Marketing Strategies

Connected TV 101: How to set yourself up for success in this growing channel

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Connected TV (CTV) use was growing – but the pandemic pushed it into overdrive as consumers spent more time at home, vegging out in front of the tube. Nielsen’s latest reports found that CTV viewing has grown from 2.7 billion hours during the pre-pandemic week of March 2, 2020 to 3.9 billion hours during the weeks of March 23, March 30, and April 6 – representing a year-over-year increase of 81%.1 As we head into 2021, advertisers recognize the opportunity within Connected TV, but there’s a lot to learn to be successful in this space. This article serves as a primer on how to get started in CTV advertising.

What is Connected TV?

CTV is television content streamed over apps and smart TVs, mobile devices, or over-the-top (OTT) devices such as gaming consoles, Amazon Firesticks, Chromecast and other streaming devices. Millions of US TV viewers are switching over to Connected TV as adoption of streaming services, such as Hulu and Netflix, continues to grow and displace traditional cable TV. In fact, eMarketer predicts that 60% of the population will be using Connected TV by 2022.2

How does CTV advertising work?

CTV advertising uses targeting capabilities to allow advertisers to serve different ads to viewers streaming the same show. This saves advertisers money because it shows their ads only to their intended audience as opposed to the entirety of a specific show or channel’s viewing population. This capability is part of what makes CTV a potentially superior investment than your usual TV ad buy.

What are the benefits?

  • More effective targeting

CTV combines the user experience of television with the technical capabilities of digital advertising. Similar to digital marketing, advertisers can target specific audiences using first- and third-party data to deliver ads to viewers. They can build a custom audience based on demographic and behavioral attributes to reach high-value prospects efficiently and effectively. Being able to zero in on a custom audience and not having to select based on time slots like traditional TV advertising gives companies a lot of flexibility to customize their message to the unique customer segments they are trying to reach. Connected TV allows for precision-targeted ad campaigns instead of a ‘broadcast’ experience.

  • More flexibility

Traditional TV marketing means committing to a block of time and hoping you will reach your audience. With CTV, you can test and see what works and what doesn’t; it’s not a lump sum primetime buy on a traditional network.

  • More accurate analytics

Accurate analytics are crucial to marketing success. CTV leverages digital capabilities when it comes to measuring ad performance. Advertisers can track ad-side metrics such as ad completion rates, as well as the viewers’ actions after seeing the ad, like website visits and conversions. These advantages explain why ad dollars are pouring into the space; marketers spent $6.9 billion on Connected TV advertising in 2019, and that’s expected to double by 2023.3

  • Spend smarter

Part of CTV’s appeal to advertisers is the ability to measure success in a way that traditional TV never offered. Once you know what your audience responds to, CTV’s flexibility helps you stretch your advertising dollars further.
You can use the following metrics to gauge which CTV campaigns are working for you and adjust your targeting and budget as needed:

a) Completion rates: measure how many times your ad was viewed in full
b) Viewability scores: measure whether the ad could be seen by a viewer/how many times it appeared
c) Cost Per Completed View: divide your total campaign spend by the total number of completed views

  • Impervious to cookies

Marketers are concerned about the death of the third-party cookie and its implications for identity resolution. There are many steps marketers can take to lessen the blow of the sunsetting of this useful tool, but it’s good to note that CTV is a channel that will remain unaffected. First-party data, based on user-authentication and respect for privacy preferences, is the future of data collection. Pseudonymous identifiers, such as IP addresses, which are frequently changed, are rooted in this type of user authentication and will offer a way to keep track of viewers without invading their privacy.

Best practices for making the most of your Connected TV investment

1. Use data to improve online and offline identity resolution

The CTV industry is behind when it comes to integrating online and offline data and identity resolution. In general, Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) – the systems that allow digital advertising buyers to manage multiple ad exchanges – have a hard time reconciling mobile, desktop, and CTV users. To advertise more effectively, you need additional data. Data providers, such as Data Axle, can help match offline and online data by appending information to your first-party records. This approach will improve targeting, amplify your campaign reach, and significantly improve onboarding rates. James Purtle, Senior Director of Digital Marketing at Data Axle, says, “Clients that leverage Data Axle data to enhance offline audiences before onboarding have seen as much as a 60% increase in match rates, resulting in more targetable ads.”

2. Use retargeting liberally

There are a few ways CTV advertisers can retarget viewers of their ads. They can retarget to people who viewed their complete ad, such as in the Defenders of Wildlife example below. They can also retarget people who visited their website, using first-party data for audience selection. This tactic helps create more audience touchpoints, which means higher conversions.

Brand example: Jayco & LoSasso

Jayco is a leading manufacturer of RVs. The brand creates advertisements that remind its audience of how much fun it is to travel in an RV. The brand decided to use Connected TV for the first time in 2019. Working with their agency, LoSasso, Jayco decided on a 2 month test pilot during camping season.

LoSasso reported that the CTV campaign generated 582k ad impressions with 346k completed views at a 90% video completion rate—11% above the industry benchmark. The campaign was not designed to drive clicks/traffic, it generated 372 clicks from users on mobile and desktop.

Seeing the positive results from the pilot, the team decided to remarket to viewers who watched the complete ad, generating an additional 209 clicks during the short 2-month test.4



3. Lean into current trends

While we don’t usually recommend following fads, the world of media moves quickly. Taking advantage of what has your audiences’ attention and incorporating it into your messaging or product can be a gamechanger.

Brand example: Defenders of Wildlife: Developing high-impact creative

For the 2020 Giving Tuesday and Holiday season, nonprofit, Defenders of Wildlife tasked the Data Axle team with creating a unique campaign to reach prospective donors via Connected TV (CTV). Starting with a file of Defender’s first party data, Data Axle leveraged their proprietary Donor Database, Apogee, to create a modeled prospecting audience. This segment consisted of individuals with the highest propensity to donate and engage with the Defenders brand.

The Data Axle Creative Services teams partnered with the Defenders design team to create a unique video specifically for CTV. This included a “text to donate” option, a custom URL call out in the ad, and an impactful TV spot that brought the Defenders brand and mission front and center. By partnering with Data Axle, the Defenders teams were able to create high impact creative to reach a custom audience across multiple channels, helping keep the Defenders brand top of mind for consumers over the holiday and giving season.



Connected TV usage is only going to continue to grow as more consumers opt to ‘cut the cord’ and switch from cable to streaming services. Savvy advertisers need to take this opportunity and create a comprehensive CTV strategy that utilizes data to provide better targeting, accuracy, and, ultimately, a better ROI.


Interested in learning more about Connected TV? Get in touch.



Robert Konkos
Vice President Enterprise Division

Ad-tech innovator Robert Konkos has spent his career driving growth by transforming media planning, buying and activation for CPG, Agency, Ad-tech and Publisher verticals. At Data-Axle, Konkos is tasked with creating innovative solutions and forging deep in-market connections for our agency business. Konkos has deep and broad experience in digital media buying and selling. Prior to joining Data Axle, Konkos was VP of Data Sales at IRI. Before that, he served North American Publishing Group as VP of Media, and prior to that, was Senior Marketing/Media Director at eWayDirect.