CTV Is Exploding, But Is It Working?

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Written By: Chris Kelly, CEO, Survata

By now, we know quite well that connected TV advertising is exploding. As many as 80% of TV homes in the United States have at least one CTV device, while 64% have three or more devices. CTV viewership has ballooned under COVID-19, from 2.7 billion hours per week pre-pandemic to 3.9 billion hours during the height of lockdowns. Chasing those increased eyeballs, more than half of buyers moved marketing dollars towards CTV. Growth in spending is expected to increase anywhere from 150% to 500% over the next year. Whew.

Every week more fuel is added to the fire. The Facebook boycott is purported to push more media budgets toward CTV. Some marketers speculate the pending death of the IDFA will make mobile advertising less attractive and push even more dollars to CTV players.

Ok, so it’s growing. But are brand advertisers able to accurately measure the brand-building results of CTV? The growth may not continue if they can’t. We’ve yet to see comprehensive measurement that answers the questions raised by CTV advertisers: Who are they reaching? Is this reach incremental to digital and linear? Are they driving consumers further down the funnel?

What does it even mean for CTV advertising to “work”?

The grand promise of CTV advertising is that it’s more immersive than digital advertising and more targetable than linear TV advertising. But this ‘best of both worlds’ means you are melding the decidedly different goals of digital and TV campaigns. A digital campaign intends to reach well-targeted consumers and compel them to ‘perform’, and linear TV advertising is traditionally directed towards changing attitudes toward a particular brand over time. No brand marketer expects a digital campaign alone to drastically improve Brand KPIs, nor expects a consumer to sprint to the store after seeing a TV ad.

CTV success involves elements of both of these criteria. Effective CTV advertising should drive consumers down the brand funnel via bespoke, granularly-targeted audiences. Therefore, a CTV measurement must focus evenly on both success factors – a campaign ‘working’ means the marketer can verify both successful targeting and brand outcomes amongst custom audiences. Those fundamentals should hold for all CTV campaigns; then other goals, like driving location outcomes or sales outcomes (for lower-funnel spend), can be added to specific campaigns.

So…is CTV working?

In terms of driving brand outcomes: a resounding yes! The early data seems to affirm its effectiveness. Survata looked at the last quarter of brand campaigns on digital and CTV that were measured for national advertisers. The analysis shows the first CTV impression to a consumer delivers the brand impact of two digital impressions, the second CTV impression delivers the brand impact of seven digital impressions, the third CTV impression delivers the brand impact of eight digital impressions, and the fourth CTV impression delivers the brand impact of ten digital impressions.

Undoubtedly this ‘answer’ will change over time as more data becomes available, and more sophisticated analyses will factor in cost data. But, the early results are encouraging.

Of course, as we noted with our dual-goal definition above, driving brand outcomes with the more immersive format is only half the battle. We don’t yet have clear data to fully verify audience targeting as a whole in CTV vs. linear, but that should change later this year.

How can CTV champions sustain this advantage?

We suggest three steps for CTV advertisers who want to justify to their CMO & CFO to keep the dollars flowing in that direction.

First, align all campaign measurements with the dual-goal definition we proposed: measure successful targeting of the granular personas & behaviors you want to hit, and measure brand outcomes with thoughtfully-selected brand KPIs. The former ensures the ‘more targetable’ promise, the latter the ‘more immersive’ promise.

Second, don’t let CTV become the ‘grade your own homework’ classroom that digital became because of the duopoly’s hegemony. Demand third-party measurement for external, objective analytics. Advertisers hold leverage over platforms that they may not hold in a few years, so set the rules now!

Third, demand respect for consumer privacy from your measurement partners. Understand how they’re treating PII, ensure they’re playing by new rules (like iOS’s treatment of IDFAs and hashed emails), and know how the sausage is made. Privacy-centric measurement is everyone’s responsibility, so advertisers can no longer treat measurement as a black box that outputs friendly results. This isn’t only the right ethical choice, it’s the right business choice – privacy violations could doom CTV right as it’s exploding.

It’s already a cliche to say we’re in the proverbial early innings of CTV. So the whole industry expects a myriad of advancements in CTV advertising capabilities over the next few years. The smartest advertisers are already demanding corresponding advancements in measurement. Let’s make sure to deliver on that.


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