So Long, Agencies: Why Brands Are Shifting CTV Advertising In-House
by Stephen Graveman
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Big brands are going all in on television – and we’re not just talking ads. Brands are turning into content creators to tell a more impactful story beyond a 30 second ad. From Pepsi’s partnership with ViacomCBS to pilot a new reality dating show, Shopify’s new documentary on Disney+ and Nike’s co-produced documentary on HBO Max, it’s a clear sign that the new age of television is here to stay. Our team gathered in the MNTN news room in Slack to provide our thoughts on the subject – here’s what we had to say:
Mel.Yap (Sr. Content Marketing Manager) – Did you guys see this on Digiday? Looks like some big brands are creating more than just ads for Connected TV.
Marketers are looking to create content for TV networks and streaming platforms amid an increasingly ad-free entertainment landscape.
Tim.Edmundson (Director, Content Marketing) – That’s where I learned everything I know about comedy. I agree though, very similar vibes and it looks like they’re concerned about being tuned out and are looking for other ways to reach their core audience.
Hooman.Javidan.Nejad (Director, Performance Marketing) – With a lot of viewers skipping ads or using ad-blockers this sounds like a smart move.
Ali.Haeri – There seems to be a trade off here – the more “present” the brand is, the more they run the risk of being almost obnoxiously present. Or the opposite – play a really background role by subsidizing something like a documentary, but not being sure that people know you made it possible
Tim.Edmundson – Ali regarding viewers missing the point – Pepsi apparently helped produce the movie “Uncle Drew” and I had no idea at all. Turns out they even commissioned the screenplay. Was that money well spent?
Hooman.Javidan.Nejad – WOW! I had no idea either!
Tim.Edmundson – To be honest, this seems like going a long way to get ahead of ‘ad-free’ environments when there’s no real guarantee those are going away to begin with. Streaming TV is often seen as “ad-free” but aside from the two heavyweights Netflix and Disney, there’s a massive amount of (unskippable/unblockable) ad-supported content being consumed via streaming television. Disney even has ad-supported content via Hulu’s ad-tier.
Mel.Yap – A creative director from TBWA in the AdAge piece said that brands might be more eager to create this type of content in this environment, vs. being limited to a 30-sec spot on a CTV ad. What do you think would be the implications of that (if any) in the long run?
Tim.Edmundson – Good question Mel, too early to tell is my guess but a 30 second spot vs. a 22 minute show or a 2 hour feature film – there has to be some middle ground there that brands can fill.
Ali.Haeri – Honestly I think budget is a big consideration. Making long form content like this – however branded or unbranded it is – is going to be really expensive. Even as a large brand with deep pockets for brand marketing, that’s a very big decision to make. The budget for the Uncle Drew movie appears to have been $18 million. That’s a lot of money that could have been spent elsewhere.
Mel.Yap – True, and also the pay off from that sort of investment.
Tim.Edmundson – I don’t buy the ‘limited creatively’ argument, some of the most memorable media produced has been 30 second ad spots.
Hooman.Javidan.Nejad – I 100% agree! There are way too many famous TV ads out there to suggest a 30 second spot prevents creativity.
Ali.Haeri – Yeah, and there’s more placements than ever for a 30 second spot these days. Before it was just TV, now it can be used in a litany of video ad campaigns, Connected TV, social, etc.
Mel.Yap – Not to mention – the World Advertising Research Center has research showing that 30 second spots are the sweet spot in achieving the ‘holy trinity’ of a good brand building exercise. Equal parts creative, memorable, and engaging to create an emotional and intellectual connection with the viewer.
Tim.Edmundson – Mel that research makes me wonder if there’s some sort of data element in these major brands’ desire to start producing long-form content. Are we missing a vital piece of this, like the data is telling them that this will make an impact for them? Because without that piece, this feels like brands with massive budgets trying to find ways to spend money.
Ali.Haeri – I feel like there isn’t, and that’s sort of been the thing with TV advertising historically: you do it with the assumption that it’s inherently untrackable, so I think it’s doubtful there’s firm data underlying this approach
Hooman.Javidan.Nejad – Interesting! Without data backing this approach it sounds like there is more risk involved in this long-form content vs. the popular 30 secs or 60 second spots. No wonder only a few really known brands with large ad-dollar spends have tried this approach so far. If this was fully measurable and ROI was attractive we would have seen more brands leaning in towards this approach.