6 Foolproof Ways to Improve the CTV Experience

6 Foolproof Ways to Improve the CTV Experience
By Madhive Marketing
April 25, 2023

CTV streaming services like Pluto TV, Fire TV and Netflix are working to optimize the viewing experience in a variety of ways, including search and discovery, voice control, audio optimization and streamlining the login process. Content providers are even using viewing data to understand what content people love — and give them more of it.

But CTV ads also play a big role in the CTV experience. 

So, what are consumers looking for in their CTV viewing experience? And how can advertisers optimize the viewing experience for their audiences? 

Let's cover a few best practices.

What is the CTV experience?

CTV experience refers to how a viewer watches content on a connected TV. This viewing experience typically involves a larger screen, higher resolution, and better sound quality compared to traditional TVs. It also offers viewers more flexibility and control over what they watch, when they watch it, and how they consume it.

Advertisements played on connected TVs also contribute to the viewer’s overall user experience. In fact, some viewers report a preference for CTV over traditional linear viewing because of the CTV ad experience.

In a survey of about 1,300 viewers, 90% of respondents cited features of the CTV ad experience that are better than the linear TV experience, including:

  • The ability to skip certain ads (43%)

  • Shorter ads (43%)

  • Fewer ads (38%)

What do viewers want in a CTV experience?

Viewers typically want a CTV experience to be convenient, engaging, and personalized. Specifically, they want:

  1. Convenience: Consumers want the ability to access and stream content easily, without any interruptions or technical glitches.

  2. Engaging content: Consumers want to watch high-quality, engaging content that is relevant to their interests.

  3. Personalization: Consumers want their viewing experience to be personalized to their preferences, with recommendations and suggestions based on their viewing history and behavior.

  4. Ad relevance and non-intrusiveness: Consumers expect ads to be relevant to their interests, non-intrusive, and not disrupt their viewing experience.

Ads can play an important role in the CTV viewing experience if they are designed to meet these consumer expectations. 

For instance, if ads are targeted based on consumer preferences, they can be more relevant and less intrusive. And viewers are willing to share some of their data to make it happen, including:

  • Types of shows I watch regularly (44%)

  • Anonymous demographic data (31%)

  • Time of day I watch CTV (31%)

  • Length of time I spend watching CTV (30%)

graph showing connected TV viewers' willingness to share data to improve the ad experience

Plus, if CTV are placed strategically, such as during natural breaks in content or between episodes, they are less likely to disrupt the viewing experience. And if ads are creative and engaging, they can even enhance the viewing experience by offering value to the viewer.

How to deliver a positive CTV ad experience

So, how can advertisers live up to viewers’ expectations for their CTV experience? Here are six best practices.

1. Use targeting to inform relevant placement

Relevant ads are always more welcome than irrelevant interruptions. Thankfully, CTV has ad targeting capabilities that result in more effective campaigns for advertisers and a better viewing experience for consumers. 

There are two main approaches to targeting: context-based and audience-based. 

Context-based is when advertisers target ads based on the content that is being viewed. For example, a viewer is watching content about pets and is served an ad for pet food. This is powered by gathering video-level data, which provides insight into what is actually playing on the screen. Then a contextual based ad is delivered alongside the content. 

Audience-based is when advertisers target viewers based on a variety of categories — like interests, demographics, and geography. This is becoming increasingly important and effective as advertisers want to reach their best prospects across all 210 DMAs in the U.S. Audience-based placement allows advertisers to create privacy-compliant CTV campaigns that engage highly specific audiences, such as: 

  • Moms who shop green in Nashville

  • Males age 18-24 who enjoy going to the movies

  • Fashion-forward outdoor enthusiasts in San Francisco who often buy running shoes

To power these targeting capabilities, brands can onboard their first-party data and find their customers in the streaming world, or use privacy-compliant data solutions from third-party providers like Inscape and LiveRamp.

2. Find the right frequency for the best CTV experience

Since inception, one of the biggest problems on CTV is frequency control — the Wall Street Journal shined a light on the problem back in 2020. 

At a basic level, frequency control is a way to optimize how often ads are shown to a specific device or household. This prevents viewers from being bombarded with the same ads over and over, which can be downright frustrating. 

For example, Madhive helped Software company achieves 4.5X ROAS through cross-device CTV advertising to ensure potential customers were not served the same ads repeatedly (we used our proprietary bidder and device graph to control the audience and frequency of the ads). 

3. Build in variety

Another advantage of CTV is the ability to deliver creative sequencing, which means tracking what each viewer has seen and evolving messaging throughout the buyer’s journey. CTV efforts can work in tandem with other devices to create a messaging sequence that takes viewers through the entire purchase funnel, top-to-bottom. 

For example, once a viewer has seen top-of-funnel awareness ads on their smart TV, the advertiser can begin serving the same person middle- and bottom-of-funnel messaging — perhaps on the CTV with a scannable QR code or via other streaming devices like mobile.

At a topline, advertisers must start by optimizing ad length by platform, including 60- 30- and 15-second spots for CTV devices, as well as 6-second videos and even static images for social. 

Then, it’s essential to understand statistics on ad effectiveness for different ad lengths and compare ad length performance by platform. Not all platforms are created equal, and longer ads don’t necessarily equal better engagement (and viewers often prefer shorter ads).

4. Aim for a memorable CTV experience

Television is a powerful medium for telling stories and generating emotion, which is part of the reason why ad recall on streaming TV is an astounding 46%. But you can’t take this for granted — it’s important to develop high quality creative for CTV that includes memorable messaging.

One way to engage viewers is to show them something funny or unexpected in the video content. Hubspot research found an ad’s inclusion of humor the biggest factor in memorability— 35% of respondents recalled recent ads for this reason.

A graph showing what made a recent ad memorable

Another way to offer a memorable experience is to incorporate cultural elements that are driving conversation in the overall digital world into their ad experience. 

For example, a recent iPhone ad surprises viewers when the main character finds herself in a live auction for her personal data. People are bidding on everything from her drugstore purchase data to her contacts’ details (including her ‘sweet Nana’).  The spot is both unexpected and timely, considering the widespread conversations around data privacy.

Custom animation can also catch the viewer’s attention, while also taking advantage of childhood nostalgia to make an emotional connection. Sherwinn Williams takes a memorable, animated approach in their ‘Bring Color to Life’ campaign:

5. Optimize CTV ad design for dual device engagement

Yes, 78% of people prefer to watch media on a TV, but most have another device like a smartphone within reach for a second-screen experience. When marketers design CTV campaigns, they should plan for dual device engagement and capitalize by using tools like interactive QR codes. 

QR codes had a moment during the pandemic, as businesses like restaurants adopted them to power contactless menus. Then we saw Coinbase create a frenzy with its QR code commercial during the Super Bowl. Now, QR codes have the power to connect these dual device engagements — from the TV screen to the smartphone. 

For example, Cannaluxe, an up-and-coming DTC brand, partnered with Neiman Marcus to sell their luxury CBD skincare products at select Neiman Marcus stores. Then the brand ran CTV ads with QR codes to drive viewers to a landing page — and ultimately their local Neiman Marcus. 

The CTV campaign generated over 10M impressions and drove 150K online shopping sessions for Cannaluxe. But beyond ecommerce, Neiman Marcus also saw an influx of in-store purchases at target locations, including 3.4X the sales in target DMAs.

Get more details on how they did it in the full case study:Hyper-local CTV campaign generates serious holiday sales for CBD skincare brand 

The bottom line on creating better CTV experiences

CTV advertising offers advertisers the perfect medium to find the right people and deliver a relevant message in a memorable way — which is the foundation of a positive ad experience. And helping your buyers deliver that positive CTV experience (with measurable results) is sure fire way to keep them coming back for more.