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Avoiding the Digital Learning Curve: How marketers can ensure CTV is effective now



Carolyn Corda

The shift to CTV is well underway. In the UK, certain Smart TVs are now used predominantly for streaming over and above traditional linear channels. And this is not just limited to the younger generation – “silver surfers” have moved to streaming services in record numbers over the past year. This means that TV buyers have started to recognize that unless they adapt to these changes, they’ll lose a core part of their audience. 

CTV sounds like a marketers’ dream: the big screen, premium content and a brand safe environment. However, the inventory is not as plentiful as many would like, and often buying takes brands outside of their established partners, something many are wary of. The benefits, though, outweigh the cons. If marketers approach this technology in the right way, CTV offers the accuracy and measurability of digital advertising, but without the issues that have dogged this technology like privacy concerns, lack of transparency and reliance on the wrong metrics.

Audience buying

A key benefit that CTV brings marketers is audience-buying – so campaigns can be targeted to the best individuals rather than preferred content partners. Media buyers tend to prefer their known partners, committing vast resources to traditional TV channels – with these relationships hugely influencing ad placement. However, programmatic CTV buys are surging in popularity and are now a significant portion of CTV buying overall. This means that TV buyers, if they are to keep up, must start to understand the programmatic landscape which is core to CTV buying. Once this shift has started to truly set in, and digital is taken as an assumed part of the TV buy, buyers will move to think in terms of audiences rather than media owners as the advantages of audience-buying becomes clearer.

For brands, this also brings the opportunity to augment first-party data with that of publishers and ensure they reach their relevant audience, looking beyond demographic information and thinking about audience intent, purchase history and more. 


While digital advertising reels from changes to privacy, such as the upcoming death of the third party cookie, CTV remains largely unaffected by these changes. However, it still does not have a unified answer on identity – with each publisher tending to take a different approach.

Key for marketers is finding a flexible approach to unify identities that can adapt and respond to a fast-changing landscape. CTV buying must retain a tight focus on reaching real individuals to avoid the fraudulent pitfalls associated with any digital media – resisting the temptation to aim for scale and forgo insisting on verified identities. 

Buying CTV programmatically shouldn’t mean taking a risk – buyers must pick their partners based on transparent supply chains and clear audience data. This enhances performance, price and ultimately the underpinning partnerships. 


Attribution is crucial when identifying CTV partners. Although ensuring any metrics are verifiable can be time-consuming, building a measurement plan can account for differences in objectives and alternate buying models. As such, marketers can get a true picture of how effective their CTV campaigns have been with impact-led reporting. This means looking at truly valuable metrics to glean audience impact, at every stage of the funnel from brand preference and awareness to purchase, thus avoiding the trap of digital media that focused on gameable metrics like clicks. 

Ultimately, programmatic buying for CTV is likely to become a core part of most brands’ TV campaigns. Once we have breached the gap in understanding around this nascent and emerging industry,  highly personalized and targeted CTV ads will be the norm. Until then, if marketers take the right steps around ensuring their CTV buys are targeted and genuine, they will be far ahead of the game. 


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