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CTV Is on the Verge of Fulfilling Its Creative Promise

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The digital advertising community has long touted CTV as delivering the fusion of digital targeting and optimization with the storytelling power of the big screen. But truthfully, CTV has mostly fallen short of that promise to date. CTV ads largely feel like traditional TV ads — with novel issues like frequency capping to boot.

But the ongoing surge in CTV ad spend is incentivizing the industry to help CTV ads meet their potential, and in 2024, the medium will take meaningful steps in that direction.

Three changes to expect in CTV advertising this year are:

  • creator-driven ads
  • full-fledged dynamic creative optimization
  • and real-time contextual information.

Creator-driven ads

Influencer marketing has taken off as brands seek to connect with creators’ audiences while capitalizing on their creative talent. But to date, influencer marketing has been mostly associated with social platforms, where gaining audience attention faces the uphill battle of a fast-scrolling thumb.

Influencers are coming to CTV — but not just in the form of celebrity-style ads where they endorse products. Rather, advertisers will leverage creators to grab audiences’ attention before driving deals home. 

Imagine you’re watching a show on Hulu and an ad break starts. You’re expecting a typical ad: highly commercial and impersonal. Instead, you see a woman staring right at you as in a YouTube video, reviewing a new cosmetic product. The ad draws your gaze. Then, in the second half of the 30-second ad break, you see a more typical ad for the same product with a QR code that, when scanned, takes you directly to the brand’s online store — with the product already in your cart.

These creator primer ads will become common in the coming months and years as influencers conquer another channel and advertisers discover how to transform CTV into the digital-first experience it is meant to be. 

Dynamic creative optimization (for real)

Advertisers (and, perhaps more to the point, adtech companies) mean different things when they talk about DCO. Often, DCO is used to describe a simple case of ad targeting, which is already common in CTV: showing different ads to different audiences based on contextual or demographic data. 

DCO on CTV will reach another level this year. It will entail optimizing creative based on audiences’ reactions to ads to increase performance continuously. One way to do this is by including interactive components in ads such as QR codes or drive-to-store call to actions(like the nearest store location), which provide performance data. Another is to survey audiences to find out which brands they recall or purchase after ad exposure. Using these types  of data, advertisers can improve performance of their ads in real-time or near-real-time by optimizing against specific KPIs.

With DCO, CTV advertisers will be able to swap out creative elements such as images, copy, and color schemes. They can also show entirely different videos or, if experimenting with creator primer ads, swap out the combination of creator videos and more typical ads to identify which pair generates the biggest impact.

Real-time contextual information

True DCO involves the ability to optimize ads on the fly based on real-time data. Similarly, tomorrow’s CTV advertisers will be able to insert real-time contextual information into ads — in a way that would’ve been unthinkable with traditional TV — to drive greater attention.

For example, when you’re watching an NBA game and an ad break begins, you might see a ticker at the bottom of the ad with scores from around the league or the latest news about which team has changed its coach mid-season. Or if you’re watching local programming, an ad ticker might show local news, weather, or traffic information. In this context, consumers get valuable, timely information brought to them by the brand.  

Much as creators pull audiences out of the trance that sometimes sets in during TV ad breaks, this real-time information will keep audiences focused on the big screen during ad breaks, a time during which eyes all too easily wander to mobile.

Across influencer collaborations, DCO, and real-time information, CTV ads will look a lot different this time next year. The ad industry has long celebrated CTV as heralding the transformation of advertising’s favorite medium into a digital powerhouse. In 2024, this much-vaunted future will finally arrive.

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

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