Connected TV (CTV) is fast becoming the way most people watch TV. With TV consumption soaring during the pandemic, The Trade Desk reported in a recent survey that streaming consumption now accounts for 68% of TV viewing versus 28% for traditional TV viewing in the US. With this level of adoption, publishers need to be making the most of CTV advertising offerings.
At the recent Digiday Publishing Summit in Miami, John Rogers, Vice President, Business Development at Unruly sat down with Reed Barker, Head of Advertising at Philo to discuss the CTV landscape and its future.
As a virtual Multiple Video Programming Distributor (MVPD), Philo offers both linear programming and video on demand (VOD) through their CTV offering, making Reed uniquely positioned to examine the industry.
On the whole, advertisers are impressed with the results of CTV. A recent study conducted by Unruly found that 98% of brands were satisfied with the performance of their CTV campaigns, while 77% also said they would continue to invest more in CTV advertising over the next year.
Looking ahead, a big component of CTV buying will be done using programmatic capabilities, an approach that is embedded in Philo’s sales strategy.
“But when we’re talking about programmatic buying, we’re not talking about an auction or a race to the bottom,” Reed explained. “We’re talking about a curated marketplace where we’re doing private marketplace deals.”
As powerful as programmatic is, balancing it alongside PMP or direct to advertiser deals helps ensure that ads are reaching the right audience. Unlike most traditional MVPDs, Philo has the ability to target a large segment of females (two out of three of their subscribers are female). Their programming mechanisms then allow them to drill down on specific audience segments.
Between 2019 and 2020 Philo’s subscribers grew by 300%, Reed revealed. Programmatic allowed Philo to be flexible, scaling up alongside their growing subscriber base while consulting with Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs), Demand Side Platforms (DSPs), trade desks and brands to bring fresh advertising opportunities forward.
“Linear Ain’t Dead”
With such a plethora of data available, one of CTV’s strengths is that advertisers no longer have to target specific segments to place their ads. Instead, Reed said, Philo is able to pass ‘contextual signals’ about the slots it has on offer, relying on genre, ratings, and other metrics to help advertisers make the right decision.
Though advertisers still prioritize mobile in their digital ad budgets, spending on non-mobile ads has increased – largely thanks to CTV. Though VODs allow for individual audience targeting, Reed revealed that 80% of Philo users watched its linear TV offerings.
“People still want to just turn on the TV and watch something someone has programmed in for them,” he commented.
Though Philo isn’t able to control all the ads on the linear channels – ad pods are made up of a mix of the individual channels and Philo’s own ad slots – their technology ensures that ads placed through Philo are unique and targeted by using both audio fingerprint and logo recognition. Customers will never watch the same ad, or even different ads from the same company, back-to-back.
“We’re always trying to look for ways our friends and computer overlords can help us,” he joked.
Simplifying the Future
“I guess we’re in the future already,” Reed said when asked about where the industry is headed. CTV’s growth has been accelerated by the pandemic, leading to an increased number of users and spend from advertisers. A recent study from Intelligence Insider estimates that CTV ad spending will increase by 48.6% this year to reach $13.41 billion in the US alone.
However, with the establishment of many ad-supported services that allow direct-to-consumer advertising – such as HBO Max and Discovery Plus– Reed explained that Philo is taking time to consider how it can align itself to support more content.
He expects a consolidation of these direct-to-consumer channels in the next 12-18 months; with so many companies having jumped straight in, the licensing deals can be confusing for both the consumer and advertisers. He also predicted that as brands are able to find their audience more accurately, more will be looking for a CPV (cost-per-view) model.
“Things are changing and it’s an honor to have a front seat,” Reed concluded.