Back to all articles

Connected TV retargeting & digital advertising

Sam Huston
Sam Huston
CSO of Growth, Americas
6 min read
21 January 2021

How to incorporate your CTV buy into a full-funnel campaign

Advertisers made big new investments in connected TV (CTV) in 2020. Per eMarketer, CTV spend was up 27% YOY and is on track for a 40% increase in 2021. It makes perfect sense, right? More people than ever are spending more time at home (because of the pandemic), and shifting their entertainment dollars away from cable and into ad-supported streaming services.

Graph of US connected tv ad spending between 2019 and 2024.

The upshot: CTV is here to stay. It’s a growing share of programmatic buys and awareness campaigns, and as with most digital media, measurability is a key benefit of the format. We have more data than ever, but CTV campaigns are often treated and measured by linear metrics (GRPs, reach and frequency, etc.) that aren’t very well incorporated into holistic metrics of multi-layered, full-funnel media campaigns.

So how can we better integrate our CTV campaigns into a full-funnel campaign? Wouldn’t it be great if we could track all of those users who watched our CTV ads and follow up with lower-funnel mobile or desktop ads? Well, actually, we can!

Retargeting CTV viewers

Retargeting is the process of showing ads to users who have previously engaged with our ads. It’s one of the best ways to increase frequency for an audience, which in turn is one of the most effective methods to nurture leads and convert prospects into customers.

Of course you can just trust in branding and hope that those same one-touch users will find your company through search or direct, but wouldn’t it be better to follow up a high-impact brand spot (on CTV) with a compelling call to action on mobile? Indeed, one of DEPT®’s enterprise clients did just that and saw an exceptional CVR boost compared to CVR of their standard mobile display audiences.

So, how can an advertiser take advantage of this technique? We’ll go over three common approaches that can get you started:

  • YouTube views remarketing
  • The Trade Desk programmatic audiences
  • Direct buys with specialized vendors

1. CTV retargeting on YouTube

Many advertisers start (and stay) within Google Ads. It’s a great turnkey platform that affords enormous power, especially within two of the world’s largest digital platforms (Google Search and YouTube).

It’s simple to set up a CTV-only YouTube Ads campaign through the Google Ads UI Simply go to Additional Settings > Devices > Set specific targeting > check “TV Screens” only.

Once the campaign is live and running, any user who views a skippable ad (such as in-stream) can be placed into a “remarketing list.” Note that you’ll need to set up a unique CTV-only video on YouTube (it can be the same asset, just named differently with a different video ID). As such, you can set up a remarketing list in the Audience Manager.

Select the CTV-only videos in the drop down, and your audience will populate with users who viewed your ad on their TV screen. Note that you’re still limited in how you can actually target this audience; options include:

  • YouTube ads
  • Google Discovery ads
  • GMail ads (sometimes called GSP)
  • Search ads (through RLSA)

Retarget your CTV YouTube viewers with TrueView For Action, GMail promotions, or responsive ads within Google Discovery. Even simply deploying an “observational” audience will help you see the overlap between your CTV and SEM audiences. Move users down the entire funnel within the Google Ads space, pulling from YouTube to Discovery and eventually SEM.

2. CTV retargeting on The Trade Desk

As mentioned in the post about cross-device attribution and mapping, The Trade Desk (TTD) is a programmatic demand-side platform (DSP). Because of their relationship with industry leaders such as Tapad and LiveRamp, TTD has one of the highest match rates between multiple devices (over 99% of smart devices in the US).

Because of this high match rate, TTD can target an entire household of devices, increasing the likelihood that you’re able to identify your CTV viewers.

You’ll need compliant ads (generally served through an ad server like Google Campaign Manager) and a campaign specifically targeting CTV in TTD, at which point you’ll be able to generate a retargeting audience.

Note that within these various menus and filters you have enormous flexibility: video completes, or midpoints; users only exposed to certain ads or targeting segments; and more. This allows you to create complex targeting layers that can then filter into other segments of a campaign targeting phones or desktops.

Unlike in YouTube, TTD allows an advertiser to retarget CTV viewers across nearly all channels and ad formats; serve up rich media or native ads to your CTV viewer audience and reap the benefits. This tactic has become a mainstay at DEPT®, serving many of our clients well in knitting the entire plan together (and not just relying on users to search for our clients’ names).

3. Managed buys with CTV pros

There’s no limit on platforms and vendors that specialize in this type of ad buying across the ecosystem. Publishers, suppliers, and device manufacturers all have some capabilities around CTV retargeting now, and it’s only getting more robust. We have worked with many of these including StackAdapt, Amobee, Hulu, Tubi, Roku, and many more.

The primary benefits of working with a dedicated CTV supplier are economies of scale and seamless integration. Placing a larger buy with a single partner will yield better rates and ensure higher frequency against a set audience. Similarly, many partners will provide added value in retargeting or non-CTV impressions that work better as part of an omnichannel campaign. Do note, however, that working directly with a single partner might limit your reach or retargeting options.

Don’t let your CTV dollars go to waste

Prospects need impactful, repeated exposure across multiple platforms, placements, and devices; advertisers need to nurture and educate and convince their audience to eventually become customers. CTV is an increasingly important part of that relationship. Don’t waste the opportunity to convert your high-funnel, brand-aware CTV viewers into paying customers.

At DEPT®, we can help you plan and execute your CTV buy across YouTube, programmatic, and other vendors, all while ensuring a cohesive and comprehensive campaign that works together to drive growth.

Contact us to learn more about our CTV services.

Learn more about our connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) media offerings


More Insights?

View All Insights


CSO of Growth, Americas

Sam Huston