Digital Essays 2021: Watch closely – The evolution of linear TV, by The TechVantage’s Natasha Van As

By Natasha Van As, head of sales, The TechVantage.

With the TV landscape evolving significantly over the last decade and a further 27 per cent decrease in cable subscriptions throughout 2021, viewing habits have changed drastically, with the pandemic only further accelerating the shift in how audiences consume content. According to Innovid, the number of cord-cutters and cord-nevers will climb to 44 per cent by 2023.

Connected TV (CTV) is a prominent achiever in this category, with the particularly exciting observation that the share of video-impressions consumption on CTV was at par with mobile in 2020 at 42 per cent and desktop at 16 per cent. It’s a strong indication that CTV will garner the largest share by the end of 2021.

Nearly 80 per cent of people in the GCC own a smart TV at home, allowing consumers plenty of options across CTV and OTT content as an attractive alternative to traditional linear television.

Globally, while CTV viewing increased by 81 per cent, the Gulf is still a young market with a tremendous potential for CTV adoption by consumers.

There is no doubt that CTV has been cemented as an integral part of the omnichannel marketing mix. While the need for the platform is clear, marketers are still struggling to understanding this relatively new ecosystem. A closer look at this growing channel might help to unlock the mysteries of CTV.

Why CTV is growing rapidly

The major reasons for CTV’s constant growth can be attributed to accessible internet content at affordable prices whilst spoiling consumers with plentiful options, making CTV the world’s fastest-growing OTT market.

Combined with factors such as the decrease in prices of data, affordable smart TVs and the availability of devices combine to make it easier, cheaper and more convenient for people to access internet-based content.

What is CTV and how does it differ from OTT?

OTT means you are accessing content ‘over the top’ of infrastructure providers. If you’re buying bandwidth from one provider like Du but subscribing to Netflix, you’re going ‘over-the-top’ of the provider that provided you with the bandwidth. You’re using the bandwidth provider as an access layer, not as the main way of accessing content.

CTV is the device by which you access content – because, of course, a physical device is needed to consume the content. Content is being streamed into an internet-connected app on a smart TV, dongle or gaming console. For example, an Amazon Fire stick plugged into a smart TV.

USPs for CTV

If one were to look at the brand impact of CTV in comparison to traditional TV or online video, CTV leads across critical metrics such as incremental reach, cost-effectiveness, ad unit quality, interaction amongst highly engaged users and more time spent, giving brands the ability to earn more of the viewer’s time, which increases brand awareness and opportunities for conversions.

It’s no surprise then that brands are starting to embrace CTV as well, with $1 in every $10 of programmatic video ad dollars currently going to the platform.

Opportunities for brands

It’s exciting to watch leading advertisers adopt CTV advertising as a critical new addition to their media mix, and even more than this, seeing the opportunities CTV presents for advertisers:

New-age media for reaching users with unparallel reach across millennials and Gen Z users.

Co-viewing TV content and multi-screen audience reach, creating a digital footprint among TV viewers.

Data accuracy and multi-attribution measurements. The three main ways to track campaign performance on CTV are directly through the DSP, via a third-party ad server and through a measurement provider.

With 90 per cent of audiences using their mobile devices while watching TV, CTV cross-screen advertising ability not only massively increases brand impact but also enables brands to orchestrate personalised messages, promoting positive experiences across the user journey.

With a cookieless world fast approaching, contextual targeting will become essential. CTV allows brands to place ads based on content that it will appear next to or even look for context in terms of audiences – for example, targeting a user based on their consumption patterns.

The ability to leverage first- and third-party data. Using first-party data is an effective bottom-funnel tactic to convert users who previously showed interest in a brand, or to increase the lifetime value of an existing customer whilst third-party data is typically provided in segment, consisting of users that match specific demographic or behavioural criteria.

Rightly so, some believe that CTV is the future of advertising. You can start by realising that OTT services and CTV devices are everywhere, and then consider that the adoption of streaming services are continuing to grow rapidly.

CTV ad spend in the US is predicted to exceed $19bn by the end of 2024, with markets all over the globe following similar growth patterns. I predict 2022 will be a transformative year for brands across GCC, which will leverage this ever-evolving ecosystem that gives marketers the creative opportunity to authentically drive visual stories, resonate with their audiences and create emotional connections all whilst staying relevant.