What advertisers need to know in the age of Advanced TV

Charlie Spargo's picture
Vincent Soucaret, Xandr

Principal Solutions Consultant at Xandr, Vincent Soucaret, says the future's bright for on-screen advertising. Advanced TV is here, with streaming, VOD and connected features, and it creates a new world of opportunity.

The number of over-the-top - “OTT” - services, with media content increasingly delivered via the internet, is on the rise. As a result, consumer viewing habits are shifting and so is ad spend. 

In the past year alone, we’ve seen the global launches of Apple TV+ and Disney+ as well as plans from the BBC and ITV to join forces with Channel 4 to launch streaming service BritBox. These new services have already grabbed the attention of audiences around the world who are willing to expand their subscriptions beyond those they already hold from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

With estimations of over 22 million UK-based Netflix viewers by 2021, there are no signs that streaming, or OTT, services will lose momentum. 

As consumers grow accustomed to paying for content without commercials, these SVOD, or “subscription video on demand services,” present a real challenge for brands. TV advertising is a powerful way to get their messages across to consumers, so we anticipate much discussion on the ways advertisers can best break through to viewers naturally reaching a point of subscription saturation. 

Understand the components that make up Advanced TV

When describing the evolution of television advertising and content delivery models beyond the traditional “linear,” there is often confusion about what the term really means. With new jargon constantly emerging, here are the five key terms you need to understand when thinking about Advanced TV: 

  1. Addressable advertising. This is where ads are served to specific households based on data about the interests and demographics of people living in it. Addressable advertising is brilliant for brands as it allows them to target the most relevant audiences, rather than guessing at viewers’ potential interest in their brand based on which shows they are watching. 
  2. Connected TV or CTV. A CTV is one that is connected to the internet via an external device (for example, streaming devices like Apple TV or Roku, and gaming consoles) or an internal device (like a smart TV). Consumers access content through these connected devices rather than through a traditional cable subscription. 
  3. Over-the-Top Service. OTT is often confused with CTV. But OTT refers to TV-like video content delivered over the internet, bypassing the TV infrastructure. Streaming services such as Netflix, Prime and BritBox are OTT services. Viewers can access OTT content through a CTV.
  4. Data-Driven Linear (DDL) TV advertising. Using insights from set-top TV boxes (televisions connected to a cable subscription), ads can be targeted to audiences through the traditional TV schedule. DDL advertising reaches target audiences at the times of day and through the programs and services where it seems most likely to reach them.
  5. Interactive TV. The catch-all term for adding a viewer engagement piece to television, which may include interactive content, interactive advertising or channels. This can be delivered in a variety of formats and screens. 

Opportunity: Advertisers can reach more consumers than ever before

The fact that television sets are increasingly connected to the internet opens up huge opportunities for data-driven advertising. Brands will be able to reach target TV audiences at different stages in their purchase journey.

Available consumer insights across TV, mobile, and broadband help advertisers get more granular in reaching audiences and provide marketers with important insights about viewership habits and content consumption.

This helps expand the reach of branded storytelling to addressable TV, allowing advertisers to serve more relevant ads directly to the right audiences - and only that audience - regardless of programming or time of day. 

With the right technology, advertisers can gain more control of the personalisation of the ads they serve, and efficiently reach consumers throughout the day and across all devices. To this end, media companies are increasingly unveiling new delivery models and adopting ad formats to increase engagement and use data to reach viewers more effectively. 

Challenge: Advertisers need the right strategy and technology 

In 2020, consumers will spend more time than ever watching video, but traditional TV marketing players have proved slow to react to the shift in viewing habits. Digital players, recognising the opportunity, have started competing for TV dollars with CTV and OTT offerings. 

The shift to digital and the increase in VOD services introduce new challenges. Advertisers need to feel confident that ad spend is helping to meet business goals. Just as importantly, they need to connect with consumers across publishers and media types that are deemed premium, brand safe, viewable, and fraud-free. 

Despite the fact that there is more data at everyone’s fingertips than ever before, using data at scale across services is getting harder, not easier. Marketers need the ability to ensure brand safety and viewability, to pinpoint where their marketing efforts are most effective, and tie media exposure to true KPIs. 

In order for both publishers and advertisers to succeed, it’s critical they leverage the right technology that provides high-fidelity audience segments, access to premium content, and a trusted platform infrastructure to monetise their inventory and reach their target audiences across screens, at scale.

The solution: What’s to come in 2020 and beyond

The future of TV will be a mix of paid-for and ad-funded TV services watched on a variety of devices, when and where viewers want. Xandr’s second annual relevance report found a near-split - 56% of consumers prefer free TV content, even if it means watching ads. Even as competition for viewers heats up between the new and established providers, ad-funded content will maintain a place in the landscape. 

Programmatic selling of ad impressions has already transformed online display, mobile and video advertising by allowing brands to reach highly-specific audiences. While still in the early stages, programmatic TV, in which tailored ads are automatically bought and delivered to audiences, will mature throughout Europe and drive the growth of ad-funded Advanced TV in the future.

Key to this growth will be evolved measurement standards that link linear TV and digital offerings. Advertisers will demand technology and tools to measure how their ads are being watched and analyse the success of programmatic ads. Telecoms businesses and the manufacturers of smart TVs will play a large role in the Advanced TV ecosystem, as their data will be essential for advertisers’ understanding of their campaign performance.  

Despite declarations in the media, the death of TV advertising is far from nigh. As long as global markets continue to adopt new technology and take advantage of the opportunities presented by new consumer touchpoints, the future heralds a golden age of cross-screen advertising.