Consumers are shifting to streaming services by the tens of thousands, and they are relying on connected TVs (that is, internet-connected televisions) to do it. But what does that mean for your marketing strategy going forward? 

In the following exploration of connected TV vs. linear TV, we’ll cover the nuances between these marketing mediums so that you can choose the right channels for your marketing strategy. 

What Is Linear TV?

Linear TV refers to traditional broadcasting, through which viewers watch scheduled programming on specific channels. The linear model has been the standard for decades, encompassing cable, satellite, and standard broadcast channels.

Arguably, linear TV is best known for its schedule-based viewing, where shows, movies, and live events are broadcast at specific times. Audiences have to tune in right on time or risk missing out on their favorite programming. 

From an advertising perspective, linear TV limits you to designated market areas (DMAs), regions that define specific television and radio markets. When purchasing ad space and running campaigns, you must purchase slots for an entire DMA, even if only a portion of that market aligns with your service area. 

What Is Connected TV?

CTV represents the modern evolution of TV viewing, making use of internet connectivity to stream television content. CTV encompasses a wide range of devices, including smart TVs, gaming consoles, and other internet-connected devices like Rokus, Amazon Fire Sticks, and Apple TVs, which allow viewers to stream video content on demand. 

Unlike linear TV, CTV offers flexibility and personalization, enabling viewers to select and watch content on their terms. They aren’t limited to a broadcast schedule, which offers significant convenience. On top of that, the on-demand model supports a more individualized viewing experience, with recommendations and content tailored to the viewer’s preferences and watch history. 

In terms of marketing, CTV allows you to target specific audiences. You aren’t limited by DMAs and can instead pinpoint users at the zip-code level or based on their proximity to your business. 

Measuring What Matters With Connected TV

CTV marketing gives you the ability to measure just about anything, much like you can when running web-based or social media campaigns. You can track impressions, engagement, and a variety of other metrics, each of which provides a piece of the marketing puzzle. 

Here’s a closer look at the benefits of CTV, as well as a couple of drawbacks: 

Benefits of CTV

The biggest advantage of CTV is that you can target audiences and measure your results with laser-like precision. When setting up CTV campaigns, you have a few different targeting options, including radius-based and zip-code-specific targeting.

The radius-based approach is especially appealing to local service providers and regional business owners. Say, for instance, that you own a local plumbing business and want to connect with people within a 15-mile radius of your shop. Simply select your shop as the location and adjust your advertising radius to 15 miles. Want to be more precise? Just choose a specific zip code and dial in your campaign accordingly. 

Disadvantages of CTV

In the CTV vs. linear TV debate, there is indeed one area where CTV falls short: It isn’t suited for the “cast a wide net” approach to advertising in the same way that linear TV ads are. If you want to throw ads in front of tens of thousands of viewers and see what sticks, you’re still better off going with linear TV ads.

That said, if you want to make every marketing dollar count and target high-quality prospects with precision, CTV is where you belong. As long as you have a well-defined audience and an understanding of what those viewers like, you’ll be able to hit your mark with CTV ads.

Is It Time to Move Away From Linear TV?

Last year marked a major milestone for connected TV (CTV) viewership and content streaming. In July 2023, streaming accounted for 38.7% of all TV viewership, while linear TV viewing dropped below 50% of all TV viewing, representing a continuation of the cord-cutting trend of the past several years. 

However, the door hasn’t closed on linear TV advertising just yet. It still accounts for roughly half of all TV viewing market share, making it a viable option for many businesses. 

Still, if your company wants to get the most bang for its buck and engage in more precise targeting efforts, CTV represents the better choice. Its growth reflects the overall shift in viewer habits as well as the technological advancements in entertainment delivery. With that in mind, as you work to modernize your marketing mix, it would be wise to include CTV in your brand-building toolbox. 

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