DTC in CTV: Best Practices for Data-Driven Success

By Brittany Powers, Head of Advanced TV, Alliant

In 2022, an astounding 92 percent of U.S. households were reachable by CTV programmatic advertising. In other words, connected TV advertising represents a tremendous opportunity for today’s direct-to-consumer brands.

Some DTC brands approach CTV as an extension of their digitally native strategies, others as an evolution of more-traditional direct advertising efforts. For younger upstart DTC brands, the appeal of CTV is multifaceted: It offers a new channel to find and appeal to a broader target audience set, it enables deeper storytelling and brand-building via longer-form TV spots, and it accommodates the sophisticated measurement and attribution upon which these digital natives have come to rely.

Meanwhile, more-traditional direct marketing brands—those that have turned targeted channels like direct mail into a highly effective art form—have a tremendous opportunity to broaden and deepen their efforts through the sight, sound, and motion of CTV. Importantly, they can do so by leveraging the same types of precision data that led them to fall in love with direct mail in the first place.

Whether a brand’s primary approach to marketing is digital or traditional, successful DTC brands are using multiple channels fueled by omnichannel audience data to create unique start-to-finish purchase journeys, gain competitive separation, and forge a deeper connection to customers via video. Let’s look at some best practices for bringing this all together as CTV becomes a more prominent part of the multichannel mix.

6 Rules for CTV Success

For digitally native and traditional direct marketing brands alike, the chance to ignite new growth via CTV is very real. However, achieving optimal results requires a solid data strategy. Here are a few key guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Get in early: While CTV is growing fast, it’s still an under-tapped area of marketing investment. DTC brands have an opportunity to make an outsized impact by embracing and perfecting their data-driven approach to this powerful channel in its early days. A bold approach to early channel adoption can give brands a leg up on testing, learning, and optimizing their data and campaigns into their existing media mix. Becoming an early adopter within a category offers DTC brands a way to gain a competitive advertising advantage.
  • Bridge the gaps out of the gate: CTV investments shouldn’t be made in a silo—even when a brand is just getting started. DTC brands should look to connect their targeting and measurement not only to their other digital ad efforts, but also any traditional offline efforts or linear TV advertising. While a new channel has been introduced, the same robust audience target personas can be applied at the onset.
  • Tap into omnichannel audiences: Similarly, DTC brands can maximize the value of their CTV investments by leveraging omnichannel audience data to power their CTV campaigns. Today’s omnichannel audience data sources are rooted in attributes that are more sustainable than third-party cookies and that can operate across many (or all) identity spaces, essentially letting marketers build an audience once and use it across all channels. Omnichannel is about value addition, and tapping into rich audience segments can serve as the cornerstone of multichannel efforts.
  • Plan for measurement: The beauty of CTV lies in its measurability, but DTC advertisers need to do the work up front to make sure they’re structuring their campaigns for maximum insights. Be sure to ask partners how they track placements and impact, and in what way that data will be reported back. Unlike traditional linear television, CTV offers a host of measurement capabilities from viewability to completion rate to conversion, and more.
  • Partner up: DTC marketers need to educate themselves on the vast array of potential partners in the CTV space and understand which capabilities are offered by a given platform or broadcaster. From the right content environments to pricing to targeting capabilities, brands need to find a desirable CTV partner match. In these early days of CTV, every player brings a little something different to the table, and marketers need to be prepared to ask a lot of questions.
  • Stay nimble: Likewise, DTC brands should expect their CTV campaigns to evolve over time. That means investing in a way that allows for constant adjustment and optimization based on new data and insights.

CTV offers DTC brands an opportunity to extend the value of their audiences and gain an edge over their competitors, whether they exist as digital natives or more-traditional direct marketers. The goal, as always, is to find customers where they are—and increasingly, that’s in CTV. To succeed, marketers need to approach CTV as an extension of their existing marketing efforts and ensure they’re connecting the data-driven dots every step of the way.