The CTV Opportunity: Stop Talking Reach and Start Talking Creative

The exponential increase in CTV adoption across the globe represents a new and unique opportunity for marketers and brands. 8 in 10 people have CTV access in Australia, and 7 in 10 in Indonesia. In Singapore, 87% of the population has access to CTV, with 42% owning more than three devices. 

As creative remains a key element in driving advertising success, how can marketers harness the content capabilities and creative formats that CTV can offer?  

This important question and other interesting trends were discussed at “The CTV opportunity: Stop talking reach and start talking creative” panel discussion, aired on 15 October 2021 as part of The Drum Digital Summit 2021. Topics included the driving forces of CTV adoption, opportunities and challenges in developing creative for CTV, personalisation in the privacy-first era, as well as what marketers can look forward to in the future of digital advertising.

Moderated by Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor at The Drum, the panel hosted David Haddad, ANZ Managing Director at Unruly, Nicole Bence, Network Digital Sales Director at Seven Network, Florent Davach de Thèze, Business Director at Mindshare, Tania David, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Finecast Australia, and Sophie Hicks Lloyd, Director of Digital Sales at Network 10.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the session. 

Unique opportunities for advertisers 

Kickstarting the session, the panel discussed the factors behind the growth of CTV, which includes the widespread adoption of smart TVs as the main screen in the house, as well as the increased audience willingness to lean into high-quality, premium ad-supported content. 

It was a shared sentiment among the panelists that the booming popularity of smart TVs, combined with the influx of streaming services comprising local and premium content, contributes to a highly enjoyable entertainment experience. Especially as CTV penetration within the APAC market continues to grow beyond 70%, advertisers are certainly paying attention to shifting consumer habits and incorporating CTV in their media plans. 

Apart from utilising the brand-building power of TV, marketers can now bring smart and digital formats together to focus on developing data, commerce and creativity, and see CTV as its own device. “We’ve got linear TV advertisements being replicated across digital, which absolutely works, but there are opportunities to do more with that,” shared Nicole. 

Developing creative for CTV

Creative is king. A Nielsen study found creative to be responsible for up to 47% of a campaign’s sales uplift – the undisputed champ in terms of sales drivers when compared to other advertising elements such as reach (22%), targeting (9%), recency (5%) and context (2%).

Marketers and creative teams can now explore different methods of engagement to connect with viewers in a deeper and more personalised way. 

One key opportunity is the ability to increase user interactivity in different forms. “Whether it’s the non-intrusive user-initiated call, which is appealing to both marketers and audience, code-scanning or perhaps allowing viewers to select the colour choices of a car might be an option,” said Sophie. “Proper addressability and customisation within creative formats in CTV is very much going to happen.” 

From an agency point of view, according to Florent, “CTV is a great tool for new product launches, storytelling and education, and when what we want to achieve is to showcase video in high format, high quality and with volume.” 

David perfectly summed up what is likely the biggest opportunity for CTV – with such a huge real estate for creative engagement, it is a way for clients and advertisers to trial different things that they might not normally get away with. For example, reinforcing product visuals and imagery with branded frames, or creating shoppable ads for better brand connection. At Unruly, many clients are exploring ways to use CTV differently compared to how they would with online video. For example, Unruly worked with a popular luxury cosmetics brand to optimise a 15-second video for CTV; adding a branded frame to reinforce product imagery and key brand videos, as well as an end card to amplify the viewer-brand connection, the custom video units ended up being 25 to 30 seconds long but still had a higher video completion rate. This shows that with engaging and relevant optimisations, longer video lengths could drive higher performance.

Overcoming challenges 

As marketers get excited over how they can use this new canvas to connect with their audience, several issues such as user experience and privacy could remain a barrier to those looking to fully embrace CTV as a dynamic and effective channel. 

Some marketers seem to stay away from CTV because of the concerns surrounding user experience, but most networks are now working really hard to ensure that user experience is improving for advertisers. “The introduction of video header bidding in Australia across the board in the coming quarter and into next year is really going to help us get rid of the last remaining user experience issues and bring more marketers into the CTV world,” commented Sophie. 

Another looming concern is how marketers and brands are at different points of the journey in making sense of CTV – some may ask: does CTV sit on the digital or TV side, and which one exactly is helping to build a brand? Amid this, there is no doubt that the industry is evolving and getting smarter in the way we trade and how we bring different formats to the market. “As we get better at being able to apply data segments and measurements, and offer the transparency that marketers have come to expect from digital, we’re going to see a lot more scale and clients will feel like some of those challenges will disappear,” commented Nicole.

Staying privacy-first

In the wake of a privacy-first era, how can marketers still make the most out of CTV personalisation? According to Tania, CTV personalisation should not be looked at as one-to-one personalisation as we would on a mobile device or laptop, but instead should cater to the entire household in a subtle and non-intrusive manner. In agreement, Nicole also shared that with privacy at the heart of it all, it is all about how we use data to deliver a better experience for viewers and a shift toward an advertising-as-a-service model. It is evident that scale is still something that needs to be addressed when it comes to using first-party data, and this can be overcome through lookalike modelling and retargeting. 

The future of CTV

In closing, the panellists shared their thoughts on what’s in store for the future of CTV, including increased industry collaboration, brand integration, innovative formats and added scale. 

“I’d love to see more industry collaboration and innovation being developed in local markets to help brands navigate this new and exciting ecosystem,” shared Tania, who also highlighted that the immediate future will be focused on the measurement of total TV strategy. Florent underscored the need for more responsive advertisements, and on the publisher side, new innovative formats and brand integration through post-production or dynamic overlays. There is also huge potential in localised content, the sports and esports arena, as well as shoppable formats. 

While a lot is currently in development, it is important to bring these capabilities together and add scale to deliver the reach that clients expect to see in a TV environment. “It’s a future where we can really start to see brands leaning very heavily into the environment,” concluded David. “We know that completion rates and viewability are incredibly high – if we can stitch that experience to CTV, we’re going to have a super interesting user and audience experience, and hopefully really great brand experience as well.”