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Why copy and paste creative doesn’t cut it for connected TV

Migration to connected viewing is the biggest shift in TV advertising since Seiko aired its first advertisement in Asia. When the watch corporation told audiences what time it was, it started a new era of standalone, episodic, and tailored brand narratives, delivered direct to living room screens.

Now, over-the-top (OTT) and other smart TV services are taking things up a gear.

This isn’t only about scale, with over 700 million multi-channel TV homes due to be active by 2021, it’s also about precision. Detailed information about audience habits and preferences allow advertisers to refine targeting: providing the missing link between TV and digital.

But harnessing these opportunities won’t be as simple as transferring online ad principles to OTT. Consumers still expect a certain calibre of messaging. If advertisers want to succeed, they’ll need to ensure ads maintain the creativity required for TV impact.

Modernisation comes to TV
Hopes are high that connected TV growth will drive market transformation. On the broadcast side, that means an opportunity to reclaim cord-cutting viewers: see the OTT alliance recently formed by Korea’s TV giants and SK Telecom. For advertisers, it’s a chance to achieve the dream of combining TV’s massive reach with data-driven accuracy.

Data produced as viewers consume digital content is changing the game for personalisation and measurement. By collecting authenticated logged in data from video on-demand (VOD), OTT, and other online services — and combining it with third-party insight — advertising platforms have the ingredients for building detailed audience profiles. Using these profiles, it’s possible to segment audiences and tailor ads right down to household level: grouping viewers by interest, location and device, as well as age and gender.

When synced with ad campaigns, there is also the possibility of tracking consumer journeys and pinpointing the role TV plays in influencing individual decisions, and wider omni-channel campaigns. This is only viable if advertisers can gain access to data about all consumer interactions on every channel, screen, and platform — still a work in progress.

There is plenty of potential to increase TV effectiveness, efficiency, and revenue. All this will depend, however, on how well ads suit the big screen environment.

Building for TV: three crucial elements
Part of what makes TV so powerful is how it affects audiences on a cognitive level. The multi-sensory combination of sound and moving image can forge strong bonds with individuals, often deeper than other media such as print or display. This is why TV demands a unique approach when it comes to creative.

Just because they can leverage data in a similar way to digital, doesn’t mean advertisers should aim for exactly the same kind of personalisation. Messages need to tell stories that tap into individual emotions and motivations, as well as their surrounding programming.

And to achieve that, campaigns must be built with three key factors in mind:

1. Weighing up creative
While it may sound obvious, weight is major issue that deserves more attention. From the audience perspective, content viewed on the living room set is no different to other premium programming, whether accessed via the internet or not. They expect the same smooth viewing experience — and will quickly switch off if slow ads interrupt. So, advertisers must carefully balance creative weight: ensuring maximum quality that reflects high TV content standards, without putting strain on viewer connections.

2. Cutting length to size
TV may be ideal for compelling cinematic experiences, but longer ads aren’t always the right choice. Love for stories doesn’t equate to plentiful time; especially when audiences are consuming content on the go. This is likely the reason 11% of broadcaster video ads were under 10 seconds last year, up from 5% in 2017 amid growing mobile viewing. And this also makes it vital to understand audience limits. For example, data about individual propensity to view and completion rates will enable advertisers to determine what best suits specific consumers; stories split across five-second bursts, or multi-minute epics.

3. Truly personal messaging
Last but most critical is the message, which should be chosen to carefully match different environments. Where display ads on a web-page might have a heavy text to image ratio, connected TV ads served during VOD shows need to be about imagery; only using small overlaying end cards. With content, advertisers must focus on providing multiple layers of relevance using contextual and household-specific insight. In addition to tying messaging with what and how audiences view — and their economic situation — creative should be dynamically selected to align with real-time the weather, time, and date.

The advanced data-powered targeting capabilities, dynamic personalisation, and multi-channel reach of connected TV will make it a fundamental brand-building tool. But while integration with other digital media is important, advertisers must remember this medium has its own unique requirements. Copying and pasting creative built for the web simply won’t cut it. Ensuring ads stand out in the right way takes careful attention to sizing, weight, and content, as well as programming. Only with a perfectly tailored mix can connected TV ads match up to the high bar of quality storytelling set, and still upheld, by linear.

Sukesh Singh

Sukesh Singh is the VP APAC at Adform.