YouTube Rebounds with Connected TV Ad Spend

YouTube Rebounds with Connected TV Ad Spend

YouTube

The conversation about connected TV (CTV) advertising often focuses on the major streaming platforms such as Hulu and Netflix. But YouTube belongs in that conversation, too. YouTube has seen a remarkable surge in CTV ad spend for the most recent quarter, surpassing its competitors. As reported in Insider Intelligence, while YouTube experienced a 31 percent increase in CTV spending, streaming services like Max and Netflix only saw a growth of 6 percent.

In addition, the quarter marked the first time since Q4 2021 that platforms such as YouTube, Google Search, Amazon, Instagram, and Facebook all witnessed spending increases.

The CTV sector has seen a boom due to a rise in cord-cutting and increased time spent on these platforms. Consequently, it has become one of the strongest areas for ad spending in 2023. Presently, CTV spending in the United States amounts to $25.09 billion, while traditional TV spending remains higher at $61.31 billion. But by 2027, this gap is expected to close, with CTV spending projected to reach $40.90 billion and TV spending forecasted at $56.83 billion.

The transition to CTV may gain momentum soon, as industry giants like Disney contemplate selling off some TV assets to focus more on digital video. Such moves from major advertisers could attract more investment into the digital video space.

YouTube stands as a frontrunner in the digital pivot, owing to its TV viewership and content model, which gives it an edge over streaming services and other CTV platforms entering the market. The platform has seen a steady increase in viewership on TV screens, with users spending 15 minutes on CTVs, matching the time spent on mobile viewing. YouTube has capitalized on this growth by incorporating user-friendly features and introducing Shorts to TV screens.

In addition, the ongoing Hollywood writers and actors strikes position YouTube to attract more ad revenue. Competitors will have limited new content to entice advertisers, whereas YouTube’s user-generated content model remains unaffected, even weakening arguments against treating such content as “premium.”

According to forecasts, YouTube is expected to secure $2.89 billion in U.S. CTV ad spending this year, second only to Hulu, which Disney is actively seeking full ownership of.

The rise of CTV ad spend is a welcome development for YouTube, owned by Google (which, in turned, is owned by Alphabet). YouTube’s ad business had posted losses for three consecutive quarters (an unprecedented downturn following years of double-digit gains) before experiencing a rebound in the most recent quarter.

In a call with investors, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said, “The Living Room remained our fastest growing screen in 2022 in terms of watchtime. We’re reaching more than 150 million people on Connected TV screens in the US, and seeing growth and momentum internationally. And on subscriptions, there’s good growth. Late last year, we announced over 80 million YouTube Music and Premium subscribers.  Signups for NFL Sunday Ticket kicked off in April, and we look forward to hosting our first football season on YouTube this fall.”

Advertisers should watch closely emerging ad formats that YouTube is rolling out specifically for CTV. For instance, non-skippable ads are coming soon to YouTube Select on connected TV. This means that viewers will see one 30-second ad instead of two consecutive 15-second ads. YouTube is also bringing new Pause experiences to CTV, so that advertisers can drive awareness or action by owning that unique interactive moment when people pause a video. Learn more about these developments on YouTube’s blog.

At True Interactive, we partner with our clients to manage CTV campaigns that deliver ROI. We work with all the major platforms, including YouTube. Learn more about our CTV work on our website and contact us to discuss how we can help you.

Why Barbie Is a Connected TV Star

Why Barbie Is a Connected TV Star

Connected TV

I’ve written a few times about Roku’s marketing innovations in 2023, and for good reason: with more than 70 million active accounts, Roku is the leading streaming platform in the United States, and it is a bellwether for the rise of connected TV (CTV). Roku’s ability to create branded content illustrates the marketing possibilities of CTV, an area where True Interactive has deep experience.

The latest sign of Roku’s leadership: the company has successfully acquired the rights to the highly anticipated Barbie movie. The deal, which has generated considerable industry buzz, underscores Roku’s commitment to expanding its original content offerings and capitalizing on the growing popularity of streaming services.

The Barbie movie, a joint production between Mattel Films and Warner Bros., is expected to be a major draw for viewers of all ages. As part of the agreement, Roku has secured exclusive streaming rights for the film, which will be available only to Roku’s extensive user base. This maneuver is set to not only attract new subscribers but also solidify the loyalty of existing Roku users.

The Barbie movie is taking over Roku devices, including a Barbie Dreamhouse in Roku City; a takeover of the Roku home screen (where users access the apps to watch their shows and movies); and the ability to watch a trailer for the movie or buy a movie ticket directly on their TV sets.

Barbie, which stars Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, is present on the Roku home screen. When users pause what they’re watching up through July 23, the Barbie Dreamhouse and Barbieland take over the Roku City screensaver, as do Barbie-themed billboards and movie theaters. When users click through, they are brought to a landing page to watch a trailer for the movie, and with a QR code that will let them instantly buy tickets.

Roku’s move towards producing original content represents a shift in its business strategy. Traditionally known for providing a wide array of streaming options from various content providers, the company is now positioning itself as a creator of exclusive, premium content, setting it apart from its competitors, which include Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and others.

Industry analysts speculate that this acquisition is just the beginning of Roku’s plans for expansion. With the rise of streaming services and cord-cutting becoming the norm, Roku is keen on establishing a strong position in the market by producing engaging original content.

As streaming wars continue to intensify, Roku’s focus on content creation may set the standard for the entire CTV industry. By leveraging its massive user base and constantly growing digital ecosystem, the company is poised to make a significant impact in the entertainment industry.

At True Interactive, we believe it’s important that businesses understand the growth of advertising on streaming platforms in context of the rise of connected TV. If you’ve not done so already, take a closer look at why connected TV is growing and how it could expand your audience. (True Interactive can help you with that.) Connected TV is enjoying 60-percent growth, driven by a public’s appetite for streaming that continues unabated.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive can help you navigate the connected TV landscape. Our services range from media strategy and planning to automated performance reporting. Learn more about our services here, and contact us to learn more.

Why Roku’s Relationship with Shopify Matters to Advertisers

Why Roku’s Relationship with Shopify Matters to Advertisers

Connected TV

Roku has announced a partnership with Shopify that provides viewers the ability to purchase products from Shopify merchants directly from their TV through Roku Action Ads. This announcement is significant because it demonstrates the potential convergence of connected TV (CTV) with e-commerce.

When viewers see an ad for a Shopify merchant, they can simply press OK on their Roku remote to learn more about the product and purchase it. Viewers can use Roku Pay to complete their purchase. Once the transaction is processed, purchasers will receive an email confirmation from the merchant.

This integration is the first commerce integration for independent Shopify merchants on TV streaming. It creates a new advertising channel for Shopify merchants to reach a wider audience. Men’s apparel brand True Classic, the game-based connected rower Ergatta, and wellness brand Olly have signed on as initial partners.

With this new integration, viewers can now purchase products directly from their TVs after seeing an ad for a Shopify merchant. Here is how the experience looks, courtesy of Roku:

Although the partnership is just coming out of the gate, it offers some potential benefits, including:

  • Shortened advertising funnel: viewers can now purchase products directly from their TVs after seeing an ad, which shortens the advertising funnel and gives Shopify advertisers more data about their customers.
  • More customer data: Shopify advertisers can now collect more customer data, such as purchase history and shipping information, which can help them better understand their customers and target their advertising more effectively.
  • Point-of-sale access: Shopify merchants can now reach a wider audience by advertising their products on Roku devices. This gives them point-of-sale access to Roku’s audience, which can help them increase sales.

This new partnership is a win-win for both Roku and Shopify, and it’s a sign of the growing importance of commerce on TV streaming devices.

Roku and Shopify have been partners in commerce for years. In 2021, Roku launched a marketing app for Shopify merchants, allowing them to build, purchase, and measure TV streaming ad campaigns. This was the first TV streaming app available in the Shopify App Store.

Also worth noting: two months ago, Roku revealed new ad products at the 2023 IAB NewFronts presentation. These products include AI capability searches that match a brand’s message and place their ads in real time, as well as an interactive Roku screensaver where businesses can advertise.

Roku is a major player in the fast-growing connected TV industry. For the first time, streaming viewership topped cable in 2022, and this trend is not going to reverse course as cord cutting continues. As reported in Axios recently, traditional television companies and major media firms are bracing for further declines in the ad market and yet another increase in cord-cutting this year. At True Interactive, we believe it’s important that businesses understand the growth of advertising on streaming platforms in context of the rise of connected TV. If you’ve not done so already, take a closer look at why connected TV is growing and how it could expand your audience. (True Interactive can help you with that.) Connected TV is enjoying 60-percent growth, driven by a public’s appetite for streaming that continues unabated.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive can help you navigate the connected TV landscape. Our services range from media strategy and planning to automated performance reporting. Learn more about our services here, and contact us to learn more.

How Roku Plans to Generate More Ad Revenue

How Roku Plans to Generate More Ad Revenue

Advertising

Roku screensavers are becoming fertile ground for advertising.

Roku makes streaming devices that allow users to watch TV shows, movies, and other content from the internet on their TVs. Roku also offers a variety of content, including channels from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and many more. As of 2023, Roku has over 60 million active accounts. Its competitors include Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.

When people watch content via their Roku devices, they invariably see a screensaver, which appears when a user has been inactive on their device (this is true for users of other streaming TV devices). Roku has been using that digital real estate to generate advertising revenue.

Roku’s screensaver consists of “Roku City,” a playful urban landscape first introduced in 2017. Roku is experimenting with different ways to turn Roku City into a playground for brands. For instance, at the 2023 SxSW festival, Roku created a real-life Roku City via an interactive, multi-level attraction with Best Buy. The pop-up Roku City featured a Best Buy Home Theater Experience, a rooftop diner destination, a style shop, and hidden Hollywood references throughout the Roku cityscape.

Now, Roku is turning the screensaver into a place to buy ad inventory. At the annual IAB NewFronts, Roku unveiled a number of advertising initiatives, including plans to give ad space on billboards within the screensaver, which Roku says reaches 40 million homes. McDonald’s this summer will be the first brand to appear within the Roku City skyline. The fast food giant will have an animated restaurant with its Golden Arches inserted straight into the screensaver.

And that’s not all. Roku is also relying on AI to incorporate brand messages into an “iconic plot moment” in its content library. Head of Roku U.S. Brand Sales Julian Mintz explained that AI will search for “iconic plot moments” within shows and match them up with a brand’s message. For example, an apparel ad could appear when Tim Gunn makes a critique during “Project Runway.”

As streaming giants such as Netflix embrace ad-supported content tiers, Roku also stressed at NewFronts that the company complements but does not compete with streaming businesses.

“Netflix, Hulu and Disney+—50% of all Super Bowl streaming took place on Roku this year,” said Charlie Collier, president of Roku Media.

Roku is not the first business to turn interstitials into ad opportunities. For instance, Peacock’s Pause Ad is something of a “younger brother” to Roku’s interactive screensaver. Pause Ad offers an ad initiated by the viewer when they pause what they’re watching. A static brand advertisement takes over the screen after a video has been paused for more than five seconds, typically with messaging that is contextually relevant and calls attention to the pause.

Why the News Matters

This news matters because Roku is a major player in the fast-growing connected TV industry. For the first time, streaming viewership topped cable in 2022, and this trend is not going to reverse course as cord cutting continues. As reported in Axios recently, traditional television companies and major media firms are bracing for further declines in the ad market and yet another increase in cord-cutting this year. At True Interactive, we believe it’s important that businesses understand the growth of advertising on streaming platforms in context of the rise of connected TV. If you’ve not done so already, take a closer look at why connected TV is growing and how it could expand your audience. (True Interactive can help you with that.) Connected TV is enjoying 60-percent growth, driven by a public’s appetite for streaming that continues unabated.

Connected advertising is similar to linear TV advertising because both formats rely obviously on video. But connected TV is different in many important ways. For one thing, advertisers need to understand how to create video content that will reach viewers across a variety of viewing devices in addition to TV screens, and connected TV ads are competing with multiple content streams.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive can help you navigate the connected TV landscape. Our services range from media strategy and planning to automated performance reporting. Learn more about our services here, and contact us to learn more.

Three Takeaways from the YouTube/NFL Streaming Deal

Three Takeaways from the YouTube/NFL Streaming Deal

YouTube

While all eyes were on Amazon’s streaming deal to broadcast NFL Thursday Night Football, YouTube waltzed in and pulled off an upset. YouTube signed a seven-year deal worth an average price of $2 billion a year to secure rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket franchise.

This is a big move for YouTube. Sunday Ticket is a subscription-only package that allows customers access to all Sunday afternoon games for out-of-market teams. DirecTV currently pays the NFL an average fee of $1.5 billion per season for both residential and commercial rights. Its deal expires after the current season.

Sunday games represent peak prime football. NFL Thursday Night Football (TNF), by contrast, typically features subpar games largely because the Thursday timing does not give teams enough time to prepare after their previous Sunday games. Amazon’s ratings for TNF broadcasts have been spotty although four games rank among the Top 100 most viewed telecasts of 2022 according to Nielsen.

YouTube reportedly bested Amazon, Apple, and ESPN to secure the rights. YouTube will offer Sunday Ticket as an add-on to YouTube TV (a subscription streaming service that lets you watch live TV from major broadcast and popular cable networks) and in the video platform’s main app through a service called Primetime Channels that allows viewers to subscribe to individual channels.

Here are some takeaways from the agreement:

  • The deal is another sign that connected TV (CTV) is the future. For the first time, streaming viewership topped cable in 2022, and this trend is not going to reverse course as cord cutting continues. As reported in Axios recently, traditional television companies and major media firms are bracing for further declines in the ad market and yet another increase in cord-cutting this year. “The migration of the country’s biggest sports rights packages from linear TV networks to streaming will expedite the inevitable collapse of the cable bundle,” Axios noted. At True Interactive, we believe it’s important that businesses understand the growth of advertising on streaming platforms in context of the rise of connected TV. If you’ve not done so already, take a closer look at why connected TV is growing and how it could expand your audience. (True Interactive can help you with that.) Connected TV is enjoying 60-percent growth, driven by a public’s appetite for streaming that continues unabated. Connected advertising is similar to linear TV advertising because both formats rely obviously on video. But connected TV is different in many important ways. For one thing, advertisers need to understand how to create video content that will reach viewers across a variety of viewing devices in addition to TV screens, and connected TV ads are competing with multiple content streams. You can watch Amazon’s TNF on a laptop, mobile phone, or gaming console with multiple screens open. The same will hold true for watching NFL Sunday Ticket via YouTube TV. YouTube offers a number of connected TV ad units including its Masthead ad format. YouTube has added more CTV formats recently and will certainly offer more as its competitors such as Amazon do the same.

  • This a victory for first-party data, which is the information that businesses collect directly from their customers. YouTube will use first-party data to sell targeted ads to help drive revenue for the games. Right now, third-party audience data is withering away thanks to Apple’s and Google’s privacy measures. Businesses that figure out how to monetize first-party data enjoy an enormous advantage. YouTube is the second-most popular search platform in the world (behind Google). The company will be well positioned to us first-party data to sell targeted ads to NFL viewers.

The 2023-24 NFL season seems a long way off. YouTube still needs to deliver on investor expectations for parent company Alphabet between now and then. Look for YouTube to expand even more into the lucrative live sports field, which is still up for grabs among streaming platforms. Meanwhile, Alphabet’s next earnings announcement is February 7, 2023. Let’s see how YouTube’s advertising revenue delivers.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive can help you navigate the connected TV landscape. Our services range from media strategy and planning to automated performance reporting. Learn more about our services here, and contact us to learn more.

Advertiser Q&A: Connected TV

Advertiser Q&A: Connected TV

Advertising

As we blogged in 2019, we are living in a connected TV (CTV) era, one in which audiences are fragmented, consuming content across multiple devices and channels. CTV provides brands with tremendous opportunity, but some confusion persists about what it is exactly. Read on to learn more about CTV, how it differs from over-the-top (OTT) TV, and how it might benefit your brand:

What exactly is connected TV?

Connected TV refers specifically to the device used to access content (e.g., devices such as Amazon Fire, Roku, and Apple TV, not to mention gaming consoles like Xbox). Andison Flores at LiftIntent explains, “CTV is anything that allows your TV to access video content through the public Internet, as opposed to traditional cable.”

Is connected TV the same as OTT?

Though CTV and OTT are often used interchangeably by marketers, brands, and even reporters, there is a distinction. As Tal Chalozin, Co-founder and CTO at Innovid, says, “OTT means you are accessing content ‘over the top’ of infrastructure providers.” For example, users might be purchasing bandwidth from a provider like Comcast. But they can go “over the top” of Comcast by buying additional content—subscribing to Hulu, say, or Netflix. Chalozin explains, “You’re using the bandwidth provider as an access layer but not as the main way you’re accessing content.” In short, OTT refers to the new breed of content providers.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) makes a handy comparison:

  1. “Use CTV when you are specifically talking about Smart TVs and streaming devices that are attached to TVs. Mobile and desktop devices are not included under the term CTV.
  1. Use OTT when it doesn’t matter which devices are included. For example, if you want to talk about ‘OTT services’ (like Hulu or TubiTV), and delivery to a particular device doesn’t matter. OTT is still a valid term that distinguishes premium television content from the vast world of online video where user-generated content is commonplace.”

Why is connected TV getting popular with viewers?

As Anna Kuzmenko, COO at BidMind by Fiksu, notes, CTV offers users the freedom to “watch whatever they want, whenever they want.” Millennials and Gen Zers in particular have “cut the cord,” eschewing the limits of linear TV viewing in favor of streaming.

Why is connected TV popular with advertisers?

Advertisers are following their audience. According to Forbes, a recent study from the Leichtman Research Group estimates that 80 percent of TV homes in the U.S. have at least one connected TV device. That number represents a steady increase from the 57 percent logged in 2015, and 24 percent in 2010.

Predictably, CTV use soared during the pandemic: Forbes also cites a Nielson report, which notes that CTV viewing exploded from 2.7 billion hours during the pre-pandemic week of March 2, to 3.9 billion hours during the weeks of March 23, March 30, and April 6. Even during the week of May 4, when stay-at-home laws eased in some states, CTV viewing remained above pre-pandemic levels at 3.5 billion hours.

These stats are good news for advertisers embracing CTV. So is the fact that CTV allows brands to reach out to specific audiences. As Forbes notes, “CTV’s targeting capabilities are the ‘holy grail’ for advertisers.” Many CTV companies use ACR, or Automated Content Recognition, which collects data that can inform programming recommendations for users and better target ads to niche groups. Although audiences in the era of connected TV may not be as huge as the linear TV days, CTV helps brands better understand and reach their niche market effectively.

And the future of CTV looks bright. Kuzmenko says, “In 2021, CTV ad spend is estimated to hit the significant sum of $10.81 billion.”

How do you set up a connected TV campaign?

The approach for now is very passive: you give a connected TV provider such as Verizon Media/Yahoo the desired demographic you want to reach, and Verizon Media/Yahoo tells you what the CPM (cost per thousand impressions) will be. Verizon Media/Yahoo manages the rest.

Note: different providers have different requirements. With Verizon Media/Yahoo, for example, you can dive in with any budget, but a $20 CPM is minimum if you want to get a reasonable amount of impressions. And as might be expected, the more targeting that you do—narrowing your demographic by city, say—the more expensive advertising is going to be.

What metrics can connected TV providers give you?

It varies. iHeart Media gives you impressions, cost, CPM and completion rates as well as some demographic results with similar KPIs. Verizon Media/Yahoo gives you impressions.

Additionally Verizon Media/Yahoo can include conversions as well based on users’ IP address, Yahoo mail receipts, and other proprietary data/tools.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to capitalize on the opportunities CTV can offer your brand? Contact us. We can help.

Photo by Li Lin on Unsplash