What is connected TV and how can it be used in B2B marketing?

Kavita Singh spoke with David Fabbri, chief strategy officer at LoSasso Integrated Marketing, about the benefits of using connected TV and how marketers can start utilising its services effectively. 

KS: For those that might not know, what is connected TV?

DF: Connected TV (CTV) is programming viewed on a television through a connection to the internet instead of via a traditional cable or satellite TV connection. Connected TV programming is accessed using apps like Hulu, Sling TV and Netflix among many others.

Connected TV is a subset of OTT (over the top) video, which is programming streamed over the internet to any number of devices including, phones, tablets, and computers. Stated another way—CTV refers to OTT programming viewed on your television.

KS: Why might consumers turn to CTV in place of traditional cable?

DF: The increased availability of low cost, high-quality OTT programming has led to the phenomenon of cord cutting, where people break away from more expensive cable or satellite subscriptions, opting instead to get their TV through the internet. There are many providers with a wide variety of programming options. Depending on what combination consumers choose, the savings can be substantial.

According to eMarketer estimates, the number of US cord-cutters will reach 28% of the population in 2021 – around 73 million people – and could pass 100 million people by 2025.

Connected TV

KS: One of the benefits that comes with CTV is that you can target your audience more precisely. Can you expand on how this is possible?

DF: On some apps like Netflix, viewers pay a subscription fee and see no ads. Many others are partially or entirely ad supported. Ad inventory on these platforms can be purchased programmatically using digital tools many agencies are already using to buy other online advertising.

This means ads can be delivered to a very well-defined target audience versus buying in a particular show or channel you think your target will be viewing. Of course, you can still buy based on programming too. This allows you to run in ‘showcase’ environments based on your target – e.g., Fox News for a more conservative, business decision-maker target.

This digital audience targeting is enabled by online identity graphs – essentially complex databases that piece together information about users from various sources. This includes things like demographic and firmographic information, online activity, media consumption, device usage, purchase behaviour and location data.

Different platforms aggregate this information behind the scenes in different ways. Important to note, some are being adversely affected by current changes to how major players like Apple, Google and others allow data collection (iOS 14 changes for Apple and the phase out of 3rd party cookies in the Chrome browser for Google). The jury is still out on how much impact this will have on targeting precision and ad costs across all digital advertising, including on CTV.

KS: That’s an excellent point. And what are a few other benefits to connected TV?

DF: Flexibility is a big one. Unlike traditional TV which takes more time to buy, requires a larger budget commitment and is harder to cancel, CTV has high flexibility for changes and cancellations. That can be a lifesaver if the business environment is in flux, as it was in 2020. The ability to make changes on the fly also allows performance marketers to optimise targeting, timing and messaging based on results they are seeing from their ads in market.

Industry research continues to support TV/video as a gold-standard for the ability to drive awareness and recall. Additionally, omni-channel coordination offers synergies with display, search and social that allow closer measurement of the impact TV/Video has on the performance of those channels (shares, comments, likes, follows) which contribute to amplification of overall campaigns/messaging.

KS: There might be a misconception that CTV is pricey, but it seems like it's both affordable and unique if done right! Can you expand on this?

DF: Since CTV platforms can deliver different ads to people watching the same programme, advertisers don’t have to pay to put their ads in front of people they’re not interested in reaching. And while the CTV CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) can be much higher than traditional TV, the audience waste that is removed can more than make up for the increased rates. In other words, you’re paying more to reach the right people, but not paying for all the wrong people you were stuck with in the past.

This makes CTV more affordable and can drastically reduce the budget needed to include it in the media mix. This is huge for many B2B advertisers who simply couldn’t justify the large budgets and high waste of a traditional TV buy.

KS: It's a powerful tool but might be foreign to many B2B marketers. Do you have advice for those just scratching the surface with CTV?

DF: Finding a good agency partner with this type of buying capability is an important first step. They can dig in with you to understand who you are trying to reach and why and build target audience profiles needed for effective planning. If you are already working with an agency and they don’t do this type of media buying, they may be able to partner with one who does.

Another thing to consider is the actual ad creative you will need. Much of the CTV inventory will put you alongside other large B2B or B2C advertisers with higher production value commercials. This is great for your brand’s image – you’re running with the big dogs now – just as long as you don’t stand out for the wrong reasons. This doesn’t mean you need $250,000 to shoot a Super Bowl spot, but having the CEO’s kid edit a commercial shot on his iPhone is probably not going to get it done.

The most basic advice is jump in and test the water – learn and plan proactively for the future direction of the TV marketplace. As more advertisers get onboard, inventory will likely tighten and get more expensive – this gives early movers an advantage. The lack of B2B advertisers in the past means showing up now and layering your buy with other highly targeted online placements, can provide the opportunity to come across like a big player in virtually any industry.