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The Power of CTV

Fairchild Studio

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January Digital explains how brands can leverage Connected TV.

January Digital leads global brands and retailers to grow and adapt to consumer shifts and changing market conditions. The strategic consultancy and full funnel digital agency identifies and solves the most difficult marketing challenges with connected data, technology, digital strategy and media execution.

Here, Tierney Wilson, managing director of January Digital, shares insights into Connected TV (CTV), which is transforming how brands market to the modern consumer. Wilson discusses what’s driving CTV’s rapid adoption, why brands should consider it and how it can offer not only business growth but also more meaningful customer engagement.

Fairchild Media Group: What is the penetration rate of CTV, and why should retailers and brands consider it in their marketing plans?

Tierney Wilson: Currently there are over 84 million American homes streaming through CTV devices (that’s 6 million more than cable TV subscribers!). A recent Nielsen report on 2020 viewing habits revealed that total streaming TV time has increased 74 percent year-over-year and 25 percent of U.S. adults surveyed reported adding a new service in Q2 alone. Needless to say, user demand for CTV is expected to only continue. Since ad dollars tend to follow eyeballs, it’s no wonder that 53 percent of media buyers plan to move broadcast TV dollars to CTV in 2021.

And the same goes for digital marketers, with 25 percent of them allocating budget to CTV from other digital channels, according to the IAB. It is critical for brands to fully grasp this evolution. They need to stay agile in order to take advantage of the latest opportunities now available in order to reach customers where they are — before the landscape becomes overly saturated. Marketers across all product categories (whether it be retail, CPG and beyond) should integrate CTV into their plans. It is a testable, agile, personalized, audience-first media channel where you can buy and measure in the same way you buy on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook.

CTV viewers

FMG: What is fueling the growth of CTV and what are some of the benefits of leveraging it?

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T.W.: CTV has been on the rise for several years as more Americans purchase Smart TVs for their homes, but experienced outsized growth in 2020 due to COVID-19 and the resulting quarantine of people in their homes. With little options for out-of-home entertainment, Americans turned to their TVs. Digital TV viewership increased dramatically, growing 307 percent year-over-year in Q2 alone, according to Brightcove’s Global Video Index.

There are several benefits of leveraging CTV, but the three most compelling aspects are the low spend threshold required to test, deep audience targeting capabilities, and the ability to directly measure impact throughout the marketing funnel. For brands that have historically found linear TV to be cost prohibitive, CTV provides an affordable point of entry.

A brand can get started for as little as a $25,000 investment. And when a brand does get started, they quickly realize that the audience targeting capabilities — from first-party data targeting to contextual or third-party data targeting — are as robust as any other performance marketing channel. This means that CTV has the ability to act as a full funnel direct response channel. It is an ideal solution for achieving multiple business goals — from awareness to acquisition to conversion.

FMG: Who is the target consumer for a CTV campaign?

T.W.: Truly, anyone who streams their TV content from the internet. You can target consumers based on interest, in-market cues or buying behaviors. And, regardless of the network, device or time of day, you can reach your audience whenever and wherever they happen to be watching by leveraging your data. Using first-party data, you can target current customers to increase loyalty or build valuable lookalike audiences to attract new customers — just like with other digital media.

Given the data-driven targeting CTV enables, it’s easy to personalize the message to the consumer, recognizing them for where they are in the customer journey — whether they are a loyal customer, first-time buyer or still in the consideration phase. Another plus, you don’t need to produce an elaborate, expensive commercial. You can easily repurpose creative assets from other digital channels in order to create multiple messages to reach the right consumer in the right mindset.

FMG: How does January Digital work with retailers and brands to build a successful CTV program?

T.W.: Beyond adopting channel level best practices, it is important to start by saying that we believe that successful CTV campaigns are never run in a vacuum. The power of a successful CTV campaign is in taking an audience-first approach, but also in ensuring there is close measurement and data connection to all other marketing or media channels. This starts with having an agile team structure. We have cross-channel integrated teams, which means that all channels are managed by the same team rather than a huge, disparate group of siloed individuals.

We also offer a single source data solution, so we combine marketing data, product data and business data into a single view. Those factors mean that our teams are 100 percent aligned around the retailer or brand’s business goals and ensures we always put the media investment wherever the audience is, regardless of the channel. We utilize waterfall budgeting to ensure that as consumer behavior shifts, and opportunity arises, spend and effort is immediately aligned with impact.

We are at a point now where video has to be a core competency of a brand and agency partnership in order to reach, convert and retain customers. For us, this means being a step and a half ahead of any changes to CTV, OTT, YouTube, social video, etc., and being closely aligned with our brand partners in a constant test and learn approach. Beyond leaning into CTV and ensuring best practices in the medium and across all digital touch-points, retailers and brands who are successful are those who are building their teams, partnerships and organizations to be constantly agile.

FMG: How is ROI measured? And how does CTV differ from other channels?

T.W.: A strategy harnessing CTV, like all digital channels, delivers actionable insights and provides more precise, measurable outcomes. With the same targeting and measurement capabilities as performance media channels — like paid social and the ability to integrate with other digital media channels — CTV enables full funnel measurement.

It is truly unique and strategically powerful in its ability to identify someone who has viewed a brand message in other channels and enable a marketer to precisely deliver that same consumer a relevant, timely CTV ad. The brand can then continue to target (or suppress, pending the goal) that viewer across other devices. Other ways to measure the impact of CTV include:

  • Audience retargeting growth studies
  • Usage of QR codes in CTV creative
  • Foot traffic studies
  • Brand life studies
  • Search demand lift studies

With CTV, brands also benefit from real-time creative performance measurement and the ability to optimize on a daily basis. CTV provides brands with real-time, actionable insights, as well as the ability to monitor video completions and link ad exposures to conversions. Delivering better insights and measurements than linear TV (or even display) ever could.

FMG: What does CTV require in terms of approach, content and narrative?

T.W.: The creative is key to a successful CTV campaign. Compelling video and the ability to adapt it based on performance is critical—but not complicated. You just need an engaging 15- or 30- second video — and odds are that you can repurpose existing assets. No expensive, elaborate production required.

The same rules apply for CTV as any other digital video channel — ensure your brand logo is present within the first three seconds and build for ‘sound on’ always. Think like a storyteller. Build your brand message and tell your story over time with subsequent messaging.

Or, combine CTV with Programmatic Display, Paid Search and/or Paid Social; when consumers see ads from the same brand on different mediums, they are more likely to be recalled.

Take your time: you don’t need to go “all in” as you integrate CTV into your strategy. Test as you go. Rather than front-loading your budget, take it slowly and use data (which you’ll get in real-time) as your guide for optimizations or further investment.

FMG: Does CTV integrate with social media? How?

T.W.: CTV strategy naturally integrates with other digital programs including social media efforts as it provides data, measurement and targeting to your organization that can inform your entire media mix. CTV can be integrated with your social campaigns via usage of similar creative and second screen targeting (showing a consumer a CTV ad and then subsequently showing them a follow-up ad on their mobile device as they scroll while watching TV).

You can also share audience targeting across CTV and social advertising campaigns to ensure you are delivering the most personalized and consistent messaging.

FMG: Can you share a success story of a brand who used CTV? What were the lessons learned?

Davids Bridal CTV

T.W.: One of the greatest benefits of CTV is that it’s one of the most agile channels we have seen in decades, allowing brands to quickly pivot and leverage real-time learning for optimization. One brand that did this incredibly well is David’s Bridal, the category leader for cultivating style-forward looks at any budget. 2020 was a trying year. As brides quickly adapted, so too did David’s Bridal.

Beyond the obvious physical impact of COVID-19, the brand quickly recognized the intense psychological impact as emotionally-charged consumers grappled with a whole new kind of pre-wedding jitters related to the health and safety of themselves, family and loved ones. We, along with the David’s Bridal team, also recognized the increased consumption of streaming video and adapted their plans to capitalize on both the new behavior and the new mindset.

By using CTV as a dynamic vehicle to drive in-store appointments where the mindset and market were appropriate and virtual appointments, where that was the most viable path to conversion, David’s Bridal was able to reach the right consumer with the right message. They created video versions that communicated the messages consistent with the target consumer’s mindset — and it worked, all while mitigating wasted spend.

Their personalized approach to the creative combined with audience-first, data-driven targeting, delivered impressive results. In just one month of CTV support, the campaign reached hundreds of thousands of unique U.S. households, drove thousands of site visits, hundreds of appointments and had a strong impact on eCommerce purchases.

FMG: Anything else readers should know about CTV?

T.W.: All signs point to CTV continuing to grow for years to come. As time passes, and technology within SMART TVs gets even smarter, there will continue to be a trend of consumers cutting the cord and shifting exclusively to CTV devices. Brands should get involved early or they run the risk of getting left behind. Beyond CTV, this is a bigger call for brands and retailers to focus their strategy, their structure and their investments into quickly understanding customer shifts, while staying agile enough to capitalize on new opportunities in the marketplace.

To find out more, download January Digital’s whitepaper here.