CTV: From COVID-19 to the Post-Cookie World

July 1, 2020 — by Jeremy Steinberg    

This post originally went live on our SOURCE partner LiveRamp’s blog here and has been adapted for our blog .

A dramatic increase in time spent consuming media at home at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a shift to OTT content on CTV devices. A few fast facts from Advertiser Perceptions:

  • Streaming services went up 40%
  • Smartphone use went up 34%
  • Content consumption on the Web went up 34%

Q2 research from the IAB shows that when it comes to changes in how marketers are targeting consumersOTT/CTV device targeting experienced the second biggest jump next to audience targeting.

CTV supply and viewership on the rise

There’s less inventory demand than there’s ever been with brands pulling back spend yet more supply, which has caused prices to drop. We saw within our platform inventory supply for CTV grow 20% from February. We’ve also seen an increasing portion of buys shift towards mobile in-app CTV, further highlighting COVID-19 influencing industry trends.

We can’t be completely certain, but preliminary studies predict how consumption behaviors may evolve or accelerate long-term due to COVID-19-prompted adaptations and disruptions. As an example, cord-cutting was already a trend before COVID-19 and will continue to be one as we enter the next phases of reopening. But even more pressing to call out is that consumers are no longer pursuing just one or two ways of consuming TV content. Instead, they are using a combination of different platforms across different devices, at different points in time. With new platforms and content emerging, TV content has become truly on-demand, not just in terms of time viewed but also across both devices and platforms used to view this content.

CTV: A critical channel for driving addressability

CTV will also be an important channel in the post-third-party cookie world as advertisers look to achieve greater addressability across devices. First-party identity is based on user-authentication and respect for privacy preferences—this is the path forward. Pseudonymous identifiers such as LiveRamp’s IdentityLink® are based in this type of user authentication. They will offer addressability in browsers and channels where third-party cookies are or become restricted.

The key to making the most of the CTV opportunity, both now and in the future, is to treat CTV holistically and create a strategy including all screens and formats. To do that, an identity graph that includes an idea of how CTVs associate with users and their other devices is critical. These connections power true omnichannel marketing and measurement while enabing the following capabilities:

  • Extension of first-party data to CTV
  • Reach and frequency management across devices
  • CTV audience targeting, including behavioral and demographic targeting
  • Driving ROI on CTV brand awareness spend through retargeting users on other devices
  • Omnichannel sequential messaging
  • Capturing OTT viewership—CTV content consumed not just on TV, but across other digital devices

Identity graphs can also add a household-level association to users and devices—this enables more powerful attribution and features for linear buyers:

  • Increased incremental reach on TV buys, critical due to audience fragmentation on linear
  • Ability to reach cord-cutters and cord-nevers or light TV viewers who may not have been exposed to linear TV commercials
  • More holistic measurement across devices that tells a true story of cross-screen customer engagement

Managing identity is vital to CTV

Managing identity is a crucial step in making the most of CTV both during COVID-19 and once the third-party cookie goes away. Look at this example of a full-funnel, omnichannel campaign that converts CTV spend into ROI:

  1. Awareness: A customer who is part of a loyalty program sees an ad on their CTV about a new product.
  2. Interest: The customer gets sequential ads about a holiday promotion on their phone.
  3. Consideration: This piques the customer’s interest—they check out the website, but don’t make a purchase.
  4. Purchase: ID #1234 gets ads on their laptop reminding them of the holiday sale and makes a purchase!

There is much work to do and much change ahead as we continue to navigate both the next phases of COVID-19 and the phaseout of third-party cookies. CTV will continue to be an increasingly critical channel for a marketer’s mix as they aim to reach consumers with both relevance and respect.

Jeremy Steinberg

Jeremy Steinberg is the Global Head of Ecosystem at MediaMath tasked with motivating and uniting an alliance of top marketers and agencies while growing relationships with the right tech companies and publishers who share the common goal of delivering better outcomes for marketers, publishers and consumers alike. Jeremy brings with him nearly 20 years of industry experience, most recently serving as Chief Revenue Officer of Yieldmo, Global Head of Sales at The Weather Company and multiple sales leadership positions with 21st Century Fox.