Ahead of this year’s midterm elections, Telaria, the Video Management Platform that works with publishers including Hulu and Sling, analyzed data on its platform and found that connected TV spending comprised 30 percent of political ad buys. We spoke with Olivier Girault, Telaria’s Director of Business Intelligence, to understand more about political advertising on connected TV and its growth.
Q: How does advertising on connected TV differ from advertising on traditional TV? How does it differ from video ads on sites like YouTube and Facebook?
First it’s important to define what connected TV is and that is a TV set connected to the internet via streaming device or smart TV where viewers access broadcast-quality video content. In terms of the viewer experience, connected TV is similar to linear TV but the viewer has control over exactly what they want to watch, when they want to watch. Connected TV ads run alongside high-quality, long-form content similar to what they would find on regular TV. This is a key differentiator for connected TV advertising versus advertising on YouTube and Facebook, which rely heavily on user-generated content (UGC) that can present brand safety challenges.
Though the end result of connected TV advertising looks a lot like traditional TV, the way advertisers buy connected TV ads is akin to digital video. With connected TV, brands have the added benefit of audience-based targeting. Instead of buying a spot on a popular show based on an assumption that their desired audience will watch it, connected TV enables advertisers to choose their intended audiences wherever they are watching. The ability to efficiently reach audiences at an individual level has long eluded TV advertisers. Connected TV is changing that.
Q: What are the main drivers of growth of CTV advertising amongst political advertisers?
Linear TV is still where a lot of political ad dollars are spent, but audiences are quickly shifting over to connected TV. A majority of U.S. households already have connected TV and the number continues to increase as people unsubscribe from cable packages (over 4 million people unsubscribed last year alone). With connected TV, political advertisers can get the reach they need as well as assurance that their messages are airing in a premium, safe environment over which they have control. Connected TV is an effective, responsible and transparent opportunity to engage with voters.
For advertisers who are focused on reaching constituents in very specific geographic zones, local television channels are the only option on Linear TV. But now with connected TV, they can reach viewers in specific geographical areas, while running on premium and nationwide content. In addition to geographic targeting, the ability to layer in demographic data is particularly powerful for politicians who want to reach particular groups of people.
Q: Not only are political advertisers gravitating towards CTV, they’re buying through programmatic channels – why do you think that is?
When we saw that 30 percent of political ad dollars on our platform were going towards connected TV, we were really impressive by how savvy political advertisers are at digital video advertising. By activating connected TV campaigns programmatically, all buyers, not only political ones, are graduating beyond the manual processes involved with a traditional ad buy so they have more time to spend on reviewing reports and improving campaigns. Another benefit of programmatic for political advertisers is that they can find supply at a better value than linear TV. A 30-second ad in an episode of a top show within a connected TV environment is a fraction of the price of the same commercial on traditional TV, even if it’s within the same show.
Q: How does targeting in a CTV environment work with regards to political advertising?
The ability to weave first- and third-party data into connected TV buys means advertisers have an abundance of ways to strategically reach their target audiences. This hasn’t been accomplished through traditional TV yet. For political advertisers, the ability to precisely reach their constituents with connected TV is incredibly advantageous because they’re getting more ROI for their spend. Politicians advertising on connected TV can layer in attributes like voter registration data and party affiliation to better reach the people they want to see their messages.
Q: Voters tend to be older – why are politicians willing to spend in an area that generally skews younger?
As with most technology, young people are quicker to adopt new things and millennials certainly make up a large part of the connected TV audience. This is actually part of what makes connected TV attractive. Poll data collected by NBC News and GenForward in August revealed that with 55 percent of millennials said they were planning to vote this November. For political advertisers trying to convince younger voters to go out and vote for them, reaching them where they are watching content is crucial.
That being said, connected TV’s appeal really extends beyond young consumers and according to Nielsen’s Q1 2018 Total Audience Report, more than two-thirds of U.S. TV households now have a connected TV. There is already enough scale with today’s connected TV audience for political advertisers’ campaigns to make an impact and with connected TV viewing trending upwards for the foreseeable future, it’s reasonable to expect more investment in this medium going forward.