“On TV & Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.
Today’s column is by Michael Tuminello, VP of strategy at Mediaocean.
Ask five people about the potential of connected TV (CTV) and you’re likely to get 10 different answers. That’s because, as exciting as CTV is, it’s massively misunderstood. Plenty of myths and misconceptions abound.
Here’s what is true: CTV is one of the fastest-growing channels in digital advertising, projected to reach $29.5 billion in 2024. That’s more than double the spending in 2021.
Heading into yet another year of explosive growth, here are some myths that have persisted through CTV’s rise to prominence and what marketers really need to know about this new channel.
Myth #1: The transition from linear to CTV will make TV advertising just like the rest of digital advertising.
Reality: While TV is certain to inherit some aspects of digital advertising, the future state of TV is likely to be a convoluted mix, with elements of linear and digital.
CTV certainly brings more granular measurement capabilities than linear. It allows impressions to be counted more precisely, down the viewing quartile. But the degree to which TV will adopt other components of digital video advertising remains to be seen.
And here are more factors to consider: Privacy concerns and compatibility with historical linear TV measurement may indefinitely keep us with household- rather than person-level measurement, and the rise of a number of different measurement currencies may make reporting complicated in the short term.
Myth #2: Linear TV is no longer relevant.
Reality: Linear TV is still incredibly relevant and will be for years to come.
There’s no question that streaming is on fire. In addition to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, there were five major streaming networks launched in 2021, including Paramount+, Discovery+ and Univision’s PrendeTV.
Thanks to the pandemic, even big-budget Hollywood movies now launch to the small screen first via streaming services. And according to the latest IAB Video Ad Spend research, 73% of CTV buyers report shifting budgets from broadcast and cable to CTV in 2021 with no signs of that slowing down.
Despite that growth, linear TV still commands huge audiences. It’s one of the few ways to reliably reach them at scale. The future is where CTV and linear TV intersect. It’s in the tools that allow advertisers to plan, buy and measure these disparate channels in a single view, with standardized measurement and centralized data.
Myth #3: CTV inventory is plentiful and programmatic.
Reality: CTV inventory is still limited and is largely sold as part of traditional TV buys.
Looking for premium programmatic CTV ad inventory? Get in line – and be prepared to buy linear TV at the same time. Most programmatic buys are made via private marketplace deals. Buyers are smartly getting access to premium inventory via their key content buys, including linear.
More competition is also making it difficult for advertisers to purchase remnant inventory. Some of this is seasonal, sure. But with so much premium CTV inventory being sold in the upfronts, not much is being made available in biddable environments.
Myth #4: The CTV supply chain will be less prone to fraud.
Reality: Where there’s friction, there’s fraud, and CTV is no exception.
We’ve already seen multiple disclosures of serious ad fraud in CTV. While progress has been made in recent years, most marketers now accept that a certain amount of fraud is routine, especially in a medium as new and dynamic as CTV.
By contrast, linear TV has had a mature infrastructure, complete with its own government agency for regulating content. Those who produce it are identifiable and accountable. And routine purchase agreements contain protections and indemnities that would be considered most stringent when compared to digital buys. Advertisers get this, and it’s why demand for linear TV continues to outstrip supply – and will for some time as CTV grows up.
Myth #5: Delivering CTV is radically different from delivering digital video to other devices.
Reality: CTV does end up on a much bigger screen, but the same video tags are used to deliver to CTV as to other devices.
The industry as a whole has over-indexed on convincing marketers that CTV is harder to manage than digital video. Yes, there are a number of CTV-specific challenges to overcome, resulting from server-side ad insertion (SSAI), the CTV app ecosystem and other idiosyncrasies. With that said, CTV is still fundamentally digital video. It uses the exact same tags in many cases to deliver video to mobile and desktop devices.
Myth #6: CTV will replace linear TV at the top of the funnel.
Reality: CTV is a full-funnel medium, especially with the rise of shoppable ads.
CTV is fully digital by design. That means interactive ads can serve up additional product information or image galleries. As CTV providers break down the walls between their ad platforms and subscriber data – like email and credit card account numbers – direct purchases will be enabled.
Interactivity can increase ad recall and engagement, but options differ depending on screen type, OS and SDK support. In short, CTV has new potential as a full-funnel medium, and brands should evaluate new TV creative and media opportunities accordingly.
CTV is innovative, exciting and a bold new canvas. Linear TV is even bigger – and will be for some time. That’s a reality you can count on. The key now is getting your marketing mix right.