From Plan B to Plan CTV: optimising Christmas ads in turbulent times

As shoppers face another discordant December with Omicron and supply woes, marketers can find solace in the robust performance of smart TV ads. 

With the holiday season truly underway Graeme Lynch, VP Demand EMEA at Magnite, offers his top tips for advertisers who want to have successful holiday campaigns by tapping into what the consumers really want.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the use of CTV and streaming services accelerated. Hybrid viewing has become the new normal with 71% of European households currently watching a combination of linear and connected TV. CTV allows advertisers to get the right message to the right audience while benefiting from real-time data to reach audiences with greater precision than traditional TV. 

During the competitive holiday advertising season, advertisers should consider how they can engage meaningfully with their consumers. Aligning strategies with emerging consumer trends and the right distribution approach will effectively optimise their investment in their end of year campaigns.

Shopping with the consumer

Over the past few years, there has been a huge shift in the way people shop, influencing how brands should think about the consumer purchasing journey. The recent Accenture report ‘Life Reimagined 2021’ found there are three different consumer groups emerging:

  • The Traditional: consumers who haven’t changed their priorities when shopping 

  • The Evolving: consumers who are unsure on their priorities when shopping

  • The Reimagined: consumers who have changed their priorities when shopping 

The Reimagined dominate other consumer groups, with the report finding consumer interest priorities are now centred around human interaction, mental health, work/life balance and family. Brands need to grasp these emerging consumer priorities by holding the consumer’s hand all the way to purchase and keeping essential messaging clear and concise across all formats. People use their TV to create that moment of space for themselves and being part of that moment is key for brands. Similarly, our recent research, ‘CTV is for Everyone: 2021’, found there has been a change in how content is consumed. For instance, British CTV viewers are 35% more likely to buy brands that align with their values and opinions than traditional TV viewers. 

Consumers have also become more in tune with their political beliefs and personal values, trusting social media less now than they did twelve months ago. 64% of British CTV viewers don’t watch professionally produced content on social media channels, the highest level amongst the EU5. This means that CTV provides a more trusted environment for consumers to access content and gives advertisers a safer ecosystem to connect with consumers.

The emergence of the conscious consumer

With the emergence of the conscious consumer, and the ability to reach audiences more accurately through CTV, advertisers now face a difficult balancing act between weaving in more honest or ‘real’ messaging, whilst making sure that the content they produce is authentic. There are two key areas that should be considered when focussing on these audiences. The first is that honest and transparent messaging must remain at the core of a brands’ strategy, yet it is important to keep in mind that consumers will relate to a bigger brand purpose. The second is deciding what device will be used to convey the message to consumers - trusted screens are essential in building brand affinity and loyalty. It is the role of the creative agencies to own the storytelling and messages that stand out, however, it is the role of the media planning team, the publishers and the advertisers to ensure that these stories are delivered on trustworthy devices, media and screens.

Ensuring the right distribution strategy

Thanks to the growth of CTV, hybrid viewing has been adopted and audience reach has grown. According to Samsung Ads data between January 2020 and May 2021, traditional TV viewing in the UK rose by 19%, while CTV consumption increased by 59%. In order to truly harness the opportunities that CTV provides, advertisers must have the right distribution strategy in place, starting with the quality of the inventory and the adequate capacity for scale. 

Examples of how CTV can deliver well is shown when targeting is limited to more generic audience groups such as adults 16-34, for example, to ensure scale in conjunction with addressability. The pandemic accelerated the growth of CTV viewership and, in turn, allowed AVOD providers to increase investment in content and create more premium environments for both viewers and advertisers. 

Another factor to consider when building your media plan is how to tailor omnichannel advertising strategies to meet the consumer needs. Advertisers must be clear on the objectives and desired outcomes of their campaign and how their media strategy can drive these results. If, budget, delivery sequence, audience and outcomes are understood before a campaign is activated, then it is guaranteed that all parts of the distribution strategy will generate the right level of return on advertising spend.

Ultimately, the pandemic has forced the advertising world to re-think how content is consumed, how it is delivered and what viewers actually want from brands. With user behaviours changing, advertisers must follow suit. Those that get inside the head of the consumer, and understand what they really want, are the brands that will leap ahead of the rest this holiday season.

By Graeme Lynch

VP Demand, EMEA