Will 2023 Be the Year Social Media and CTV Creative Begin to Merge?
by Jacob Trussell6 min read
- Connected TV devices are becoming the primary way users watch YouTube content.
- TikTok has launched an app on CTV, bringing their native social experience to the big screen.
- The creative styles present on video-first social platforms are creeping into ads on the biggest screens in your home.
When you’re as keyed into the Connected TV space as we are here at MNTN Research, everything can begin to look like a TV screen.
- That thing in your living room? TV screen for people, naturally.
- Those jumbotrons in Times Square? TV screens for giants, obviously.
- That phone in your pocket? TV screens for ants, duh.
But something unique is happening at the end of 2022. The creative styles you expect from that small screen in your pocket have started to appear in ads delivered to the big screen in your living room.
What’s happening is two-fold. First, the video styles TikTok has curated – esoteric humor, fast cuts, vibrant artistic energy – are now influencing ad creative across platforms, from other social channels to CTV. Second, apps for social platforms – like YouTube and TikTok – are becoming more prevalent on Connected TV devices, giving brands a new avenue to engage consumers through social platforms they are already familiar with.
This evolution is just getting started, but the opportunities it presents to find, reach, and grow your target audience couldn’t be clearer on the cusp of 2023.
Let’s take a look at two platforms leading the charge.
The Relationship Between YouTube and CTV
After its parent company Google, YouTube has been called the second largest search engine on the internet–even if some analysts challenge that assertion. Regardless of whether it’s the second or third most popular search engine, the facts remain that many users come to YouTube because they want to research and discover new products tailored to their interests. They want to hear from industry experts about their experience using a product before they hit that “Buy Now” button.
What’s unique about YouTube is that it’s not only a powerful search engine masquerading as a video streaming service. At its very core, YouTube is a social media video platform. We follow individual profiles and channels, upvote or downvote popular videos, and communicate through a message board system with other users interested in similar content.
So YouTube is two things at once: a search engine for product discovery, and a social platform for connection and community. But YouTube’s success as a platform for streaming video can also be attributed to the fact that it has a popular app for Connected TV devices.
According to a study from Nielsen, “over 50% of ad-supported streaming watch time happens on YouTube CTV for people ages 18 and up.” For added context, in a blog from YouTube’s parent company Google, “YouTube has the highest reach and viewing hours among ad-supported streaming services, and represents a quarter of all streaming watch time across both subscription and ad-supported platforms in the US. Stay at home directives have amplified this shift to the TV screens, as overall watch time there has jumped 80 percent year over year in March 2020.”
Traditionally much of YouTube’s audience could be found on desktop and mobile devices, but that’s slowly starting to shift. According to eMarketer, “Mobile will account for 49.3% of all YouTube viewing time this year, down from 53.1% in 2020. Connected devices will account for 36.4% of time spent with YouTube in 2022, a figure that will rise to 39.2% by 2024, per our forecast.” These changing behaviors are also impacting Linear Television as well. According to a study from Nielsen on co-viewing habits of viewers over the age of 18, 26% of viewers watch YouTube on TV screens, compared to 22% who watch linear TV together.
As eMarketer found, in 2021 alone YouTube CTV viewers grew almost 63%. By 2025, more viewers will be watching YouTube on CTV devices than any other.
Will TikTok’s CTV App Make the Small Screen Relevant on the Big Screen?
And just like how YouTube made its way to the biggest screens in the home, TikTok is following suit.
As TikTok mentioned in a statement released to their newsroom, “We’re taking TikTok to the big screen in the living room, offering a new way to experience the joy and creativity of TikTok together at home. With our mobile app, we bring people little bursts of joy, and the big screen experience allows families and friends to easily enjoy TikTok together.”
The app was first unveiled in December 2020 to European audiences who owned a Samsung Smart TV, before expanding to the US market in March 2021. In November 2021, they expanded even further to Google and Android TV subscribers, Android Fire TV users, along with LG Smart TV owners.
They elaborated on their decision to create an app for CTV, “The TikTok TV app is built for a TV home-viewing experience, making it easy to watch content from our ‘For You’ and ‘Following’ feeds on the big screen. This includes the most liked and viewed videos across a huge range of categories, from gaming and comedy to food and animals.”
The experience of TikTok’s app on CTV devices is designed to look familiar to mobile users. Through TikTok’s influential algorithm, users will be shown the most popular videos from their ‘For You’ and ‘Following’ pages. They’ll also be able to pick certain topics, like Comedy and Education, for an even more curated feed of videos to endlessly watch.
While ads haven’t officially made their way to TikTok’s CTV app, the creative styles the social platform has popularized are now influencing ads produced specifically for Connected Television campaigns. The uphill battle for brands will be striking a balance between the native DIY feel of TikTok’s user-generated content and the high gloss “living room quality” creative you need for Connected Televisions. But it is possible. A perfect example is a series of recent Invisalign commercials. The spot in question hinges on a quick back and forth discussion between two friends, cutting from one to the other before hitting you with the punchline.
This Invisalign ad may not be as short form as the bite-sized videos on TikTok’s mobile app, but it still prioritizes speed and energy–a hallmark quality of the platform’s most popular content. It’s higher gloss, and clearly created for the big screen, but it conveys information in the language consumers want to hear. If you’ve been delivered this ad while streaming your favorite show, then you’ll know there are shorter cutdowns that get straight to the comic point, which makes it feel even more like a video you’d find on TikTok’s mobile app.
As the popularity of TikTok’s mobile app has unified video-first ad creative–and in some ways has become the leading video experience people want to see–you’ll begin to notice more and more brands leveraging that style of content for CTV advertising campaigns. Especially once TikTok’s app is more widely available to consumers.
Not every social platform will be able to make the leap to CTV. For instance, the ephemeral nature of Snapchat’s content doesn’t feel like a natural fit for the always-on nature of CTV video ads. Instagram Reels seems like it could easily make the leap, but the jury is still out on whether or not Meta will decide to go down that route. If the last few years are any indication, don’t be surprised if Instagram unveils a CTV app the moment TikTok’s expansion onto the channel becomes obviously profitable.
Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see how these relationships evolve. But if we were to place a bet, don’t be too surprised if social and CTV platforms begin to resemble each other more than you may think in the near-future.
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