Connected TV Trends to Accelerate in 2021

TV remote
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The television world won’t return to a pre-pandemic normal in 2021, according to some of the industry’s tech leaders. The COVID-19 crisis made change happen faster, and there’s no going back in terms of consumer behavior and advertising spending.

Here are some predictions about the trends that will continue in the new year from people on the industry’s leading edge.

Tal Chalozin, founder and chief technology officer at Innovid, predicted that in 2021 neither consumers nor advertisers will go back to prior years’ reliance on linear TV advertising. 

Tal Chalozin

Tal Chalozin (Image credit: Innovid)

New Year, New Tactics

“The strategy of buying primetime television hasn’t changed: they still want to associate the brand with premium content and reach big audiences,” he said. “The tactics, however, have changed. Advertisers will now purchase CTV inventory to achieve those goals.”

Chalozin said the switch to streaming, or connected TV (CTV), was already pronounced in 2020, with a 58% year-over-year increase in impression growth in CTV for January through November. November alone saw YoY impression growth of 87%. 

ALSO READ: CTV Ad Impressions Up 55% in 3Q, Says Innovid

CTV’s programmatic, audience-based buying will become the norm, Chalozin said, as marketers implement ad spending based on outcomes such as website traffic, products added to online carts and app downloads. 

“However, the main problem with that focus is that marketers must know identity across media, sites and devices for that to work,” Chalozin said. “To address this, we will see big progress on creating a uniform standard for CTV identification in 2021.” 

Chalozin’s colleague, Jessica Hogue, general manager of measurement and analytics at Innovid, said CTV will focus on its impact in the middle of the so-called marketing funnel, which works its way down from awareness at the wide end through interest and evaluation to testing and adoption at the narrow end. 

Jessica Hogue

Jessica Hogue (Image credit: Innovid)

“Marketers will look to integrate middle-funnel signals to drive understanding of how CTV's reach influences consumers through their journey,” Hogue said. “Middle-funnel metrics will grow in importance as marketers continue to navigate privacy and data interoperability required for omnichannel attribution.”

The streaming era also calls for convergent TV measurement. “The buy side will push for analytics that provide an integrative view of all the ways we view content and consume advertising on the biggest screen in the home,” Hogue said.

Some Xandr executives see advanced advertising tools becoming more usable in 2021. 

“As the industry as a whole continues to home in on the importance of a converged platform offering, the first step is making data-driven linear transactions easier to execute, and with greater consistency across the marketplace,” Holly Rae, VP of product and TV platform at Xandr, said. “In 2021, this transformation will evolve further as targeting beyond age and gender will become even more important to brands, agencies and holding companies as they continue to invest in data-driven solutions.” 

Lauren Wiseman, director of OTT and programmer partnerships at Xandr, added that as publishers build out their OTT strategy in 2021, the importance of an open source solution will come to the forefront. “Pre-bid is taking off in OTT just as it did in display, and by working with technology-agnostic demand partners, publishers will have the flexibility to choose the solutions that make the most sense for them,”
Wiseman said. She also expects publishers to prioritize technology partners that can seamlessly tie together their linear TV and digital businesses.

Jon Skogmo, Jukin Media

Jon Skogmo (Image credit: Jukin Media)

Jon Skogmo, founder and CEO of Jukin Media, also thinks CTV will continue to flourish in 2021.

“Low-cost and free streaming services have become an even more attractive option for budget-conscious consumers,” Skogmo said. Distributed across all major OTT platforms, Jukin’s owned and operated channels have seen more than 7 million hours of viewing per month. Jukin reports 50% year-over-year growth in both viewership and revenue in its streaming TV business, and Skogmo expects these trends to continue as budgets continue to follow the eyeballs. 

“Multiple signs point to a lasting shift to CTV as more consumers embrace it and brands continue to move more ad dollars its way,” Skogmo said. 

CTV Just Part of the Picture

Ivan Markman, chief business officer at Verizon Media, said that for marketers CTV is just part of an omnichannel approach.

Ivan Markman

Ivan Markman (Image credit: Verizon Media)

“For buyers to take full advantage, they’ll need to be able to access inventory programmatically, alongside other media types, including desktop, mobile, [digital out-of-home], audio, [extended reality] and beyond,” Markman said. “Technology platforms will also have to make it easier to plan, buy and manage TV inventory types alongside one another.

ALSO READ: Top Planners Find Audience Buying An Appealing Approach

“While ad tech makes omnichannel purchasing possible, the majority of planning and buying is done channel by channel and the full potential of platforms are still being realized,” he added. “It’s time for agencies to embrace more efficiency and collaboration. 2021 could be the year when siloed buying and planning teams are unified and operate in an omnichannel way.” 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.