Connected TV: Opportunities for Pharma Marketers Today

Roundtable Discussion

March 2022
christine franklin
connected tv

Defining and Understanding Connected TV

Earlier this week, the DHC Group gathered some of our industry’s leading experts for a roundtable discussion on the topic, Connected TV, and some of the opportunities and challenges facing pharma marketers today. The live audience weighed in and participated with questions as our panelists further highlighted and addressed where there’s alignment and need for education around Connected TV.

Let’s meet our experts:

Kurstin MR
Kurstin Mendez-Rodriguez
Reach & CTV Sector Lead
Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
EVP, Digital Activation
CMI Media Group
Erica Hawthorne
Erica Hawthorne
Executive Director
Bayer Pharmaceuticals
Brendan McHenry
Brendan McHenry
SVP, Strategy
Healthline Media
Hart Mechlin
Hart Mechlin
Senior Manager
Veeva Systems
Before offering a summary of the conversation, we have asked our experts to offer their definition of this thing we refer to as “Connected TV.” As a rapidly exploding digital advertising channel for pharma marketers, there is a still-evolving consensus on what terms like Connected TV (CTV), Over-The-Top (OTT) and Subscription-based Video-on-Demand (SVoD) include.

“Connected TV” according to…

Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller

  • CTV – A device that can be connected to or that is embedded to a TV that supports internet connected video content streaming
  • CTV Advertising – Marketing communication targeting audiences watching video content on smart TVs and OTT (Over-the-Top) or SVoD (Subscription-based Video-on-Demand) supported devices
Hart Mechlin

Hart Mechlin

I would endorse the IAB definition of Connected TV as “Video content consumed on a TV screen, delivered via an internet connection.” This definition would exclude “OTT” video content consumed on non-TV devices. Veeva Crossix would also likely exclude POC screens from this definition, as media consumed at the point of care typically entails different content, context and measurement methodology.

Kurstin MR

Kurstin Mendez-Rodriguez

OTT and CTV are often used interchangeably in the industry. The easiest way to think about it is “OTT” is for content. “CTV” is the device.  And a more detailed overview:

  • OTT – TV content delivered “over the top” means it can be viewed on desktop, mobile, streaming devices, smart TVs, etc. and is typically bought as a publisher app across environments and devices.
  • Connected TV – The device on which OTT is delivered; referring to the group of streaming devices, smart TVs, gaming consoles, etc. and is typically bought as a publisher app across devices or a specific device (e.g. Roku).
Erica Hawthorne

Erica Hawthorne

Connected TV is a device that allows a user to watch over the top television (OTT) which can be accessed using an internet connection.

Connected TV: A Billion Dollar Industry

As the diversity in those responses demonstrate, there’s still some consolidation to be achieved on the language, but that shouldn’t discourage marketers from building their expertise on the topic. As Andrew Miller framed up front “connected TV is one of the fastest growing digital advertising channels for brands and marketers who’s spend projected to reach close to 30 billion by 2025.” Kurstin Mendez-Rodriguez noted that from her perspective “if 2021 was the year of streaming first, then 2022 is the year of me stream.

Connected TV Is All About the Individual User Experience

Advertising in this channel requires a tailored and personalized message. Erica Hawthorne (Bayer) points to how Connected TV allows you to “follow people, understand who they are and put the right thing in front of them to ease their way on that journey to treatment.” But the panelists agree that’s only possible if the ad you deliver resonates with the viewer it reaches. This means creating ads that speak authentically to the viewer with consideration towards ethnicity, age (MYTH – Connected TV viewers are predominately a young audience), education, etc.

Andrew Miller summarized the panel’s thoughts on the importance of knowing your audience and including data from a variety of sources “[augment Connected TV with] tools like social listening where you’re getting a read on the audience interaction and how the message is being received, that becomes so powerful in terms of the data and insight to provide you. Not only do you need to shift or change your mindset for your current creative, but what needs to be considered for future creative, because you have that data coming in as a result of the audience and what they’re seeing.”

Data Targeting Opportunities and Boundaries

So, while Connected TV is obviously a targeted user experience, marketers also need to know that the targeting is happening responsibly. You can target programs, you can target a demo, etc. Targeting these different areas make that user experience more personal than it would be in a traditional linear buy. Fortunately, there are established privacy and safety considerations for the digital health space, particularly in endemic and particularly when leveraging data. Experts agree those guidelines are going to be the same for CTV. Generally, there will be certain categories where it is permissible to target, and there are going to be certain categories where it is not permissible to target using data. The important distinction highlighted by both Brendan McHenry (Healthline) and Hart Mechlin (Crossix) is that in other digital channels, a user’s digital health experience is usually considered to be a one-person private personal experience.

CTV differs here, as often digital video content is viewed by multiple users (think sharing a YouTube video with friends, family, roommates etc). The privacy implications are real for what Hart calls “the co-viewing experience.” Brendan notes that anytime data is passed from first parties to either intermediaries or third parties “you need to make sure that all of that data hygiene and handling is incredibly tight and well handled.” Hart reassures marketers that the road here has already been paved “there’s some great rules of the road that exist in primarily the digital space but specifically for targeting and for healthcare. Specifically the network advertising initiative code of conduct.”

Creative: The Great Differentiator

The experts were animated when discussing how the video creative landscape has been impacted by the expansion of Connected TV adoption. As we already noted, ads that speak directly and authentically to the targeted user are crucial, but it’s more than using the right voice, actors, and language. YouTube ads are as short at 6 seconds, so the ideal CTV plan doesn’t mean flipping a linear TV ad to the digital space. Rather, CTV creative should be a digital-first effort. Brendan McHenry explained “you should look to digital first when you’re considering strategies for CTV, because they much more closely mimic that than they do anything that you’ve done in television.”  Andrew Miller detailed “the misconception is that you can just repurpose your linear TV creative on connected TV channels. You really need to make sure your creative is speaking to the audience in the venue that they’re seeing it.” 

One the exciting implications, especially for smaller brands and manufacturers, is the opportunity to fit video in the budget even is traditional TV buys are out. This may mean creating a series of smaller or modular set of creative assets that can be used across the CTV journey to build a deeper connection with the viewer, something Kurstin Mendez-Rodrigues refers to as “the heartbeat of connected TV.”

Erica Hawthorne (Bayer) summarized her thoughts on this role of creative and connection with “I’m all about that connected journey, I’m all about it’s the right message at the right time to the right person’. If I run video for awareness I might get 10 impressions, 90% brand recall. If I run display – 10 impressions, 10% brand recall. Who’s getting to the finish line first? There’s so much nuance in the creative and I think we have to think about all of that and not just slot creative in because it fits places, but be intentional about developing it for the placement, for the particular audience, for the particular time of day even sometimes, right? Everything matters. Nothing is off the table.”

Measuring to See If It Works

The panel started discussing the measurement of Connected TV by dispelling the myth that CTV is hard to measure. Apparently this is a common misconception. A recent ANA survey recently cited inconsistent measurement as the biggest problem facing CTV according to almost 60% of respondents. Yet Hart Mechlin (Veeva Crossix) stresses they are seeing the exact opposite. Because the focus is on linking media exposure to authentic healthcare data to assess audience quality and post exposure health behaviors, Veeva cites CTV is among the most measurable channels in terms of being able to obtain record level data that can be matched to another data set. This is partly because so much of CTV happens in natively authenticated environments (Hulu, Roku etc) with strong first party data.

Erica Hawthorne (Bayer) agreed that Connected TV efforts are highly measurable when you ask the data the right questions at the right stages in the funnel. Kurstin Mendez-Rodriguez summarized “You test and learn and you adapt and you optimize. So again, work with your vendors, work with your partners, work with your platforms because we’re all here, we’re all learning and CTV can really win for all of us.”

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