The Rise of UGC in Connected TV

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By the end of this year, influencer marketing spending is projected to surpass the $4 billion mark as brands are tapping into this industry while the advertising market rapidly evolves. The influence of the pandemic has made companies shift their gears to think outside the box to reach audiences at scale creatively and engagingly.  With consumers becoming more skeptical of traditional advertisements, marketers are achieving higher brand affinity and ROI by leaning into user-generated content. User-generated content (UGC) is full of opportunities to foster authenticity and awareness to reach younger audiences, many of which watch connected TV as opposed to linear TV. 

Tapping into the Full Power of UGC

Since the pandemic started, consumers have been spending more time online consuming media, creating content, and shopping. Word-of-mouth remains one of the most effective ways to drive brand affinity and awareness, and younger audiences are more inclined to trust the digital recommendations from their favorite creators over highly produced traditional advertisements. 

Recent studies show up to 93% of consumers say that UGC is very helpful in their purchase decision process. As consumers continue to drive advertising and media consumption trends, it’s time for marketers to venture out of the archaic confines of traditional advertising to drive business outcomes.

Content creators curate unique content for brands that further emphasize their products and establish greater trust between brands and customers all while encouraging feedback and traffic to specific brands. The rise of the creator economy shows no sign of stagnating as brands clamor to tap into the highly engaged fanbases of content creators to drive desired consumer outcomes. This ultimately speeds up the purchasing process and strengthens customers’ perception of brands. 

Fusing UGC with Connected TV Advertising 

With the increasing ability to stream content across various devices, savvy digital marketers understand there is an opportunity to extend the reach of social content past the confines of social media platforms. Using similar strategies to social media marketing, digital marketers have the opportunity to hypertarget ideal prospects with personalized ad experiences on television, which is, arguably, the most important screen in the household. Recent reports state that 92% of U.S. households were reachable by CTV programmatic advertising in 2022, showcasing the growing popularity of the medium. More specifically, over 110 million Gen Z and millennials make up the audience that has officially switched from linear television to CTV. That being said, now is the time to reach these cohorts as they have disposable income to spend and are actively engaging with brands online.  

So, how can digital-first advertisers harness the power of social media content and take it to the silver screen? Within recent years, more advertisers are leveraging creatives intended for social media and integrating them into CTV ad campaigns. As digital-first marketers continue to experiment with ads, it is important that they are able to measure outcomes to not only justify ad spend, but also to create ads that are truly enjoyable for the end user. This can be done through scientific testing, more specifically A/B testing. What if advertisers could change macro elements of an advertisement to test effectiveness such as the color scheme of a table setting in a lifestyle influencer’s ad? Or the music in the background? Newer technologies now enable digital marketers to receive instant feedback on campaign performance while testing key variables.

Due to the massive digital disruption of the television industry, advertisers can now connect the dots between an ad delivered and an outcome like social media visits and sales, which has long been missing from the TV advertising paradigm. With 81 percent of consumers expressing a preference for free, ad-supported streaming and over 60% of the U.S. population using CTV apps, the application of the scientific method is now made possible through large amounts of data acquired through these channels. 

Digital marketers are empowered to take control of their creative on CTV through scientific testing to ensure an enjoyable and effective ad experience that resonates with audiences even at the household level. Through A/B experimentation of visuals, such as UGC, digital advertisers can access real-time analytics of campaign performance. Based on these insights, advertisers can make data-informed adjustments to their ad delivery strategies ranging from in-stream to interactive pre-roll to homescreen. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Digital advertisers can test audio components as well as compare and contrast the effectiveness of different campaigns against target audiences.

Making the Most of Social Media Content

Major brands have been tapping into UGC for a while now, creating campaigns via social media that call for consumers to participate in trends, challenges, and more. For example, Apple has its #ShotoniPhone Campaign calling for users to showcase their photos and Starbucks has its #WhiteCupContest where customers were encouraged to draw on their cups and post it with the hashtag. 

The rise of CTV requires that marketers of all kinds pivot to fit the modern consumer’s media consumption habits. Since CTV creates a world of opportunities for advertisers to think more creatively, they can take inspiration from brands using the method of advertising and they can work closely with influencers or ambassadors to develop various types of creatives. This includes moving social to CTV and taking successful elements to create a variety of campaigns that inspire younger audiences to take action since the trust between the brand, influencer, and customer is already there. 

As advertisers are reevaluating their outreach efforts, they must keep in mind the customer experience and how they can positively impact the decision to engage with and buy from a brand. UGC is a rising trend across the advertising industry that speeds up the decision-making process while creating an authentic relationship built on trust. The combination of CTV’s increasing popularity, young consumers having disposable income, and their preference for engaging with content that reflects their interests is a perfect opportunity for advertisers to integrate UGC into their CTV campaigns. 

Shannon Jessup is chief revenue officer at tvScientific.