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Girlfriends are watching their favorite tv show while sitting on the couch

Connected TV Advertising: Best Practices for Planning, Targeting, and Measuring

How many streaming services does your household have access to? Maybe you pay for Amazon Prime and Netflix, but you use a roommate’s Paramount Plus login, your best friend’s Peacock credentials, and an ex-partner’s Shudder account that they conveniently never logged out of. Welcome to the chaos of streaming TV!

The lack of unified connected TV (CTV) inventory is mildly frustrating for consumers, but it’s doubly so for marketers. Those unfamiliar with the channel might think that CTV amounts to the perfect combination of linear TV and digital—high-impact brand awareness complimented by targeting, measurement, and transparency—but that’s not exactly how CTV has evolved. Like the broader marketing landscape, CTV is fragmented.

In a recent MNTN survey of 123 brands and agencies, over half of respondents reported that inventory fragmentation is a critical challenge in their CTV efforts. Disparate apps, devices, and platforms make it incredibly difficult to target key audiences, measure results, and create unified consumer experiences.

The cost of this complexity and fragmentation extends beyond consumer experience, trickling all the way down to team satisfaction and turnover rates. CTV media fragmentation results in inordinate amounts of time spent on the low-value, manual tasks necessary to cobble together data and holistic insights from many disparate media sources. In the context of the Great Resignation, it’s critical that brands and agencies seek out ways to automate as many of the workflow-related aspects of the media buying process as possible in order to retain talent and avoid the high costs of turnover.

The good news is that our industry is making strides towards a more unified CTV landscape. For example, the IAB Tech Lab recently released video ad format guidelines to help create baseline technical standards in digital video and CTV.

For now, though, advertisers need to understand how to work around industry fragmentation to run effective CTV campaigns. Read on to learn how to most effectively plan, target, and measure CTV campaigns in today’s digital advertising landscape.

Best Practices for Planning CTV Ad Campaigns

Planning an effective CTV campaign requires marketers to grapple with pain points related to targeting and measuring. While identifying targeting parameters and KPIs early in the planning process is best practice for any campaign, it’s even more important when it comes to CTV, due to the channel-specific challenges those areas present.

Before we dig in on targeting and measurement, one final best practice for the early stages of a CTV campaign: plan for optimizations. For example, prepare multiple versions of the same video, edit them to different lengths, and plan to A/B test them to see which lengths perform best. Setting yourself up to be agile throughout the campaign will only make things easier once your media goes live.

Best Practices for Targeting in CTV Ad Campaigns

On to CTV targeting! Because CTV is a cookieless format, marketers don’t have the ability to target audiences with the same granularity offered by other digital platforms. But if you think CTV is safe from the implications of a cookieless future, think again: the prevalence of consumer privacy concerns suggests that the future of the IP address—which is currently used for targeting and measuring CTV ads—may be in doubt. As such, marketers would do well to wean off the IP address and lean on targeting options like private marketplaces (PMPs).

Leveraging PMPs is a privacy-friendly way for CTV marketers to target. Basis CTV PMP offerings, for example, include first-party, demographic, and contextual data targeting. For additional targeting, users can layer on first- and/or third-party data using cross-device targeting or contextual data. However, marketers should be aware that getting too granular with these targeting methods can impact scale.

Contextual advertising solutions are privacy-friendly, scalable, and cost-efficient, making them a no-brainer for CTV. These audience segments are classified using groups such as content category, broadcast type, production type, and device in order to better target media based on user viewing habits. Take Basis’ integration with Peer39, which utilizes a combination of classification technologies to help advertisers identify audiences in programmatic CTV-OTT beyond traditional TV channels and content. What’s more, Peer39’s categories are self-learning and auto-update, which streamlines the audience identification process.

PMPs also mitigate ad fraud by providing premium content, hosted by trusted publishers. Of course, that doesn’t mean the landscape is fraud-free: the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic correlated with a huge increase in CTV ad fraud. Between January and April of 2020, DoubleVerify detected a 101% year-over-year increase in fraudulent CTV ad impressions. To protect yourself from fraud schemes, it’s best to avoid intermediaries in the CTV buying process: target direct publisher relationships only. A good DSP will add more layers of protection by implementing pre-bid filtration and post-impression detection to sift out fraud.

Best Practices for Measuring CTV Ad Campaigns

Let’s move on to the holy grail of CTV marketing pain points: measurement and reporting. The landscape is cluttered with devices and platforms as well as transparency-limiting walled gardens, all of which use different identifiers to measure performance. While organizations like the IAB Tech Lab are working toward solutions to the measurement challenges posed by CTV fragmentation, marketers today must plan around the limitations.

So, which KPIs should marketers consider when planning CTV campaigns? Video completion rate (VCR) is a standard, while reach and frequency will demonstrate that your campaigns are connecting with a wide audience. Other options include:

  • Top-performing apps and domains: To show which apps and domains are most impactful with your audience
  • Impressions delivered: To demonstrate the number of times viewers saw campaign media
  • Cost per completed view: To demonstrate cost efficiency
  • Video quartile completions: To show how engaging your media is to viewers

There are a variety of partners—or, even better, full-service advertising platforms with a variety of partner integrations—that marketers can layer onto a CTV campaign to garner broader and more detailed reports.

A visitation partner like Cuebiq, for example, measures store visitation rates in relation to ad views and delivers reporting metrics such as walk-in volume, cost per volume, and even visit rate per impression frequency.

Alternatively, layering on a study like Nielsen Campaign Lift empowers advertisers to track in-store sales metrics as a result of a campaign. Nielsen Campaign Lift compares sales metrics between retailers within the campaign’s geo target and the same retailers outside the campaign’s geo target, then calculates the sales lift between those groups. This is a great workaround for to accessing the sought-after return on ad spend (ROAS) numbers brands want.

The Future of Connected TV Advertising

While the fragmented nature of CTV advertising presents marketing challenges, brands and agencies willing to think outside the box and test creative solutions will enjoy the broad brand awareness, leads, and sales/conversions CTV offers. The key to running effective CTV campaigns today really comes down to planning: marketers who do the upfront work of identifying KPIs and audience targeting tactics will see gains once their campaigns go live.

If one thing’s certain about the CTV landscape, it’s that it’s never boring. One particularly exciting development: CTV ads that feature interactive elements such as QR codes that simultaneously streamline the customer experience, while offering more and better engagement metrics for marketers.

Yes, the future of CTV is bright, brilliant, and streaming in a living room—or kitchen, bathroom, or bus, for that matter—near you.

For an even deeper dive into connected TV, check out our Connected TV Guide.

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