Must CTV: Complete Your Advertising Strategy with Connected TV

Sarah Foss SVP, Strategic Initiatives

Connected TV (CTV) is quickly becoming a favored way for people to watch television and video content. Or, just find any Gen Z’er and they’ll tell you about all of the apps that they consider “television.” After all, if it’s on the big screen it must be TV.

According to the FreeWheel Video Marketplace Report: Q4 2018, CTV ad views for Q4 2018 grew by 45% year-over-year and accounted for 42% of total ad views—growing faster than any other device type. The lean-back viewing experience that CTV offers is valued by viewers and advertisers alike for its immersive environment.

Source: FreeWheel VMR: Q4 2018


Where consumers go, marketers must follow, but for many agencies that’s proving easier said than done. CTV is evolving rapidly, and naturally publishers of all types of video content want to get in on the game. As the IAB points out, “The video ecosystem has never been more complicated and exciting.” The result of all of this evolution is a menagerie of emerging proprietary systems and processes that makes it difficult for agencies to plan and execute their clients’ campaigns.

In order for the entire video ecosystem to find success in these new platforms, we need to take a more unified approach. As an industry we should work together to promote:

1. Easy access

Given that spending for CTV advertising will top $13 billion in 2019, it should be as easy as possible for agencies to acquire CTV inventory at scale. Moreover, although the number of CTV users is on the rise, there are still traditional linear households that agencies need to reach. We should help these agencies drive efficiency by enabling them to integrate their CTV campaigns into their traditional linear ones. Audience fragmentation creates significant operational and technical challenges. The re-aggregation of cross-screen reach provides marketers with the opportunity to drive results at scale, with digital video complementing linear television investments.

2. Automation

If our goal is to sell more CTV inventory—and we know that buyers want to buy more CTV inventory—then we need to automate the end-to-end buying process, just as programmatic has done for purchasing other kinds of digital inventory. We all benefit when agencies can concentrate on optimizing campaigns, rather than spend time on tedious media tasks. As Joy Baer, GM, FreeWheel Advertisers recently said, “With the transformation of TV, we need to free buyers’ time to focus on strategy, define new rules, and drive meaningful results for their clients.” Frankly, it’s what they do best!

Automation is a key focus at FreeWheel, as we recognize the challenges media buyers are facing with the amount of friction that typically exists with TV buying. They need the ability to access CTV inventory across all platforms, as well as to manage, optimize, and report on campaigns in real time, without requiring additional resources.

3. Collaboration

Obviously, technical standardization is required, but for CTV to really come into its own, we need better collaboration between people, as well as stronger alignment of business practices between companies. As an industry, we’re making solid progress in shifting from “spots and dots” to truly audience-based campaigns, but there’s still more to do. For instance, agencies need to help the broader industry agree on measurement tools and audience verification capabilities. CTV is more than digital – and different in many ways than TV. As an ad tech community, we need to help enable agencies make the transition to engagement-based, audience-driven campaigns.

We’re In It Together

CTV is a platform that is here to stay.  (Me without my NHL app? Or my daughter without her ad-supported YouTube? Yeah. Not happening.) CTV’s advertising ecosystem has a ways to go—a long way!—despite the heavy shift of viewing to this platform. Who, then, is ultimately responsible for maturing the ad models for CTV? We all are: publishers, agencies, marketers and tech providers alike. Our past has proven that the more we work together to launch new services to viewers, the more we all gain and CTV is no different. The future of our industry will take a level of cooperation, knowledge sharing and alignment like never before as we chart this new territory in parallel to changing viewing behaviors. And my team here at FreeWheel is doing its part by driving innovative technology, solidifying key industry partnerships and advocating for our clients, partners and peers.