Open Mic Future of TV Connected TV

How can brands effectively reach the Olympic audience with connected TV advertising?



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April 23, 2024 | 6 min read

With Paris 2024 just around the corner, Martin Wexler, (SVP channel partnerships at Acxiom), outlines why brands are putting connected TV (CTV) at the center of their Olympic marketing strategies. He also explains what you can do to achieve medal-worthy performance from your CTV campaigns.

The Olympics is an event like no other. And that’s not just for the athletes who spend four years preparing for the opportunity to represent their country on the world stage. It's also for the brands that use the occasion to reach a massive global audience.

The size of the Olympic TV audience is impressive, with over 3 billion unique viewers – almost 40% of the world’s population – tuning in to coverage of Tokyo 2020. For this year’s games in Paris, a billion people are expected to tune in for the opening ceremony alone.

But it’s not just the number of people watching that will be so alluring for brands as we approach the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but also the diversity in gender, ethnicity, age, and interests of the audience. Even people who aren’t usually interested in sporting events are likely to watch the Olympics for patriotic reasons or simply because they enjoy the experience.

Rewind just a couple of Olympiads (that’s eight years to you and me), and advertising around the Olympics was dominated by the big brands. The ones with the budget to become an exclusive sponsor or to run prime-time TV ads with national broadcasters. But that’s all changing thanks to the rise of streaming services and connected TV (CTV).

Passing the baton from linear to CTV

The balance is tipping away from linear TV advertising toward CTV and streaming services. This year CTV will account for around a third (32%) of the $91bn spent on TV advertising in the US. By 2027 this will increase to 42% of $98bn. Another year or two and CTV will overtake linear.

This shift in ad spend is due partly to changing viewing habits, with 80% of US consumers aged 25 to 54 expected to watch CTV this year. The popularity of streaming services has been boosted by the arrival of live events – especially sporting events – which for many years had remained the domain of linear TV.

Digital viewing of sporting events was already in evidence at Tokyo 2020. It was designated “the first streaming Games” and saw a 139% increase in digital video views compared with Rio 2016. A similar trend was seen at Beijing 2022, which IOC President Thomas Bach described as “The most digitally engaged Olympic Winter Games in history.”

Why brands are sprinting to CTV

Beyond expanding audiences, other benefits of CTV advertising make it appealing to brands of all shapes and sizes. Here are four things to consider:

1. It allows one-to-one communication

Traditional linear TV advertising has always been about mass reach, with ad spot selection based on broad audience demographics, e.g., preferred shows, preferred dayparts. CTV, on the other hand, is addressable, so brands can engage in one-to-one communication with individual households, which makes advertising more effective and efficient. 

Within CTV environments brands can choose to talk to their existing customers, for example, or can reach lookalike audiences that share specific characteristics and have a high propensity to engage.

2. It’s cookie-free by design

With Google finally withdrawing support for third-party cookies in Chrome this year, there’s a lot of talk about how brands can continue to deliver relevant, personalized advertising. But if brands look beyond traditional digital advertising, they’ll find cookie-free alternatives like CTV. 

Streaming services act a bit like walled gardens and operate with their unique identifiers that enable brands to activate audiences in a safe and privacy-compliant way.

3. It’s easier to measure than linear

CTV advertising is far easier to measure than linear TV advertising. That’s once again due to the unique identifiers within the CTV environments, as well as the return path for ad exposure data that makes associating a customer’s journey from ad impression to purchase simpler. 

Even if evolving privacy regulations make this more difficult in the future, CTV attention metrics like video engagement and completion rates help brands understand how campaigns are performing in real-time, which informs better decision-making and optimization.

4. It’s engaging due to content choice

With CTV, viewers have more control over what they watch and when they watch it. With all Olympic events for Paris 2024 being streamed on services like NBC Universal’s Peacock, viewers can watch the ones they’re interested in – anything from breakdance to kitesurfing – rather than just viewing what the major broadcasters choose to show. 

When people actively choose to consume content, they are more engaged with it and, by association, the ads that accompany it. And of course, CTV advertising also offers the potential for interactivity, including shoppable ads. According to Acxiom’s recent research, Where Marketing and AI Collide, 66% of consumers who have used shoppable ads say the ads enable them to find the products and services they’re interested in more easily. It’s a win-win.

Taking the lead on Olympic CTV advertising

The most important thing brands need to think about as they prepare to run CTV ad campaigns around the 2024 Olympics is getting their first-party data in shape. When they have clean, accurate, and up-to-date customer data – collected across all channels – they can use it to activate and measure audiences within CTV environments. This can be done using the latest data clean room technologies, combined with identity services, to enable safe, secure, privacy-compliant data sharing.

Brands and their media agencies will want to make use of direct connections into CTV environments. These direct connections avoid jumps to third-party aggregators or partners, create cost and time efficiencies, and boost measurement and optimization capabilities.

CTV will take gold at Paris 2024

The periodic nature of the Olympics means there’s often a step-change in marketing strategies between the events. For Tokyo 2020, brands were largely supplementing their linear ad buys with CTV. Now, four years on, the situation is reversed, with CTV central to Olympic campaigns.

As long as brands have their first-party data in order and can activate it through direct connections with streaming platforms, they can take full advantage of the CTV trend, and achieve campaign performance worthy of Olympic gold.

Open Mic Future of TV Connected TV


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