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CTV Apps: Local TV's New Battleground

Local TV marketing & creative services directors are exhausted. Buy them a present. In the past 10-15 years they've seen their departments dwindle as revenue declined. Through this they have had to manage the marketing and branding of more content distribution channels including a website, mobile app & social media platforms. Imagine your job description growing 5 fold and having less people to delegate? It's a tough tough job!

Adding to that, in the past few years a new channel has entered the race, and it's likely to be the biggest opportunity and challenge for local TV, one that may revolutionize viewing and leave some dinosaurs in the dust. STREAMING is the new battleground.

And I'm not talking about streaming your live linear signal on Youtube Live or on your own website. I'm talking about a stand-alone streaming TV app that can be used on Smart TVs. The Disney Owned TV stations threw down the gauntlet and were among the first to market with their apps. In the coming years more ownership groups will see the necessity of developing and promoting a streaming app to re-purpose linear content and even develop streaming-first content.

The challenge for marketers will be, how to promote a product that directly conflicts and draws audience from your legacy product. To be fair, the internet has been stealing viewers long before streaming, but embracing streaming audiences means acknowledging a good number of them won't ever come to linear TV. That audience of cord-nevers will be aging into the coveted A25-54 bracket soon.

So how do you grow a streaming audience? Well there are a few key things to know before you bust out your marketing plan.

  1. What platforms will your CTV app be on? Similar to Apple and Android phones - you may actually have several streaming apps across devices. Connected TV is even more complicated because you have big players like Roku, AppleTV, FireTV and Android. The first thing to know is what platforms you will have your app on.

  2. What platforms have advertising available? How you grow your audience on these platforms depends very much on the platforms themselves. For example. Roku has paid app advertising on their platform and very affordable options. AppleTV does not currently have paid advertising. You will need to find an expert to walk you through what is and isn't available for advertising on various platforms.

  3. What ad units are available? Advertising units are not the same across platforms. Amazon has a few ad units that are options for TV stations. They look and operate very differently from Roku's ads. It's important to know the ad units that are available by platform as you invest time in production.

  4. How much money do you have? Some advertisers like Amazon have hefty minimums - Amazon's was $50k in 2020 and could only be broken down to $10k per DMA. Collaboration amongst markets in a station group could be the only way to get an ad campaign on these platforms.

  5. How do you track success? The ultimate measure of success may be downloads. But sometimes you can't see the funnel to track from advertisement to download. Do you have a secondary measurement of average downloads per day prior to a campaign? Otherwise you may be looking at impressions which is a very limited part of the equation.

  6. Not all platforms are equal! It's hard find stats on the market share of various platforms but in general, Roku, FireTV and Samsung are big players. Study the current market and go where the viewers are and where they are attainable in an affordable manner. Some big players may have a large footprint but viewers may not return to apps they downloaded, so habit is important too.

  7. Have a plan for after they download. Just like mobile apps a download isn't valuable unless it translates to revenue. Once you get your download how do you advertise unique content to the streaming viewer? How do you remind them to come back and watch again?

  8. Soft Launch! Every new app has glitches - sometimes the glitches are big and ugly. Wait for your app to be out for a while and work out the kinks before you put ad dollars behind it. If you deliver a lot of viewers to a bad app - they' won't return.

Streaming is an exciting and ever-growing viewing preference. The very busy TV marketing director needs to have a good understanding of the landscape. However, enlisting a strong media buying team is the best way to ensure your media mix comes with an up-to-date understanding of the landscape. A diversified approach that involves post-campaign monitoring of viewer performance by platform is equally important. Before you delegate your advertising dollars - give Left Hand Agency a call - we're experts at CTV promotion and are here to help.

- Lauren

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