**A version of this blog originally appeared in AdExchanger.**
The last few years have been lightning in a bottle for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. This growing group of start-ups, upstarts and disruptors have skyrocketed in terms of growth, all while changing the way we, as consumers, buy everything from clothing and beauty products, to home goods and prescription medications. These digital-native brands, with a focus on data and the end-to-end customer experience, are clearly doing something right—and more traditional brands (CPGs, QSRs, insurance providers, etc.) have taken notice.
DTCs demand more out of their buys, prioritizing impression-based measurement and data-driven insights to reach and engage with audiences across platforms and screens. Not only have we seen larger, traditional brands adopt more DTC-like business practices (whether through their own initiatives or via acquisitions), but they have also taken a page out of the DTC media playbook when it comes to cross-platform TV advertising, spanning linear and OTT/CTV. And this makes sense; after all, one of the many things 2020 taught us is that every brand is now an e-commerce brand.
For reasons we know far too well, 2020 was an unprecedented year. With more people at home, watching linear and streaming TV around the clock, brands had to pivot and, essentially, move into e-commerce. When people couldn’t leave home, brands had to engage digitally. So, it’s no surprise that many also pivoted their media strategies, too. Even in the midst of the pandemic, CTV showed signs of growth, increasing by 27% in 2020, and is expected to grow another 40% in 2021. CTV’s growth is a big driver of making all forms of TV advertising tied to impressions, a common currency for DTC digital natives.
For traditional advertisers, TV’s role has long been one of reach and brand building. Now, they are looking to get much more out of it – leveraging video delivered across all screens to drive sales, new customer acquisition and reach extension.
With video becoming heavily consumed over IP channels, data that enables more precise measurement and greater targeting is at the forefront of moving TV forward. From the start, DTCs have demanded that TV provide the real-time analytics, measurement and targeting capabilities they are accustomed to with digital. And now, the industry has finally met them where they are, bringing all forms of TV together and creating an ecosystem where impressions can be the new standard across different TV platforms.
Today, DTCs are taking the lead on cross-platform TV strategies, which consist of testing and learning, around-the-clock measurement, regular optimization, audience intelligence and hyper-targeting.
In a world where e-commerce is the norm, what are traditional advertisers learning from DTC brands?
Traditional advertisers are not the only ones taking notes; we’ve seen DTC advertisers take a page out of the traditional TV playbook as well. In Part 2, we’ll explore how DTCs, especially as they grow, are increasingly learning from traditional advertisers when it comes to mastering TV for brand building and reach, and how “old-school” methods can become even more valuable when applied in the new data-driven TV era.