Connected TV: Creative best practices for ads
Connected TV (CTV) ads have taken the mobile advertising world by storm in 2021, and for good reason. CTV ad formats have the potential to combine the best of two worlds: the visual and brand messaging potential of linear TV with the interactive potential of digital advertising.
While CTV ad formats are still evolving and will surely change as the channel matures, advertisers eager to get started with this emerging format now can follow these best practices to begin creating powerful CTV ads.
Define your strategy
First, decide what you want to accomplish with your CTV ad. Traditionally, video ads have been used for brand awareness. However, since CTV allows new measurement and targeting capabilities that weren’t available with linear TV, they are also perfect for performance marketing user acquisition (UA) campaigns.
No matter how short your CTV ad is, take the opportunity to tell a story and have a clear narrative. That story could be as simple as demonstrating the positive impact your product will have on the viewer's everyday life, displaying the tangible benefits while evoking positive emotions. You could also choose to contrast your product to competitors and show why it’s unique.
Always consider your audience when designing your CTV ad. What is important to them? What type of content resonates with them, and how does your brand relate to it? Depending on your brand, you can look at current entertainment trends and events and reference these trending topics to capture attention in a fun and timely way.
Turn CTV into a performance channel and determine the impact of your CTV campaigns—cross-device—with Adjust’s CTV AdVision solution.
Format for the viewing experience
When creating a CTV ad, consider the nuances of the medium and the context of the viewer. While CTV ad viewers will be viewing your ad on their TV at home, streaming devices can also include laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Also, CTV users are increasingly active — gaming makes up a growing percentage of CTV apps. Viewers will be on different devices at varying levels of engagement, so follow these general guidelines:
Keep it short
While it may be tempting to create CTV ads in the vein of premium television channel placements, OTT viewers have different expectations. It’s generally advised to keep your CTV ads short and to the point — between 15 and 30 seconds.
Have the right specs
Size & frame rate
- Size Ratio | 16:9, 1920×1080
- Length | 30 seconds max, 15 or 30 second slots
- File Format | .mp4 or .mov
- File Size | Max size 200MB
- Frame Rate | Must be constant; 23.98, 25, or 29.97 FPS
- Bit Rate | Greater or equal to 2500 KBPS
- Overall Mix Level | 10db to -14db
- Dialogue | -12db to -15db
- Music | -18db to -22db
- Sound Effects | -10db to -20db with occasional spikes up to -8db
Grab attention with eye-catching visuals
CTV is a visual medium, so try to grab your viewer’s attention with eye-catching visuals and a rich color palette. Once you have the viewer’s attention, clearly show them where to go for more information by displaying your logo and URL, as well as the logo of the app stores where they can download your app. You can either include these throughout the ad or add it to the end card to display for the final seconds of the ad.
When marketing an app, showcase how users can engage with and benefit from your app. You can even show users interacting with your app within the ad. Show the viewer what it’s like using your app and how their day may look with its benefits.
CTA ad formats also provide an opportunity to provide more creative and direct calls-to-action. One example is that of Burger King with their QR Whopper giveaway, which consisted of three TV commercials with an on-screen QR code that would score the viewer a free Whopper if scanned. When using QR codes, it’s best to display them at the end of the ad, not while the ad is running. This way users can take in your message and have a chance to react. Whichever CTA format you use, it’s a good idea to directly ask the user to download your app!
Leverage the UI
When buying ads directly instead of programmatically, formatting options open up. You may be able to access in-UI and in-video banners, sponsor a free movie, place an ad on a pause screen, and more. Many of these formats are new, so they will stand out to the user. Take advantage of any platform-specific opportunities to display your ad in a creative way.
Avoid user fatigue with frequency and refreshes
When planning your CTV ad campaign, it’s important to consider the frequency of ad exposure. Avoid oversaturation by setting frequency capping with your supply-side platform (SSP). Frequency capping is the tool used to manage the number of times your ad can be viewed by a particular user daily, weekly, or monthly. Setting it too high can lead to user fatigue, while setting it too low can lead to underexposure, as multiple exposures are important for user recall and action.
Refreshing your creative can also help avoid user fatigue. This can involve shooting multiple versions of your ad, telling a sequential story over a number of different ads, or making small variations such as overlays or end cards that evolve with time or reflect current events.
Test and target
While CTV may feel like linear TV, it’s important to remember it’s not. CTV is interactive, testable, and real-time, with the ability to iterate, segment audiences, and retarget viewers. Everything about the ad can be tracked, measured, and improved.
Like with any programmatic ad, testing your ad creatives and delivering them to targeted audiences will ensure the best performance. Record different variations of your ad intended for specific audiences, and A/B test the creatives to find which performs best. This also goes for finding the optimal runtime for your ad. Edit down your 30-second version to a 15-second version and test each length to determine which performs better.
Adjust research has shown that over 75% of consumers engage in ‘dual screening,’ or watching CTV while using their mobile phones. Mobile marketers can make use of this dual screening by cross-targeting CTV viewers with ads on their mobile devices. Adjust’s CTV AdVision solution enables marketers to attribute mobile app installs and post-install events to ads shown on CTV devices and transform CTV into a performance channel.
With automatic content recognition (ACR) technology, advertisers can determine which ads best fit the viewer’s current watching experience, see who has viewed their ads and on which device, allowing them to to target mobile device users based on programming they have watched on their CTV. Users are more likely to react positively when ads are relevant to the content they’ve been watching. Contextual targeting and sentiment analysis capabilities with your publisher can ensure your ad is shown at the right time. For example, if you were advertising a vegan recipe app, you wouldn’t want it to play during a documentary advocating the Paleo diet.
In order to determine whether your tests, experiments, and campaigns are matching their KPIs, advertisers need measurement capabilities.
To learn more about the CTV ecosystem, you can read our Ultimate How-To Guide here, and for more on how you can leverage the channel to serve your brand with actionable and measurable results, see our CTV AdVision solution here.