ANA Study: Interactive CTV Ads Drive Big Earned-Time Increases

This week, the Association of National Advertisers and Innovid, the video marketplace company, released a connected TV best practices report that no one in media buying — or creative, for that matter — should miss.

The researchers worked for four months with agencies, publishers and brands, analyzing 60 million interactive CTV impressions across 17 ANA brand marketers, seven verticals, 10 CTV devices and four creative formats.

There’s no way to do the full study justice in a column, but the bottom line is that it confirms that CTV can be used to extend reach and drive more interactivity and viewing time for ads, making them a valuable complement for traditional linear TV.

CTV, of course, can allow for far greater interactivity than standard linear. And one of the study’s most impressive findings involves the implications for the time that today’s ad-averse consumers are willing to spend with advertising.

The researchers assessed CTV’s effects on the time factor by studying “time earned.” That metric, exclusive to interactive ads, is the incremental number of seconds a consumer spends with interactive creative beyond the original length of the ad.

Results: Whether SMS, a browsable gallery, or video vignettes with branding, 30-second interactive CTV ads generated an average 71 seconds of time earned (237% better than the average for standard ads), and 15-second interactive CTV ads garnered an average of 67 incremental seconds (447% better than standard ads).

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s head of U.S. media, Paolo Provinciali, is quoted as saying he was “blown away” by how many people engaged with one of the interactive CTV units and how much earned time it generated.

“It truly speaks to the fact that if you can create experiences that pleasantly surprise and entertain consumers, they are more than willing to divert from a passive content consumption mode to engage with your brand,” he added.

But With Interactive, Less Can Be More

The researchers had consumers see a pre-roll video, followed by an overlay inviting them to engage further, followed by slates or panels with more content. Ad units tested included carousel, in-line video, TV-to-mobile, and data-driven features.

CTV interactive ads had an average engagement rate of 0.36%, which is on par with Innovid’s average across verticals.

While about one in 250 users engaged with 30-second spots (a (0.41% engagement rate), just one in 500 (0.23%) engaged with 15-second spots.

In general, brands that used only 30-second ads had higher engagement than those that used both lengths. (TV-to-mobile formats had strong engagement even in the shorter format.)

The results confirmed that shorter ads need to provide a clear call to action, and also be carefully planned, to inspire and allow for  response within the shorter window. “Brands with a clear call to action have above-average engagement, and different device types can experience stronger relative engagement,” sums up the report.

Importantly, however, the results also show that there’s such a thing as getting carried away with interactive elements.

Analysis of all panel types for campaigns with up to six options showed that 88% of consumers, on average, stopped being engaged before reaching the fourth panel.

In general, ads that used two to three in-unit elements, such as video or browsable product galleries, generated the highest and most consistent engagement. Also, brands that used carousels with in-line videos had longer viewing sessions. (The report offers case studies and more performance specifics.)

While noting that more research on formats and the possible effects of personalization would be useful, the report recommends that creatives “focus on balancing awareness and performance-driven content for interactive campaigns to keep messaging clear and avoid overwhelming the user.”

The study also found that TV-to-mobile elements consistently boosted ad engagement, with one in 25 people who engaged fully converting to receive more information via SMS.

The researchers stress that using CTV’s ability to engage consumers could be particularly powerful for performance advertisers.

Day Part and Day of the Week Influence Impressions, Engagement

As part of assessing reach, the researchers also looked at exposure by time of day, day of the week and device.

The study found that while ad impressions peaked during prime-time hours, engagement rates (percentage of impressions that resulted in a viewer clicking on an ad) were significantly higher during daytime hours.

Specifically, 30% of CTV impressions occurred between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m., versus 23% on linear TV during those hours. Conversely, engagement (defined as the initial click on the interactive unit), was more than three times the average between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Not surprisingly, verticals that make offers related to time of day, like QSRs, saw big upswings in both impressions and engagement during the offer hours.

Conclusion: Both dayparts represent opportunities to use CTV to create awareness and drive interaction.

Looking at days of the week, impressions were fairly evenly distributed across the week, but engagement was higher from Thursday through Sunday. This suggests that brands might benefit from testing sequential messaging tactics, the researchers note.

Overall, these timing findings indicate that CTV can be extremely valuable in “extending the reach of traditional TV campaigns during the most competitive days and dayparts,” they stress.

Performance Differs by Device Type

The study analyzed 10 different CTV devices, spanning smart TVs, streaming devices and game consoles.

Streaming devices and game consoles generated about 50% and 44% of the total 60 million impressions, respectively, while smart TVs generated just 6%.

The researchers note that smart TVs are currently less prevalent than the other types of devices, and the use of apps on smart TVs continues to rise as adoption grows. They also note that not all smart TVs have ad-supported streaming at this stage.

As for engagement, game consoles led with a 0.5% average rate, followed by smart TVs (0.4%) and streaming devices (0.3%).

Ease of engagement plays a role. Newer models and operating systems, and simplified browsing via remotes or controllers, seem to enhance engagement somewhat.

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