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Harnessing the Power of CTV in a Post Pandemic World

Streaming services and CTV have seen a significant boom as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, when people were told to stay at home in early 2020, CTV viewing increased by 4 billion hours per week. Since then, viewing figures have remained higher than before the start of the pandemic despite the gradual lifting of lockdowns.

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This has created a vast new opportunity for brands to reach an actively engaged audience, which clearly hasn’t escaped the attention of the advertising community. According to research by the IAB, CTV was the fastest-growing area of digital video advertising in 2020, with marketers boosting their investment by 22%. Furthermore, CTV ad impressions showed a massive increase in Q1 of 2021 vs Q4 of 2020, this was evidenced by streaming platforms Roku and Amazon Fire TV, which saw a 71% and 104% rise in impressions respectively.

Viewers have been shifting away from traditional linear TV for some time, but the pandemic has served to boost that shift significantly. People are switching to streaming services, especially those that are ad-supported because they’re more flexible and more affordable than traditional linear TV. The reality is that as the pace of this shift increases, we’re going to see budgets set aside for social, programmatic display, and even search move to CTV in the same way that in the 50s and 60s all other media moved to linear TV when it first took off.

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So, brands need to be keeping pace with this shift in consumer behavior to ensure they stay on trend and are following where their audiences are. However, making the most of this innovative opportunity is going to mean a change of creative and a clear CTV strategy.

Four Drivers for the Future Success of CTV

Ultimately, there are four points that are going to govern the effectiveness of CTV, and brands need to keep these in mind as they look to the future:

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  • Data: Where’s it going and what’s it going to look like?

  • Performance: Can we push past awareness?

  • Creative: Which creative should be used for which moment to maximize the opportunity?

  • Measurement: What are the measurement solutions going to look like?

Due to CTV’s huge potential there is an industry focus on managing data sets, measurement and performance. Traditionally, CTV was used as an awareness tool, but this is a disservice to the formats full potential when executed effectively. While there are several platforms facilitating the programmatic purchase of CTV, these solutions are often built specifically for programmatic display inventory, which means vital measurement and performance insights are missing.

Now, sophisticated technology is emerging, built from the ground up for CTV buying, allowing for increased analysis and measurement of effectiveness down to a CPA. Through use of this advanced tech, budgets can be pivoted in-flight rather than running a full CTV campaign and reflecting on its performance afterward.

Meanwhile, from a creative perspective, we already know CTV provides many benefits for advertisers, including delivering personalized and tailored ads based on viewer location, behavior and environment. In addition, there are a variety of ways to display ads via CTV including pre-roll and in-stream videos with pause screen ads being the latest development. Streaming platforms such as Hulu are now taking advantage of this with relevant ads displayed on the pause screen that the viewer can click on via their remote control. Additionally, brands can include interactive elements such as QR codes or dynamic overlays which turn CTV into an awareness, prospecting and converting channel.

Planning Ahead to Maximize the Impact of CTV Ads

The truth is that as linear TV consumption continues to decrease it will be important to track where potential viewers are moving to. Not all consumers will be on Netflix, they may be on Prime, Disney +, Hulu or a mix or services, so it’s important that brands can reach their target audience across all platforms.

Further to locating people, there will need to be an investment in innovative creative to replicate the engagement levels the industry has successfully generated across display and video. With entrant fees to CTV so much lower than linear TV it’s continuing to attract brands of all sizes, but to truly see the return on investment it will require further advancements in the analysis of measurement and performance. By investing in technology that is tailored and exclusive to CTV, brands can optimize their campaigns. If you haven’t already started to build this into your forward planning you need to start soon to ensure you don’t get left behind.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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