The Big Picture: Measurement in CTV

CTV is booming: consumption is at an all-time high and over the course of recent years, consumers have increasingly embraced connected TV over traditional linear TV. Despite damning headlines of consumers abandoning their subscriptions to cut costs within a gloomy global economy, the ad industry’s faith in CTV appears strong, with global ad spend forecast to hit USD$43bn (~£34.4bn) by 2025.

The move from TV to CTV opens a lot of opportunities for brands and advertisers; by collecting clearer and more detailed insights into audience behaviour, such as which ads were viewed, the length of time they were viewed for, and audience actions after viewing an ad, CTV serves as a highly valuable tool for delivering more impactful ad campaigns. Car manufacturer Volvo, for example, leveraged CTV ads on Samsung and Roku’s streaming services to launch its s90 model. The interactive video ads enabled viewers to explore the interior and exterior of the car while directing them to their nearest dealership via a personalised message. The campaign’s interactivity created a holistic purchasing journey for customers, resulting in a 35% uplift in sales. With CTV also proving more influential over audience behaviour than linear TV, the channel should be crowned an all-round winner, right?

Well, not exactly.

In the case of Volvo, an uptick in car sales could be enough to deem the company’s foray into CTV a success, however, there are also numerous other metrics the manufacturer could consider, ranging from ad impressions and viewability to return on ad spend and cost per ad. Presently, how success is measured in a CTV campaign depends greatly on the publisher or advertisers objectives. And while this could be viewed positively, in that this variety creates multiple opportunities for advertisers to achieve success, the consensus is that a lack of standardisation makes it challenging to pinpoint what success in CTV looks like definitively. 

For William Keggin, director of advanced advertising at LiveRamp, the CTV landscape is currently “too fragmented to deliver the same people-based insights that digital marketers have become accustomed to.” Marc Guldimann, founder and CEO at Adelaide Metrics concurs, going a step further to argue that “CTV measurement is more challenging than linear TV – contextual adjacency, something highly predictive of outcomes, is often obfuscated. The medium also presents new challenges around frequency capping and ads rendering when screens are off.” Guldimann adds that this presents a longer-term challenge for advertisers in the CTV space “to clearly demonstrate the value of a CTV impression versus the tonnage of social.”

In terms of the tools with which advertisers can measure success, CTV ads should present a step up from linear TV. As with other mediums, such as out-of-home, the integration of programmatic enables marketers to deliver more impactful and targeted advertisements informed by data. However, as Bill Swanson, SVP, EMEA at Connatix recognises, “programmatic business was built around CPMs and static display ads which are very different to the requirements of CTV as this morphs from traditional linear budgets and measurement to programmatic delivery.” This has led to what Swanson describes as a “slight impasse in terms of achievable technical delivery and a change in measurement requirements and outputs.” 

So, what can the industry do to break CTV’s measurement stalemate? According to Keggin, collaboration across the industry is key: “while there is still some disagreement amongst certain key players, evangelising methods for cross-channel measurement, including technologies that enable addressability, people-based marketing and privacy-first, data collaboration, will be crucial if CTV is to achieve its full potential,” he asserts. For Dave Rosner, CMO at Audigent, taking an “online sensibility” to CTV is needed. Rosner suggests the emergence of two trends, “new technologies and partners that will power more sophisticated targeting; and ongoing buy-side pressure to improve targeting and measurement”, will push CTV measurement out of its impasse. Swanson, however, is less optimistic, concluding that “measurement derives from unification of all sides of the market working together and I can’t see this happening any time soon, particularly for the fragmented EMEA market.”

Fortunately, despite CTV’s rampant growth in recent years, the medium is still arguably in its infancy, providing brands and advertisers with a golden opportunity to establish how the ad industry views success in CTV. And, as Hunter Terry, VP solutions consulting and GM CTV at Lotame notes, big players in the space are already taking action. “In order to maintain the advertising growth in CTV, pressure to define a set of standards has increased,” Terry notes, adding “now that major broadcasters like Fox, Paramount, NBCU, and others are banding together and with the introduction of ad-supported tiers to Netflix, Disney+, and soon to be Apple+, those standards should improve quickly such that ‘measurement’ in CTV will act as a magnet rather than deterrent for advertisers in 2024 and beyond.”