Move Over, Brand Awareness: Performance is Stealing the (TV) Show

While Upfronts boast new content, performance continues to deliver consistent results

Move Over, Brand Awareness: Performance is Stealing the (TV) Show

5 Min Read

Upfront season is here again, and with it comes the usual discourse about how advertisers can maximize brand awareness against all this new content. And while this season comes around every year, it’s only recently that performance marketers have unlocked the key to year-long success on the TV screen.

TV watchers and advertisers alike have made the shift to streaming TV 

We’ve all seen the TV-watching landscape rapidly evolve over the past several years. As people cut the cord and adolescents have come of age without ever having purchased cable, streaming has become mainstream. The pandemic only furthered streaming’s stronghold as people stayed inside watching TV (and their purse strings).

With this shift to the digital age of television, advertising also followed suit. Advertisers are now able to use the TV screen in a way that they haven’t been able to in the past: for performance. The digital DNA of streaming TV has made targeting and measurement capacities available through the TV screen like never before. And now that advertisers have enjoyed performance results, from site visits to conversions, they aren’t turning back. 

Matt Collins, Director of Product Marketing for MNTN and QuickFrame, credits this shift in advertising strategy partially to the COVID-19 shutdown. “When the pandemic happened, and businesses started to shut down, many CFOs directed their CMOs to either cut their marketing budget or shift it to only those things that could demonstrate a provable outcome — in other words, to performance marketing.” 

Performance helps protect against fragmentation and provides actionable insights

Content providers have also been adjusting to the new normal of TV. While the initial offerings from streaming channels offered large libraries of original content for low subscription fees, these providers have quickly learned the importance of ad-supported options for their bottom line. Disney and Netflix announced their ad tier offerings at the end of last year. Amazon rolled out their ad tier (not to be confused with their FAST channel, FreeVee) to all subscribers at the beginning of this one. However, the more channels pop up, each adding their own variety of ad offerings, the more fragmented the landscape becomes, making it harder and harder to leverage streaming TV as a broad awareness channel the way linear TV has been used in the past. 

Enter: performance marketing. While streaming TV may be plagued by fragmentation, its digital nature also gives advertisers access to precision targeting to reach their key audience, wherever they stream. Gone are the days of making generalizations about who’s watching based on the cast and content of a show. Instead, advertisers can pinpoint exactly where their targets are watching — because hey, men can watch Bravo, too.

Advertisers are rewarded for their efforts with extensive amounts of data that prove to their CMOs that what they are doing is working. These insights were, and still are, a large missing piece from linear TV buys — reporting is difficult, often costly, and slow. CTV, on the other hand, offers insights in near-real time, giving advertisers the power to see what’s working and what’s not and to optimize their performance metrics as they go. And that has proven to be an unbeatable advantage, especially as internal expectations have evolved.

The (performance) results are in — and here to stay

Once advertisers started to focus on the performance outcomes of their efforts, they were hooked on the results, much like the way streamers hooked audiences on the new experience of watching television. “[Advertisers] are still demanding more and more performance. The good news is that the default way consumers are watching television now — streaming television — is giving CMOs the information that CFOs require,” Collins explains.

The data doesn’t lie — and it’s telling a similar story. We took a look at MNTN’s performance metrics across multiple verticals over the past month as compared to this time last year. Across Fashion & Apparel, Home & Garden, and Travel verticals, all saw increased performance metrics within the past year. The cost per visit for Fashion & Apparel decreased by almost 40% year over year. The Home & Garden segment boasted a whopping 68% increase in ROAS (return on ad spend) this past month, compared to the same month in 2023, while the Travel segment saw a 31% increase in average conversion rates. Many segments are seeing this increase in quantifiable outcomes — no wonder advertisers continue to turn to performance channels

Performance means more effective creative and more access for all

The new advertising landscape also means that advertisers need new creative strategies to support their efforts. Luckily, they have the performance metrics to help develop effective assets. “What advertisers put on the screen — the creative — will also have to change,” Collins explains. “I think advertisers are going to figure out, with a few modest modifications, TV ad creative can be made to deliver better results. And we can find which creative choices deliver those results through A/B testing, which can be done more affordably and faster than ever before.” 

The shift in TV viewing, the indelible mark that the pandemic has left on us, and the digital DNA of the brave, new TV world have forever shifted how advertisers need to think about TV advertising. And in the season of the upfronts — when giant advertisers get discounts on giant spends — it’s an important time to remember that performance has not only amplified the results of TV buying but democratized it. At MNTN, 90% of our advertisers are first-time TV advertisers. And they’re winning with performance.