Any marketer predicting CTV’s rise as a media power prior to 2020 will be feeling vindication as our lockdown behaviours propelled habits towards digital content on the big screen. To understand what this means for marketers in 2021, DoubleVerify and Channel 4 spoke to The Drum about the most important trends coming ahead.
DoubleVerify's managing director, Europe, Tanzil Bukhari, and Channel 4 head of digital and partnership innovation, Jonathan Lewis, spoke to The Drum’s trends editor, Rebecca Stewart as part of The Drum’s Predictions event. They identified measurement and ad fraud as two key challenges that they predicted the industry would make significant improvements this year, helping to push CTV closer to being one of the critical priorities for marketers in 2021.
Citing DoubleVerify research from last year, Bukhari cemented the fact that media habits had swayed towards TV, digital video and, specifically, CTV in the past year. He says, even at the end of the first UK lockdown, the average consumption of a consumer’s digital content has more than doubled, reaching almost seven hours of content across multiple devices.
He adds, “44% of those consumers are stating that they're using CTV devices more since the pandemic began in March 2020 than what they were doing in the past. Also, it's been consistent. It wasn't a spike, it is one of the biggest changes that we've seen in our industry in a long time, driven by the pandemic. A lot of those changes are somewhat permanent, at least for the foreseeable future.”
Likewise, Lewis adds that Channel 4 has seen similar audience growth, with some of its major franchises, such as Great British Bake Off and Gogglebox having record audiences, driven by a return of younger audiences to TV and CTV. This is making the broadcaster rethink about how it delivers content to this younger audience in a digital context.
“Gogglebox delivered its biggest series ever in the autumn with over a 50% viewing share for 16-34 adults. We're seeing young audiences watch TV in spades and it's expanding out onto our digital platforms. We're seeing huge growth in All4. We're changing the dynamic and approach with our on-demand business to be a digital-first focus now. We're thinking a lot about how we box that content and how a series stacks. Rather than showing the show sequentially, we're looking at other ideas,” he explains.
But while impressive scale and growth will be one factor to encourage brand investment, marketers are increasingly requiring more sophistication in measurement and a clearer understanding of how their ad spend delivers against the bottom line.
One critical element to this having access to a cross-platform measurement that can give a more transparent and accurate picture of the impact that ad spend has, by de-duplicating between TV and digital viewing to show true incremental reach.
“We need one of these measurement tools to come into play this year to support exponential spenders going into the VOD platform that can deliver the de-duplicated incremental reach that we know exists. It needs to give our customers, our clients, the confidence that when they spend, the ad gets delivered on our platforms and it's having the impact and effect that we all believe it has,” says Lewis.
Bukhari adds, “I think it's great that we're trying to find in the broadcaster ecosystem, a common structure that allows us to determine reach across those platforms. But if we can learn anything from what's happening in the States in this environment, it's the ability to extend audiences, not just in the main broadcaster ecosystem, but beyond it, is really where the industry is seeing the value for CTV out in the States. If we look at it from our ecosystem here in the UK, and in Europe, we're still getting to terms with trying to understand how that is going to be applied.
Brands want to be in environments that are conducive to their brand suitability profiles and broadcast is going to play a massive part in that. But the industry as a whole, beyond just broadcast, is also equally as important in order to ensure that we're able to drive that scale.”
The topic of brand suitability and brand safety is also a top priority for marketers for 2021, and Channel 4’s Lewis says the broadcaster is always looking to make sure its platform has low fraud and allows brands to advertise within their suitability.
However, this isn’t the case for the wider CTV and digital video industry, according to Bukhari who says that as the popularity of CTV grows, as does the threat of fraudsters capitalising on the opportunity.
“As we've seen in previous industries, as we see a larger demand for content and a larger demand on from marketers and media spend, the fraudsters follow where the money goes,” he says, “In early 2020, pre-COVID, we saw a significant increase in fraudulent impressions 161% year-on-year growth. As COVID continued to grow and the impact of COVID on CTV specifically continued to grow, even for 2020 annually it was a 225% year on year growth in actual fraudulent CTV traffic.”
Bukhari explains that the types of fraud include apps that have legitimate content but run ads in illegitimate ways, while another is apps or sites that replicate well-known sites and drive ad spend to fake sites.
“When we look at the overall impact of these types of human fraudulent acts, through a number of technologies, the most common is something we call server-side ad insertion. Those are only going to increase as the volume of CTV increases and spend into CTV increases. We captured two such schemes at the end of last year, such as LeoTerra and when we looked at those, even for our clients, by the time the fraud is detected, the ability for brands to stop spending against it is reduced. The potential for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, to be wasted. So it's imperative that we, as an industry, recognise the issue and build towards resolving it,” he adds.
The prediction for 2021 is positive however as both Bukhari and Lewis are confident that the industry is close to having solutions for advertisers that can help with both of these critical issues. In turn, this makes the future for CTV look even brighter.