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3 CTV Advertising Takeaways from General Motors

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What makes a standout ad in 2022? Adding value to the consumer. It’s no secret either–from measurements to personalized creatives, advertisers are more committed to deeply understanding their audiences than ever before. 

You may be wondering what makes now unique. As advertisers have access to more data than ever before, a question emerges: how can these insights inform marketing strategies and drive impact? More and more audiences are migrating to streaming where they expect better ad experiences. The good news is that convergent television allows marketers to hone in on relevancy. But a new approach to media strategy is required with it.  

On Wednesday, April 27, Innovid’s CTO and co-founder, Tal Chalozin, spoke with David Spencer, Manager of Emerging Partnerships for General Motors (GM), at Adweek’s Convergent TV Summit about the current state of connected television (CTV) advertising.

Interestingly, due to the nature of car buying only 2% of the population is a target audience for GM at any given time. When asked about overcoming the associated obstacles of that, David pointed to testing dynamic, personalized ad creatives across channels like CTV. Still, how can that be accomplished in a fragmented ecosystem? Or measured?

Let’s find out. Here are the 3 biggest insights from their chat. 

The TV landscape will be more fragmented, not less

Five years ago David began acknowledging the inevitability of ads in streaming. He pointed to early behavioral signs like the emergence of cord-cutters that compelled GM to begin experimenting and investing more into the space, with an eye towards filling platform gaps. 

As it stands today, the CTV ecosystem is highly siloed across platforms. Each has its own user navigation, data sharing process, targeting methods, and overall quirks that make it difficult to draw conclusions. While this happens behind the scenes, it can ultimately worsen the consumer experience by hindering a personalized approach–thereby wasting a lot of effort. 

Right now, GM is doing a lot of experimentation with dynamic creative. They have a breakdown of different audience profiles (for example, small vehicles versus trucks) that allows them to speak differently to buyers depending on their interests, wants, and needs. Inherently, this involves a healthy volume of creative executions.

“We spend time, money, effort, people on merging data, building these very complex, sophisticated audience profiles,” David explained. “How do we activate those in the marketplace? that’s where we’re trying to grow as a company, [and] grow in marketing in terms of activating our most powerful audiences in everything that we’re doing.”

GM is building audience profiles from a dynamic perspective. Meaning, they’re using Innovid to build creative versions as they work on fusing audience data to match. While it’s a lengthy endeavor, Innovid has been able to streamline parts of it

“From the perspective of taking advantage of the platform’s [CTV] capabilities, I think Innovid years ago did a fantastic job,” said David. “We all know that the ecosystem is very complex. You know we’ve got a number of siloed platforms […] Innovid, kind of from a creative perspective, really did a nice job of simplifying that complexity and solving that for the advertisers. [...] We’ll [Innovid] take your creative you’ve already spent millions of dollars shooting, and we’ll adapt that to the different platforms, however the users are using the platforms. That allows us to focus on the bigger areas of how we find our audience in each of these platforms.”

Consumer data lifts the veil on the purchase process 

Platforms aren’t the only thing siloed for GM. They have the additional obstacle of coordinating and collaborating with tier 2 (dealers GM works with directly) and tier 3 (GM dealers and dealer networks)  on the whole digital buying process. Understandably, it can get quite complex for GM to string together all of their owned data. Especially on a national level. 

For this reason, GM spends a lot of time on attribution, with the goal of gaining visibility into first exposures through purchase decisions–and even beyond to the customer lifetime values. Essentially they want to identify how marketing impacts the car purchase decision. 

However, according to David, there are a number of limitations in getting this volume of data. “We’re very privacy-centric and again, turning it around to think about it from a consumer perspective, we want to make sure we don’t break that contract with our customers [and] use their data in a way they haven’t given us permission to do,” David stated. “That’s something that is appropriately delaying the advancement of this kind of attribution modeling and, likewise, the targeting upfront.”

When asking for data, David emphasizes the importance of a balance between securing trust that will ultimately benefit consumers (i.e. better ad experiences) and permissioning that’s not buried in the fine print. David believes it’s all about the wording, and that caution should always be exercised. Approach them openly, “This is how we’re using your data, is that OK with you?” Then maintain transparency and lead with detailed incentives. 

Even though David certainly sees the value in first-party data, plenty of legacy hesitation, legal restrictions in place and other blockers remain. Plus, keeping a pulse on what’s happening can also be a challenge. He does foresee this shifting massively in the next 2-3 years, though. While you absolutely need physical locations to house giant vehicles and for the end-point transaction, he anticipates a more seamless approach to handling the purchase cycle. Especially because consumers want the enhanced experience that comes with it. 

Use measurement as your CTV compass 

In response to being asked what 2022 will bring, David pointed to more refined measurement. Yes, there are a number of ways to tackle measurement in streaming, but consistency remains key to GM. From a currency perspective, it’s helpful for negotiating off of. That means GM needs networks and publishers to work with them on how advertising gets served and how they can control frequency across platforms.

Notably, David pointed to creative too, saying, “I heard once someone say that most people only use like 5% of Microsoft Excel’s capabilities. And I think from a creative perspective, in television, I think that’s where we’re at. I think that we need to turn creative on its head. There’s too much of that traditional thinking like how do I build the best 30-second spot possible rather than starting from the ground up and build[ing] the best spot for the consumer that can fragment into 100 different, very relevant pieces of creative.”

Additionally, he acknowledged the importance of reach metrics, an under-served measurement in the CTV space. Similar to linear TV, individual touchpoints are significant, but perhaps there’s too much focus on that metric when it should be on reach and the unduplicated nature of that. After all, advertisers still need to answer questions like am I getting the same household view or net new? That’s where frequency capping also plays a significant role in preventing duplication and, therefore, ad fatigue.

Maximizing on reach is particularly important for GM given their target audience, only 2% of the U.S. population at any given time. While that’s a small percentage, GM aims to captivate a much larger audience. Because if you haven’t spoken to a consumer by the time of their purchase decision, it’s already too late. 

Final thoughts: Advertising is a consumer-centric conversation  

The only way to navigate the ambiguity of the CTV market is to leverage measurements for a clear view of audiences and advertising across platforms, publishers, devices, and markets. And once you understand that scope, a CTV solution like Innovid really shines.

As Tal shared during their discussion, “When we started Innovid, we had a saying that we want to build a platform that rewards viewers’ attention rather than demanding it. So changing the old model of ``you're forced to watch an ad break’ to something with a lot of options [...] that totally rewards your attention.”

Highly engaged audiences are always bred from valuable experiences. And in order to establish value, you need creative assets that closely align with the specific pain points and wants of your various audience groups. 

As David expressed, “The one focus we need to maintain is on that end user. And I think a lot of the mistakes that are made in marketing and advertising forget that there is a person on the other end of this. And just because we want them to perform one way, doesn’t mean they’ll perform that way.”

In other words, it’s time to stop focusing on predictive marketing and shift to a more data-centric approach that puts the consumer at the center of messaging. For marketers and advertisers, that’s who you’re trying to reach at the end of the day, right?