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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

How video providers can create a compelling CTV ad experience

July 17, 2023 | By Emmanuel Josserand, Senior Director, Brand, Agency and Industry Relations – FreeWheel @FreeWheel

Audiences can now choose from a veritable buffet of advanced TV channels. Viewers can feast on their favorite shows via broadcaster catch-up services, online social video aggregators, free ad-supported streaming services (FASTs) and Smart TV apps, video-on-demand, and addressable linear. According to the recent Streaming Video: CTV Uncovered 2023 study from  AudienceXpress, 46% of UK connected TV (CTV) viewers surveyed also tuck into free streaming platforms daily to watch content.

So, how can broadcasters and premium video providers ensure the advertising experience captures these viewers’ attention? The latest consumer insights from AudienceXpress reveal current audience preferences to inform best practice; here are the biggest takeaways from the full study.

What’s on the CTV menu for UK audiences?

Understanding viewing habits is imperative for premium video providers when creating their content offerings. Almost U.K. CTV participants in the AudienceXpress study, for instance, state they watch more free ad-supported streaming platforms than live broadcast TV. To capture this audience, some broadcasters are diversifying their business models to include different platforms and models.

Viewers appear to prioritize accessing premium content over using specific platforms or channels; 59% of UK CTV audiences surveyed tune in to free on-demand platforms, including FASTs, when nothing on traditional TV channels grabs their interest. While these ad-supported advanced TV platforms are rapidly gaining traction among viewers, it is important to note that the AudienceXpress study also found that broadcasters’ live TV (37%) and catch-up services (35%) continue to attract a significant proportion of viewers, reaffirming that the main driver of platform success is content. As such, media buyers are looking to connect with viewers across all touchpoints, with advanced TV channels enabling them to drive incremental reach and capture the attention of elusive audiences.

Sharing personal data leaves a bitter taste for many viewers

According to the Streaming Video: CTV Uncovered 2023 study, only 26% 26 U.K. respondents with a CTV screen are comfortable sharing their personal data with brands in exchange for more personalised TV advertising. Data sharing seems to be on top of mind for U.K. viewers. (This could possibly be a ripple effect from major web browsers’ removal of third-party cookies.) Although this shift does not impact the TV and premium video advertising ecosystem directly, it requires media owners to keep privacy-conscious viewers front of mind when refining their advertising operations.

Audiences’ views on data privacy will continue to shape the future of premium video advertising and many remain cautious about how their data is used. For this reason, TV and premium video providers need to uphold audience trust. They can do this by being transparent about data practices. They must also clarify why advertising is critical for making premium content more accessible to video-hungry viewers and for funding new, quality productions, as well as leveraging data to cook up a compelling and relevant advertising experience.

With that in mind, which elements of advertising resonate best with U.K. CTV viewers?

Create an appetizing ad experience

Despite being apprehensive about sharing data, audiences still appreciate some degree of targeted advertising. Almost one third (32%) of U.K. CTV participants in the AudienceXpress study prefer ads that harmonize with the context of the content they watch, one in four prefer ads based on their geolocation, and one in five like ads relevant to their personal interests.

Capturing attention could likely be the ad industry’s top priority as many advertising environments become saturated. In fact, ad volume can make or break the viewing experience with seven in 10 UK CTV respondents feeling there are too many ads on social video aggregators. It is important that TV and premium video providers continue to carefully manage their ad volumes using advanced digital capabilities to further enhance the advertising experience through frequency capping and ad podding.

Nearly six in 10 U.K. CTV respondents also affirm that when accessing free premium video and TV-like content on their CTV screen, they would prefer pre-roll style ads with no ad breaks afterwards. It is necessary for TV and premium video providers to account for this and balance sustaining a quality ad experience with helping advertisers meet their KPIs and attracting greater spend.

In addition, almost three-quarters of these CTV viewers surveyed indicate that they pay more attention to advertising on premium on-demand TV platforms compared to social media or video aggregators. Through ensuring their advertising experience is contextually relevant and features long-form ads with high-impact creative, TV and premium video providers can secure high levels of attention that increase the value of their inventory.

As the advertising landscape is rapidly evolving, TV and premium video providers need to continually taste-test how their advertising experiences and business models align with audience habits. With in-depth insights of the current market, they can plate up successful offerings that meet the expectations of viewers and media buyers, define best practices for advanced TV advertising, and secure an essential valuable delicacy — audience attention.

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