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

By Cadent Staff
12/04/20 3 MIN READ

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.