What CTV Advertisers Should Learn From The Past

February 16, 2021

Advertisers are creatures of habit. They optimize to find what works and then aim for scale. It serves them well in a data-driven world, where their every move must be justified by ROI, but can also prevent them from achieving unimaginable results. 

When we take a look back at history, we’re provided numerous examples of this. Let’s go back to the world’s first television ad, which ran back in 1941 when the most dominant form of advertising was radio. It was a ten-second spot that ran seven-seconds of dead air with a logo followed by a three-second voiceover tagline, “America runs on Bulova time.” This ad, which is clearly little more than a radio spot with an image attached to it, cost a total of $120 and ran in NBC’s evening lineup. I think we can all agree, incredible price tag, less than fantastic use of it.

And this trend has continued throughout the introduction of new and evolved mediums time and time again…

Which brings me to digital advertising. In the early ’90s, 1994 to be specific, AT&T ran this ad on hotwired.com. Digital advertising geeks know, this was actually the very first banner ad, and when it launched people actually clicked to find out more information (44% of them for those trying to benchmark CTR). 

Fast forward to 2007. The first iPhone was sold, and rather than try anything new (even though the IAB tried to introduce new formats), our industry picked up the same digital tactics and ad formats we knew we could justify. Pre-roll video and display ads. To be fair, some tried to innovate with new formats here… Mobile Rising Stars anyone… and there, but as programmatic grew in popularity, most of these were sacrificed for scale. 

Today we find our industry at yet another inflection point with technology, connected TV (CTV). In H2 2020 we saw an impressive +76% year-over-year impression growth in CTV. The hyper-growth of streaming that kicked off last year shows no signs of slowing down. Consumers aren’t going back to linear TV and neither will advertisers.

Media consumption has evolved more in the past 5 years than in the 50 that preceded it. And the trend to CTV viewership has moved faster in the last 10 months than even the most aggressive predictions for early 2020 due to Covid-19. This mass migration of viewers has rewritten the rules for how to reach and engage consumer attention across an increasingly diverse and fragmented landscape. Now we have an opportunity to break the historic pattern and provide something to consumers that isn’t just repacking what they’ve seen before. Interactive, personalized experiences on CTV are possible, and the partnerships we’ve fostered with programmatic providers over the last year to support these experiences give advertisers the ability to choose both form and function. We’ve learned from the past, and we’re looking to the future. 

CTV has rewritten all the rules, let’s all take notes.

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