• This article is part of our Future of Addressability series. Contributors are industry leaders invited to share their perspectives on how marketers can successfully navigate changes brought on by the deprecation of third-party cookies.

    At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a dramatic increase in time spent consuming media accelerated a shift to over-the-top (OTT) content on connected TV (CTV) devices, as daily consumer behavior started to resemble that of the weekend with more individuals staying at home. Streaming services were up 40%, smartphone use up 34%, and content consumption on the internet was up 34% in March, according to Advertiser Perceptions. Further, research from the IAB demonstrates that when it comes to changes in targeting tactics in Q2, OTT/CTV device targeting saw the second biggest increase next to audience targeting.

    CTV supply and viewership are up

    With brands pulling back spend, there are fewer advertisers in the space with budgets despite more viewers at home watching CTV than ever before. This means less inventory demand than there’s ever been and, simultaneously, more supply, which has allowed prices to drop. Within the MediaMath platform, inventory supply for CTV grew 20% over the month of February, with an increasing portion of buys shifting towards mobile in-app CTV, further demonstrating industry trends being influenced by COVID-19. 

    We can’t be 100% certain but based on preliminary studies, we can predict how consumption behaviors may change or accelerate in the long-term due to the adaptations and disruptions sustained during COVID-19. For example, cord-cutting was already a trend before the pandemic and will continue as we enter subsequent phases of reopening. But even more important to highlight is that consumers are no longer relying on just one or two ways of consuming TV content, but rather are using a combination of different platforms, often across different devices and at different points in time. With new types of platforms and content on the horizon, TV content has become truly on-demand—not just with respect to time viewed but also across devices and platforms used to view the content.  

    CTV is a critical channel for maintaining addressability

    CTV will also be a critical channel in the post-third-party cookie world as marketers look to achieve greater addressability. First-party identity, based on user-authentication and respect for privacy preferences, will be the path forward. Pseudonymous identifiers, such as LiveRamp IdentityLink®, are rooted in this type of user authentication and will offer addressability in browsers and channels where third-party cookies are restricted.

    So how do marketers make the most of the CTV opportunity, both as we continue to navigate COVID-19 and beyond to a post-cookie world? The key is to treat CTV holistically and create a strategy that includes all screens and formats (video and display). 

    To do that, you need an identity graph that includes a notion of how CTVs associate with users and their other devices. These connections enable true omnichannel marketing and measurement—all while making the following capabilities possible:

    • Extension of your first-party data to CTV
    • Audience targeting on CTV, including demographic and behavioral targeting
    • Reach and frequency management across all devices
    • Omnichannel sequential messaging
    • Driving ROI on CTV brand awareness spend by retargeting users on other devices
    • Capturing OTT viewership—CTV content viewed not just on your TV, but on other digital devices too

    An identity graph can also add a household-level association to people and devices. For CTV, this enables more powerful attribution and features that appeal to linear buyers such as:

    • Increased incremental reach on TV buys (which is critical due to audience fragmentation on linear content)
    • The ability to reach cord-cutters and cord-nevers (viewers who are traditionally unreachable on linear) or light TV viewers who may not have been exposed to your linear TV commercial
    • Measurement that is more holistic across devices and tells a true cross-screen customer engagement story

    Managing identity is critical to CTV

    Managing identity is the critical step in making the most of the CTV opportunity. Here’s an example of a full-funnel, omnichannel campaign that transforms CTV spend into ROI:

    1. Awareness: A customer is part of a loyalty program and sees an ad on their CTV, driving awareness of a new product.
    2. Interest: They get sequential ads on their phone about a holiday promotion.
    3. Consideration: This piques their interest, so they check out the site, but don’t buy anything.
    4. Purchase: ID #1234 receives ads on their laptop reminding them of the sale, and makes a purchase!

    We have much work to do and much change ahead of us as we navigate both the next phases of COVID-19 and the deprecation of third-party cookies. Throughout both, CTV will continue to be an increasingly important channel for a marketer’s mix as they endeavor to reach consumers with relevance and respect.

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