By next year, eMarketer estimates advertisers will spend $10 billion on connected TV advertising. Naturally, that much money generates a lot of noise (and some confusion) about audience targeting solutions. But there’s a bigger picture chief marketing officers need to keep in mind — the combination of a rise in smart TV’s penetration (one-third of all households) and the growing popularity of CTV (IP-enabled streaming). While these complementary trends are powerful in their own right, the real value for CMOs is the ability to measure all screens.
Why all screens are important
Our media ecosystem is fragmented, and that fragmentation will only continue. As Nielsen points out, Americans spend 10.5 hours each day in front of screens. In many cases, we watch two screens at once, but overall no single screen dominates. Meanwhile, despite a lot of noise about cord-cutting, linear TV is just as important as digital video, mobile video and CTV. In fact, 75% of U.S. households view some form of traditional TV over the course of a year, while 55% of U.S. consumers have access to CTV.
What does this fragmentation mean for CMOs? Simply put, CMOs need to understand that all audience segments will increasingly be found everywhere, to varying degrees. Yes, some audience segments will concentrate on specific screens, but overall, consumers are watching more content in more places. As a result, brands need a strategy that accounts for all screens, while allowing media planners the flexibility to adjust based on audience behavior and campaign needs.
How fragmentation cripples planning
Planning in a fragmented media ecosystem is difficult for several reasons. If you don’t measure all screens, you can’t really ascertain reach, do frequency capping and address audience duplication. In other words, failure to measure one screen undermines all of the hard work you’re doing to optimize your campaigns for other screens.
But there’s an even bigger issue. By ignoring one screen, you also miss huge segments of audience. For example, ignoring CTV because it’s smaller than linear, means you won’t reach the millions of consumers who have already cut the cord, never used the cord or dip in and out of linear based on what they’re watching. Conversely, focusing on CTV to the exclusion of linear means losing sight of tens of millions of people who haven’t left cable. But regardless of where the hole is in your media plan, the result is the same. Because without measuring all screens, the more you do to optimize the screens you’re focused on, the further your media plan skews from its goal. That is, an incomplete media plan has a blind spot that represents a bad data input; over time, you’ll compound the incorrect assumptions you make about your audience.
Smart TV is the lynchpin for planning all screens
As the newest screen, CTV represents the missing piece of the puzzle. Put simply, that’s where the audiences that have been disappearing from media plans for years have gone.
But finding those audiences isn’t just about CMOs directing some of their media spend toward CTV. Remember, this is about measurement and planning above all else. So, rather than only investing in CTV with the hope of targeting hard-to-find audiences, CMOs need to look at the channel as their lynchpin for measurement and planning.
The best way to accomplish that goal is for CMOs to push for a single metric that reconciles the various screens. But rather than looking for one metric to win out, CMOs need to think about the way in which fragmentation is driving robust measurement practices across screens. If CMOs are going to build a unified audience metric, it’ll be through a process of addition, not subtraction. Ultimately, we’re going to have to arrive at a metric that combines Nielsen’s panel-based measurements with the automated content recognition data that comes from Smart TVs and then weights the different methodologies according to a model that accounts for consumers moving between screens.
Where CMOs go next
While we’re talking about a significant shift in terms of the way CMOs measure and plan, it’s important to understand that the technology to accomplish this shift already exists. Moreover, CMOs have gone to great lengths in recent years to disrupt their organizations and reorganize their operations to engage audiences everywhere.
As soon as brands are able to measure holistically across all screens, their media plan will see the total audience. That visibility will inform planning, giving CMOs clear guidance about how to shift their spend as audiences continue to fragment. Just as important, the brand’s media planners will be able to better optimize their campaigns because a holistic view will mean they’re no longer addressing frequency capping, duplication and reach in the dark. But in a sense, making those changes are akin to learning to walk and run in a new environment. Ultimately, CMOs can use the foundation of measurement to take flight by tying their newfound visibility into media to address specific business outcomes.
Aleck Schleider oversees client and data strategy at Amobee, executing next-generation digital and TV marketing solutions across key industry verticals. His focus encompasses the strategies, development and implementation of video-based products for platform extension, cross-channel audience segmentation, targeting and offline ROI measurement.