Connected TV is giving social media marketers a new channel to consider as big names like Facebook and TikTok are now appearing in apps on smart TVs. But even though CTV extends the reach of their campaigns, marketing via TV-based social media apps calls for a new strategy.
“The difference is in how marketers have to think about those apps,” said Katelyn Sorensen, CEO of social media marketing platform Loomly. “Whether it’s the TikTok app for Fire Stick or another environment, it will show content from social, and you don’t know who’s going to be watching.”
How CTV apps differ from mobile-first social media apps
For starters, if a brand executes a social media campaign that is mobile-first, those ads might not be as effective when viewed on a big screen. So marketers have to start thinking more about how those ads will look on a bigger form factor.
“For now, it’s about keeping in mind that an ad could be on the TV app and making sure the video will look good on an 82-inch screen,” said Austin Shong, marketing lead for Loomly.
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“The evolution of social is that it’s moving to TV, which makes a lot of sense right now because of social’s video content, which is becoming more important in the TV industry,” Sorensen said.
Marketers should take into account how mature the social CTV app they are focused on is for advertisers. For instance, Facebook Watch has made available many of the targeting capabilities of the mature Facebook app. TikTok TV, which launched in November 2021, is newer and less targeted, even though its reach is broad when you consider its total viewership is now over 1 billion users across all devices.
“I envision that TikTok TV will adapt over time,” Shong said. “Facebook is a mature app, with advanced placements that track exactly where the ads are, whether on desktop, phone or elsewhere. With TikTok, that feature will be coming if they’re following the industry trends. For now, it’s difficult to create different content for TikTok on the phone versus TV.”
According to Rita Steinberg, director of digital media at Toronto-based agency FUSE Create, a mature social platform can also tell you if ads on CTV are outperforming ads in other environments.
For instance, during a recent campaign, Steinberg could see that a client’s YouTube ads on CTV were outperforming the other social ads in the campaign. In response, she assigned more of the budget to YouTube CTV ads.
Marketers should identify the goals of their campaign and pick the right social app based on that. For example, some social media CTV apps are more for entertainment, which plays better on the big screen if the brand is trying to build awareness.
“The behavior is different when watching TikTok on a big screen, and the intent is different for consumers there,” said Steinberg. For Facebook and Instagram, you log in to see what your friends are up to, you log in for a specific purpose. For TikTok, you log in for entertainment, and that falls into what viewers also do on YouTube and aligns more with CTV.”
Of course, the rise of Reels for Instagram, which offers similar short-form videos as TikTok (they are often just reposted from TikTok, actually), means that the platform is more often being accessed for entertainment purposes as well.
Creating the best content for social CTV ads
Launching a campaign on social CTV, like other traditional TV programming, requires a more traditional approach. “Marketers can try to repurpose as much content as they can, but if you’re looking for best practices on CTV, you have to focus on narrative,” Steinberg said.
“With a 15-second or 30-second ad, you really have to rethink the call to action.”
After all, if your ad is on a social CTV app, it means that people are gathered around watching the content together. And they’re expecting to be entertained.
“Streaming apps are not a one-to-one experience, they are a cultural phenomenon,” said Lanny Geffen, director of customer experience and head of strategy at FUSE Create. “Brands have to think omnichannel these days. They can cast one ad to the big screen, while, simultaneously, viewers will be looking at something else on their personal screens. I expect to see any screen continue their experience in a way that’s appropriate to the device.”
For now, the size of the screen is the most important factor dictating the best practices for social CTV campaigns. But this could change as social media and the streaming and smart TV landscapes continue to merge.