When a friend asked me what a Connected TV was I jokingly responded with the headline of this post. It was a joke, kind of. Welcome to the world of interactive television. A Connected TV (often referred to as a Smart TV) transforms a consumers’ main source of entertainment from a screen that simply displays content provided by a cable/satellite provider into something much more - an IP delivered TV experience.
Want to watch a YouTube clip? How about binge viewing of the latest Netflix hit? A live sports event not offered on a traditional channel? Or a hot web short series that someone at work mentioned? All of that and much more are at your fingertips with a Connected TV. Easy to see why 113 million consumers have become instant friends with a Connected TV. Netflix, Hulu, Crackle and a very long list of other content providers have quickly developed apps that bring all the content the consumer wants to the TV screen, in an easy to use format. Often for free.
Advertisers are always looking for better targeting ability, more flexibility in the ad units they can use and, most importantly, the ability to better measure their video efforts. The Connected TV advertising marketplace is poised to deliver on all of that. Want to only reach homes that have a HH income over $100K and who have been watching a lot of video content on home improvements? Want to serve an ad to consumers within 1 mile of your retail location? How about in that area with an interactive overlay displaying your actual store address? Want to know exactly how much of your ad was watched? All are very easy to do in the Connected TV environment. Whether it's through a Smart TV, an Over The Top Device like Roku, an internet-enabled cable TV package, or a game console like Xbox, Connected TV provides an incredible amount of information, targeting, and ad units that linear TV can not offer.
Surprising as it may seem, the friendship between Connected TV's and advertisers, well...it's complicated. As with all other emerging platforms, it takes time. Standards for ad insertion, full understanding of inventory and who controls it, as well as a pricing structure that makes sense, are all being worked through right now. But I suspect they will become BFF's in the near future. How could they not? One offers the other exactly what they have been looking for their entire life: an opportunity to combine the power of digital targeting/measurement with the power of the big screen in the living room.
Matt Cote is VP/Video Innovation at Eicoff, one of North America's largest DRTV agencies.