Attention Marketers: Is your CTV Strategy Privacy-Forward?

cubes flying through space with screens

By Hugo Loriot, Partner and Managing Director at fifty-five

Connected TV (CTV) adoption is surging in the United States, especially over the last year. In fact, the number of cord-cutter and cord-never US households totaled 48.9 million in 2020 and will grow to 61.5 million in 2023. This has created a significant opportunity for marketers. Ad buyers are recognizing CTV as the next frontier, with the average CTV spend experiencing an 8% increase last year, reaching $16M per advertiser. While it looks like a goldmine, marketers do not have CTV completely figured out yet. In fact, some CTV marketing practices still resemble those from five years ago.

Marketers are eager to expand into CTV however, One of the biggest concerns moving into the space is privacy. Consumer privacy regulations are changing, and data collection strategies that worked five years ago are outdated. Marketers need to be aware of the privacy gaps, and other concerns such as a potential lack of inventory, within CTV to ensure that their approach is future-proof and aligns to data practices that prioritize current and pending privacy regulations. 

What Is The CTV Privacy Standard?

From the introduction of the GDPR, to the CCPA, the CPRA, and most recently Apple’s IDFA, new regulations seem to be popping up overnight. But a question that remains from these regulations is how do they apply to CTV?


The simple answer here is: they don’t. Or rather, it is very difficult to get those advertising on CTV to adhere to the growing demand from consumers for transparency — mostly because ad buyers and publishers do not have the tools to provide such transparency. Additionally, using CTV raises the question of whether these privacy regulations require the consent of the entire household for data collection. For some regulations, such as CCPA the answer is yes. For others, including GDPR, the answer is a bit more unclear. Receiving and transmitting consumer consent on CTV is more complex than when it happens on a desktop or mobile phone because of that household element. 

There is also the issue of simply collecting data. An audience on CTV is fragmented, although precise data exists, it’s heavily siloed on different platforms, which is why addressability within the scale of linear remains an impossible feat. CTV can also be seen as a “cookieless” option for marketers however, by cookieless we mean using an IP address to track consumers. Now, marketers are grappling with consumers wanting more transparency and more privacy-forward strategies from marketers that still result in engaging and relevant content going to consumers. So what can marketers do to create that experience for consumers?

Creating a Privacy-Forward Strategy

One of the most effective ways to produce a privacy-forward strategy that still provides results is through programmatic advertising solutions. Programmatic grants ad buyers direct access to targeted publisher audiences and premium inventory with a guaranteed number of impressions. This creates more control for both the ad buyer and publisher in an otherwise loosely regulated environment. Programmatic inventory on CTV can be difficult to come by as upfront buyers grab much of the programmer’s inventory and direct-to-publisher deals take even more. However, there is value to be had as it connects the buyer and seller directly, lowering fees and granting better inventory access.

Another option is to have a single content management system (CMS) that can be used to transition from web to mobile to CTV allowing for consistent distribution of content, with single tagging and single taxonomy for a unified user experience. This will allow for the user to give consent or “opt-in” to tracking on one device and have it carry over to the same app or website being accessed on a new device.

CTV also offers the ability to use by design privacy-respecting targeting. A well-thought-out target strategy based on location, content and time can make wonders in precisely engaging with the desired audience.

Few targeting strategies can prove to work brilliantly especially if marketers mix in supply chain and delivery channel data. Marketers can engage an audience with available products or services in their area, and encourage conversion with local calls to action.

Why the Time for CTV Strategies Is Now

CTV is not going away — if anything, it is becoming the primary source of entertainment for most households in the United States and beyond, which is what makes marketers adapting their marketing strategies that much more critical. In order for CTV campaigns to be effective, strategies have to be adapted to the changing privacy regulations that rule the space. 

Brands and marketers must invent the right and specific way to use CTV in their marketing strategy instead of simply adapting strategies used and developed for other digital media. This way, brands and marketers will truly be able to collect data and create content that is relevant to their audience.