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    Why Connected TV Will Be the Hero of Advertising in 2021: 5 Key Trends

    Diksha Sahni
    Posted by Diksha Sahni

    2020 was a defining moment for the digital video and entertainment space as Connected TV (CTV) made deeper inroads into our living rooms, changing the way content is consumed forever. An unprecedented global pandemic and subsequent lockdown pushed people to stay indoors and seek new ways of connectivity, work, and entertainment. 

    While millennials had been moving away from linear TV for a long time, the pandemic quickened a wider consumer adoption in favor of CTV. According to a study by Nielsen, at the peak of the lockdown in the U.S., weekly time spent watching CTV grew along with overall media use, rising by more than 1 billion hours as the weeks passed. This, in turn, also dominated how marketers shift and spend their advertising dollars. CTV ad spend rose 70% between Q1 and Q3 2020, according to a study by fraud intelligence and compliance platform Pixalate.

    How will CTV viewing and advertising evolve in 2021? Let’s take a look at the trends expected to dominate this space this year:

    Co-viewing and opportunities for Household targeting

    With the majority of households consuming content on CTV together during the pandemic, co-viewing emerged as a definitive trend. The changed viewing behavior made brands take notice and start “watch parties”, which allows users to view content together while not necessarily in the same room through the platform. With more group engagement through co-viewing, brands have the opportunity to make ads personalized for specific audiences. Even in the same household, people consume CTV on different connected devices and technologies such as Household Sync can help brands to increase brand impact by syncing ads on CTV with ads on other devices in the household. 

    Expansion of CTV retargeting capabilities

    Until now, when someone wanted to do “TV syncing”, linear TV advertising followed as a synchronized campaign at the same time a mobile campaign was launched. With CTV, advertisers have a full-funnel approach to marketing efforts as retargeting capabilities have expanded: making it possible to target and retarget at the household level using first and third-party data. Advertisers can approach it in various ways: target a CTV and then target it again, targeting mobile and then target the users’ CTV, and finally targeting a CTV and then target other connected devices within the same household. As the data capabilities within CTV become more sophisticated advertisers will be able to target specific audiences and track user actions on other household devices for television to finally be able to offer advertising for the modern-day connected consumers.

    CTV becomes an integral part of the omnichannel approach 

    Marketers are increasingly looking to connect the online and offline journeys of their customers, and CTV is emerging as an integral part of their omnichannel marketing strategies. Using advanced real-time data and cross-device targeting, CTV is helping brands to close the online and offline gap. Moreover, advertisers can link ads on CTV to actual visits to the stores, through innovative technology like the Drive-to-store from CTV campaigns solution mediasmart developed. With technologies of geofencing and proximity marketing, advertisers can create audiences based on the user’s location patterns to target them at the right place and the right time. This also allows them to get greater engagement, deliver more relevant messages to consumers in bigger more-appealing formats, and at the same time measure the success of the campaign on sales.

    Data accuracy and standardized measurement on CTV

    As demand for CTV increases and programmatic buying takes over, we can expect more DMPs offering a deeper level of data accuracy that will further refine targeting capabilities in this space. 2021 could also be a defining year when standardized measurement arrives on CTV. Currently, there are two-fold challenges to measurement on CTV - device operating system and server-side ad insertion environments. IAB Tech Lab is already working on standardizing around VAST 4 and Open Measurement (OM) to deliver better measurement support for CTV platforms. With a standard measurement in CTV, it will offer greater confidence to advertisers to serve data-layered campaigns and measure impact across platforms. 

    Increase of players selling  their CTV inventory programmatically

    With greater interest in CTV advertising, there is an increase in players offering programmatic buying opportunities in CTV inventory which will further accelerate the ad spend shift from linear TV. More budgets are going towards programmatic driven by the opportunity to have high-quality campaigns at scale in the television environment. Programmatic capabilities in CTV will also mean that advanced metrics are finally offered in television advertising, which was earlier lacking with linear TV. Real-time optimization and frequency capping - that drive programmatic campaigns in app advertising are now being offered within CTV making it more viable for advertisers to holistically reach out to their targeted audiences. With an extensive CTV inventory, advertisers are now getting more features and flexibility than they could ever before working directly with publishers.


    Television advertising and viewing habits are not returning to pre-Covid levels, as study shows. The timing, technology and possibilities are ripe for advertisers to fully embrace CTV. The lines between linear TV and CTV are blurring and advertisers now have new opportunities to take advantage of a highly interactive medium that offers not only a wide playground for storytelling but also brings in all the efficiencies of cross-media insights and analytics. 

    Topics: mediasmart, connected tv, interview, mobile advertising trends