Connected TV inventory is growing like weeds. eMarketer expects that more than half of the US population (57.2 per cent) will watch connected TV in 2019, up from 51.7 per cent in 2017, and because the time they spend watching will increase too, the amount of connected TV inventory available to advertisers will proliferate.
eMarketer defines connected TV advertising as ads served to TV sets via the internet, be it via a smart TV or another device, such as a Blu-ray player, game console or Roku. Though the degree to which connected TV inventory is changing varies depending on what research you look at, the trend is clear.
“The inventory out there has opened up substantially over the past 12 to 16 months,” said April Weeks, executive vice president of media operations and services at demand-side platform Centro.
From 2016 to 2018, the share of total ad impressions that video ad platform Innovid served through connected TVs jumped from 13 per cent to 27 per cent. Video ad serving firm SpotX saw the share of impressions it serves through connected TVs increase from 15 per cent in Q1 2018 to 33 per cent in Q1 2019. In a quarterly review of digital video ad impressions served by Extreme Reach to various devices across North America, the firm found connected TV’s impression share jumped from 15 per cent in Q4 2017 to 44 per cent in Q4 2018.
Comcast-owned video ad server FreeWheel had similar findings. In Q4 2018, FreeWheel served 42 per cent of its ad impressions through connected TVs, which was a year-over-year increase of 11 percentage points.
Even platforms that get much of their traffic from mobile can benefit from the growth in connected TV. Take YouTube, for example. Though most of its video is watched on mobile, there is indication that the site is contributing to rising connected TV inventory. Between Q4 2016 and Q4 2018, the share of YouTube video views that occurred on TV screens in the US increased by about 6 percentage points, according to digital video studio Collab.
As supply levels rise, connected TV CPMs should decline. Already, some sources interviewed said they are seeing a slight drop in pricing. According to three US buy-side sources who anonymously shared data with eMarketer, CPMs for in-stream ads on connected TV ranged from $19.84 to $28.33 between Q4 2017 and Q4 2018.
The growth in connected TV inventory will affect where and how ad dollars get spent. Video accounts for about half of programmatic spend in the US. And this spring, eMarketer revised its programmatic video forecast upward due to growth in spend on channels like connected TV.
Programmatic video dollars allocated to mobile devices edge out dollars given to desktop, laptop or connected TV only slightly this year. Mobile’s share of programmatic video will peak in 2020 at 53.9 per cent. By 2021, that share will dip, as ad buyers ramp up investments in areas like connected TV.