In Crowded Space, Brands Rethink Approach to CTV

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Despite all the changes to digital media and local commerce that occurred during the pandemic, the way brands advertise on connected TV has remained eerily the same.

The stagnation can be blamed on any number of challenges. Fragmentation in the landscape of sellers. Advertisers buying with inconsistent visibility. The list goes on.

Spending isn’t the issue. Research from eMarketer shows that advertisers spent $10.3 billion on connected TV programmatic display ads in 2021, an 82% increase from the year prior. But what they got in return is anyone’s guess. For all the advancements in digital marketing, CTV advertising still remains an opaque space where advertisers know little about the shows or other ads their spots are running against. This can lead to wasted budgets, ad frequency issues, and even fraud.

“While audiences and the way we watch TV have evolved, TV advertising still lags behind,” says Fred Godfrey, CEO and co-founder of Origin, a media and technology firm. “Between audience fragmentation and the number of screens a viewer could be looking at at any given moment, getting the viewer’s attention is harder than it’s ever been and is only going to get more difficult.” 

How advertisers can rethink CTV

If brands want their ads to have an impact, Godfrey says they need to center their approach on earning the viewer’s attention. That requires a legitimate value exchange, which is unprecedented in linear television advertising up to this point.

“In my opinion, CTV is not so much a new environment as it is the evolution of an existing one: TV,” Godfrey says. “With that being said, brands and agencies should be looking to do two things when it comes to CTV: test and adapt to the new solutions leveraging the technology behind it and explore the different ways it allows ads to look, feel, and behave compared to traditional TV advertising.”

For brands to be successful with CTV, it’s imperative that they rethink their approach with performance in mind. Engaging and activating viewers directly from the couch is possible but only when brands are ready to adapt. 

Rethinking the approach to CTV means accepting that CTV isn’t just another form of linear television advertising. With CTV, brands have access to interest-level targeting, and they can retarget individuals who’ve been on their websites with high-impacted video ads. CTV advertising also provides brands with a way to serve ads to retarget first-party contacts and reconnect with lapsed customers.

“The way we see it, it’s not so much that TV advertising has been left behind but rather that the vast bulk of the investment has gone into what happens behind the glass vs. in front of it. For example, paying more attention to what goes into an ad rather than prioritizing the actual creative and ensuring the content is engaging,” Godfrey says. “What the viewer actually sees and experiences is paramount, and yet it is here where very little has evolved. This skewed allocation of resources is why TV advertising always appears to be lagging behind the innovation we’ve seen on other platforms.”

Godfrey recommends that brands do their best to “unlearn” the traditional advertising techniques they’ve used until now. Once that is done, they should aim to embrace more advanced CTV advertising techniques that adopt a similar kind of agility as their social marketing strategies — real-time stories that are agile, nimble, and highly-responsive to external events as they happen. 

“I see the days of ‘one ad fits all’ being a thing of the past and replaced by a future where every viewer is having a unique and compelling story delivered to their living room,” Godfrey says. “The future of CTV advertising will offer brands a degree of agility so acute that their message can literally change with the weather.”

​​Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.