3 Changes in CTV That Will Endure in 2021

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2020 has undoubtedly accelerated short- and long-term shifts in practically every industry. CTV advertising is no exception. From Warner Bros sending their entire 2021 film slate to HBO Max simultaneously as they hit theaters, to Disney forecasting 230 million to 260 million Disney+ subscribers by 2024, the pandemic has proven that streaming is the future of television marketing. 

While this year has seen so much change in the industry, I expect even more next year, especially given that there is so much uncertainty related to Covid-19. With that in mind, here are three CTV predictions for 2021 and the ways they stand to impact the industry. 

CTV consumption patterns stay 

As states implemented stay-at-home orders, CTV adoption and habitual viewing accelerated. But even as the year came to a close, a big boom for connected TV device purchases during the holiday season was a near certainty. This proves that among other trends, the shift from linear to CTV is here to stay. Even the few remaining hopes for a linear TV bounce-back — such as a return to sports — are slim. Streaming providers and the leagues will have new, negotiated content deals like Peacock agreeing to stream sports, including the 2021 Olympics.

Because consumers aren’t leaving CTV, advertisers will keep investing in the medium. This is a continuation of their traditional primetime television strategy, just with different tactics. They still want to associate the brand with premium content and reach big audiences but will now do so through purchasing CTV inventory. This November alone saw a 87% YoY impression growth, and we anticipate it will keep growing in 2021 as streamers increasingly launch ad-supported services. 

The new norm: CTV programmatic, audience-based buying

CTV programmatic buying isn’t a new trend this year, but it’s amplified significantly. A year ago, the percentage of CTV media bought programmatically was in the mid-teens. And now? It’s in the mid-20s and will continue to grow. 

In November, Pixelate found that 72% of US households are reachable via CTV programmatic advertising. Because it has the audience, it’s likely that in 2021, data-driven, audience-based CTV programmatic buying will become the norm as audiences continue to engage with streaming. 

Action-based outcomes for CTV measurement are the future

Marketers will continue to shift from my traditional key performance indicators (KPIs) — such as reach and completion rate — to action-based outcomes such as calculating website traffic, add to cart, absolute shopping, and total app downloads. They will make this change to better showcase the total results of a campaign or advertisement. 

However, this is easier said than done. In order to measure action-based outcomes, marketers must know how to identity across media, sites, and devices. Thus, advertisers need to have access to identity across the TV advertising spectrum, likely resulting in the creation of a uniform standard for CTV identification as early as this year.

Long-term view

With the pandemic causing so many changes in the industry last year, it’s hard to know which trends are temporary and which represent the future of advertising. CTV’s explosive growth is not a one-off moment from the past year. Advertisers must pay attention to the channel to reach consumers in 2021. 

Tal Chalozin is Co-Founder and CTO of Innovid.

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