Think Inside the Video: Why CTV Is Finally Poised to Break Through (Blog)

Richie Hyden, co-founder and COO, Iris.TV
Richie Hyden, co-founder and COO, Iris.TV (Image credit: Iris.TV)

There is a tremendous amount of excitement in our industry surrounding the explosive growth we’re seeing in connected TV. Often the enthusiasm boils down to this notion:  Finally - TV advertising is going to be just like digital, only better. We may very well get there - but in a different way than you might have expected.

To date, the industry’s been focused on trying to make TV advertising more data-driven - specifically consumer data-driven. The dream is that we’ll flip on the TV and each get a perfectly targeted, individualized ad every time based on what brands and media companies know about us. Easier said than done.

In fact, there is an opportunity in front of us right now that puts us well on this path. And that, quite simply is unlocking the power of contextual data in video. We have been quickly advancing to the point where we can now gather video-level-data on what each and every CTV video of any length - from clip, to show, to feature film - is about. We can compile what products are featured, what issues and topics are discussed, what music is featured and brands can use this information to deliver relevant ads. We can do this at scale - today - providing an excellent signal of both identity and intent of the viewer. This is particularly important when viewing is occurring on shared devices and content is the only signal of identity and intent.

As we are well aware, just how brands collectively plan to identify consumers on the web as cookies and various device IDs diminish in efficacy has been something of a debate of late. The good news is that the industry is making excellent progress through various initiatives aimed at coming up with a widely accepted cookie alternative, including UID 2.0.

There are indications that if widely-adopted, UID 2.0 could be utilized in some CTV environments to complement linear campaigns or to execute specific targeting initiatives.

However, it’s worth noting that connected TV consumption happens on paid services like Hulu, giant free platforms like YouTube, individual network TV apps, and a wide array of free TV aggregators like Vudu and Pluto TV which don’t require any log-in. Plus, sometimes people stream these apps on devices like Rokus or Amazon Fire TV, while in other cases they use gaming devices, and increasingly they do so via user interfaces built into their smart TVs. Plus, some TV manufactures are even building out their own on-demand libraries.

You see the point - each of these TV streaming scenarios features distinct ad systems and login offerings. So nailing down a perfect ID system akin to what we've enjoyed online for years is going to take some time. That’s where context comes in, since it can unearth targeting data for brands that isn’t reliant on people logging in. And it can do that right now, generating a unique identifier for each video - meaning that ad buyers won’t be limited in their view of a campaign or boxed into one company’s ID graph, and in turn giving brand managers more control over where their ads are running.

This isn’t just scanning keywords on a web page, it’s analyzing each frame of a video. That kind of information has never been available to TV and video advertisers, who were often left with using broad demographics for ad targeting, or blunt classifications when looking to run ads alongside certain kinds of programming - e.g. sports or sitcoms. New video-level technology can help advertisers unearth interesting, perhaps unexpected patterns and potentially powerful brand adjacencies. Moreover, it creates an entirely new asset upon which marketers can safely and confidently transact. And it has been proven to drive success metrics and KPI’s including lift, unaided awareness and resonance. In recent research conducted in partnership with FOX, Bill Harvey found lifts of 35-37% in sales effect, 37% in purchase intent and 62% in unaided awareness when context targeting was deployed. 

Over time, marketers’ video strategies will inevitably become smarter and more strategic. And, as brands tap into this new breed of contextual video data along with classic consumer targeting, CTV might indeed prove to serve as the ultimate marriage of TV and digital.

Iris.TV’s mission is to connect and unify video data to power better consumer experiences and business outcomes in optimized contextual environments.