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What the DTC Marketing Playbook Will Bring to CTV Advertising

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DTC brands made a name for themselves as high-performance marketers through direct response campaigns on social platforms, especially Facebook. They were laser-focused on performance, identifying the channels that drove success, A/B testing creative and targeting, and evolving swiftly to generate measurable results.

However many other brands discovered the direct-response playbook, and while social channels have become saturated and decreased in efficiency, a new digital channel has emerged: CTV. Ironically enough, given TV’s history as a branding channel, CTV is becoming the new testing ground for the fast-moving, data-driven methodology of direct response. And DTC brands will lead the way.

As expert digital marketers, there are three principles DTC brands have popularized that will now come to digital advertising’s hottest channel: making fast data-driven decisions, taking an audience-centric approach, and experimenting with new technologies. Here’s what each of those principles entails and what marketers can learn from them.

Respond quickly to data

With the robust real-time marketing data CTV puts at their disposal, brands can capitalize on the channel’s resulting flexibility to make quick, informed decisions.

For instance, just as DTC brands have long done on social, CTV advertisers can swiftly adjust creative assets based on real-time data to address performance gaps — ideally without having to wait on a partner to make campaign changes for them.

Real-time CTV data also opens up opportunities to experiment with tactics like dayparting. Casper, for example, followed the data and implemented a dayparting strategy to make its innovative campaigns even more compelling. The mattress and bedding brand runs ads between 1 am and 5 am to reach late-night audiences who are likely having trouble sleeping. The digitization of TV offers the opportunity to explore intuitive ideas like this on the fly, whereas the old days of TV advertising might have required weeks to shift strategies, test their effectiveness, and iterate.

Digital-native brands often market themselves through both paid and organic efforts on multiple channels, so another tactic they can use to turbocharge paid performance is capitalizing on the synergy between those efforts. For example, if an organic video performs well on social media, the brand can use it on paid channels as well and push it out across both social and CTV.

AI will further boost this ability to make quick data-driven decisions. The technology provides the opportunity to learn and respond at scale, often without human marketers even pulling any levers themselves. Quick adopters of AI will gain an edge as others continue to rely on manual decisions.

Put your audience first

TV has historically been a content-first channel. Advertisers bought media based on the programming against which their ads would run, making assumptions about whom the ad would reach and how it would perform. But with CTV, forward-thinking brands can take advantage of new delivery mechanisms to focus on the audience wherever they are, not primarily the content against which their ads will appear. This is the essence of the DTC performance marketing playbook, which is newly available on TV.

For example, a brand like HelloFresh could leverage contextual targeting to align its CTV ads with cooking and food-related content across streaming platforms — not just those channels or shows strictly focused on cooking. That way, the DTC meal delivery brand would be able to target audiences much in the same way marketers leverage keywords for display ads.

In addition to delivering CTV ads to viewers based on context, savvy brands can customize their messaging for specific audiences, achieving a level of granularity traditional TV could never offer. Imagine a beauty brand that wanted to resonate with various audience segments, each with different hair concerns and preferences. With the demographic data CTV offers, the brand would be able to tailor its ads to viewers of different backgrounds, showcasing specific product formulations to meet each segment’s unique hair needs.

Experiment with new technologies

To drive the data-driven measurement that generates more effective advertising, innovative brands will avail themselves of new technologies that don’t just drive conversions but allow campaigns to be tracked more easily.

One technology DTC brands are already leaning into is shoppable advertising. Shoppable ads allow viewers to seamlessly purchase products through CTV ads with the click of a remote, and they’ve proven to be effective at enticing CTV viewers. A whopping 55% of smart TV viewers remember seeing a shoppable ad and 50% have interacted with one, according to a Samsung Ads and Kerv Interactive survey. DTC brands like True Classic, Ergatta, and Olly are testing the format (through Roku’s partnership with Shopify) to shorten the time between product discovery and conversion — and better measure the tie between the two.

Along with exploring ways to innovate within a CTV ad spot, brands will take advantage of evolving smart TV hardware like Telly’s free 55-inch 4K TV. The startup’s free TV features a separate panel below the main screen that serves as an always-on ad space that doesn’t disrupt the core TV viewing experience, making for prime opportunities for brands to measurably engage with audiences.

DTC brands became the avatars of direct-response marketing in the heyday of social channels. Expect them to bring the same principles to CTV as real-time data, audience-based buying, and new technologies reposition the silver screen as a digital-first advertising channel. Every marketer can take a page out of the DTC playbook — because digital advertising innovation is not just for digital-native brands anymore.

[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from AdLib. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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