Don’t Take CTV Results At Face Value

"On TV And Video" is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.

Today’s column is written by Ronan Higgins, CEO at TVadSync.

When buyers place their bets on a new tactic, they are eager to get insights to help determine if their campaign worked. Connected TV (CTV) is no different. This new entrant to the digital advertising portfolio is already commanding major test budgets. And reports often come back saying that it’s working.

Not so fast. These reports are exciting, but can’t be taken at face value. For advertisers, it’s better to take a “goldilocks” approach to measuring CTV. Start out testing a few options and see what makes the most sense for their personal needs to get it just right.

Metrics that are too hot

The first issue many advertisers run into is getting starry-eyed over quality metrics. For example, CTV looks really good when measured against metrics such as viewability and completed views.

CTV offers a captive audience, even more so than on linear TV where people can channel surf, and certainly more than on YouTube with its short skippable videos. If someone’s got the Hulu app open, they’re usually committed to what they’re watching.

This behavior is why CTV looks so good on viewability reporting and other in-view metrics. But advertisers shouldn’t stick with the first bowl they taste.

On other channels, these quality metrics are usually used as campaign health guidelines, not as end-all proof points. We need to also remember that for CTV. High viewability is great, but advertisers need to focus on more depth such as effectiveness and sales drivers.

It’s possible, for example, that the extra level of viewability actually increases the actual perceived frequency of a CTV campaign, which might be too much for the audience. Brands need to keep testing and setting up added measurement elements, such as brand awareness and favorability studies, to learn the best approach.

Models that are too cold

As advertisers start testing to find the right fit, it’s easy to get sucked into a one-sided measurement process that suits a particular channel or only measures a certain type of outcome. If a network partners with a location-based visitation measurement company, they are going to produce studies that focus on the media bought on that network’s content.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but for a brand just dipping a toe into CTV, it can be tempting to make too much of metrics that are not able to capture the halo effects of the advertiser’s larger media activity.

Advertisers should request log-level data to be imported into their own larger measurement practice for a holistic review. This is also the best way to compare two different CTV media buys, as individual media companies or partner vendors could have very different methodologies, in addition to the incomplete advertiser view.

Attribution that’s just right

Moving down to performance metrics is where things start getting complicated. People in the middle of long-form video content are a lot less likely to click and convert, and so brands need to determine if CTV is likely to drive any sort of conversion outcome. Most basically, to capture the conversions that do happen, brands should employ a unique phone number or URL that’s different between CTV, digital and linear. This will help create a baseline of average conversions across each channel that at the very least, new campaigns can be compared to.

Many brands that first try CTV as part of their DSP media buying can start to measure baseline performance metrics on DSP reports compared to their more established channels. Brands should work with their DSPs to try to get context for any reporting they receive. For example, was the response rate on their own campaign better or worse than the average for those shows, time of day or type of campaign? Establishing baseline expectations of performance might not close the loop on ROAS, but it certainly helps put brand new metrics into some perspective.

Many brands have turned to different kinds of attribution models to determine the effects of CTV advertising on overall sales or other performance KPIs. In many cases, CTV looks great, better even, than linear.

But there are a few tricky elements to measuring CTV. For example, CTV audiences are demographically skewed toward younger age groups, CTV inventory commands very high CPM prices and CTV inventory can come from shared screens (the big TV in the living room) but also personal digital devices such as an iPad. And linear shares the big screen with CTV, so it’s important to remember that element of the user experience with regards to frequency and message sequencing.

Getting measurement of a new channel right can take months of fine tuning, working with data teams and media teams to fairly include all of the media elements at play. While we all want CTV to be a winner, we still need a test-and-learn approach to understand the right way to include CTV in an omnichannel media plan.

CTV is a hot commodity, and it costs more as a result of its scarcity. It’s important for brands to measure return on ad spend to determine if the extra cost is worth the results. Often, linear can perform better.

Follow TVadSync (@TVadSync) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

 

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