Q&A With Zach Weiner, Co-Founder of the Connected TV Marketing Association

Zach Weinder, Co-Founder & President, North America of the CTVMAZach Weiner is co-founder and President, North America of the Connected TV Marketing Association (CTVMA).  He is also CEO of CTV Advertising, a niche-focused marketing organisation dedicated to the Connected Television platform and related technologies, which focuses on advertising strategy and implementation.  Here Zach discusses the role of the CTVMA, the state of connected TV marketing today and where the industry is heading in the future.

How would you define ‘connected TV marketing’?  Is it a broad church or are we specifically talking about advertising that can only take place on connected TV’s, like Samsung’s AdHub for example?

I think there is a broad definition here there that takes shape across the spectrum of marketing related activities. Connected TV Marketing is the ability to have new and novel formats of interactive marketing within television devices that maintain an endemic internet connection. Does this mean ad spots within a device UI like Samsung and LG are currently maintaining? Of course, but it goes far deeper than device manufacturers finding themselves house and home to content and thus advertising inventory. It means that brands can suddenly have an easy and cost effective method for a point of entry into the television space with long form content.  A brand can literally have their own TV channel and allow for mass distribution of it.

It also means true two-way advertising interactivity with deep tracking and analytics capability, found both in In-App advertisement units as well as more traditional spots. With Broadcast interactivity comes not just standard RFI capability, but also ad spots that lead to immersed experiences and calls to action. I believe we will also see the ability of novel companion apps coming out for marketing purposes that take advantage of such areas as social integration and ACR (automatic content recognition).  I could answer this for days, but there are a myriad of ways that connected TV changes the television marketing game.

There is also no doubt that areas like T-Commerce also have new found opportunities.

What are the main aims of the CTVMA?

There is a huge potential found in the landscape at the moment, but with huge potential also comes quite a few challenges. We have some sweeping initiatives across the board to help pave the way towards facilitating the commercial opportunities of the landscape within the advertising, entertainment and media sectors.  We will be seeking to increase education in the area with novel research, accreditation curriculums, articles, whitepapers, webinars and so forth.  We also hope to allow the many differing industry sectors to come together via our networking and informational events.  As we further these goals and help to create industry standards, guidelines and benchmarks we’ll also be addressing and advocating on behalf of our members to address key regulatory challenges.

What types of companies and individuals have signed up to the CTVMA?

We’re seeing a lot of activity out of the advertising/marketing world as well as device manufacturers. That said, a lot of differing sectors have been coming to our door. Without naming any specific companies; we’re seeing an influx in technology enablers and developers as well as content providers/broadcasters  of late.  We have a value statement to what I like to call converging industries and so we tie in many differing players as represented by our executive boards across diverse geographies.

What do you think are the main challenges for the industry?

I think there is a lack of education and research at the moment that needs to be addressed. There are a lot of misconceptions about the ecosystem, a lot of innovative developments that could be optimized with greater research and a general need to create understanding amongst differing sectors that intersect in the field. I think creating standards, addressing fragmentation and further addressing general translation issues that occur will go a long way.

Following that, I think there is certainly some expectation management to take into consideration especially out of the advertising sector. It’s my opinion that a strong call to action is also needed to study user experiences with the device, content  and advertisements to further facilitate opportunity.

Given a strong growth rate in shipments as predicted, many of these areas will need to be tackled  sooner rather than later.

Where do you think the main growth areas will be in connected TV advertising and what will fuel that growth?

I think we will in fact, see device UI inventory continue to grow and evolve. There’s an interesting power here and that power is an immediate brand message being displayed to a consumer even before any entertainment content is selected. It’s also a “big screen” unit that doesn’t have the ability to be disrupted by runs to the fridge and can be tracked incredibly well.

It would also be wise to assume that a large growth of In-App advertising inventory will occur, whether that be housed in content channels, games, or services. These will both be fueled by enhanced consumer penetration of Connected TV devices, and consumer adoption rates of the device and it’s content.  Further fueling the growth will be the opportunity for advertisers to better target and segment audiences.  We’re seeing increased attention of these ad areas as further media  and social reporting has begun initiating more intensive coverage.

Another standards problem the industry has is the various names the industry has for things that are either the same or overlap – e.g. IPTV, Internet TV, Web TV, Connected TV, Smart TV to name just a few.  Are we making it difficult for advertisers to make sense of the video advertising ecosystem and will the CTVMA be doing anything to make video advertising a more straightforward proposition?

The industry does not just make it difficult for advertisers, it’s difficult for everybody in the landscape and that includes members of the broad media community as well as consumers.  I know I can speak for myself and many others that if not just confusion, there is also a blank stare the often accompanies speaking on many facets.  Some standards as far terminology moving forward could certainly offer a value, especially as new key players come into the market with terms of their own and a misunderstanding of ours.

As far as the CTVMA is concerned we’re collaborating with some other groups to address an expanding lexicon and will be joining forces along the way to both inform segments on proper terminology, while also looking to find ways to reduce term related clutter.  I think this is an incredibly important area to address especially while we are still in the young stages of Connected TV’s evolution. One wrong term can lead to an entirely wrong understanding

How in your experience does the incumbent TV industry view connected TV advertising and the arrival of the internet technology industry on the scene?

I think there is a mixed response at the moment. I categorize this response into three differing categories. There are many who are incredibly enthusiastic about the opportunity present. There are many that view new developments and the evolution in the industry as disruptive to their current business models and thus have a negative or at the least guarded take. There are many who overall are uninformed about the changes taking place not just within emerging technologies, but also emerging consumer trends.

I think it’s an interesting ecosystem in these regards. The pace of technology and the whims of the consumer are ever marching onward and it’s up to incumbent organizations to evolve, grow and innovate within their realms.  We’ve seen the effects of failure to keep pace with technology in many historical cases and while all industries differ, the end result is usually quite similar and I suppose a reason why not many folks are listening to CD’s or dialing on their rotary.

CTVMA Links:

CTVMA On Twitter

Zach’s Links:

CTV Advertising’s Site
CTV Advertising On Twitter

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