How to Evaluate CTV Advertising Platforms

How to Evaluate CTV Advertising Platforms
By Madhive Marketing
November 03, 2022

Connected TV (CTV) ad spend is expected to grow another 21% in 2023, reaching over $25 billion.

And it really shouldn’t come as a surprise — CTV pairs the same performance-based approach brands are accustomed to on digital with the impact of the TV screen. 

But with the emergence of any new advertising channel, it’s important to evaluate needs before choosing a potential partner. Here’s what you should look for when choosing between CTV advertising platforms. 

What is a CTV advertising platform?

Simply put, a CTV advertising platform connects advertisers (brands) with audiences (people) watching streaming TV. And the good CTV platforms will provide you with everything you need to succeed with connected TV advertising, including tools for: 

  • Forecasting

  • Planning

  • Targeting

  • Activation

  • Real-time optimization

  • Measurement/attribution 

Why choosing the right CTV advertising platform can be a game changer for your marketing strategy

This year, advertisers will spend upwards of $86 billion on TV advertising.

And with the current cord-cutting movement, as well as the granular targeting and measurement capabilities on CTV, a bigger and bigger portion of that multi-billion-dollar budget is moving to the big stream. 

But whether you’re spending billions of dollars, or just getting your feet wet, the right partner can be the difference between reaching your goals and wasting ad spend. This holds especially true when choosing a CTV partner, which serves as the anchor for many marketing strategies. 

A quick look at what’s available in CTV advertising

When it comes to CTV advertising platforms and how to buy, there are a variety of options, including:

  • Smart TV manufacturers like VIZIO and Samsung

  • Streaming sticks like Roku and Amazon Fire

  • Video streaming services like Hulu and Peacock

  • Ad tech companies like The Trade Desk and Madhive

While CTV is experiencing massive growth, there are still many gaps in options and service models from one provider to the next in terms of quality, scale, ad inventory, performance metrics, and access. The right CTV advertising platform (and partner) will bridge the gap for you and help you scale across a fragmented market. 

What really matters in CTV advertising

To take full advantage of all the benefits of CTV advertising, you have to choose a partner that will deliver. Here’s our 101 guide on what you should look for when evaluating CTV advertising platforms.

1. Precise ad targeting technology

Similar to traditional digital advertising, CTV lets advertisers target consumers based on data, using segments like demographics, behavior, interests, and location.

Unlike traditional TV, where a small portion of every hour is carved out for local advertisers, CTV can turn every single ad slot into a local spot. So, the same way Walmart sells slightly different products in New York as they do in Nebraska, you can incorporate those same cultural nuances into your CTV ad messaging. 

Some things to look for in a partner:

  • Data verification to ensure the most up-to-date targeting

  • Data agnostic so you can integrate your own data sets

  • An ecosystem of DMP, first-party data, third-party data providers

2. Attribution data

With CTV, advertisers can access real-time measurement and reporting for faster insights on both audience and performance — which helps them to make more informed decisions about their OTT campaigns. Additionally, the digital-like targeting, measurement and attribution capabilities on CTV help advertisers understand impact against both top- and bottom-of-funnel goals.

This means measuring and validating ad impact against a variety of KPIs including lift metrics like brand awareness, perceptions, familiarity, favorability, and purchase intent, as well as bottom-of-funnel metrics such as location attribution, site attribution and conversion, offline sales lift, and foot traffic. 

Although most marketing campaigns are built around CTV as the anchor, many purchase decisions still happen off the platform on other devices. So it’s essential that your CTV partner offers data partnerships that connect streaming TV efforts to additional devices like computers, tablets, mobile devices — and even in-store retailtainment. 

Some things to look for in a partner:

  • A data ecosystem that helps connect campaign impact across devices

  • The infrastructure to understand both digital and IRL outcomes

  • Access to Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) data to verify the true reach of campaigns. (ACR is a technology that provides verification that content actually hit the glass on a device)

3. Content and device capabilities

The most common content types are 15 and 30-second spots, as well as quick-hitting 6-second spots. While these are pretty widely accepted, it’s worth asking potential CTV partners whether or not they support interactive, direct response tools that link the creative back to the viewer’s mobile device — like a QR code

It’s also important to understand how your CTV advertising platform can extend reach to additional OTT devices (although this means creating or adapting content types for additional formats across social and search channels).  

Finally, there are a variety of ways to actually buy CTV inventory like direct publisher partnerships or programmatic. Understand what providers support and what inventory they have access to, as that will be a core component of where your ads are actually shown. 

Some things to look for in a partner:

  • The ability to deliver cross-device campaigns with sequential messaging

  • Frequency control tools to control ad exposure across devices

  • Actionable in-flight recommendations to optimize campaigns

4. Platform controls

It’s important to choose an intuitive, user-friendly interface, with tools for things like real-time optimization, sequential messaging, frequency control, incremental reach, and attribution across connected TV, digital video, display, and more. 

Additionally, working with true enterprise CTV advertising platforms will allow you to develop bespoke products on the platform, to truly optimize and future-proof your CTV stack. For example, Madhive built a completely customized offering on its enterprise software for Fox subsidiary FLX — which drove 600% growth

Some things to look for in a partner:

  • Enterprise software to enable growth on the platform 

  • Customizable platform that can easily integrate with your own systems

5. Security

Madhive was one of the first companies to expose the fraud problem on CTV. By analyzing billions of ad requests, we found that as much as 20% were fraudulent or suspicious, with the predominant methods of CTV ad fraud mirroring digital — misrepresentation, spoofing, bots, device-based and app-based.

All of this fraudulent activity is expected to cost advertisers $100 billion in 2023.

Your CTV partner should offer a multi-faceted set of security tools. Technologies like machine learning, cryptography, and ACR allow platforms to identify and eliminate fraudulent inventory — while also ensuring ads were actually seen by real people. 

Plus, with privacy regulations like CCPA and GDPR in effect, it’s important to have a privacy-conscious partner to ensure all targeting efforts are compliant. 

Some things to look for in a partner:

  • A multi-faceted set of fraud detection tools

  • Several layers of defense, including technologies like machine learning, ACR and cryptography

  • Clean rooms to ensure there is no PII in data used for consumer targeting

Related content: How to Prevent Ad Fraud in OTT (5 Methods We Use)

Making the final call on CTV advertising platforms

CTV is going to play an integral role in the future of marketing strategies, so don’t cut corners when it comes to choosing a partner. Unlike traditional linear, CTV enables marketers to leverage similar targeting and attribution capabilities on digital. So, make sure you’re taking advantage of these opportunities! 

If you’d like to learn more about how Madhive can power and grow your CTV advertising strategy, give us a shout.