The Changing Tides Of Connected TV

On TV And Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Brienna Pinnow, co-founder at Blinc Digital Group.

Connected TV (CTV) is completely changing the way people gobble up, browse and binge the content they love.

CTV’s tidal wave of change is rolling in faster than anticipated. EMarketer projected 22 million US adult cord cutters in 2017. This estimate turned out to be conservative, and now 2018 is outpacing projections and expected to rise to more than 33 million adults. Layer on the newest generation of cord cutters and cord shavers and we now have a society where 74% of US TV households have at least one connected TV device.

When nearly three out of four homes are adopting a new technology that offers data-driven targeting, an engaging consumer experience and better reporting capabilities, marketers don’t just take note – they take action.

Marketers are getting smarter

A number of years ago I began authoring white papers and content to educate my peers on capabilities near and dear to my heart, such as addressable TV. That content led to dozens – if not hundreds – of valuable conversations with partners, advertisers and agencies.

Fast-forward to today and there is at least 10 times the number of advanced TV, including CTV, educational materials and opportunities available to satiate marketers’ hunger to learn more, from industry association-led primers to webinars, courses and ebooks.

As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats. The industry’s effort to educate marketers has now led to thousands of elevated and educated discussions about CTV each day.

Marketers are investing bigger

They are ramping up their advertising investment in advanced TV to the tune of nearly $6.7 billion this year. This means advertisers are doubling spend year over year.

This spend trend is also evident when a company like Roku, which previously focused on hardware sales, can now proudly proclaim that it generates more than half of its revenue from advertising while also supplying nearly 80% of the industry’s CTV inventory.

The investment news doesn’t stop there. Even a more digitally focused company like The Trade Desk recently announced it is seeing connected TV ad spending up nearly 2,000% year over year. That leads me perfectly to the third CTV trend I’ve recently spotted.

Marketers are fighting

Wait, what? Yes.

With CTV providing a fantastic opportunity for brands to improve their marketing effectiveness, it has now turned into the latest unclaimed piece of territory in the power-and-budget land grab. As a result, I have seen a bit of tension rising among media teams, as have other marketing and agency executives I’ve spoken with recently.

Traditional TV buyers want to own the CTV strategy because it gives them a natural way to extend the incremental reach of their linear campaigns. And, rightfully so, they are in a pretty strong position since they are on the hook for large investments during the upfronts and are poised to translate new campaign metrics through the traditional GRP lens – and vice versa.

On the other side of the room, digital buyers view CTV as an opportunity to bolster their digital video campaigns’ top-level KPIs, such as completion rates. Digital marketers boost CTV campaigns’ success because of their first- and third-party data chops, in-flight optimization mindset and affinity for measuring sales impact, not just reach.

Good marketing leaders will empower their organizations by choosing a team to own and run with this. But excellent marketing leaders will see this rising tension as an opportunity to build a bridge, rather than determine the victor of an internal arm-wrestling match. With CTV in the people-based marketing picture, CMOs have a weighty and important reason to finally abolish their siloed teams.

I bring up these trends for a number of reasons. First, I want to applaud marketers. If they are experiencing any or all of these trends among their organizations, they are doing fantastic and actively riding the change.

Second, I want to help them focus. If marketers and their organizations are not experiencing any of these shifts, it may be a red flag that it’s time to ramp up their focus on CTV opportunities, even if TV hasn’t been a cornerstone of their marketing plan in the past.

Third, I want to inspire them.

When seismic shifts like this come around, there are two options. One is to dig in your heels, hold onto your hat and simply hope you survive the tsunami. Or you can embrace the change, take your career to new heights and even implement equally seismic changes in your organization – like “connecting” TV and digital teams.

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