The rise and evolution – especially over the last 24 months – of Connected Television (CTV) has the marketing and advertising industry producing enormous amounts of insightful and unique articles, research papers, case studies, webinars, and podcasts covering its maturing ecosystem; viewership demographics; walled vs. open inventory; creative personalization; and many others. For a review of these and other CTV topics see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, or just type CTV into a search bar.
Recent discussions around CTV is its use case for driving performance. Can a brand use these new digital entertainment channels to reach its in-market customers and increase its quality site traffic and measurable lower funnel activities? Are the CTV “pipes” laid and aligned in the digital media ecosystem, providing cross-device attribution and a brand’s best chance to determine if this medium can prove value and impact on a business’ bottom line?
Synergizing capabilities afforded to KORTX media buyers by our engineering team and external partnerships, we will to take you behind the scenes for a comprehensive view of how KORTX incorporated three years of data, learnings, and success building a Connected TV campaign for Tropical Smoothie Cafe (TSC) utilizing our proprietary tools and partner solutions team. KORTX’s strategy focused on demonstrating impact through outcomes, providing insightful and unique feedback on customer behavior and engagement.
Access and activation on as large a volume of CTV inventory as possible is very important to maximize reach and scale against your top performing display and pre-roll audiences. As those audiences shift among the digital entertainment landscape, brands need responsible, structured approaches to reach those consumers within that new, programmatically biddable ecosystem.
Our team of specialists work with leading players in the digital ecosystem, providing us with the ability to curate packages of CTV inventory based on publisher, channel, content category, device, format (live, long form, etc), and app type (AVOD, vMVPD, SVOD,etc). For this specific campaign, in collaboration and coordination with our brand and agency partners, inventory and channels were grouped into specific deals with the vision to provide clean, concise, and instantaneous insight into where Tropical Smoothie’s current and future customers were consuming their online entertainment.
KORTX leverages a concept of ‘splits’ for campaign construction and optimization. Better known as KORTX Split Assist™, this setup allowed our CTV campaign to run on a single line item, while isolating curated deals packaged by the following content: News, Weather, Entertainment, Travel, Food + Drink, Sports, Lifestyle, Business, and Tech + Auto + SciFi. Consisting of 1,032 premium video inventory deals, these 9 deal lists were applied to the line item as their own tactic, represented by a single split. Furthermore, we duplicated these 9 splits 5x in order to increase our targeting conditions to provide granular transparency into delivery.
These 45 conditions include variations across segments, device type, and deals. In order to expand scale as much as possible on these CTV channels, Tropical Smoothie sought to include traditional devices of phone, tablet, and desktop, in addition to the standard CTV devices of set top box, game consoles, and televisions. Cognizant of the value prop of a brand’s content being showcased on the largest screens in the house, our operations team analyzed delivery by split and adjusted our setup as necessary, guaranteeing a large percentage of impressions being delivered to those screens, which usually have the largest audience.
Additionally, Tropical Smoothie’s First-Party Axon audience segments utilize the split bid modifier capability, increasing bid ranges on audiences that have a historical 16:1 ROAS for display. Those TSC First-Party segments are also the building blocks for our new customer efforts, maintaining a 2:1 display prospecting ROAS through the modeling of those numerous segments.
KORTX Split Assist™
Building a CTV campaign that seeks to drive performance measured by site activity, online orders, store traffic, and brand recognition and affinity – within a still maturing ecosystem – requires a more manual approach than display or online video. Optimization algorithms currently used in Demand Side Platforms have yet to be tested against CTV inventory (immaturity of tech and a lack of scale), limiting a campaign’s ability to input a CPA goal against a single conversion event on the website.
For this campaign, our goal was to only deliver against the historically best performing audiences from the other digital mediums – First-Party for reengagement, modeled First-Party for prospecting, and competitor audiences to conquest. 100% delivery against those audiences in the CTV ecosystem should lead to site activity and purchases attributed to this campaign, demonstrating impact and value for Tropical Smoothie.
Working with leading players in the digital ecosystem, we knew we could do more to drive performance. KORTX engineers – accustomed to building platforms and tools that have democratized access to sophisticated marketing technology previously unattainable by small and medium sized brands and agencies – collaborated with the media buying team to build a tool that could optimize each of the 45 splits daily based on a single conversion event on the Tropical Smoothie website.
Every night at midnight, KORTX Split Assist™ analyzes all 45 splits and reprioritizes them based on the CPA of a homepage pixel fire. This tool guarantees a daily optimization, ranking splits from 1-45 based on their CPA, sans human analysis and platform inputs. Since programmable splits work as a waterfall, with bid requests coming in for Split 1 and moving down as scaling requires, this campaign is always bidding on the best performing audiences and inventory first.
KORTX Split Assist™ contributed to a $1.69 CPA for March, decreasing by half month over month, and purchases attributed to CTV doubled in the second half of Q1.
“The action or process of combining a number of things into a single more effective or coherent whole” should be the marketing goal for all who sell products or services. Siloed approaches to digital marketing – varying partners executing media campaigns sans coordination and the synergy created by shared learnings – creates a scattered approach to content delivery and produces less rich campaign analysis.
Without consolidating digital marketing execution, the targeted dissemination and amplification of a brand’s content can negatively influence consumers and contribute to a broad array of smaller budget tests, data analysis, and diminished outcomes. When splitting up a FY $1 million budget across display, online video, rich media, Connected TV, audio, and DOOH, across 6 partners with some running duplicate tactics, that budget has gone from being a powerful tool for sales and market acquisition impact, to a bunch of small budgets divvied up among partners that won’t share successes or strategies. Those smaller budgets will also lack the optimization opportunities afforded to those with higher impression amounts.
A single, integrated strategy can maximize all those tactics’ potential. Instead of a display campaign broken up between 3 vendors and delivering against the same audiences – forcing your in-market audiences to be served ads 3x more than the healthy daily amount – frequency, recency, and customer movement through First-Party segments can all be efficiently managed by a single partner implementing a cohesive solution. KORTX seeks to integrate not just data with capabilities, but qualitative aspects of brand safety and integrity into our digital marketing strategies.
For the last 40 months, KORTX has continued to implement innovative solutions and build technological capabilities that enhance Tropical Smoothie’s digital media presence, execute efficient and effective programmatic campaigns, and contribute to the explosive growth of franchise locations.
Tropical Smoothie’s programmatic strategy in Q1 of 2022 achieved a 7x ROAS, with a $2.12 CPA (purchase) that ranks as their 2nd best quarter since Q1 of 2019. These digital marketing outcomes and business impact are the culmination of years of data aggregation, segmentation, and activation, tactical consolidation, and companywide contributions.
But the best part about this story of Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s digital evolution is that 100% of the tools and strategies shared in this piece can be applied to any brand or business. KORTX is ready to partner with any and all who understand their brand’s identity, image, and content, but lack the resources to develop a sophisticated digital strategy based on a First-Party data foundation.