How media buying and measurement have transformed marketers’ CTV approach

Sponsored by MNTN

For marketers, CTV has unlocked access to a medium that was once thought to be too expensive and challenging for most brands to utilize. It came with little to no performance measurement capabilities. 

New advancements in digital technology have changed that landscape, from how CTV spots are purchased and refreshed to the types of data that can be gleaned from them. The state of CTV is burgeoning, and the opportunities on the table for marketing teams are numerous. 

In the U.S., 73% of consumers prefer to have ad-supported CTV subscriptions over premium ones, according to Unruly Media and 47% of the coveted 18–34 age group (who happens to be among the highest adopters of CTV) indicate they like their ads to be tailored to their interests, according to The Trade Desk. With trends like this, advertisers are expected to continue adding CTV to their marketing mix.  

In a recent Digiday and MNTN research report, a new survey and expert insights helped spotlight what’s happening across the connected TV space and what it means for advertisers in 2022 (and beyond).

Programmatic has changed the way media buys are done — CTV included

Previously, with linear TV, ad buys were conducted through an advertiser or agency that went directly to a TV network to secure advertising spots. This was time-consuming — requiring an enormous amount of scale to manage multiple contract negotiations, pacing, inventory and management issues, etc. Even enterprise businesses tended to rely on third parties to manage this process, making it understandable why many smaller companies found it impossible to enter this space. 

“We’ve seen a big change from linear to CTV in the ability to open the spigot in terms of brands that were formerly not able to advertise, now being able to advertise,” said Rafa Bracero, director of marketing strategy at MNTN. 

In addition to its simplicity, programmatic has allowed CTV advertisers to become more targeted in their ad buying, leading to audience-first approaches and helping to deliver impactful insights if done right. “When we think about CTV specifically, it’s an instance where an audience-first approach is absolutely crucial,” said Bracero. 

“Operating in a truly programmatic space is super important,” added Hannah Burke, product manager at MNTN. “If you’re limiting yourself by trying to home-in on individual networks, you’re missing out on bringing in new customers.” 

According to our survey, 46% of brands and agencies surveyed are primarily approaching media buying for CTV with programmatic buys, with 27% utilizing both direct-sold and programmatic buys.

“For example, say someone like Lowe’s wants to serve a TV creative only on HGTV,” continued Burke. “Ideally, we don’t want them to just go to HGTV. We want them to create an audience that is for those TV commercials. So, if they’re doing a true DIY audience build where they want to find users who just moved into a new home, they may see a large number of people watching FXX or who are interested in sci-fi that is DIYers in addition to those who watch HGTV. And then they can incorporate that into their media buys.” 

Almost half (49%) of brands and agencies surveyed indicated they’re combatting a fragmented CTV inventory by prioritizing audience segmentation and targeting specific audiences.

And setting up effective audience-based buys significantly impacts performance and measurement. If audience interests aren’t identified, and the brand cannot determine a way to act on them that works for the creative, then a campaign’s performance is likely to be hampered.

Making the most of measurement

Once thought to be impossible, tracking the customer journey from start to finish and providing real-time metrics is now a CTV capability to which marketers can turn. 

Of the brands and agencies surveyed, 57% indicated they were measuring campaigns with a medium level of accuracy. While those numbers did shift when looking one year ahead, only 29% predicted they’d be at a high degree of accuracy, with 51% still slotting themselves in for a medium level of accuracy. Those who expected a higher degree of accuracy in the next year said they attributed this to technological advancements and process improvements.  

However, beyond real-time measurement, marketers must ensure a solid plan for attributing their ad spots to conversions. 

“You need to get around how you can tie a TV ad to a conversion rate,” said Burke. “It can be really complicated to create your own attribution system, but if you’re able to take a single TV commercial and track the visit associated with that impression to the conversion tied to it, it opens up an entirely new world for you. A lot of that involves being able to have a good cross-device map in place and being able to say, ‘I understand this is the household that this impression was served to, but how can I make sure that anyone who saw that ad in the household was directly impacted by that commercial?’ From a measurement perspective, if you truly know the impact of that TV commercial, where you can see the most success as soon as you figure out a way to tie that commercial to a conversion, it will be a huge step in the right direction.” 

Technological advancements to the media buying and measurement of CTV have streamlined the process and advanced the insights possible. They have also opened the door for companies of all sizes. As marketers continue to take advantage of the new tools at their disposal, measurement capabilities will grow even more sophisticated, enabling even deeper insights — alleviating more and more measurement-related pain points.

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