The IAB’s ‘Changing the Channel’, released this week, is a comprehensive guide to the connected TV landscape that explores the new dynamics thrown up by a TV landscape that goes across devices and how to remain respectful to viewers – here’s what you need to know.

“With such a new and emerging channel, there’s a clear need for education to ensure that the technology and tools available to advertisers are being utilised in the right way and that both sides of the industry are working together effectively,” the report, which can be found here, says.

What is Connected TV (CTV)?

The IAB defines Connected TV as: “Video content consumed on a TV screen, delivered via an internet connection. This includes TVs directly connected to the internet (Smart TV), as well as hardware that enables a TV to become connected, e.g. TV sticks, games consoles and set-top boxes that are connected to the internet.” It’s a broad definition.

The complexity of the channel stems from the variations in connectivity – whether advanced TV, a catch-all umbrella term; OTT, TV-like content delivered over the internet bypassing terrestrial formats; IPTV, content delivered over internet protocol; or Hybrid broadcast broadband TV, a mixture of both standard free-to-air TV and internet-delivered TV all in one place. There are also extensive variations in on-demand formats, whether subscription-based, broadcaster/ad-funded, or transactional TV.

But the meat of the subject lies in the new forms of buying and selling ads; greater connectivity sees the rise of programmatic ad buying and delivery along with addressable formats that deliver different ads to different audience segments watching the same content. These offer opportunities in delivering ads either by the insertion of ads either by audience or by content.

The danger, as observed by some experts, is that new targeting capabilities may obscure one of TV’s primary strengths in delivering audience reach. As Martyn Bentley, UK Commercial Director at the MarTech firm AudienceProject, notes: “Just because you can micro-target, it doesn’t mean it’s the only thing you should do.”

How are people watching?

“I used to organise parts of my life around when something was going to be on TV. I don’t have to do that anymore”, says one consumer quoted in the report, and who had participated in a survey exploring the consumer trends in the CTV space, conducted by Differentology.

Adoption stats speak for themselves: 85% of respondents have access to broadcaster VOD, while 68% have access to a subscription service, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Of those with subscription services, 72% are heavy watchers. Among young people (16-34) 88% subscribe to a service and 49% access them every day.

Yet, live TV remains crucially important: 41% tend to go to live TV first when choosing what to watch. However, there is a hardcore never-TV crowd: 21% claim to never go to live TV first, rising to 35% among 16-34s and 53% among 16-19 year-olds.

The research with Differentology also surveyed the reactions to different ad formats, revealing the following lessons:

  • People preferred ads relevant to the chosen content, which were described as immersive and seamless.
  • Despite new opportunities, consumers are more comfortable with ad formats that reflect a traditional TV norm – pre-roll and interval ads. However, intervals rely on the programming being properly cut for advertising, as intervals on CTV at times would cut off dialogue mid-sentence.
  • If you’re going to personalise ads, keep it subtle. “I don’t need to be reminded that everything I do is tracked,” said one participant.
  • Any interaction must consider the environment. Most TV viewing is passive, so interactivity is better placed on handheld devices, where this behaviour is more common.

Planning for CTV

Ultimately, the advantage of CTV is that you can reach the largest screen in the household while overlaying a variety of datapoints and targeting capabilities, write Vincenzo Averna, Media Manager, GroupM, with MediaCom’s Lorna White, Digital Associate Director, and Joseph Walshaw, Broadcast Account Manager. They highlight three key considerations for planners working on CTV.

  • Targeting: CTV opens the possibility for overlaying third party data – such as Mosaic or Mastercard – but that won’t necessarily lead to a more effective campaign.

    “Should your CTV campaign be supporting linear TV in driving awareness among a broad audience, then CTV can be used as an incremental reach driver.

    “However, if CTV is the sole broadcast element in a campaign and the product or service is only available in certain areas, overlaying a geo specific data point or adding in drive time would be valuable to ensure only relevant audiences are reached and to avoid wastage.”
  • Creative: This should be optimised for the big screen in 15 and 30 second variants. Optimal format is “HD video with a recommended resolution of 16:9, frame rate of 30-frame per second and run via VAST integration”. Any CTAs need to take a variety of devices into account and should be avoided on TV screens.
  • Measurement: This remains tricky, as there are as yet no industry standards optimised to CTV. Though completion and view-through rates remain the default, they are not particularly useful measures in what is still a broadcast medium.

    “Reach of the defined audience needs to be a key measurement, while taking advantage of additional metrics such as footfall uplift in geo targeted location.”


While this is a complex topic that varies by provider, any advertising on connected TV should uphold the highest standards of privacy and explicit consent must be given by the viewer. “There is a fine balancing act between providing a fast, simple and enjoyable streaming experience, while also gaining clear and unambiguous consent for use of data and targeting,” says Clive Page, Head of Product, Data & Analytics at Finecast.

Arrangements vary according to the relationships that platforms will have with their users. Pay TV platforms will typically have a billing relationship, opening up an opportunity to gain consent. App-based BVOD will typically require a login and provide a similar opportunity. However, TV platforms without such a relationship, such as TV manufacturers or Freeview, will face more challenges in gaining consent; any data, therefore, will be significantly less granular.

Sourced from the IAB