How to Launch Your First CTV Campaign

In my essay, “Why CTV”, I shared TVDataNow’s prediction of a nearly 4x increase in CTV ad inventory over the next two years (we created a model which we’ll be updating as inputs change). Clearly, this is where marketers should be starting to focus. You’re going to see more users adopting and spending more time on current Ad-supported Video ODemand (AVOD) platforms, more AVOD platforms launching, and those AVOD platforms will offer more ad minutes as ad experience improves. As a reminder, when TVDataNow talks about CTV inventory, we’re referring to content consumed on a large screen TV (as opposed to an iPhone, tablet, or pc) that is delivered via the internet, as opposed to linear TV (network or cable television). This post is focused on how to launch your first CTV campaign.

1. Determine your CTV campaign goals and KPIs.

Today, CTV doesn’t have an accepted currency like linear TV with Neilsen and Gross Rating Points (GRPs) or accepted KPIs by industry like Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) or Revenue Over Ad Spend (ROAS). It’s important to determine your critical KPIs before you launch a CTV campaign. CPMs are much higher in this channel. You should expect to pay at least $15 and potentially over $30 CPMs. Is this a bottom-funnel? Mid-funnel? Top of funnel campaign? Here are some example metrics and how to track them:

  • Delivery metrics. Impressions, Reach, Frequency – within and across all CTV publishers and platforms. You can get this direct from publishers (except across publishers and platforms) or work with measurement platforms like TVDataNow to use their pixel technology to capture this data for you.
  • Compare to linear television. If you’re running linear campaigns, this is crucial and fortunately, there are a handful of measurement providers that give marketers insight into incremental reach, frequency, impressions, and sometimes even outcomes from CTV compared to linear television.
  • Outcome-based metrics. Most digital marketers are used to focusing on outcome-based metrics (i.e., ROAS, CPA). CTV offers some complications here which make this less straightforward, but still doable. Your agency or measurement partner will have to have access to an identity graph or you’ll need to use an identity graph provider to ultimately get here. This requires more from your marketing stack.
2. Align your marketing stack, partnerships, and portfolio strategy to your goals.

I’ve listed the top measurement providers below.

  • Survata. Survata plans, measures, and optimizes brand marketing.
  • Data Plus Math. By mapping actual consumer ad exposure with real-world behaviors such as purchases, store visits, app downloads, and other online or offline outcomes, Data Plus Math, a LiveRamp company, is able to help advertisers, TV Networks and MVPDs maximize outcomes for advertising campaigns.
  • TVision Insights. TV Viewability & Attention – measuring how people are really engaging with your ads.  Only TVision measures person-level TV performance metrics.
  • iSpotTV. Media Measurement: Real-time impression and attention measurement of TV creative and media leveraging iSpot’s ad catalog, airings data, and 12M+ opted-in Smart TVs.
  • SambaTV. Samba TV is built directly into the TV or set-top box through its portfolio of applications and TV platform technologies. It uses this data to provide delivery and performance data to advertisers.
3. Develop Creative. 

If you’re currently running video ads, there is a good likelihood that you may be able to reuse those video ads for CTV. Make sure any digital video creative you build is built to also be run to match CTV specs. Generally, those CTV specs are using VAST 2.0 or 3.0; an aspect ratio of 16:9; MOV or MP4 format; and a frame rate of 23.98fps. Your agency or CTV partner will be able to handle the creative development or refer you to someone that can. Firms like Playbook Media have entire creative studios that you can leverage.

4. Create a CTV portfolio strategy:
  • Programmatic. Your DSP should be able to get you up and running here. The Trade Desk and Amobee are the leaders here.
  • Go Direct (through publishers). While most marketers think in terms of linear tv publishers, there is actually greater opportunity through CTV first apps like HuluTubiPlutoCheddar, and many others.
  • Go Indirect (through platforms). Roku is the most obvious choice here, but SamsungXbox, and others have direct channels that enable you to advertise across all the apps on their platform.
5. Launch test campaigns. 

Typical minimums are in the $30k per month range per CTV app publisher or platform. You’ll want to test across a couple of different publishers; you should plan to spend at least $100k/month for at least a couple of months. So, plan a total budget of at least $250k and ideally at least $500k over at least three months.

6. Optimize your campaigns across publishers and platforms. 

If you’re a digital-first marketer you’ll probably feel somewhere between disappointment (that you don’t quite have the same capabilities to optimize today) and surprise (that you’re able to get so much data for long-form TV commercials). However, if you’re working with the right partner, you should, at a minimum, get to a CPA or ROAS (if you’re an eCommerce marketer), so you should push your partners to get to these KPIs if they’re relevant. Today, you should be able to optimize by geo and time and you’ll be able to target and optimize based on some contextual data provided by publishers and measurement partners. The key to optimization is to make sure you’re structuring your campaigns so that they can be easily optimized. For those that are doing it right, I’ve heard that CTV has become their best-performing channel. You can have this too.

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