The arranged marriage of two houses - programmatic and TV - is set to move a step closer over the next twelve months. But the industry has been promising a blissful union for a while, so what’s new?

According to the IAB report into Attitudes to Programmatic 2020, “70% of advertisers and 61% of agencies think CTV [Connected TV] will be one of the key programmatic growth areas over the next 12 months”.

However, the best estimate suggests that advertisers are currently diverting less than 20% of their programmatic budgets into Connected TV.

Programmatic clairvoyants are putting the extraordinary growth down to two things:

  1. Firstly, the change in TV consumption - audiences have been moving toward streaming content in their own time and turning their backs on linear TV for years.
  2. Secondly, the growth in Smart TV ownership combined with the volume of CTV content consumption through COVID-19-driven consumer behaviour. According to the “Streaming Wars” IAS survey, 90% of UK consumers have access to a CTV device.

What is Connected TV (CTV)?

The IAB defines Connected TV as a TV that is connected to the internet via an internal device (i.e., a Smart TV) or an external device (for example, Apple TV, Roku, or Gaming Consoles).

Essentially, Connected TV is any video content delivered to a TV screen via the internet.

Before you ask, it is worth noting that any content duplicated onto your TV screen from an internet-connected device via a streaming stick (e.g., Chromecast) would count as the device the content is being duplicated from.

The Growing Pains of CTV

A blissful union might be wishful thinking. As with all corners of the digital advertising ecosystem, CTV faces the same post-cookie world complications (more on this, here) as well as its own sticking points.


The CTV marketplace is even more complex than existing digital ecosystems. For instance, the mobile app space is mostly serviced by two main app stores – Apple and Android.

Whereas CTV is serviced by over 20 app stores, with every Smart TV brand having its own app store and each store comes with unique and different device identifiers.

The other issue is the conflicting regulation between linear TV and CTV. As the two become closer there will need to be a common ground to facilitate the application of the market standards that key broadcasters will want to migrate into the digital world.


Who is watching, an individual or a household?

The real challenge comes with connecting the dots between a user’s digital footprint and tracking them across multiple devices, in a privacy-secure way.

For CTV you would be excused for thinking the common denominator would be the IP address, but this has its accuracy issues and considered PII in most parts of the world.

Privacy, accuracy, and brand safety need to be at the forefront of how digital media is traded. Logged-in users – and even subsequent profiles – for apps such as YouTube become the most privacy-secure option. But how can that be amplified outside its own walled garden?

Amazon must be feeling so smug with all their logged-in user data and Prime Video proposition.


Accountability is the backbone of success for all advertising spend. However, the way a user engages with the TV screen is different from all other digital devices.

Linear TV is measured on the modelled reach of a target audience, and so should CTV. The challenge is how do we start to frequency cap users across different apps IDs? Unique reach, therefore, becomes tricky to quantify.

Is CTV Advertising too Complex?

Absolutely not. There could not be a better time to wed CTV and programmatic buying.

The industry is so hot on creating a future-proofed eco-system that works for everyone, that CTV is bound to benefit from the universal market reset in its fundamental approach to privacy, targeting and measurement.

The IAB is leading the way in the provision of guidelines for Identifier for Advertising (IFA) on CTV. This provides instructions on best practices for delivering targeted ads, as well as controlling ad frequency across a wide variety of different Smart TVs and connected devices.

What Can We Activate Now?

While there is still a lot of work to be done on the infrastructure to sustain long-term growth, CTV is a relatively uncompetitive marketplace that advertisers can take advantage of now.


YouTube is the top dog when it comes to reach and viewing hours among all ad-supported CTV services. The Google audiences available to buy in DV360 across programmatic display and video are based on logged-in data and then profiled for scale.

Though the genetic makeup of these may change over the next 12 months, the core logged-in data means we can easily target these audiences on YouTube via CTV.

Beyond that, DV360 can access private deals with CTV publishers, STV, Samsung TV Plus and Rakuten TV, to name but a few.

By including these, we extend the reach of any CTV campaigns beyond YouTube. And because Google has prioritised the use of IFA, we can frequently manage and track unique users across all publishers on CTV.

This is dependent on the publishers passing on an IFA, but if we are using a frequency cap on a campaign, then we do not buy non-IFA inventory.

Final Thoughts and Further Reading

Connected TV shares the same challenges as all other digital media buying on key issues like transparency, targeting and measurement.

But it is certainly set up to experience unprecedented growth over the next couple of years. If you are advertising on TV, YouTube or with video, then you need to start taking CTV seriously.