By Jessica Hogue
The reach of connected TV (CTV) now extends to more than half of all American homes, providing a unique set of opportunities for marketers to reach television audiences with advertising experiences that are as dynamic, interactive, and measurable as those employed in digital environments. Increasingly, marketers are looking for ways to take advantage of this expanding new medium to drive results, grow their bottom line, and deliver important KPIs in ways that traditional linear television cannot.
The world's first linear television commercial aired July 1, 1941, so when it comes to planning a linear television campaign, marketers can draw from nearly 80 years of history, knowledge, and learnings. Marketers know TV is great for building reach, evoking moments that spark joy and laughter, and driving tangible business outcomes. By contrast, CTV has just reached wide adoption within the last few years, making it now possible to run scaled campaigns. The rules for CTV are still largely unwritten and best practices will accrue over time as marketers invest in and test new applications.
The First Full-Funnel Medium
It is not uncommon to hear brand advertisers refer to CTV in diverse terms, underscoring the work-in-progress vernacular of the medium. Some focus on addressability, espousing the use of data to drive personalization and increased interactivity. Others describe CTV as a reach extension to speak to displaced or incremental TV viewers. More and more studies are starting to prove sales lift. CTV is a Swiss Army knife of marketing tactics, driving upper funnel awareness if the inventory is scaled and planned accordingly, and moving downstream with personalized messaging and outcome-focused executions.
It's incumbent upon marketers to build the empirical insights and normative data for this emerging medium to help ascertain where it fits within the marketing compendium and under what conditions. In an effort to drive the conversation, Innovid partnered with the ANA — as well as many of the world's top brands — to conduct a study to better understand the potential of CTV advertising. [Editor's note: A whitepaper detailing the study's full findings is due to publish later this year. This story will be updated to include a link to that report.]
To establish a foundation, the study initially sought to contrast the differences between a standard preroll ad unit and an immersive interactive one. The goal was to drive fluency with the KPIs, exploring what situations increase engagement rates and how incremental time with an ad can be earned. While not a test/control design, the study created consistency by offering participants the ability to select one of three types of interactive formats designed specifically to achieve their desired KPIs:
- Driving awareness
- Product discovery
- Driving to a performance outcome, such as clicking to a website or sending a text via a mobile device for more information
Here are a few emerging insights from the study:
More Time Earned Via 30-Second Ads
Much has been studied and written about the relative performance of 15- and 30-second ads. With consumer attention increasingly fragmented — and therefore more coveted among advertisers — there's been a shift to even shorter ad lengths, such as six seconds. A few years after "bumper" ads hit the market, research showed that for shorter durations it was best to focus on a single KPI, such as communicating a brand message, or trying to create an emotional response. Too much clutter and expectation of a mere six seconds would prove counterproductive for brands.
Contrast this with an immersive, choose-your-own-adventure style ad experience. Campaign goals can be orchestrated to balance breakthrough awareness with advancing to a behavior. Instead of truncating time, interactive ads invite consumers to lengthen their viewing session.
From a creative standpoint, the key question is whether 15-second spots can deliver the same impact as 30-second spots. Innovid's 2018 benchmarks indicate longer ads tend to earn a greater number of incremental seconds of viewing. This was corroborated in the ANA study, which showed that the majority of ads with interactive elements increased total time, and 30-second spots yield more time earned than 15-second spots.
The Role of Engagement
The study also explored the role of engagement across both interactive and standard preroll units. Unlike click-through rates (CTR), which indicate a viewer taking an action to move beyond the ad (e.g., visiting a website), engagement captures the viewer's first click in the ad, providing a standardized metric for evaluating the rate at which viewers engage with the advertising content.
A common thread throughout the study revealed how screen size and orientation (portrait or landscape) introduce variables that can drive engagement. For example, mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets yield higher engagement, whereas CTV screens promote more time. Advancing the slate by clicking on the image (known as in-unit clicks) and capturing attention with each click or rotation allows marketers to gauge the users' interest in learning more. The study also shows the need to strike a balance between entertaining and informational content to boost interactions with each panel, or piece of content.
The study homed in on whether there is any discernible difference in a consumers' engagement rate based on the time of day in which they are consuming the ad. The hypothesis was that there would be no change because CTV is a more considered viewing environment, where consumers actively select the platform and choose the content they want to watch. This mindset could potentially extend to the overall viewing experience, not just the discovery or selection of the content. In the campaigns in which time of day was measured, there was an increase in viewing during the traditional primetime window of 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Viewing during those hours spurred more consumers to engage with interactive ads.Many Marketers h
The Connected Checklist
Perhaps the biggest lesson from the study is the experiential knowledge gained from the process of ideation, campaign set up, and results analysis. Across the study's participants, there was a need to align creative and marketing goals with measurement. Innovative marketers understand that they simply cannot take a TV asset and retrofit it for this new medium.
Successful campaigns start with cross-functional dialogue and encompass creative, marketing, media planning teams, and agency partners. In highly regulated sectors such as healthcare, additional steps are needed to ensure that advertising copy and visuals are compliant. Finally, marketers need to work with media partners to identify relevant and available inventory, and determine how many impressions are required to drive performance.
The findings from this study will continue to inform industry research as the market evolves and CTV starts to command more time and budget. One of the more pressing areas for marketers when planning CTV media is understanding the optimal frequency across their media plans to drive results both up and down the funnel.
Jessica Hogue is the general manager of measurement and analytics at Innovid, a partner in the ANA Thought Leadership Program.