Colette Munnelly
Colette Munnelly 6 July 2021

Get Ready for a Summer of Sport… On your Connected TV

Summer 2021 is big for the sporting calendar and whether you’re into football, cycling or tennis we’re expecting some great entertainment in the coming months. Starting with this week’s Euro 2020 semi-finals, the summer will include the Tour de France, Wimbledon and of course the much-anticipated Tokyo Olympics. 

Whilst this is exciting for sports fans, unlike previous years, amidst the Covid pandemic, in-person attendance will be very much limited as countries are still grappling with international travel and large scale events. 

So what does this mean for avid fans? It means that instead of marching in their thousands to stadiums or enjoying Pimms on Murray Mount they will be cheering their favourite stars on from front rooms or gardens. Whilst remote attendance and increased streaming is not the summer we had expected, this is an opportunistic time for brands and agencies. As a result, they must start to consider how best they can reach and engage with their audiences on the big or small screen.

Connecting Virtually

Unlike previous summers, where audiences were able to go and see their teams play live, 2021 has become hugely reliant on connected TV (CTV) to ensure the nation is still able to cheer on their teams from the sidelines. With this comes big opportunities to capture attention and enrich the experience beyond the game itself, with additional engagement opportunities such as pre match clips, exclusive interviews and post game wrap-ups.

Indeed unsurprisingly, over the course of the pandemic, the CTV space has experienced accelerated growth, with viewers around the world flocking to video-on-demand (VOD) to keep them entertained. This ever-increasing consumption is set to see global users of over-the-top (OTT) TV rise to 2.9 billion by 2025 – having sat at 1.8 billion in 2017. 

A Big Opportunity with High Expectations

With CTV’s exponential growth, expectations will be high this summer as fans expect better coverage, access and mobility to participate virtually in their favourite events. Broadcasters and media owners will therefore need to demonstrate how quickly they have advanced their virtual event capabilities to deliver the best experience for their audiences and come out on top. 

For brands it will also be important that they create ad campaigns that can work across all devices to ensure they are reaching their target audiences at the right time with the right content. Since the easy mass reach of TV has become more fragmented, buyers need a way to ensure incremental reach for audiences using OTT services and VOD.

And this is where CTV comes in; from an advertising perspective the high-growth, premium CPM CTV market instills great confidence in finding target audiences in a high impact medium with better and faster optimisation. 

That said, there are still challenges with the CTV user experience that need to be solved beyond the fear of latency. In particular, there are issues around developing audience-targeted buys in the face of identity challenges. Whilst CTV advertising doesn’t rely on cookies or contextual targeting in the traditional sense, there is no universal or persistent standard for device identification.

This makes critical capabilities like frequency management, audience targeting and attribution more challenging, especially when you consider all the possible screens. Starting with ID owner data; audience viewing habits, content types, genres, data modelling and directly negotiated deals will be a common approach to working with walled gardens where cross platform metrics are limited. 

Ad-tech companies who have direct relationships with both the buyers and sellers of CTV inventory are well positioned to solve this challenge and brace themselves for millions of live concurrent streams. As the summer sporting calendar looms, buyers should be educating themselves on the CTV ecosystem, the value of audience-based buying and the ways in which their technology partners are navigating industry challenges to unlock the full CTV opportunity. 

With streaming only accelerated by the pandemic, streaming platform victory will be focused on audience size, the quality of the audience to a specific brand and content rights. 

Bringing People Together

Although Covid has meant it will be difficult for fans to attend games in-person, we are still expecting to see fans gathering in pubs or with friends to cheer their teams on. As a result, brands will need to work especially hard to capture group attention whilst ensuring they can reach audiences when their attention is split.  

Finding and reaching the right audiences during this key summer period will be more important than ever and that’s particularly true of the home’s biggest, shared screen. It’s why it is so vital advertisers educate themselves on the data-driven television opportunities that are now open, so they are primed to make the switch from scheduled linear to real-time digital and start benefiting from precision targeting and enhanced measurement. 

Game on!

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