Mastering ad length: A key element to perfecting your CTV advertising strategy

By Senior Product Manager, Amagi THUNDERSTORM - June 9, 2023

Connected TV (CTV) advertising is experiencing a significant surge in popularity, establishing itself as a highly favored medium for advertisers seeking an improved return on investment (ROI) for their campaigns. As more and more CTVs enter living rooms, more households gain better access to streaming services. So much so that these streaming services are gaining strong ground compared to cable and broadcast television. 

According to the Media Moments 2022 report, streamed content across platforms, including Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, etc., accounted for over a third of all viewing (34.8%), beating cable (34.4%) and broadcast (21.6%) in the US. This boom in the CTV adoption rates is, in turn, presenting some new opportunities for advertisers to engage their target audience. However, to make the most of this exciting development, it's essential to understand one crucial element of an effective CTV advertising strategy – ad length.

In traditional television, advertisements are typically confined to fixed 30-second spots. However, CTV advertising offers a refreshing departure from this rigidity. It provides greater flexibility and customization options, although determining the ideal ad length demands thoughtful deliberation. Let’s explore the importance of ad length in CTV advertising and how to master it to enhance your advertising strategy.

Understanding your CTV audience

To utilize CTV advertising effectively, your first step as an advertiser is to understand your target audience. CTV viewers tend to be more tech-savvy, engaged, and accustomed to personalized content. According to research conducted by The Trade Desk, implementing data-driven audience targeting in CTV advertising yielded a significant 40% surge in engagement rates compared to non-targeted ads. Therefore, it’s safe to say that understanding your audiences will yield a better ROI for you. Moreover, CTV allows users to access content on-demand, providing them with enhanced control over their viewing experience—a crucial aspect that traditional advertising lacks.

Pay attention to the consumer attention span

As soon as the consumer switches on their CTV, they are bombarded by a lot of content. As a result, their attention spans have reduced significantly. Viewers have also become more selective about the ads they choose to watch. Shorter attention spans mean you must find creative and innovative ways to capture and maintain viewer interest within a limited timeframe. Thankfully, CTV advertising has many innovative, non-intrusive, and highly personalized ad formats. Some of these include Dynamic Brand Insertion (DBI), graphics overlays, and contextual video ads.

To understand more on this point, check out our infographic: Explore how you can deliver unintrusive, contextual ads

The impact of ad length on engagement

Determining the optimal ad length can be challenging, as it varies depending on several factors, including the target audience, content type, and campaign objectives. Here are a few critical considerations regarding ad length and its impact on engagement:

  1. Contextual relevance: Ensure your ad aligns with the content being streamed, as it significantly affects viewer engagement. Tailoring your ad length to match the surrounding programming enhances the viewing experience and increases the likelihood of viewer attention.
  2. Length vs. completion rate: While shorter ad lengths may seem appealing, balancing length and completion rate is key. Longer ads may risk viewer abandonment, but overly brief ads might not deliver the desired message effectively. Testing different ad lengths and analyzing completion rates can help determine the sweet spot for your target audience.
  3. Ad fatigue and frequency: As it happens in traditional TV advertising, repetition of the same ad often leads to viewer fatigue, reducing engagement levels. Varying ad lengths and creative elements can help combat ad fatigue, making your content more enjoyable and memorable. Additionally, consider the frequency at which your ads are shown to avoid overwhelming viewers with excessive repetition.
  4. Flexibility and ad personalization: CTV allows you to customize ad experiences for individual viewers, enabling you to deliver personalized content. Utilize data and targeting capabilities to tailor ad length based on viewer preferences, demographics, and behavior, optimizing engagement and conversion rates.

Optimizing ad length for CTV success

Here are three steps you can take to master ad length and optimize your CTV advertising strategy:

  1. Test, analyze, and iterate: Continuously test different ad lengths to identify the ones that resonate most with your audience. Monitor completion rates, engagement metrics, and conversion data to make data-driven decisions. Adapt and iterate your strategy based on the insights gained from these analyses.
  2. Embrace variety: Diversify your CTV ad formats rather than relying solely on one ad length. Consider incorporating shorter bumper ads, mid-roll ads, and longer-form storytelling ads. This variety will help capture viewers' attention and maintain interest throughout their streaming experience.
  3. Tailor to the platform: Different CTV platforms may have unique ad length requirements or viewer preferences. Ensure your ads are optimized for each platform and take advantage of any targeting capabilities they offer.

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