By Stephanie Geno
For some time now, industry leaders have been saying the "streaming revolution" is here. But this past year has proven that, as meaningful as the growth of streaming video consumption has been, those proclamations were premature. Connected TV (CTV) jumped from a steady climb to a massive spike in 2020 thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic. The share of cord-cutting households increased by 27 percent in 2020 and now 24 percent of households are cord-cutters, eMarketer reports. Experts predict cord-cutting will grow to 35 percent of households by the end of 2024. There's no walking back this trend, and it's only bound to accelerate in the coming years.
Like the shift from landlines to mobile devices, society is likely to continue its preference for CTV and digital video over linear TV. For marketers, this requires a shift in media strategy. Though marketers have been operating in an omnichannel world for a while, they must now confront the complexity of a fragmented digital environment and refocus their omnichannel advertising strategies with CTV rather than linear TV at the center. Thankfully for some brands, part of the work is already done: According to Innovid's recent "State of CTV Advertising" report, 41 percent of marketers began shifting investments to CTV advertising between one and three years ago.
For brands that have yet to make the change, a challenging task of playing catchup awaits, but the finally arrived streaming revolution presents new opportunities, as well. This is a time to reimagine the omnichannel marketing mix. It's also a time for marketers to assess the value their tech partners deliver and focus on partners who can provide the most reach, relevant targeting, and streamlined workflows across all screens and devices.
The Problem with Fragmentation
Marketers have found digital video provides them a lot of flexibility compared to linear TV. Aside from advanced targeting and control over frequency, reach grows as consumer adoption of online video grows. As of mid-May 2020, per Innovid, there are 81 percent more video impressions in the marketplace than a year ago. Historically, TV has lived in a traditional media silo. The digitization of TV, however, means brands can now take advantage of all addressable environments, including social, audio, display, and digital out-of-home (DOOH), to achieve the full potential of the streaming revolution.
However, omnichannel media buys quickly become complicated by the heavy lifting involved in gathering and synthesizing insights from so many channel-specific data silos. That fragmentation has long been seen as a deterrent to developing omnichannel strategies. Different walled gardens and different tech partners may be able to do this heavy lifting within their own respective niches, but the differences are a core problem. These systems don't use the same metrics, and the work of aligning or "translating" insights can be extremely inefficient.
But fragmentation can't be an excuse for marketers anymore. One way or another, they need accurate cross-channel insights to automate, deploy, optimize, and measure campaigns, and to deliver unified advertising experiences that align with the user's journey. There's much at stake here, and much to win: omnichannel does provide greater opportunities for conversion. In fact, according to Omnisend, using three or more channels in a campaign can earn a 287 percent higher purchase rate than using only one channel.
A Call for Consolidation
Brands that are invested in meeting consumption trends are also investing in technology and vendor partnerships. As marketers adapt strategies for a cross-screen, cross-device, cross-channel reality, consolidating technology eliminates data white noise and delivers more accurate and actionable analytics. Ideally, marketers should have unified metrics to work with — a universal data language. But because universal video metrics don't yet exist, the marketplace will naturally continue trending toward consolidation to best understand campaign performance holistically across the media mix.
Tech consolidation gives marketers answers to the question, "How can we reach our target audiences where they are, with the right frequency, and with personalized messages, without wasting impressions and spend?" Consider the benefits of consolidation on campaign optimization: Personalization can sometimes look like an added burden — a puzzle of seemingly limitless combinations of ad creative, audience targeting, and data streams — but with an accurate omnichannel view, marketers can boost efficiency by testing and optimizing throughout the length of a campaign. Ultimately, personalization can broaden reach. That's a clear benefit that linear TV does not enjoy.
To navigate and benefit from this complex video landscape, leading brands and agencies are looking to do more with fewer partners. In fact, Innovid's State of CTV Advertising report found that more than half of marketers are seeking multiformat advertising technology vendors. They're looking closely at which of their partners have the most robust, flexible solutions ( i.e., those who can help them do more with fewer partners in total). Partners who don't have strong omnichannel capabilities stand to be jettisoned. Even before COVID-19 and 2020's explosive growth in the CTV market, brands and marketers had reduced the number of demand-side platforms they use per month by about 40 percent over a three-year period, eMarketer reports.
Omnichannel Will Win the Day
Brands and agencies need to prioritize partners with omnichannel viewpoints, centralized platforms and solutions for managing data and creative, and tools for activating and measuring (and optimizing) end-to-end campaigns. Maximizing reach and relevance requires powerful data solutions that can deliver the most engaging creative — in the right formats and resolutions for each environment — and measure full omnichannel campaign performance.
When looking to work with a new adtech partner, marketers prioritizing CTV as part of the omnichannel mix should ask these two questions:
- What are the KPIs the company is using to measure performance?
- What tools are being used to improve cross-channel media performance and eliminate silos?
The industry is in a moment of real disruption, and CTV is an obvious driver of this sea change. The diminishing share of linear TV and the rapid increase in CTV viewership across devices means marketers should no longer view CTV as an extension of linear television but rather as a primary advertising channel that fits into a larger omnichannel strategy.
Advertisers need to be smart about choosing technology solutions that can help them navigate the pros and cons of CTV and execute everything from banners to attribution to measurement.
A focus on the right partners, with the most varied (and reliable) toolkits and the broadest accurate and actionable insights, can help brands triumph in an otherwise fragmented landscape. To come out on top, brands need technology that can manage creative assets, activate campaigns, and measure performance across all screens and devices. An omnichannel, integrated solution is optimal to drive deeper engagement with a brand's audiences throughout their journey and their day.
About Author: Stephanie Geno is the CMO at Innovid, a partner in the ANA Thought Leadership Program.