Home Opinions The rise of CTV amidst a Covid lockdown

The rise of CTV amidst a Covid lockdown

Austin Scott, Head of EMEA Video Development, Xandr
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It was inevitable that there would be shifts in consumer behaviour in 2020 as Covid-19 has meant people are spending more time inside than ever. This has been heavily reflected in digital video, which has seen large increases in time spent in 2020 as UK consumers have turned to TV and on-demand streaming video services for news and entertainment [1].

Whether it is setting aside lunchtime breaks from work to watch a critical news updates or gathering around a favourite series for light relief, watching TV has become a bigger ‘household activity’ than ever before. This is an opportunistic time for brands and agencies to engage with their customers, so they should be taking the time to consider how can they introduce CTV [connected TV] to their strategy?

The challenges and opportunities

Connected TV has been gaining momentum but due to the effects of Covid-19 its popularity has sky-rocketed and brands need to ensure they can keep up. We are seeing our highest months yet for CTV.  From an advertising perspective the high-growth, high-CPM CTV market instills great confidence in finding target audiences. It is likely these services will continue to grow even more as businesses open their doors, and schools decide how to proceed.

Traditional TV viewership continues to decline: in fact in the recent MAGNA report, it stated that linear TV ad revenues will shrink by 12% this year due to the weakness of demand. Similarly out-of-home has also struggled due to Covid, so the budgets previously allocated to this or theatre would be the most obvious to shift to digital video, and many brands are recognising that.

However, there are still challenges with the CTV user experience that need to be solved. In particular, the issues around developing audience-targeted buys in the face of identity challenges. CTV advertising doesn’t rely on cookies or contextual targeting in the traditional sense, and there is no universal or persistent standard for device identification. This makes critical capabilities like frequency capping, audience targeting and attribution more challenging. Audience viewing habits, content types and ID owner data deals will be the direct approach.

Ad tech companies who have direct relationships with both the buyers and sellers of CTV inventory are well positioned to solve this challenge, as well as to work closely with industry bodies like the IAB which are also exploring a solution. As CTV engagement increases, buyers should be educating themselves on the CTV ecosystem, the value of audience-based buying and the ways in which their technology partners are navigating industry challenges to unlock the full CTV opportunity. All of this becomes more vital to success.

Focusing on content

 With consumers engaging more widely with both TV and on-demand services, brands have the opportunity to connect with them. Both nostalgic viewing and news updates provide key moments for advertisers as consumers are more engaged than ever with daily content.

The wave of Covid-19 has reignited the love of TV, as well as demonstrating the need for digital devices as people are consuming more content than ever before. As viewing spikes, advertisers have a unique opportunity but it is important to remember that while consumers are turning to nostalgic TV and streaming services to get them through this ‘new normal’ brands need to look for the balance between being aware of customer needs and ensuring they are providing more than just a product.

Adapting to exceptional times

 Covid-19 has affected advertising as it has all parts of the economy, and so it is unsurprising that businesses may be more cautious during this time, particularly on newer platforms such as CTV. However, the value of advertising for building affinity with consumers should not be disregarded. The power of TV to produce consumer interest, action and affinity is well established and now that quality can be transferred to on-demand viewing. With more people than normal still at home, more content is being consumed and brands can leverage sophisticated brand-safety tools to continue to reach key audiences, while stabilising revenue for trusted news organisations.

Xandr recently partnered with Reach plc and IBM on their Mantis tool, which filters content for positive/neutral/negative sentiment and packages up positive and neutral content for purchase on our platform. Through the tool, advertising can be directed to appear only alongside positive and neutral news stories, including those related to the Coronavirus. These include casual mentions or informative stories about homeschooling, cooking tips, how to stay fit at home or celebrating frontline workers such as those in the NHS.

It is clear that CTV holds a lot of promise for brands; advertisers just need to ensure they are keeping up with consumer behaviour.

[1] eMarketer, UK Time Spent with Media 2020, May 6th, 2020

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Austin Scott
Austin Scott is Head of EMEA Video Development at Xandr. Xandr was born out of great legacies behind an even greater purpose: to make advertising better for brands and consumers alike. Leveraging the spirit of innovation that began more than 143 years ago and has continued on as a part of AT&T’s legacy, we are uniquely positioned to change the industry and leverage our resources for good. With one of the world’s largest collections of digital, film, and TV properties, we provide a premium option for advertisers and publishers looking to reach specific audiences at scale in brand-safe environments all through a powerful, unified platform. Our combined assets, including data insights, premium content, powerful technology, and scaled direct-to-consumer distribution, give us a competitive edge — helping to improve advertising for brands, publishers, and consumers. https://www.xandr.com/