7 Ad Tech Pros Predict CTV, TV, and Video Trends for 2023

Over the last year, we watched the industry take a ton of twists and turns in the worlds of CTV, TV, linear, and video. 

Looking to take a brief trip down memory lane with us? 

For one, we learned that having a first-party data strategy is crucial, and CTV is easier to tackle when you already have a strong measurement infrastructure. We also learned that there is a big difference between subscribers and viewers, making viewership hard to track on streaming because the subscriber is only sometimes the viewer. This is one area where traditional TV and CTV differ. 

Speaking of linear, yes, it still exists. Yes, my 70-year-old aunt is still watching cable TV, but in about ten years, who knows if that will be the case. FAST channels are growing, network mergers continue to sprout, and subscriber rates are increasing. People like the convenience of bundled streaming services without having to flip through over 100 cable channels to find what they want. 

In case you were wondering what’s next for OTT subscriptions, CTV monetization,  and linear advertising, we spoke to seven ad tech professionals to get their points of view on trends for 2023 and beyond. 

CTV Growth is Happening Quicker Than Other Channels

A recent Boardroom headline mentioned how Las Vegas Casinos generated over $13 billion in revenue in 2022, setting a new annual record. CTV growth is on the same projection as CTV spending will reach $34.49 billion by 2025. While ad spend will slow down in 2023, CTV buyers’ investments will see double digital growth compared to 2022. CTV ad spend is expected to grow by 14.4% in 2023

Ad spend growth is one of many development areas we can expect. Viewership and advertiser interest in the US are also on the rise. 

Frans Vermeulen, VP of Strategy & Market Development, Media & Entertainment Vertical at TransUnion

“CTVs are giving smartphones a run for their money. US smartphone time per day is expected to come to three hours and 19 minutes this year. Daily time with connected devices — mainly CTV but also including game consoles, set-top boxes such as Roku, Blu-ray players, and wearables — will reach one hour and 47 minutes in 2022 and rise to one hour and 57 minutes in 2024. The rise of CTV is increasingly drawing advertiser interest; ad spending remains much less than traditional TV, but the gap is closing. US advertisers will spend $18.89 billion this year on CTV, up 33.1% over 2021.”

To Be Ad-supported or Not to be Ad-supported?

SVODs have been a topic of discussion and their popularity increased last year once Netflix and Disney+ joined the ad streaming party. Many consumers are settling for ad-supported options because all these subscriptions are starting to add up, and people are always looking for a way to cut corners financially. 

According to a recent Whip Media survey, consumers report their current streaming spending is at about $48 a month in the US, and the majority don’t plan to increase it.

Cathy Oh, Vice President, Global Head of Marketing & Analytics, Samsung Ads

“With the rise of new FAST offerings, It’s clear that consumers and platforms are embracing the value exchange between audiences and advertisers. In a recent Samsung Ads consumer survey, we found that nearly 75% of viewers would switch to a free or lower-cost tier of a streaming service when given the option. As FAST is a win for all parties, we expect a rapid rollout of new AVOD and FAST tiers in premium/SVOD platforms to match consumer demand in 2023.”

Matt Sotebeer, Chief Strategy Officer at Digital Remedy

“Streaming giants such as Netflix have announced ad-supported subscription tiers with favorable pricing in exchange for advertising within the content. This will open up new inventory, new audiences, and new opportunities for marketers to lean into CTV as an opportunity to deliver performance.”

Expect More Mergers

Last year we saw Hulu and its sister app, Disney+ raise their prices, but with a bundle of Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN, consumers can omit the individual bundle price increases. And after the merger of Waner Bros. and Discovery this year, coming spring of 2023 we can expect to see a merger of HBO Max and Discovery Plus streaming services. 

Matt Spiegel, EVP, Media & Entertainment Vertical, TransUnion

“The threshold of streaming services offered to consumers could propel mid-tier platforms to consolidate. With more premium services entering the market, consumers must choose wisely where they spend their household budgets. 31% of 2,612 Americans surveyed in March planned to cancel some subscription services this year, per a Recurly study. From October 2021 through May, retail product subscriptions have fallen among the major US age groups, per PYMNTS.com. The average number of baby boomers and seniors subscriptions during that time slipped from 2.2 to 2.0, while other generations saw steeper drops—Gen Z and Gen X subscriptions fell from 4.9 to 3.6, and millennials from 5.6 to 4.7. They will likely gravitate towards mass market subscription services and free ad-supported streaming, making niche players acquisition targets for both upstream and downstream services.”

Katie Conklin, Former Director of Affiliate Operations, Live Events, and Network Partnerships at FOX

“We will see mergers in 2023. We could see 2-3 in the next 12 months. With sports rights reaching their peak in terms of price for their league(s), we could see a few Broadcast Companies and Streaming Companies merge to offset the cost of the sports rights. Additionally, we have seen traditional shows like Law and Order, Grey’s, etc., maintain their audiences. However, new shows in the last few years have struggled to succeed. Pairing a streaming company and broadcast company will help bring brighter success to these traditional shows.”

Don’t Expect A Single Solution to Solve Measurement Issues

Ad tech professionals always look for the best ways to resolve CTV’s measurement challenges. The industry is becoming more and more compartmentalized and disjointed, making measurement even more difficult. Below you will find some thoughts on measuring consumer attention and the IAB’s Video Watermark Technology.

Albert Thompson – Managing Director of Digital Innovation at Walton Isaacson

“The most important thread of ad effectiveness relates to “attention measurement” given that “attention,” as consumer behavior, is the new real estate. Agencies and brands will begin a greater orientation around advertising formats and channels that garner the most consumer time and attention.”

On IAB Video Watermark Technology

“The introduction of the Video Watermark will establish a global standard based on “credibility” while reinforcing the need for interoperability, consistency in measurement, viewability verification, and ultimately improvements in addressability. Both Tech Lab advancements from the IAB (i.e. TV Roadmap and Video Watermark) provide the industry a much-needed “North Star” so that Streaming Platforms, TV Networks, and Device manufacturers refrain from merchandising their independent narratives for the TV, CTV, and Video landscape.”

Engaging the Right Audiences Will Be a New Focus

When it comes to CTV (and media in general), 2022 was not only about the re-emergence of life post-pandemic but also about figuring out where audiences will migrate and how to reach them. It was all about subscriber growth, total reach, and big numbers. Now the conversation is shifting because the right questions were not being asked. Instead of asking, “Are we reaching enough people?”

We should be asking: 

  • Are we engaging the right people? 
  • Is our engagement creating impact? 
  • Are we finding quality moments? 

Mike Richter, SVP of Global Revenue Operations at Trusted Media Brands

“This year (2023) will add another variable to the equation, engagement/attention. Measurement for the sake of reach/viewability only tells us if an advertisement has been viewed, but it does not allow us to learn if it made the impact as intended. We must refocus on what we are ultimately trying to do in advertising — supporting content creation/distribution by creating meaningful moments where an advertiser can connect to the viewer. This means the focus should be on the quality of engagement – how tuned in is the viewer; is the moment contextually suitable, and will the moment allow the advertisement to make the intended impact? As a media company, we must remember we are not selling content subscriptions to our advertisers. We are selling subscriptions to our moments of engagement.”