Ad Age Next ICYMI: CTV Takeaways for 2023

As brands and marketers from across the CTV ecosystem scramble to make sense of their rapidly changing landscape, there's lots of value in coming together and sharing notes. That's what happened when industry publication Ad Age hosted two CTV-related installments of its "Ad Age Next" conference series in New York City late last year. Marketers gathered in Manhattan to hear speakers from companies like Netflix, Roku and Google share their thoughts about where CTV is heading in 2023. 

Conference Highlights

In November, Epsilon sponsored Ad Age Next: Streaming, a conference focused on the state of the streaming industry. The following month, Epsilon's Chief Product Officer, Joe Doran, was a featured speaker at Ad Age Next: CMO, appearing on a panel to discuss the state of CTV performance measurement. 

If you were there, you got a head start on many key trends and insights that will shape CTV marketing in 2023. If you weren't, fear not—we've still got you covered. Read on for a half-dozen takeaways from the conferences regarding how marketers should approach CTV this year. 

1. Netflix's bare-bones ad system won't stay that way for long

Netflix's VP of Advertising Sales, Peter Naylor, spoke at Ad Age Next: Streaming the week after his company launched its ad-supported tier. This tier has limited targeting capabilities and hasn't exactly been a hit with audiences. But Naylor described the current offering as an MVP, or minimum viable product, and signaled the company's intent to move quickly toward the cutting edge in areas like targeting capabilities and ad placement. 

2. We're still waiting on a gold standard for CTV measurement

Brands are eager to track CTV performance, but no solution has broken through as an industry standard. That means there's an opportunity for some companies to develop a winner. It also creates an incentive for brands to experiment and think through the performance metrics that are most valuable to them and how best to think about traditional metrics, like currency in the CTV landscape. 

3. We're also waiting—but somewhat less patiently—for fully realized audience insights

Epsilon's Joe Doran predicted that brands would spend 2023 agitating to improve their understanding of CTV audiences. He said there's a great appetite amongst marketers for greater clarity into audience insight and a full feedback loop that includes purchasing behavior. And as the year continues, they'll clamor more loudly for partners that can provide them with that level of insight. 

4. Consumer goods retailers are shifting ad spend to CTV faster than the broader market

This topic arose during the Ad Age Next: CMO conference, and panelist Tal Chalozin, founder and CTO of Innovid, said CPGs' leadership shouldn't come as a surprise—those companies have long been major ad-industry players, both in terms of overall spend and their embrace of new technologies. CTV makes sense because of its targeting capabilities. 

That remark prompted a follow-up question about the extent to which the availability of retail data affects the appeal of CTV for consumer marketers. Marci Raible, VP of integrated marketing at Campbell Soup Co., likened the insights from emerging convergence tools to a holy grail for data-driven marketers. Epsilon's Doran pointed out that CTV insights and retail data can give marketers a new level of clarity into customer decision-making and how effective specific messages are at leading to purchases or other brand engagements. 

5. Marketers are still coming to grips with CTV's multiplicity of channels, platforms and devices

Linear TV may be the technology of yesteryear, but one thing working in its favor is that it's relatively straightforward to understand. The same can't be said for the emerging world of CTV, where tracking customers across different screens and devices is a challenge matched only by the task marketers face in keeping up with the constantly multiplying number of streaming platforms and inventory options. 

In response, many brands are viewing this moment in CTV's evolution as an opportunity to test different strategies and experiment with various platforms and approaches, iterating as they go. The idea is, in part, to ensure that they're covering their bases in 2023 while minimizing redundant spending. But the strategy is also intended to set them up for future success as they learn the pros and cons of various strategies and emerging technologies. They'll learn their favorites and be prepared to act quickly in the event of market consolidation. 

6. This is going to be fun

So much seems possible regarding CTV marketing right now, from its "full-funnel" potential to CTV's growing prominence and its encroachment upon the last strongholds of linear TV, such as live sports. There's plenty still to be worked out—and an all-out push to get there as quickly as possible. But there was a widely shared sense at the Ad Age Next conferences that CTV marketing can open exciting new possibilities for marketers regarding targeted reach, audience insight and, eventually, precise measurement. 

Look ahead to the future of CTV marketing

Epsilon is excited about the future of CTV marketing and proud to be part of a community of innovative companies helping to make CTV effective for marketers in 2023, even as we also work to help shape the industry's future.