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How agencies can deliver the best results from advertisers’ CTV investment

Make no mistake, connected TV (CTV) is booming. The number of UK households using CTV reached 19.2 million by the end of 2020, compared to 17.3 million in 2019, according to research from Strategy Analytics. And, thanks to addressable household targeting and optimization capabilities, brands are able to reach relevant, engaged viewers at a supremely local level.

There was no better time, then, for Finecast, the addressable TV company, to evolve the debate around CTV as part of The Drum’s Digital Summit, and to explore how brands and their agencies can best capitalize on the opportunities that lie ahead.

Moderated by John McCarthy, The Drum’s media editor, the panel featured expert analysis from Rachel Hall, managing partner, Finecast; Brad Stockton, senior vice president, US national video innovation, Dentsu International; and Shane Mansfield, marketing director, Just Eat for Business.

McCarthy opened the session by asking whether this growth in CTV is here to stay. Emphatically so, according to Finecast’s Rachel Hall: “We spent last year talking to clients and trying to demonstrate where viewing was going, and every bit of research showed great increase in TV usage but also shared viewing. That's provided some really good added value to brands and advertisers using TV, and I think the three lockdowns in the UK over quite an extended period of time, have meant that those habits are learned and habitual.”

She then explored the CTV platform opportunities for brands: “The beauty of TV now is a much broader spectrum of metrics that it can drive versus traditional linear. Essentially, that's pretty transformative for brands and media agencies who are planning marcomms on behalf of their of their clients. The most important thing is that you set up good testing criteria and measurements so that you can talk about what success is, but also that you ensure that your brands are operating professionally. Have you produced long form content in a brand-safe environment? It's incumbent on all of us to help advertisers get to an understanding of how valuable CTV is, so that the investment can reflect the return.”

Shane Mansfield at Just Eat for Business provided an advertiser’s perspective on this: “CTV really brings that level of engagement and measurement that perhaps you wouldn't have got with linear TV. We can see play throughs and things like that. And that gives us a bit more engagement information that we can then measure against, as a supplementary data point to understand the success of the brand campaign.”

And Finecast’s Hall emphasized the amount of work that goes into helping established TV advertisers such as Direct Line, alongside brands including Sweaty Betty that are new to TV, with these levels of measurement: “It's about sales uplift, footfall, web uplift, but it's also about helping them control frequency, making sure that they have a consistent approach to audience across all of that ecosystem as well. And that's why we've built an audience planner that allows our service teams to look at the audience segmentation, or the audience that our clients are trying to reach, and then forecast reach and frequency at certain budgets.”

Stockton at Dentsu International said, however, that there’s still some work to be done on targeting people watching specific content on CTV: “My friends on the content side of things say ‘I want more transparency, I want to see show level details’. And we're going to get there. But it's going to be slow and steady.”

Hall picked up on the theme of creative solutions that work for advertisers in CTV: “When we look at creative and we think about dynamic creative, and how more efficient that should be, when it goes hand in hand with really targeted campaigns, we also have to build advertisers and clients the ability to do that from a cost effectiveness point of view. So it's not costing a fortune, outweighing the uplift of the targeted nature of the campaign.”

And what’s happening in terms of innovation? Hall added: “It's all about us being mindful of scale reach and cost. Now we’re wanting to add in these different metrics like attention, and then trying to really understand what passive and active might mean for advertisers, and what it therefore might mean to their sales or their return on investment or their consideration numbers.”

The panel also provided advice for media buyers and creative agencies in terms of grabbing viewer attention efficiently through CTV. Stockton said: “We've spent the better half of the last five years trying to make creative shorter. But connected TV is a long-form viewing environment, it's going to allow us to actually serve those 30-seconds and have a better conversation engagement with our audiences. I think the creative agencies have almost a tall task as we really start working together. I think that's really what has to happen more from a media buying perspective, we have to get closer with our creative agencies and our advertisers.”

And Mansfield concluded the discussion with a focus on clear campaign planning and objectives: “If you're spending a lot of money on a campaign, if you're running lots of activity, give your campaign the best chance of success and invest in creative testing. Look at how that creative is actually going to work in the grander ecosystems that you're running the campaign across because you won't just be in CTV. So, I think it's back to clarity of vision, taking your time, making sure you're measuring the right things, and giving your creative the best possible chance to succeed.”

Watch the full panel discussion from The Drum’s Digital Summit here

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