How to Evaluate CTV Ad Campaigns

The television advertising industry is in a bit of a conundrum. Legacy models for how media is bought and sold don’t apply for Connected TV (CTV). CTV platforms are quickly siloing into walled gardens, which limits the promise of increased transparency in the marketplace. This lack of transparency, combined with unequal and limited metrics, has turned ad buying (and selling) into a high-stakes poker game in which the buy-side never really sees which cards the sell-side is holding.

But, as viewers continue to shift to streaming content, advertisers are following suit and beginning to bet big on CTV. “We estimate CTV investments in the US grew by 40.6% year over year in 2020, to more than $9 billion,” eMarketer principal analyst Nicole Perrin reported in Business Insider. “Growth will accelerate this year as spending reaches $13.41 billion — a figure that will more than double by the end of our forecast period in 2025.”

So CTV is lucrative for those receiving the $13.41 billion that’s changing hands in 2021. But what about the ones who are actually spending it? What are they doing to ensure that they’re getting a good value?  Here’s what we are hearing from brand advertisers about the value and challenges of CTV.

“We are leveraging CTV to reach those cord-cutters. But if I don’t know the goals of the TV plan I won’t understand the benefits of it.”

This digital strategist could very well have said “Garbage in, garbage out.” While CTV can be highly effective in reaching your target audience, you have to actually determine who that target audience is  — beyond just “cord-cutters who are using connected TV.” As always, a cohesive, multichannel approach in which campaigns across different media complement each other rather than compete for the budget is the way to go. 

“CTV can help us hyperfocus and layer into audiences.”

This senior media manager for a major national brand speaks for a growing number of execs who are waking up to the limitations of traditional TV advertising. Audience demographics have long factored into TV ad rates, of course. But CTV, with its advanced analytic capabilities, enables targeting that is far more precise than the traditional network model. Because of that, the senior media manager noted, “We selectively pick partners whom we think can target our audience.”

CTV also enables brands to fine-tune their messaging to increase their relevancy. “The breadth of data that CTV mediums deliver allows advertisers/media buyers to optimize their CTV media buys,” noted The Drum’s Nathalie Bannon. “This optimization goes as far as enabling buyers to expose their audiences to ads at times where viewers are most likely to absorb and engage with ads.” 

That said, many of the traditional targeting strategies available for Linear TV are not yet available within CTV including program-specific and Daypart targeting. Diversified content combined with limited scale may make program targeting challenging for CTV platforms, but Daypart targeting should be achievable.  TVision’s data shows that Dayparts like Early Fringe & Daytime actually outperform Primetime for reaching attentive viewers.  Armed with data on Daypart performance, CTV advertisers can continue to push platforms for improved targeting capabilities.

“More personalized audiences will have a lower incremental cost per visit although they charge you a premium.”

Citing data from The State of Connected TV Report 2020, Marketing Dive’s Robert Williams summarized, “CTV can extend the time spent with viewers for brands, helping to raise awareness and the likelihood of generating a conversion.” Indeed, traditional wisdom holds that CTV viewers tend to be more engaged with content than traditional TV viewers, and thus also tend to be more engaged with the associated advertising.  But TVision data actually shows that not all CTV opportunities are equal, and viewer engagement can vary significantly. Marketers looking to CTV as a strategy for delivering a measurable ROI can improve their results by optimizing plans to CTV media platforms that deliver attentive audiences.  

“Why am I seeing the same ad everywhere?”

 If spending more time with viewers is a positive of CTV, one of the challenges is that there is little transparency across applications, and that makes it difficult for marketers to plan and optimize their exposures to individuals across apps. That means many people are being over-targeted with the same ads - resulting in increased wear out.  One major CPG marketer said “It is incredulous that brands spend so much money to show the same ad for a month straight. How many touchpoints can a consumer have if they are in every bucket {before wear out strikes}?”

“For young brands, moving in too quickly can be hard.”

One marketing exec told us that CTV is a big first step for startups that are still trying to create brand awareness. CTV is a substantial investment that tends to divert limited resources from digital media, which can offer a better immediate return. “But now that we have brand awareness,” the exec told us, “it made sense to move into the space of CTV.” For marketers accustomed to the transparency of digital media, TVision’s attention insights can help raise their confidence that they are indeed directing their ad dollars to be best performing opportunities.

Connecting the Dots

The primary takeaway? CTV is indeed an important part of the advertising mix for marketers. AVODs will continue to take budget share from linear counterparts.  But, walled gardens and inhibitors to holistic measurement mean that there is still a ways to go before the industry is able to tap the full potential for CTV advertising. TVision’s new CTV planning dashboards aim to provide much-needed transparency and unified metrics which we hope will give marketers greater confidence in their CTV investments. 

TV and CTV Attention Report
The TV and CTV Attention Report