• CTV Needs Real Measurement - and Ratings Are Just a Tiny Piece of It

    While not all that surprising in hindsight, a recent study uncovered a minor bombshell in CTV advertising: brands are throwing away more than $1 billion a year in advertising spend due to the fact that their commercials are playing on streaming platforms even while TVs are off.
    How is this possible? Viewers don’t always exit or pause the streaming app they’re using before hitting the power button on their TV; the shows (and the ads) are still running in the background. About 17% of ads on TVs connected through streaming devices are playing while the TV is off, and being delivered to no one at all.
    What makes this revelation all the more astonishing is the fact that today’s CTVs are digital and connected to the Internet, which is home to the most trackable, measurable media in our world’s history.
    Yet, while CTV brings a lot of promise to targeting a growing number of consumers, measuring what and when those individuals are watching is still too hard. For CTV to realize its full potential – and justify ad spend from brands – we need to treat it like a true Internet-connected medium. Let’s look at three steps the industry can take to move in the right direction.

    1. Dismantle the walled garden approach
    Instead of making it easier for content companies to get to know their viewers and, in turn, close the discoverability gap by anticipating what content people may be interested in, some of the larger FAST channel platforms are essentially trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. It’s replicating the model wherein content distributors hold the keys to the castle – understanding viewer behaviors, but passing very little of that information back to the original content creators. This walled garden approach is taking the industry back to the days of cable in the nineties, where advertisers and content companies alike had zero access to audience insights or measurable data.

    There’s an opportunity to open the gates and provide content companies with easier access to data such that they have the information necessary to produce content that engages viewers at the highest level.
    2. Treat CTV as what it is: Internet-connected
    Today, so much of our world is on the Internet – including our connected TVs. But, with more streaming platforms entering the space resulting in content siloes, it can sometimes feel like CTV doesn’t offer immediate or broad access to anything the way the Internet does. CTV is one of the only, if not the only, Internet-connected things that does not enjoy the full benefits of fluid movement from destination to destination.

    The onus falls on the viewer to be able to find and locate the content they want to watch – be it “The Crown” on Netflix or “The Bear” on Hulu. Streaming platforms, AVOD, and FAST channels all require this small, but arduous task of switching from one platform to another, making it all the more challenging if you have no idea which platform holds the rights to the show you want to watch in the first place. This siloed structure also makes discovering new content more difficult.

    While it won’t happen overnight, the industry at-large must consider the way in which this experience hinders the viewer and find relevant solutions to solve the challenge, starting with addressing the issue of discoverability and making more content discoverable by more people.  
    3. Deliver technology that enables a seamless experience to advertisers and prioritizes measurability

    For nearly a decade, Facebook (now Meta) delivered what might be considered one of the most seamless self-serve advertising platforms we’ve seen to date. Enterprise businesses to small mom-and-pop shops could set up campaigns that delivered measurable, bottomline results. Now, the streaming ecosystem has the opportunity to replicate this experience for advertisers, big and small.

    Whether you’re a content company, brand, or streamer, seamless technology that’s easy to use and manipulate will be key. Content companies need simple solutions for distributing ad-supported content broadly. Brands need an effective means by which to consider, evaluate and buy ad inventory, with granular performance reporting. And streamers need a smooth runway for onboarding new content as it becomes available.

    If this all sounds ambitious, it’s because it is. The good news is, there’s no technical reason why we can’t make the streaming industry more open, discoverable, and measurable — the profitable future of the CTV programming and advertising ecosystem depends on it.