Q&A: Insight on Current Trends in CTV and Digital Video

By: FreeWheel

woman sitting on the couch pointing a remote to a television

With consumers increasingly shifting to streaming and connected TV (CTV) services, the adoption of digital video advertising is rising. We caught up with FreeWheel to learn the latest on digital video and CTV trends.

FreeWheel provides a comprehensive ad platform for publishers, advertisers, and media buyers. FreeWheel recently released its US Video Marketplace Report, a video trends report, sharing some data about video and CTV trends in the past year.

Below, Greg Joseph, FreeWheel’s Senior Director of DSP Partnerships, shares their biggest takeaways from the report, and what’s in store for digital video in the coming months and beyond.


What makes video (digital or streamed) such an important channel within a digital strategy?

Video ads are a great addition to any digital strategy because they grab users’ attention. They engage multiple senses, convey information in a shorter amount of time, and offer almost limitless potential when it comes to creating powerful storytelling about a brand. This powerful storytelling in turn helps create an emotional connection between a brand and a viewer.

Video ads are also quite versatile. They can be served in various places on the web and in multiple formats, and advertisers can use data and reporting to gain insight into the performance of their video ads to optimize their campaigns for maximum efficiency.


FreeWheel recently released its US Video Marketplace Report for 2021. Can you describe what the report found about the current and future programmatic landscape?

The report found that programmatic advertising grew by 80% this past year, and much of this growth is because advertisers looked for more precise ways to reach their audiences across the evolving ecosystem.

The importance of precision in advertising is nothing new, and the number of campaigns bought direct using audience targeting grew by 54%, with even more growth through programmatic channels. As identifiers across CTV mature and audience matching workflows get faster, the ability for more custom audience targeting will improve, which is exciting!


What are the most important takeaways that advertisers should walk away with when they read the report, and why?

One of our most exciting findings is that ad views grew by 45% this past year as viewers adopted new ways of watching ad-supported digital video content. There has been a quick rise of interest in streaming, which is in turn leading to more live content available than ever before. Streaming services share increased by 8% as viewers lean into free ad supported TV (FAST) and other ad-supported subscriptions.


The report found that the “big screen” made up 77% of ad viewing. What is the “big screen,” and what opportunities does large uptake of the big screen mean for advertisers?

Our report found that viewers are gravitating toward the living room “big screen” experience, which means they’re increasingly watching content on a television that uses a CTV device to stream. The “big screen” made up over 75% of ad viewing last year, offering more opportunities for advertisers to reach multiple viewers watching together.

Overall, CTV accounted for 63% of all ad views which means that it continues to be a top choice for both viewers and advertisers. Combined with an additional 14% from STB VOD, viewers watch a total of 77% of streaming ad views from their living rooms. This data makes it pretty clear that consumers are spending more time streaming and find themselves gravitating towards the “big screen” premium experience over watching streamed content on a smaller screen device.


What should advertisers keep in mind in a landscape where there’s more ways than ever to watch video?

With marketers increasingly adopting video advertising, it’s time to forget about using video in the traditional way. Instead, lean into this format’s unique capabilities to stand out from the crowd and capture the attention of the audiences that matter. Don’t be afraid to be creative and use video to really craft your brand personality.

With video you can combine the power of both visuals and audio to communicate your message and cultivate a really distinctive brand personality. There’s a lot of opportunity to get creative and find ways to stand out. Advertisers should turn to video to differentiate their brands from others.


What innovations do you expect we might see in the future of video and CTV?

Video is expanding within the overall programmatic ecosystem, enabling advertisers to reach more viewers. That said, it can simultaneously fragment users across devices and services, because of the necessary presence of a video placement.

In terms of innovation, technical advancements like the updates to open real-time bidding (RTB) will help define what data can be passed between channels and platforms, and how it’s transmitted. This will ultimately make CTV more transparent, even as transparent as linear TV has historically been—in terms of placements. This combined in the flexibility of audience and device management will lead to even more opportunity in leveraging this channel.

This article was originally published on StackAdapt.