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4 Tips to Elevate Your CTV Strategy

Guest Author: Keelia Schumacher, Senior Director of Sales, Data Axle

As we head into 2022, it’s expected that 60% of American consumers will be watching CTV. The trend began in 2020, we saw Connected TV (CTV) usage skyrocket to 3B+ hours per week. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, CTV use was growing – but the pandemic pushed it into overdrive. In January 2021, eMarketer reported that U.S. programmatic CTV video ad spend rose by 36.3%, reaching $4.36 billion. Advertisers are recognizing the opportunity in this growing space and are adjusting their business plans to capitalize on it.  

And not only is the audience for CTV on the rise, but the death of the third-party cookie is looming. CTV is one of the few digital channels that are mostly immune to its demise. CTV thrives on first-party data, based on user-authentication and respect for privacy preferences. Pseudonymous identifiers, such as IP addresses, are rooted in this type of user authentication and will offer a way to keep track of viewers while still respecting their privacy.

1. Set campaign goals and KPIs before launching your CTV campaign

CTV gives advertisers plenty of data by which to measure the success of their campaigns. Metrics such as video completion rate (VCR), unique households reached, cost per unique household, after-ad influence, and offline conversion tracking are all available. However, because this is such a new medium there is no industry standard to compare to. This leaves the door open for advertisers to define what success looks like and which KPIs are important to their business goals. KORTX reports that marketers have come to expect VCR percentages of 95%+ for CTV campaigns. However, depending on what you want to accomplish, VCR might be less important than after-ad influence or cost per completed view (CPCV). Before launching your campaign, decide what your goals are for the campaign and which metrics are important to you. This will give you a better roadmap for determining if your campaign was successful and how to proceed to best maximize the potential of this channel down the road.

2. Create (and segment) custom audiences

One of the major benefits of CTV as opposed to other channels is that it allows for extremely precise targeting. This feature is what prompted Forbes to describe CTV as the “holy grail” for advertisers1. The primary objective of a custom audience is to allow brands to create and target their ideal customers. When you have a custom audience defined by third-party data, you can use that to create an accurate look-a-like model. 

Look-alike models allow you to:

  • Identify your existing best customers
  • Employ advanced statistical analysis and custom modeling to identify prospect households who “look like” your best customers
  • Reach these “best” prospects through a cross-channel media strategy designed to engage and convert these prospects to customers

Once you have your look-alike model, you can create custom audiences on CTV. This will enable you to reach the audience that is most likely to convert.

From there you should segment the model. Segmentation is effective because it allows your ads to be delivered to an audience that would find them relevant. You can invest in pre-packaged audience segments based on demographicstransactional history, interests, recently moved individuals, and political affiliation or you can build a custom audience off your look-a-like model. For example, a cookware retailer can use their CTV ad to target an audience with a higher projected interest in cooking, such as hobbyists, mothers, college-educated men, and newly engaged couples who are building registries.

3. Use data to improve online and offline identity resolution to improve audience targeting

As a whole, the industry is behind when it comes to integrating online and offline data, in addition to identity resolution. In general, Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) – the systems that allow digital advertising buyers to manage multiple ad exchanges – have a hard time reconciling mobile, desktop, and CTV users. To advertise more effectively, you need additional data. Data providers, such as Data Axle, can help match offline and online data by appending information to your first-party records. This approach will improve targeting, amplify your campaign reach, and significantly improve onboarding rates. James Purtle, Senior Director of Digital Marketing at Data Axle, says, “Clients that leverage Data Axle data to enhance offline audiences before onboarding have seen as much as a 60% increase in match rates, resulting in more targetable ads.”

4. Integrate CTV into your omnichannel campaigns

A coordinated, well-planned omnichannel campaign is a sure-fire path to success – and CTV can be a powerful tool in bringing an omnichannel strategy to fruition. Richard Geiger, Senior Vice President at Data Axle, said, “We also know from industry surveys, match-back studies, lots of testing, and attribution work that it takes more than one touch and more than one channel to keep donors continuously engaged.” He continued, “I recommend touching potential donors 7-12 times to maximize donation opportunities. A data-driven retention approach utilizes channel, offer, and message in concert with one another, so it’s important to keep that in mind as you start to explore an omnichannel strategy.”

For example, Data Axle recently assisted Defenders of Wildlife with integrating CTV into their omnichannel strategy. Defenders wanted the CTV campaign to be used in conjunction with digital ads to raise brand awareness, engage prospective donors, and boost fundraising for Q4, 2020. Using Data Axle’s donor database, Apogee, and custom modeling, we created an audience of potential donors who were likely to give online. To target them, we deployed a CTV ad to drive brand awareness and a display retargeting ad with similar creative and messaging. Both campaigns drove the audience to the Defenders’ website. The campaign generated an ROI of over 600% and the CTV ads had a Video Completion Rate (VCR) of 94% – which means that 94% of viewers watched the entire commercial.

CTV usage is only going to continue to grow as consumers shift their attention to streaming services, and others opt to ‘cut the cord’ altogether. Savvy companies should shore up their data now to take advantage of the opportunity in this buzz-worthy channel.  

Contact Data Axle to start down the path to creating your own customer audience and take advantage of the advanced targeting CTV has to offer.


Sources:

1 https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradadgate/2020/06/12/connected-tv-viewing-is-not-returning-to-pre-pandemic-levels/?sh=22c589be3aa5


Keelia Schumacher

With over 13 years of experience, Keelia has a deep knowledge of client challenges, is passionate about customizing solutions to best fit their needs and helping them exceed their business goals. She is an expert in location analytics, ad tech, and digital marketing.

What’s the Right Way to Get Started with CTV and OTT?

A client recently told me she perceived two mindsets related to connected TV and over-the-top TV: If you’re not doing it, you are foolish for missing a big opportunity to reach premium audiences at scale. But if you are doing it, you are going in a bit blind. You will have to contend with a lack of standards in measurement and an inability to solve or understand frequency and duplication uncertainty across screens.

This led to her question: “Who is doing it right?”

I believe that anyone that is in-market and learning is doing the right thing.

The fact is audiences have shifted and brands cannot afford to ignore this. Based on Cadent’s Viewer Intelligence Graph of holistic deduplicated cross-screen viewership, a brand could miss up to 40 percent of its desired audience reach by ignoring CTV/OTT in its media plan, depending on the target audience segment.

Besides ignoring a large percentage of viewership, the cost of not trying is that you won’t learn—about your customers, audience segmentation performance and the effectiveness of CTV/OTT in your media mix.

Unlike linear television, CTV/OTT gives brands the ability to garner actionable insights in real-time. Brands can understand how responsive audiences are to their ads by monitoring video completions rates and even deterministically tracking ad exposures to conversions. That allows you to link real-time ad exposure to desired business outcomes with the ability to optimize while in-flight.

Instead of looking for reasons not to invest in any newer channels, it is time for brands to get in there and figure out what works for them. Data-driven channels such as CTV and OTT lend themselves to massive learning opportunities. Don’t put CTV/OTT on a plan just because everyone else is. Make it count. Create a scalable solution by working across multiple partners, focus on leveraging consistent data across all and push for visibility and learnings across every screen.

With a clear plan, and a few basics in place, marketers can create a path to success with CTV and OTT today:

  • Iterate and innovate. If you use your campaigns as a mechanism to learn and figure out what works for you, you’ll succeed. There is usually debate over the “best” data sets in the market. The data sets and approach that work to drive optimal results for an individual brand’s KPI is the data/segment that is best for that brand. Brands will find that for certain KPIs, third-party data outperforms their CRM data and vice versa.
  • Get your team together early and often. This is a team sport. Your partners—agencies, data companies and publishers—should be at your side on this journey. Bring everyone together at the beginning of the process and challenge partners to step up and help you learn. Encourage them to be thoughtful on the front end  while being clear on what you’re trying to learn and accomplish. Push partners to give you the measurement and validation needed to help scale your efforts. Over time you’ll understand that OTT and CTV are key tactics that can be leveraged to drive outcomes, and you’ll know how to better maximize success.
  • Don’t accept that something succeeded or failed without questioning why. I always say that understanding what is broken is usually more powerful than knowing which pieces worked. If you don’t know why a campaign is not performing well, you cannot improve. Do not accept campaign success or failure without questioning why. Take a deeper look into the data and ask, “What levers can I pull to make the next campaign better?” and “How can I take insights from this campaign to inform future media buys?” For example, figure out if demo-based or strategic audience-based targeting is better for driving sales volume. Learn what the trade-offs are for targeting a demo versus a more specific audience. Determine how a shift in audience targeting could have maximized the ROI.
  • Create your own standards and practices within your organization. Find the subject matter experts in your group and develop those voices. In the test design phase for every campaign, make curiosity a core value for your team and organize everyone around that.

You have to start somewhere. As an industry, we’re building the foundation of next-generation TV. There’s no syndicated source that’s going to tell you what works, what doesn’t work and why. The technology will get smarter over time, standards will come and OTT/CTV will become easier to plan.

In the meantime, no one is going to do the work for you. It’s up to you to figure out what will continue to drive the success of your business in this evolving marketplace while maximizing reach against high-value audiences.

Learn more about bringing data to TV.

Reaching Fragmented Audiences with OTT and CTV

Dana Bhargava, Head of Experience Planning & Media, Sanofi Consumer Health, took the virtual stage at Cadent’s Future of TV summit to speak with Jamie Power, Chief Data Officer, Cadent, about getting started with OTT and CTV, reaching fragmented audiences and much more.

Catch a video of the session, plus a full recap of the conversation, below.

Jamie mentioned that during the pandemic, people became more health conscious. How exactly did Dana’s brand supported that behavioral shift?

“Our goal at Sanofi has always been about empowering people to take control of their health,” Dana said. And in trying times, it becomes even more important to communicate that message. Sanofi’s OTC products were impacted by pantry loading earlier in the pandemic, and the brand had to make sure that its distribution channels were clear and that its products were available for customers who depend on them.

The pandemic has accelerated consumer behavior in certain ways, some unexpected, Dana said, putting marketers on their toes: “It’s both scary and exciting at the same time because it really stimulates change within an organization and sets an organization on fire to go chase those areas where we know we’re not going to be able to keep up.”

Reaching fragmented audiences across screens

With so much fragmentation today, Jamie, asked, was Dana satisfied with her insight into understanding audiences across screens, whether it be reach building or frequency building. Dana replied no, that with all the wall gardens out there, “we live in a world where we really don’t really understand duplication at all,” adding, “Some duplication isn’t bad, some frequency isn’t bad. I think there’s work to be done there. Certainly I think we really need to understand that. CTV OTT is just one part of it.”

This whole idea of bringing data to TV is really the start of evolution of all of our channels to make them all more accountable. And I think we have to work as an industry to start breaking down some of these walled gardens.” -Dana Bhargava, Head of Experience Planning & Media, Sanofi Consumer Health

Ad environment is key

Sanofi has always had strong guidelines on content, Dana said, and some those content guidelines don’t exist in other channels. And this year, as social media platforms struggle with brand safety, the issues becomes increasingly important to Sanofi, which Dana said could continue to drive shifts back to looking for those environments where you can have some kind of guarantee of where an ad is actually showing up.

Why buy an ad in a skippable environment? For many marketers, it comes down to going where their audiences go. Dana said, “Audiences still continue to be there [in skippable ad environments]… Audiences are there, and there’s content in which you want to align with.” Sanofi thinks about using the first three seconds of its ads in that context really carefully, and they consider the  specific customer journey stage the person might be in.

Building a foundation for OTT and CTV within a brand

Sanofi’s approach to investing in specific channels, Dana said, is one that is investment agnostic and aims to understand consumers and their consumer journeys, being able to deliver against what an audience is looking for as opposed to having a sort of siloed approach to planning.

Dana said she thinks about using CTV and OTT to increase reach against audiences that might be harder to find in linear TV today: “CTV OTT can be a great add to driving incremental reach against all those precision tactics that you have,” adding that the medium can create quality environments that you want to run in, more opportunities for you to put longer-form content out in front of unskippable content, and importantly, increased scale against a lot of those precision audiences.

Any emerging medium is going to have a ramp up period while marketers try it out and decide if it’s worth the investment. Being a champion for mediums like OTT, CTV or addressable TV within an organization can be difficult, especially if it’s outside of the traditional box.

If you can really focus on what you’re trying to accomplish and what the role of your channels are,  it will almost tell its own story as to why you’re [trying the new medium],” Dana said. If your goal is upper funnel awareness, then you need to drive reach and share of voice against your competitors, which you can’t do successfully without other carefully orchestrated tactics. Dana added, “Contextualizing the spend against what its role is always helps to have those conversations internally.”

Learn more about the future of data-driven TV advertising in our series, “Coming to Terms with TV Ad Terms.”