Digital Media’s Loss is CTV’s Gain

digital screens flying through space

By John Hamilton, Founder and CEO, TVDataNow

The past year has not been kind to digital media. From the (now-delayed cookie-apocalypse) to Facebook’s continual political troubles to increased scrutiny on digital privacy, it’s safe to say digital media has not had a good 2021.

The biggest news is that the cookie is dead for all intents and purposes. The entire digital ecosystem and all of its players (advertisers, media agencies, publishers, analytics firms, DSPs and SSPs) will have to rethink how they move their marketing messages. And they will be looking for a new opportunity to allocate funds to reach their target audiences more efficiently. They should look no further than Connected TV (CTV).

CTV is having its moment in the sun, due to the pandemic and increased quantity and quality of streaming apps. While the premium subscription-based apps get more attention because of their prestige TV, there is a current of ad-supported, free-to-consumer apps like Pluto (40M Monthly Active Users, or MAU, Tubi (45M MAU), STIRR, and others that are a great destination for brands looking to target a specific audience. Many of these channels, since they have partnerships with or are otherwise owned by major studies, have targeted content channels.For instance, PlutoTV has a host of TV-show-specific channels, such as Beverly Hills 90210 and Baywatch, each playing nothing but episodes of that show.

So what’s in it for performance marketers? CTV is still committed to using third-party cookies in a way that grants user privacy while providing advanced tracking and targeting. And the pandemic has led to a) a glut of smart TV buying (all of which have streaming capabilities built-in the operating system) and b) more streaming because of shelter-in-place. It’s the moment CTV has been waiting for – a true audience boom.


People now watch on average CTV 1:05 hours per day in Q3 of 2020, up from 47 minutes in 2018, according to Nielsen.  At the same time, live or time-shifted TV viewership has decreased from 4:13 to 3:14.

Even with all of these positive trends, it is still early days for CTV. There still needs to be developments in cross-device trackability so we can tie real ROI from an ad being shown on screen to someone browsing or buying the same product on their phone or computer.

We predict CTV will overtake digital’s measurability very shortly and the rest of the advertising industry will be rushing, raising rates and attempting to strike deals with the major publishers. But now is the time for those who want to take advantage of first-mover opportunities.