CTV Is Growing up Fast – Here’s What That Means for You

CTV Is Growing up Fast – Here’s What That Means for You

By Ramsey McGrory, Chief Development Officer, Mediaocean

I like to say that if linear TV and programmatic digital had a baby, it would be connected TV (CTV). As the inheritor of the best of its parents’ qualities, CTV offers precision targeting and response tracking of programmatic, along with the resonant creativity, growing scale, brand power, and market dynamics of linear.

As CTV grows up, operators and marketers might have a dark worry about it turning towards the less favourable aspects of its forebears. Programmatic open web struggles with fraud and brand safety issues that may plague CTV as well. Operators also worry about a ‘race to the bottom’ around rates and placement. Just as important, privacy concerns may put a question mark over our keenness to track and target audiences.

CTV is certainly growing up fast, but let’s not mistake it for a fully grown adult. A couple of stats might illustrate where we are, here. On the one hand, a report last year suggested that viewers in the UK were spending 40% more time watching content online than they did the year before, and advertisers are following those eyeballs at pace. On the other, huge room for expansion can be seen in events like the Superbowl, where just 7 million of its 113 million viewers came to it through digital – and in the US, sports rights are evolving quickly, with both Amazon and Google making plays to American football.

CTV is, in short, rapidly reaching its awkward teenage years, and so we in the industry are at a sensitive moment to influence how it ultimately turns out.

What does CTV want to be?

To take the baby metaphor just one step further, though, the ideal outcome will involve seeing CTV not as some blend of what came before, but as its own, unique individual that brings something new and important to the world – and I think that we can now see the shape of what that might be.

Linear TV advertising has long held a heroic status amongst marketers. As diverse as the channels available to us might be, it’s TV more than any other that delivers scale efficiently and gets us talking about campaigns as being true landmarks, and it’s TV more than any other that whips up the kind of cultural conversations which can multiply the attention-grabbing impact of media buys.

As powerful as linear TV is as a marketing channel, though, it’s also relatively exclusive, demanding deep pockets for favourable placement. Platforms, meanwhile, leverage their highly granular intent data to open up the bidding pool to millions of advertisers. CTV is a special combination of qualities which isn’t simply an echo of what came before: by bringing TV into budgetary scope for many more businesses, it promises more varied, more creative, more resonant, genuinely value-adding marketing for customers and brands alike. Add to that scale, the capacity for interactive and shoppable formats, and grown-up CTV looks like a very compelling proposition.

Converging on connected

For marketers, the other key fact to bear in mind about CTV is that it will not be a simple handover from linear TV, but a further layer of complexity that everyone in the marketing workflow will have to acknowledge and work with. For the next five years and likely beyond, marketers and agencies will be required to manage the complexity of converged traditional and CTV campaigns. Strategists, creatives, buyers and measurement providers will all struggle to conjoin two valuable media types that have different processes, languages, data sets and even organizations. Finding the best strategy in this new ‘and’ space will rely on having the tools to properly explore it.

Whilst I think we all believe the end state is automated audience-based planning and buying, it’s worth thinking now about how to operate in a converged environment of linear TV, CTV, programmatic digital, and everything else. With the technology to plan and execute in terms of a holistic omnichannel view of the market, marketers can really start to guide and clarify the new possibilities which are opening up.