advertisers to purchase audiences (as opposed to traditional buying methods) based primarily on programming and dayparts. The key differentiator here is that addressable TV allows variations of creative content to dynamically be served to a specific audience watching the same program, at the same time. For example, Nathan is an avid skier and traveler, and Trista is an new mom—and they are both watching, This is Us. Nathan would be served ad content to visit a ski town highlighting all the tourism opportunities, whereas Trista would be served content for a diaper company. This can be achieved within live broadcast, time-shifted, or video on demand (VOD) mode.

Who’s using it and should be using it?
At the moment, B2C brands, especially CPG products should be leveraging the information to be gained from data insights with all digital placements—from native, standard, dynamic, branded content, to digital video based on engagement rates to help drive consideration and increase brand favorability. Whereas, B2B companies should not dive head first into the virtual Connected TV pool, but rather rely on more account-based marketing methods to drive awareness and consideration to the target audience for a particular brand for now.

Considerations and pitfalls of Connected TV vs. linear
At this moment, the scale and inventory of Connected TV are not comparable to traditional, linear TV. Connected TV audiences are unpredictable based the fact that the ecosystem is still rather fragmented. The audience targeting based on viewing preferences, through a day in the life of the consumer, are able to be reached programmatically, but must do so either publisher direct or through other partners who have direct relationships with Connected TV device manufacturers, like Tremor.

The Connected TV model depends on individuals online to receive the advertisements. The potential for growth is there, and it is only a matter of time, based on the sheer number of screens consumers interact with on a daily basis. People appreciate the opportunity to pick up watching a show where they left off on another device, while traveling, commuting, or simply while sitting outside enjoying their favorite beverage.

One of the current obstacles with Connected TV is a large portion of inventory’s inability to identify the device or lack of deviceID (unlike Roku and Apple TV) in order to ensure cross device execution when reaching the correct person. This is the strongest differentiator of linear TV, with set pods of ad space for the general public, as Connected TV has time shifted ad space available. Linear TV offers more audience guarantees when buys are negotiated and placed, whereas Connected TV buys sometimes struggle to meet those guarantees due to the more scaled environment and reduced amount of inventory available for the target audience.

Within the market, most vendors are charging a higher CPM for this inventory. Depending on the campaign KPIs, there is not a wide range for negotiations in many of cases.

Where is Connected TV headed in 2018?
As consumers tend to shift away from traditional methods of consuming TV, marketing approaches should do the same. The way the average person consumes television today is extremely different than anyone over the age of 25 grew up watching, given the ever-present desire for instant gratification and on-demand viewing. For the future, marketers and brands need to be smart with their strategies and budgets by thoroughly testing and researching. For example, focus groups and market research are key to determining which creative is best with the target audience before launching a full campaign. Additionally, in order to truly understand overall post–campaign performance, marketers should have one of the following in place:

1) a brand lift study through cross-device targeting, which can aid in monitoring purchase intent and brand favorability,

2) include a purchase intent survey, which can often allow for more robust insights, especially for CPG brands.

Television media planning and buying is only getting trickier. The way consumers are engaging is changing, the way we’re buying is changing, and ultimately, we have seconds to capture consumers’ hearts and minds. If you’re not already effectively using some of these methods in your TV buying strategy, the time is now.

Carrie Viviano, Media Buyer
Carrie is a specialist in planning and buying media across digital and traditional channels, evaluating competitive media spending trends to ensure that each client’s media strategy achieves peak utility and efficiency. She has worked with brands across B2B and B2C, including VSA clients Dairy Farmers of America brands (Borden Cheese, La Vaquita Cheese, Cache Valley Creamery), Allstate Arity, Hayneedle, CME Group. Prior to VSA, Carrie’s worked has spanned across clients such as COUNTRY Financial, Stratasys, Potbelly and Epicor. Get in touch at cviviano@vsapartners.com.