Advertisers take a closer look at connected TV

Though challenges remain, there are numerous reasons to use connected opportunities to support traditional strategies.

Numerous studies and anecdotal evidence have made a surge in television viewing last year due to the pandemic and more time spent in home an accepted fact.

Other research, such as Mindshare’s Stuff We Watch report, showed that by mid-2020 subscriptions to streaming services were steadily climbing to nearly nine million Canadian households having a paid streamer service. Even if they don’t subscribe to a streaming service, a majority of Canadians now have at least one TV set that is connected to the internet.

This explosion in internet-connected TV has prompted advertisers and agencies to look closer at its role in the media landscape. Some advertisers are already leveraging the possibilities of internet-connected TV. Last summer, programmatic company MiQ partnered with the Canadian Cancer Society for a successful beta test of its advanced TV solution that links linear and connected TV (CTV) to build awareness and enable retargeting with display ads.

Matthew Bailey, director of media investment and activation for Horizon Media, says numerous clients have expressed an interest in connected TV.

“Much of this interest began pre-COVID but has since skyrocketed in light of Canadians being more homebound, seeking new and exciting content,” he says. “More regularly, we speak to clients about connected TV in the same breath as linear TV. Our goal is to build out video plans to reach our target audiences, regardless of device.”

But despite this agnostic approach, Bailey adds that there are some very real challenges with connected TV, compared to traditional broadcasts, that the collective industry is working through. Namely, the lack of measurement and limited ad-supported options that can drive meaningful reach.

“Measurement and inventory supply won’t always be a challenge,” he adds. “We’re doing our best to understand and test within the landscape now so when we’re warranted in spending more, we’re ahead of the curve, not scrambling to catch up.”

Right now, media buys typically include takeovers and in-stream video across Roku, Samsung, and LG, as well as connected TV in-stream OTT placement with Bell, Rogers, Corus and AVOD services, says Magnus Nisbeth, VP of investments and operations at Initiative Media.

“Connected TV as a premium digital environment is also an effective way to reach light TV viewers, cord cutters and ‘cord nevers,’” he says, the latter two of which refer to groups that have either disconnected cable TV services, or never had one in the first place. “It’s approached as an extension of linear television in order to capture media usage shifts in market. Digital usage will continue to increase as CTV content becomes more robust and app offerings experience steady growth in availability. This will allow advertisers to effectively target their audience due to the ability to layer in audience segments and measurability.”

Scott Stewart, general manager of Glassroom Toronto, says that it’s hard to properly assess the current penetration and time spent on connected TV platforms right now, but given the amount of media consumption that has been in-homed over these past ten months, the increases to both users in Canada as well as their consumption has quickened considerably through better ad performance.

“As a result, we are definitely integrating CTV as an extension of our broader video buying practice. This allows us to add an additional layer of complexity to our current linear TV strategies by allowing us to go beyond just market delivery and reach audiences at the household level with a lot more control.”

Stewart says this precision provides the “connective tissue” needed to fully integrate the agency’s mainstream and digital performance strategies and understand the attribution of advertising through enhanced re-targeting capabilities across the second and third screen.

Bell Media’s recent acquisition of Environics Analytics, he believes, is a signal that not only are advertisers demanding a greater control over the delivery of their ads and at a more granular level but that Canadian media companies are quickening their response through increased investment into the necessary infrastructure required to deliver on today’s market expectations.