Connected TV

Why Successful CTV Campaigns Depend on Strategy, Not Budget

Why Successful CTV Campaigns Depend on Strategy, Not Budget

4 Min Read

In the realm of CTV (Connected TV) advertising, a common question customers ask is: “What should my budget be?” The better question to ask is “How do I achieve optimal performance?”

Understanding Performance on a Curve

Imagine your ad performance on a chart, with time as the X axis and performance as the Y axis. In the initial stages, reach is low but growing fast, creating a steep upward curve. Every additional dollar you spend boosts results, because conversion rates are at their highest after reaching an additional customer for the very first time. But over time, it gets harder and harder to find those new customers, so these results eventually slow, even as you invest more. As that performance curve flattens, your returns diminish.

But this performance curve isn’t set in stone. It primarily depends on two pivotal factors: creative and audience. These factors dictate the shape and slope of your curve, while the budget affects its size or reach.

Why Methodology Trumps Numbers

Instead of seeking a predefined budget recommendation, marketers need a strategic, flexible methodology that can grow alongside their brand. Here’s how to build one:

  • Prioritize Performance Over Presets: Instead of sticking to a fixed, set it-and-forget it budget, be prepared to scale your budget based on real-time performance. (More on this below.)
  • Focus on Creative and Audience: These are the cornerstones of your campaign’s performance, no matter what budget you use. A head-turning TV ad that reaches just the right audience can do more for your campaign’s performance than just about anything else.
  • Increase Budget, Increase Reach: With MNTN, your budget primarily determines how many potential customers your campaign will reach. The platform will optimize it to the results that matter to you, no matter how much you spend. That’s why budget doesn’t inherently impact the campaign’s quality or effectiveness.

And Why Outcomes Trump Pricing

Of course cost matters, from production to media. But the most important thing performance marketers must consider — before anything else — is the outcome. Put another way, you might get a bargain on media or go with a lower-cost creative option, but if that media fails to reach the right audience at the right time, or that cheaper ad doesn’t connect with audiences, those savings could end up costing so much more in performance.

The good news is, MNTN customers are getting industry-leading prices. Because we buy so much media through our direct deals with 150+ premium streaming networks, we get great prices on that inventory, which we pass along to MNTN customers. 

MNTN’s Recommendation: Increase Budget Until Performance Flattens

The methodology we recommend, and which many of our customers successfully employ, is simple yet powerful: start with a foundational budget, monitor performance, and then gradually increase your investment. The goal? To expand your budget while sustaining optimal performance levels, stopping only when you see that performance start to plateau.

Interestingly, with this method, many of our customers find their CTV spending mirrors their budgets for paid social, showing just how dramatically marketers’ budgets have shifted in recent years.

Planning For Plateaus – And How To Keep Climbing

Performance plateaus need not be permanent. There are ways to push through it and keep growing.

Testing new audiences is one of the best ways to work through a performance plateau. MNTN has over 85,000 audiences available for marketers to test, and we can help recommend segments that expand your scale potential. Want a real-world example? Rumpl, a maker of premium blankets for outdoor adventures and a MNTN advertiser, sparked new growth by simply broadening its audience beyond those who love the outdoors to include customers who enjoy indoor nesting. 

Build Your Own Benchmarks

MNTN’s platform is built to enable our customers — most of whom are new to TV advertising when they first try MNTN — to test at low-risk budget levels similar to what they’d use on paid social, get meaningful signals back, and scale confidently. By operating this way, marketers can build their own benchmarks for performance that reflect the unique constellation of that brand’s creative, conversion engine (e.g. website or mobile app), product offering, pricing, competitive dynamics, seasonality, and more. Because every brand is different, forecasts or benchmarks built on any other brand’s data tend not to be nearly as useful. 

Reframing the Budget Question

The real problem we aim to solve isn’t about pinpointing a specific budget number. It’s about helping advertisers navigate the dynamic interplay between budget, audience, creative, and performance — and make better decisions as a result.

Instead of asking, “What should my budget be?” brands should be asking, “Given my current performance and goals, how should I adjust my budget?”

In the CTV advertising world, performance is an ever-shifting curve. While several factors can influence outcomes, none do so quite as well — or as consistently — as creative and audience. By adopting an adaptable approach to budgeting, advertisers can ensure they’re not only reaching their audience but also resonating with them.

Remember, it’s not about the number. It’s about the method.