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CTV Isn't Ready for Performance Marketing Yet

By Amir Gilboa

Over the past two years, there has been a lot of buzz about connected TV (CTV).

The hype is understandable. CTV represents the digitization of what has historically been the most important advertising channel: TV. And as the data shows, CTV adoption is growing at a healthy pace.

I believe it's important for marketers to test emerging channels, particularly ones delivered through such an advertising-critical device as the TV. It's also necessary to provide the players in the CTV space with feedback while testing this channel. That's why we've run multiple CTV campaigns across a range of platforms for our clients.

But for pure digital performance marketers, CTV is not yet ready for prime time. Here's why:

Not a Closed-Loop Purchase Process

A user is watching a movie on a CTV channel, and during a commercial break, the user sees an ad for another book from the author of the book on which the movie is based. The user wants to buy the book – relevant targeting – but is unable to complete the purchase from within the closed CTV environment.

If the user wants to purchase the book and to read it on her mobile, tablet or any other non-TV device, she'll need to scan a QR code and purchase the book from her phone or send a link elsewhere to complete the purchase. A second option would be to manually search for the book on a non-TV device.

Either option results in a disjointed CTV shopping experience.

One would expect that ordering a new streaming service, like Disney+ or Paramount+, would be seamless because the user shouldn't have to leave the CTV device to use the product. But there is no easy way to upload payment information via the CTV device to enable paying for this new streaming service. The user will still need to go to another device to pay.

I have been working in mobile marketing since 2007 and even for me, the process is fragmented. I can't imagine my mother, who happily shops online, ordering anything with the current CTV purchase process.

Roku's shoppable ad pilot with Walmart will enable closing the shopping loop because Roku has payment data. This effort by Roku is a good start, but until the purchase process is more seamless, the use of CTV for more than branding will be limited.

Device/Application Format Fragmentation

One of the challenges for marketers with CTV is device and app fragmentation. On the device front, consumers can watch CTV content on smart TVs; OTT devices that connect to a TV, like Roku, Chromecast, and Apple TV; as well as via game consoles like PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox.

CTV programming is distributed via applications over a range of technologies which increases fragmentation. These apps include virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) apps (Hulu Live, Sling TV); free ad-supported streaming tv service (FAST) apps (Xumo, Tubi); electronic programming guide (EPG) apps (TV Plus, Watchfree); and direct-to-consumer (DTC) apps (Disney+, Paramount+).

These different device types and distribution apps result in a very fragmented market. Beyond the challenges of customizing the creative, the real challenge for performance marketers is that measurement and attribution across so many devices and technologies aren't yet possible. In CTV, there are already issues with attribution, such as when GroupM and iSpot found that 10 percent of CTV impressions were delivered to devices that were turned off. Therefore, to expect a performance marketer to gain access to cross-device/app performance is unrealistic today.

The inability to measure campaign performance across devices and apps provides a serious challenge for performance marketers considering CTV.


When campaigns are measured based on revenue, then anything that increases costs hurts performance. So, for performance marketers, the extra effort to customize ad creative across the various devices and apps, even with the increase in standardization, negatively impacts performance.

But the real challenge for performance marketers with CTV is that they can't approach Meta, Google, or even TikTok's scale, data and targeting abilities. Despite research showing that 87 percent of U.S. households have at least one CTV device and that 46 percent of adults watch video via a CTV device daily, these strong percentages are scattered across a broad range of devices, device types, and application technology eco-systems.

I believe that the industry understands these challenges for performance marketers and is working on solutions. Running a cross-device campaign is already easier today than it was a few years ago. And as more consumers buy more CTV devices, the issue of scale will decrease. But more work needs to be done before the industry should expect performance marketers to move CTV out of the test budget category and make it one of the primary advertising channels.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Amir Gilboa is head of video monetization at Zoomd.