Blazing New Trails For Connected TV

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ShirleneShirlene Chandrapal, former director of Yahoo! Connected TV (CTV) in Europe, says connected television will connect advertisers with a highly engaged audience whose medium of choice is the Internet.

Chandrapal now works for cross-channel advertising technology company Adconion Direct, where she’s tasked with driving CTV’s US expansion. She’s taking on a market where an estimated 63% of US broadband households have at least one Internet-connected device, according to TDG Research. Adconion Direct offers what it calls “brand-safe” CTV inventory for 30-some devices like Smart Blue-ray players and game consoles.

Adconion owns 85% of the connected TV market in Europe, Chandrapal said. Part of this reach comes from the company’s acquisition of the video ad network Smartclip, where Chandrapal worked after leaving Yahoo. But despite her roots working in Europe, Chandrapal’s focus is in the US. “It’s a very hot space and there are a lot of players involved,” she said.

Chandrapal spoke with AdExchanger about the opportunities and challenges of connected TV data and content.

AdExchanger: Where’s the most opportunity for connected TV?

SHIRLENE CHANDRAPAL: We work with a lot of premium brands that are buying video campaigns at scale. When we’re talking about connected TV, we’re talking about a more educated, more affluent demographic. For them, the Internet is really their medium of choice. Form and function is important to them. That’s not to say they’re not TV users, but they invest in quality products and are more likely to be a certain type of consumer. They have a higher propensity to buy cars and they like media.

A lot of the advertisers we work with tend to be automotive, retail, telco and mobile handset manufacturers, entertainment studios. There are other advertisers where [the connected TV proposition] absolutely makes sense. But a lot of advertisers are not really aware of the opportunity or even the scale at which connected TV is growing.

What’s a misconception about CTV?

Most people assume that connected TV is smart TV, but smart TV is really a subset of that wider ecosystem. It’s gaming consoles, set top boxes, streaming devices like Chromecast, Roku, as well as smart TVs. When you look at the wider connected TV ecosystem, there’s a fair amount of scale already and that will continue to grow. The fragmentation is a challenge, and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been focused on video here: It’s the one format that works really well across screens. We’re able to get a high-definition video asset and then roll it out against multiple different connected devices we deliver ads across.

Why isn’t it easy to tackle this market?

Investment is needed in product, campaign management and operations. As more content comes onboard, more and more device manufacturers are looking at rolling out Web-based versions of their operating systems. For instance, LG will be launching a Web-based operating system. All of these things really help the ecosystem because it makes the consumer experience easier. It makes the advertising piece easier because it’s more standardized. It’s not quite where we need to get it to, but there are little steps.

What kind of scale does Adconion provide with its CTV offerings?

We can take a VAST tag and serve the ads pretty much the same way you’d do it on traditional platforms. In the US, we have access to about 120 million impressions on the connected TV side. We tend to be very entertainment-focused so we’re working with a lot of content providers who have good quality TV shows and movies, and we have a couple of partners we’d call freemium. Some movies they’d charge for and others would be free, but they’d be ad funded. We are cognizant of what the market is currently buying or interested in buying rather than going after everything. Video definitely resonates with our advertisers.

What scale does Adconion have among consumers?

We have very high view-through rates on connected TV. And it very much is that upper funnel, brand marketing sell. We can retarget those users through any video campaign we run across four screens [PC, mobile, tablet and CTV]. With connected TV, we can retarget IPs across our network to follow up with display messaging. We can…have a single video buy across all four screens. We can drive those users further down the funnel to all of the direct-response capabilities and performance metrics we have at our disposal to optimize interactive versions against that initial brand campaign.

The data aspect could be a challenge.

The next generation of products [involve] adding data to the mix. That’s more of a challenge because a lot of these devices don’t store cookies. Therefore, we can’t do the same sort of things we would do on the other devices. We are looking at other partners for opportunities to pull in data and be able to leverage it. It’s not easy because we are dependent on the device manufacturers having to build that out. That is happening but it will take a bit of time.

What do you think about the broader ecosystem and the talk of linear TV and digital video coming together?

Everyone understands that if you can take TV and make it super efficient, and deliver some of the things that you can do on the Web, that’s a no brainer. And everyone’s doing that in their own way. The cable companies definitely have an opportunity because they have scale, but they don’t necessarily have the targeting and the data. That’s not to say they can’t build that out, but if they look at some of the opportunity around adding additional data and then using that to target consumers, it’s very effective.

How did Yahoo prep you for your position today?

In the latter part of 2008, I got in to working with Yahoo’s Connected TV team. At that time, they were a little under the radar. They had the Yahoo name and brand to open doors, but they were almost like a stealth operation. It was a really good time. Yahoo partnered with four different platforms in 2009, which were Samsung, VIZIO, LG and Sony. I worked on the platforms side at Yahoo and headed up European operations to bring content to the Yahoo platform and manage the partner relationships with the device manufacturers. Long story short, there wasn’t enough management support for Yahoo Connected TV products. I think they were on to a good idea, but they didn’t see it through, which is unfortunate. I’m very fond of Yahoo as a brand and a company, and they just need some focus. Hopefully they’ll get there.

 

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