Connected T.V. – Digital or Traditional Buying

August 25, 2020

Current research shows that 80% of U.S. households have at least one device connected to the internet.1 The Coronavirus pandemic has driven some of this activity, but Connected TV has been gaining momentum for some time; it is getting the attention and budget dollars it deserves.  But, now that it is included in more plans, the question is. . .  Does the linear/traditional TV or digital media team manage this channel?


What is Connected TV?

Connected TV (a.k.a. CTV) allows audiences to watch their favorite video content via an internet connection rather than a broadcast signal. Sometimes called Over the Top (OTT) video as it goes “over” and does not rely on a cable box to give viewers access to TV content.  OTT device examples include Smart TVs, Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku or even gaming consoles. No matter the name, they all plug directly into your TV and are connected to the internet, enabling apps and video streaming on that television. Like Traditional TV, this video content comes with advertising breaks. But unlike Traditional TV, the targeting capabilities of CTV are much more sophisticated.


Buying Media for Traditional TV

Historically, the only way for audiences to watch shows like Saturday Night Live or The Property Brothers, was to tune in at a specific time. With the rise of DVR technology, viewers could time shift when they watched the program, but it was still tied to a specific airing on a specific time and place. With some help from Nielsen, networks would project how many people within a given age range were expected to watch the program. This projection is called a Gross Rating Point (GRP). Networks would assign a dollar value to that audience, called the Cost Per Point.

When looking to place a buy, broadcast buyers submit RFPs to networks containing their buying demo and other requirements around dayparts, timing, budget, and GRPs. Buyers and networks haggle over pricing and lock in a deal via an Insertion Order (IO). Given the number of players at the table, this process requires a significant lead time of 4-6 weeks or more, to plan and execute.

Television has shown media planners time and again that it is an effective way to build brand awareness and reach massive audiences. But that effectiveness comes with some significant tradeoffs that seem almost archaic in today’s fast-paced, data-driven world. Buys are based on broad projections of an audience, and delivery is only guaranteed to 90%.  They are largely inflexible, with performance reporting that relies on costly proprietary information that can be delayed up to a month.  Cancelation of a buy often requires a 2-week notice. Because of this optimization can only happen between flights or campaigns. The net result is a media investment that works, but is expensive and very often opaque – two things that don’t align with the needs of CMOs today.

With the rise of CTV inventory, and the debate over which media discipline should manage those buys, it became clear that Broadcast and Digital teams speak a very different language: GRPs vs Impressions; programming guarantees vs audiences guarantees; Upfronts vs Newfronts; Commercial Pods vs Mid-roll.


Buying Media for CTV

Programmatic platforms like The Trade Desk have jumped into the Connected TV space and are working to help shape the language of this channel, providing a Rosetta Stone that both Linear and Digital buyers can use when talking about CTV.

Some of the benefits of CTV include:

  • Data-driven targeting capabilities: Use your own first-party data (e.g. email addresses, home addresses)  as well as available third-party data (from Resonate, Oracle, Visa, etc.) to find your target audience. Flexibility and control: Connected TV does not lock you into long-term direct deals. You can move your budget and adjust your campaign at any time to optimize performance.
  • Integration with digital campaigns: Ability to align and connect to existing digital efforts in display, video, etc. as well as remarketing to the audience exposed to the Connected TV spot.
  • Reach and premium inventory: Reach more consumers than ever before while running
    ads alongside major network and cable providers
  • Robust measurement and reporting: More accountable than traditional TV with attribution and brand impact reports available

With these key benefits listed above, it’s really in the best interest of the digital media team to manage Connected TV buys and trading as they are better equipped to provide direct attribution modeling and connect audiences with other online efforts.


Here are a few examples of how Ciceron has provided their clients with Connected TV insights:

Dua Lipa
As quoted in the New York Times, “Dua Lipa’s Unplanned, Uncertain, Unprecedented Album Launch. The English pop star spent years preparing to release her anticipated second LP, “Future Nostalgia.” Should she — and could she — do it during a pandemic?”2

Dua Lipa’s album was leaked and forced her to release it in the early chaos of the pandemic. Warner Records partnered with Ciceron to devise a Connected TV strategy that utilized programmatic technology to use Warner Records’ first-party data (website pixel data and emails) to directly target her dedicated and casual fans which assisted in her album debuting at #4 on Billboard’s Hot 200.



The Mall of America (MOA) is hardly an ordinary mall. We’re talking the largest mall in the U.S., boasting more than 2.7 million square feet of retail space, more than 520 stores and 50 restaurants (not to mention an amusement park in the heart of it all). But just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come, especially during the holidays. With so much competition for shopping during the holidays, both from other retailers and online shopping options, we were tasked with inspiring people to make the Mall of America their shopping experience of choice and keep them there as long as possible.

By using the “power” of buying Connected TV via programmatic, Ciceron utilized geofencing technology to track foot traffic from the Connected TV ads. During the holiday campaign, Ciceron noticed if someone was exposed to a Connected TV ad they were more likely to set foot into the mall over any other digital channel.



For UCare, they were looking to build upon prior brand advertising success within the linear TV space by expanding their efforts to include Connected TV (CTV) as well. And yes, even the Medicare audience is available through streaming video inventory. Throughout the campaign, CTV was used, in partnership with PreRoll and Display to surround and enhance the linear TV buy with consistency in messaging and audience targeting overlap.

Using The Trade Desk’s IBI (Inferred Brand Impact) insights we were able to track UCare’s consumer browsing habits an hour after ad exposure. This has allowed Ciceron to analyze trends in browsing activity around key dates with other media channels to make a correlation on brand awareness.



CTV will not replace Linear TV, not yet at least. But these two channels should also not be planned in a silo. It’s not ‘what is my tv strategy?’ and ‘How does digital video fit into my digital strategy?’ but rather, ‘What is my holistic video strategy and how best do I deploy video across all the platforms at my disposal like Spot TV, OTT, Mobile video and YouTube to achieve my business goals?’



Ashley Evenson

Jake Coldren

Amber Verhulst