Marketers Who Ignore Connected TV May Be Left in the Dust

Content Takeover Big Data & Analytics

Brands who fail to educate themselves on the coming potential for connected TV may soon be left in the dust, according to industry participants.

A recent IAB study noted that one in three Americans over the age of 18 own a connected TV, yet marketers remain slow to invest in the new technology, preferring to keep their ad spend locked in more traditional media.

But marketers should really reconsider that position, says Scott Rosenberg, vice president of advertising for Roku. “There’s no bigger branding medium than TV,” Rosenberg says. “It has the sound and motion advantage, but the real advantage of a connected TV is it’s a mashup of web advantage plus traditional TV branding. We have all the digital targeting tools of online ad tech, but we also have the advantage of being in the living room.”

With 76 percent of owners saying that connected TV is just as good as traditional television and 40 percent saying that they prefer ads on connected TV to television spots, why aren’t marketers jumping at the chance to reach this responsive audience? The answer, according to Mike Proulx, executive vice president of digital strategy at Hill Holiday and author of Social TV, is that the targeting tools Rosenberg mentioned aren’t connected.

“Connected TVs like Samsung and Sony each run on their own operating system,” Proulx says. “Those connected TVs have some level of data, but the additional layer is the apps that are running on those systems, like Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime. Hulu is going to know info that the connected TV won’t.”

The problem with so many devices running so many apps is that marketers have to choose a device or app on which to run an ad in addition to keeping up traditional television ad spend. 

“The other thing to add to the mix is that there’s now also streaming TV services competing with cable providers that are offering a lineup of channels,” Proulx says. “The problem is the cost to create individual pieces of video content for micro-targets versus the return on having all these different pieces of creative to put them out there,” he adds.

However, as consumers flock to connected TVs, the audience for those costly TV spots may begin to disappear. “Ultimately data driven marketing is the trend,” says Chevan Nanayakkara, vice president of media supply for Eyeview, a company that produces personalized video ads.

“You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. It’s well on its way. I think on television platforms we see a lack of data right now, but as the home experience becomes something that marketers want to lean into and understand more, the vendor community will figure out how to surface more data.”

Eventually, Nanayakkara sees potential for truly personalized marketing on connected TVs and video streaming apps, but for now, even the limited data provided by connected TVs offer opportunities for hyper-targeted advertising by providing geo-location data.

“There are really amazing applications that look great on connected TV, like regional call outs where we take a brick and mortar retail store and show within a very small radius where the consumers’ closest store is,” Nanayakkara says.

“On a large screen television that information is so informative and educational. It’s not just brand awareness. It’s also showing where a point of purchase is within the proximity of the user, that you never see on traditional television. Those kinds of solutions are available on connected TV because we do have information from the site and the publisher for geo-targeted content level targeting. That is available now.”

And while connected TVs don’t currently offer the dataset for measuring cross-device local search driven by geo-targeted TV spots, that feature may be coming soon. “I do think that as cross device technology matures that we will start to figure out how to bridge user data to the platform, then we can start to think about how we can connect back to search and drive more down funnel marketing activity” Nanayakkara says.   

Nanayakkara believes that advertisers need to invest in education about the coming data possibilities now rather than waiting for the tide to turn to avoid being left in the dust.

“I think the place that marketers really need to be leaning into is education and training on how to use all the different platforms that are available in order to leverage the power and flexibility of what digital media brings,” Nanayakkara says. “We’re including more connected TV in Q3 in our proposals than we ever have before, and I highly encourage other marketers to invest.”

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