Want Addressability? Choose Mobile, Not CTV

The channel outperforms when it comes to reach, engagement and time-spent

Addressability is always top of mind for digital marketers, but which platforms actually deliver? While connected television (CTV) has gained a lot of hype in recent years, it has failed to deliver on the addressability front.

What platform still provides reliable addressability? Mobile. Even despite changes in the industry, mobile remains one of the most addressable digital channels available.

The differences between the two platforms are especially important to highlight at this moment. With consumers largely staying at home and major events like the Super Bowl on the horizon, it’s important that brands know precisely how to find, reach and engage their best audiences.

What’s wrong with CTV?

CTV viewership was modest in 2019, but it skyrocketed because of the pandemic. As a result, advertisers rushed to invest further in CTV, especially in 2020. Between 2019 and 2020, CTV ad spending in the U.S. rose over 40%, eMarketer reports. CTV CPMs followed suit.

But that enthusiasm cooled as the challenges around CTV advertising emerged. As CPMs rose, buying across platforms proved to be no small feat in the still-fragmented CTV space.

For CTV, advertisers must plan for a range of operating systems used by both manufactures and over-the top (OTT) platforms. Unfortunately, however, complexity grows as advertisers add more partners; for example, Roku data isn’t interoperable with Samsung data or Hulu data.

This lack of interoperability severely limits addressability. It may be possible to gain insights within one particular CTV channel, but good luck looking at audiences across platforms—let alone anything related to omnichannel addressability.

Meanwhile, a fragmented marketplace forced advertisers to navigate an ecosystem of middlemen, increasing the risk of fraud. The lack of interoperability combined with the relatively high eCPMs made programmatic CTV ad buying rife with fraud and misrepresented inventory. According to DoubleVerify, CTV ad fraud grew 20x between Q4 2020 and Q4 2021.

What mobile brings to the table

At the same time, mobile matured and stabilized as a medium for marketers. Home to 79% of all digital interactions, according to Comscore, mobile reigned supreme on reach, engagement and time-spent.

  • 85% of all adults in the U.S. have a smartphone, according to Pew.
  • Americans spend close to 4.5 hours a day on their mobile devices, according to eMarketer.
  • Close to 90% of all time spent on mobile is devoted to apps (again according to eMarketer).

Even during major TV-centric events like the Super Bowl, audiences flock to mobile. For example, 79% of people look at a mobile device or computer when a TV commercial starts, while about 80% of those between 13 and 37 years old use multiple screens while watching live sports.

Meanwhile, the co-viewing enabled by some mobile, social and VR apps is attracting a wave of young sports fans who have cleverly worked their way around pandemic lockdowns. After all, there’s a reason Verizon added co-viewing for NFL games to the Yahoo Sports app during the pandemic. This year, given the spike in Omicron infections, we expect to see more of this new breed of Super Bowl party.

These stats highlight how even television is no longer a one stop shop for marketers, while also underscoring the fact that consumers are always found on mobile.

In addition, this wide audience is more addressable than you may realize—even despite Apple’s changes to addressability introduced through their App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework.

How can marketers reach and engage their best audiences on mobile post-ATT? Increasingly common options include the further use of first-party data/data clean rooms, contextual targeting and privacy-first frameworks like SKAdNetwork. Further, there’s also the highly addressable audience of Americans that are now on Android phones (around 40%, according to StatCounter).

And fraud is far less of an issue with mobile than some marketers may realize. For example, Protected Media has previously reported that in-app advertising is 25% less prone to fraud than mobile web advertising, and that fraud caused by bots is far more prevalent in browser-based environments than it is in apps.

In 2022 and beyond, expect mobile to be more addressable and valuable to marketers than ever before. As consumer use of, and time spent with, mobile continues to rise, and as marketers and ad tech become more comfortable operating in a privacy-first environment, mobile (and in-app specifically) will only become more effective and thus more central to digital advertising.

Krista Thomas is SVP and global head of marketing at InMobi, where she oversees brand, demand, and customer marketing, as well as PR and corporate communications. Currently at InMobi, she is focused on helping brands and agencies thrive in a privacy-centric world. Thomas was instrumental in creating the #AdTechCares consortium, which includes 50+ industry partners and launches PSA campaigns to combat misinformation and support human progress around the world.