Video has attracted huge interest among marketers and consumers alike, with higher adoption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Different types of videos have been forming for a while — short form, long form, and live streaming.

But it wasn't until the stay-at-home environment that encouraged consumers across the world to adopt livestream video, propelling its content front and center as a medium to include in a modern strategy.

This has raised the profile for connected television (CTV) as a marketing touchpoint for marketers. Connected television has existed for a while. Now marketers must change their strategy to include it. This also impacts an overall analytics strategy.

The Basics of CTV

Marketers often hear of livestream video as an engagement opportunity. But CTV programming offers a dramatic engagement contrast from that of livestream videos. To learn about, we need to look at livestream, then note the basics of what connected television is and how its expanded profile is impacting analytics strategy. 

Livestream video is real time visual playback, making it an attractive format for events, creator influencers with flexible schedule and series programming with brief broadcast "seasons." Many short videos such as YouTube Shorts and TikTok are livestreamed, as well as live video events hosted on YouTube.

In contrast, connected TV (CTV) can contain some livestream events, but it is mainly more structured broadcasts — programs and series scripted to fit the traditional TV formats. Connected television programming is delivered via a device connected to a television or embedded in the television features to display streamed video content. Current platforms that show CTV programming are the ones you often see or hear about — Amazon, Prime Video, Roku, Hulu and others. Apple TV and Amazon Firestick are examples of CTV devices. Even PlayStation and Xbox are considered CTV devices, since they are game consoles with streaming capabilities.

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CTV Is No. 1 for Video Advertising

CTV has arisen from consumers adopting streaming video into their viewing habits. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this transition. People who had restricted their activities to in-home plans because of the pandemic have included on demand programming and live events along with general TV watching. CTV now is No. 1 for video advertising, accounting for the most impressions served across all devices for 17 consecutive quarters, according to the latest research from Extreme Reach (ER), as reported in Martech Series.

CTV metrics are becoming important as CTV options begin to influence US digital ad budgets, according to eMarketer, which also noted how viewership has increased, narrowing the ad spending gap between linear TV (traditional TV as viewers have known) and CTV. They have noted that the gap "is quickly closing .... By 2025, eMarketer forecasts "that CTV ad revenues will be more than half of linear TV’s."

The shift is an opportunity for marketers and media buyers to refine their CTV budgets into performance marketing channels for connecting to audiences and building ROI.

The Battle Against Search and Social Media for Home Dominance

CTV has become a competing channel against search and social media as a major referral source for online activity. CTV-enabled televisions are usually the largest screen in the house, encouraging owners to search for goods and services to purchase within their TV-viewing experience. For example, Roku struck a deal with Walmart to offer customers in-stream purchase capability with Walmart acting as fulfillment for those purchases.

YouTube is the largest competitor to the current crop of connected television platform providers. It offers its own livestreams with the capacity to display digital ads to a wide range of advertisers. Coupled with its stature as a significant search engine, YouTube has an advantage for brands that have already invested heavily in search engine optimization that includes YouTube video content.

In addition, YouTube has begun to leverage social commerce. Social commerce is meant to provide a retail experience within a platform rather than being driven to a particular website. Shoppers can learn about a product on screen, see a call to action, and click on an ad through the YouTube app.

The convenience of purchasing has been central to recent updates in social media profile and platform features. For example, Twitter just launched a business profile in which followers can purchase products and service in profile.

Learning Opportunities

This has made CTV a competing performance channel compared to a referral source in analytics. In earlier trends people would have looked at a website while watching TV. This prompted buying behaviors such as Buy Online Pickup in Store (BOPIS) and Buy Online Return in Store (BORIS). CTV traffic stream blends the retail together. Today they are as likely to use a CTV. In simple terms, it means CTV is competing against social media and online search for people's attention.

Related Article: Social Commerce Is Finally Here

The Impact on Analytics

As of now, half the US population has replaced cable with CTV. Advertisers have made the adjustment to the declining interest in linear TV, shifting budgets accordingly.

This means that there's more need for analytics tagging that allows for cohort analysis and other advanced predictive analysis possible such that you can match real-time metrics to the streaming devices.

With linear TV you're targeting by household, but limited in scope. CTV brings additional targeting, such as shopping by income, number of cars in the home and purchasing frequency.

CTV analytics measurement reflects metrics most familiar to marketers. CTV measurement has been centered on optimizing reach frequency. Reach frequency metrics include average campaign impressions, average campaign frequency and unique reach, which represents the dedicated number of households that are seeing CTV programming.

Audience Targeting Opportunities in CTV

CTV influences analytics strategy through media choices meant to potentially reach generational customers within a household. Most CTV viewers are young, but many studies suggest that older viewers are a substantial cohort among CTV viewers as well.

This suggests that while personas vary by age, CTV can reach across cohorts with ad messaging. This is especially helpful when the cohorts can be reached in the same household. There are many multigenerational households in the US currently for a variety of personal reasons, ranging from younger people priced out of the housing market to people who have included older family members for care.

Regardless of the reason, the existence of multigenerational household gives brands seeking to connect to varying personas convenience to connect. Mixed cohorts also quickly introduce complexity if they must be convinced of a brand's value. Thus, converting audiences into customers becomes a tricky application of messaging. Like other issues on attribution, marketers will grow to understand the issues of matching messaging to audience.

Marketers will also grow familiar with the powerful influence CTV has on their brands. CTV is here to stay, so marketers will have to stay tuned for how the analytics captures this factor in customer experience.