When I think of the history of connected TV, I somewhat chuckle, thinking of my own history with it. Being a gadget freak, I already “cut the cord” back in 2007, plugging a tower PC running Boxee, connected to several external 1TB hard drives full of questionably legal movies and TV shows. The reason I wanted to break away from cable so early was simple: I wanted freedom. I wanted to choose what I get to watch when I get to watch it.
But – Media Center TV wasn’t the same as Connected TVs. The setup was a nightmare. Software kept crashing, downloaded movies were often low quality, or not even the movie in the title.

It would take about ten years for connected TV to be beyond only Netflix and Hulu and another 5 for connected TV to realize that having ads was never the reason we didn’t like cable TV.
Ads were fine. We like ads (if it means we get cheaper / free service).
We wanted freedom. To choose what we get to watch and when we get to watch it.

CTV is nothing like your grandma’s TV. Other than the fact they both share the letters “T” and “V,” – CTV is currently going through an explosive growth period, with both publishers, audiences, and technology ramping up, attracting advertisers from all around the world. But we’ll get to that later.

A TV Advertising experience worthy of the 21st century

TV Advertising is an outdated world involving extreme overhead over the already inflated price of inventory. It’s a world that required extreme powers of scale to get decent pricing and offered no chance for global advertisers to participate (fairly) in the competition oversupply.
Unlike the fastest and largest advertising marketplace in history (i.e., the INTERNET) – TV advertising price sheets were the result of legacy prices, upfront deals, and in some cases – even government committees.

The biggest gift we got from the extremely fast growth of internet advertising was the globalization of demand and supply. A user in Seattle can watch a series made in Germany (Dark – you should watch it!) and see an ad for a game developed in Tel Aviv (Bingo Bling – try it!).
Thanks to programmatic bidding making its way to CTV, Advertisers can throw their hats in the ring for ad spots in real time, hitting their target audience with sniper-like precision. This shift hasn’t just opened the floodgates for more advertisers to jump into CTV; it’s cranked up the dial on how effectively and smartly they can get their messages across.

But Wait, There’s More Tweaking Needed

Even with all these techy strides, CTV advertising still has some hills to climb. There’s a bit of a head-scratcher: just because there’s new ad space doesn’t mean we’re actually reaching more people. Sure, CTV is carving out new slots for ads, but it begs the question – are we just shuffling the same old viewers from traditional TV to digital screens? And more crucially, are we really pulling in fresh eyes, or is it just the same crowd tuning in through different gadgets?

The Inventory vs. Audience Puzzle

This is where advertisers need to put on their detective hats. Understanding whether CTV is just reshuffling the deck or actually adding new cards is key. It’s a big deal because it directly influences how they plan their ad spending and target their campaigns.

Figuring Out How to Measure Success

Traditionally, TV ads were all about how many eyeballs you could potentially catch. Then digital advertising came along and introduced the idea of tracking how ads directly influence viewer actions, which was a game-changer. Now, as CTV blurs the line between old-school TV and digital ads, we’re at a crossroads about how to measure success. Is it still about reach, or do we need a more nuanced approach that reflects the digital DNA of CTV?

Last click is not a great way to approach CTV measurement, as TVs are not clickable. 

Traditional ways to measure TV (i.e., panels) don’t work as well, as there’s no set top box anymore. Users are using their smartphones to watch CTV often, making QR codes scanning also not the best way to measure CTV Advertising.

Advertisers are leaning towards incrementality as a way to measure CTV – needing to adopt a new method of measurement that looks at the causality between advertising spending and results. 

You can read more about how INCRMNTAL approaches CTV measurement here: https://incrmntal.com/solutions/tv

What’s Next?

The journey of CTV advertising from its humble beginnings to today’s success story is pretty epic. But as the space grows, so do the challenges. Peeling back the layers to understand the true impact of CTV ads, who’s really watching, and how to measure this effectively is where the future is headed. As advertisers, tech wizards, and platforms put their heads together, the outlook for CTV ads is shining bright, promising more tailored, measurable, and impactful ad campaigns.

In a nutshell, CTV advertising has come a long way in the past decade, shifting from an emerging concept to a powerhouse channel with slick features like programmatic bidding. But as the industry evolves, it’s facing some tough questions, especially around the real value of new ad spaces and how to measure success in this blended TV-digital world. The path forward is all about fine-tuning our understanding and tools to ensure CTV advertising not only hits the mark but sets a new standard for digital engagement.