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What Will CTV Look Like in 2021? Hint: It Might Be Different from 2020

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2020 was a year of incredible growth for CTV, mainly because the world found itself at home and in need of new ways to view entertainment. During the height of countrywide lockdowns, weekly time spent watching CTV rose by more than 1 billion hours as the weeks passed. Online content increasingly replaced traditional TV which forced advertisers to redistribute their ad budgets in CTV, with overall OTT and CTV ad spend up 60% in early August compared to early April.

Traditional TV usage is stabilizing, but CTV usage still remains well above pre-COVID levels. With promising medical advancements on the horizon for 2021, we can expect that consumer behavior will gradually move out of the home. What does this mean for the future of CTV? Let’s take a closer look.

Growth for CTV in 2021

The adoption of CTV is taking off, with many in the marketplace embracing the notion of CTV advertising, however, some are still hesitant for many reasons. Those advertisers, marketers, and agencies that aren’t familiar with the CTV planning and buying process find themselves struggling to become fully educated about it. On the other hand, some understand the importance, with a strong knowledge of the process but want assurances that they are reaching the right audience and issues like addressability are being covered. Some simply don’t have the full confidence to effectively execute the CTV buys yet.

CTV offers consumers an easy way to consume video content however they like and wherever they want, which is what made it so appealing in 2020. Whenever COVID does come to an end, we can expect TV consumption to remain stable with consumers used to the convenience and content offerings the medium provides. In terms of ad spend, advertisers were very positive about CTV and OTT spending citing this category with the highest anticipated growth for Q3 2020 and Q4 2020.

As we head into 2021, there is more opportunity. For one, the majority of consumers will accept advertising on CTV if it means getting free content. There is a great opportunity for advertisers to reach these consumers, but there are obstacles that must be overcome first such as adopting a commonly accepted measurement unit like traditional TV and building up ad targeting and programmatic buying features that are traditionally stronger on other digital ad platforms.   

Accelerated Spending in Digital Advertising

Amid the decline in overall ad spend this year, digital ad spend is still growing and buyers expect it to be up 13% by the end of 2020 as compared to 2019. In 2021, we can anticipate that there will be accelerated spending with CTV as a leading category. We will see innovative solutions within CTV emerge, including the increased use of CTV data on the buy-side and new inventory on the sell-side, allowing advertisers to reach even more consumers.

While the future is always unknown, 2020 has certainly taught us that consumers are hungry for content. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and we can expect digital advertising to continue on an upward trajectory. Advertisers should keep an eye on notable rebounds in digital ad spend while leaning into new ways to connect with consumers on CTV. CTV will continue to see growth as will other media like podcasts and DOOH as people emerge from their homes and get back to the new normal. 

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

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