The connected TV market is estimated to be worth billions, and as dollars flow, so too does advertiser interest. It’s easy to see the appeal of connected TV, as it allows audiences to seamlessly move between channels and screens. But if advertisers want to make the medium work for them, they’ll need to ensure messages move just as fluidly. Getting the infrastructure correct will be another hurdle, so how can the industry get it right and power long-term impact?
Strike one to the giants
Pioneers jumping initial hurdles to connected TV progress are, of course, the players already claiming a sizeable share of the market. In India there are about 30 local over-the-top (OTT) players, some of whom have already gained massive traction in the market, which is expected to reach $5 billion by 2023.
In Southeast Asia, Iflix has moved to resolve issues that have previously held back digital content consumption—such as buffering and latency, especially in Southeast Asia where broadband is variable—by shifting services to the cloud. And with reduced file sizes that low-bandwidth networks can handle, consumers can feed their appetite for high-quality content no matter how fast their network, and Iflix can expand its reach.
Connected TV is on the brink of explosion, but it hasn’t reached critical volume yet, and measurement is still a big part of the puzzle that needs to be solved for the market to reach its full potential.
It’s a similar situation with advances focused on boosting ad targeting. Australia has seen two major groups form in the last year, aimed at streamlining media planning across the TV space. Finecast, which combines third-party data from Experian, the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census, RDA Research, GeoEmma, and Nielsen, is billed as a solution that brings digital-style precision to broadcast by enabling advertisers to segment audiences by type, behaviour and location, in addition to post-campaign reporting showing where ads were delivered.
Meanwhile, Virtual Australia (VOZ)—another Nielsen partnership, this time with OzTAM—intends to offer a complete view of how, when, and where viewers are watching TV. Advertisers can use this information to inform cross-screen advertising decisions and keep track of key goals, such as whether they are hitting reach and frequency objectives.
These initiatives are definitely a step in the right direction and will bolster audience growth to ensure connected TV can command the scale it needs. But the missing piece of the puzzle is effective measurement.
Breaking down walled gardens
The ability to target specific households using demographic data will go a long way towards improving ad effectiveness. Advertisers can see where audiences are and adjust delivery to avoid bombarding consumers with the same messages and wasting budget. Theoretically, the Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) standardised identifier should make things easier; setting out guidelines for how cookie-less tracking can be achieved across devices and channels.
But serving tailored messages at carefully calculated levels of frequency is only half the job. Knowing what impact messages make is also critical to judge whether they are a valuable use of spend, or if budgets should be reconfigured. And this is where we run into problems. Advertisers have long dreamed of a complete omni-channel view of consumer journeys that includes every stop on their path to purchase, and its influence on their final decision. The industry has moved closer to achieving this by creating multiple connections, including TV alliances, but there are still gaps preventing advertisers from seeing the full picture, mostly in walled gardens.
Although these tech giants play a big role in online campaigns—absorbing 61% of digital spend globally—it’s often a struggle to link data about how consumers respond to walled-garden messages with results driven by other platforms. So, advertisers can’t see how these ads relate to their wider digital and offline activities or apply that universal IAB identifier.
Consumers don’t see their brand experience as fractured, even if campaigns run across OTT, connected TV, mobile, search, audio, and beyond. So advertisers shouldn’t be limited to evaluating one part of the story at a time; they need an all-inclusive picture of return on investment (ROI) to ensure campaigns flow smoothly between devices.
Connected TV is on the brink of explosion, but it hasn’t reached critical volume yet, and measurement is still a big part of the puzzle that needs to be solved for the market to reach its full potential. But if the industry can work together on the goal of better measurement across screens, connected TV could be a real game-changer for multi-channel success.
Sukesh Singh is APAC VP at Adform.