How To Reach CTV Audiences In The Premium, Privacy-First Video Landscape

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By Massimo de Magistris, VP, Head of FreeWheel Markets International, FreeWheel 

The ‘old’ has become new once again for TV and video advertising.

As a premium environment, traditional TV has historically given advertisers a much greater reach using contextual targeting; with campaigns based around content. Then, with the growth of the digital ecosystem came an appetite for one-to-one audience connections at scale, informed by users’ behavioural data. Now, with the rise of data privacy regulations across the globe and the imminent phasing-out of third-party cookies, contextual targeting is gaining more relevance across all forms of media.

Connected TV (CTV) is attracting advertiser attention because of its high quality, brand-safe and targetable environments; in particular, its contextual targeting capabilities are well developed due to its cookie-free environment. So how can advertisers make the most of this platform to achieve both scale and reach in the privacy-centric video ecosystem?

Become part of the premium video experience 

A noticeable difference between CTV and other digital environments is the established value exchange. As a platform that offers premium content, users expect a trade-off to access higher quality programming and videos on CTV. Sometimes this involves consumers paying regular fees, such as for subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services, but often it will mean viewers are served ads in exchange for free content. A recent study from FreeWheel and Happydemics, the independent consumer-research company, revealed that 64% of consumers in key European markets understand the benefit of advertising for enabling free access to video content on CTV.

To maintain the premium video experience and heighten the value exchange, advertisers can focus on delivering relevant and engaging campaigns. For example, over half (59%) of UK viewers have a preference for ads that are tailored toward their interests. By utilising opted-in, first-party data, premium video media players can enable advertisers to use personalised targeting. In turn, this helps brands connect with engaged audiences in quality environments, attempts to uphold user rights to data privacy, and delivers a positive advertising experience.

Gain a full understanding of available CTV inventory

To fully realise CTV’s advertising potential, media buyers require a clear understanding of available ad inventories. In the past, many considered CTV to be a collection of long-tail apps, but it, in fact, comprises many video-on-demand services that can be based on subscriptions (SVOD), advertising (AVOD), or broadcasters (BVOD). CTV also covers a range of internet-enabled devices. FreeWheel’s research revealed that eight in ten UK consumers have connected their TV sets to the internet, but CTV also includes devices such as Amazon Fire TV sticks and gaming consoles.

clear majority of viewers in the survey claim CTV is their favourite way to watch video content, but their ability to move across platforms and devices means advertisers must now navigate the crossover between linear TV and digital video. To successfully optimise the reach and scale of ad campaigns, they need to understand the breadth of CTV’s inventory mix and changing audience habits. A holistic approach to planning and buying allows advertisers to effectively connect with audience segments no matter how they engage with CTV.

Prioritise relevance with contextual targeting 

The increased focus on data privacy is prompting advertisers to look beyond broad targeting methods based on demographic information such as age and gender. Heightening campaigns’ contextual relevance instead may provide an increased privacy-friendly way to connect with viewers in the optimal place, time, and mindset. Almost three-quarters(72%) of UK audiences believe contextual relevance is important and more than 80% prefer online ads that reflect the content they consume, making a content-first approach strategically advantageous.

For example, when a global telecommunications company working with FreeWheel included CTV within its media mix for the first time, it aimed to maximise reach through contextual insights rather than third-party data. Its objectives concentrated on delivering brand performance, boosting awareness, engagement, memorability, and brand preference among an extensive group of CTV users aged 25 to 45. The advertiser’s contextual strategy achieved over 70,000 impressions in 10 days, hitting its targets. Purchase intent and brand consideration also surpassed expectations by 9% and the level of user engagement grew by 23%. Prioritising contextual can attempt to facilitate user privacy, and also increased campaign performance.

With the ad industry committed to improving data protection for digital users, advertisers need to explore alternatives to third-party identifiers when targeting audiences. CTV is uniquely positioned to enable privacy-led buying, due to its opted-in data assets and highly valuable audiences.

To harness the full potential of CTV, advertisers can focus on sustaining its value exchange, building a holistic approach to leveraging CTV inventory, and utilising advanced contextual insights to target audiences. These steps enable advertisers to effectively reach engaged viewers and achieve their brand objectives, all while attempting to uphold user privacy.