App developers, watch out for these CTV ad gaffes

When Pinger, a startup that develops messaging and communication apps, started experimenting with CTV advertising last year, it learned a lot — about what not to do.

Pinger’s apps include Sideline, which gives users a secondary phone number on their smartphone, and a free texting and calling app called TextFree. Together they have over 140 million downloads.

For Pinger’s first attempt, a promotion for TextFree, it worked out with a CTV agency that will remain anonymous because the campaign “didn’t go very well,” said Brook Lenox, senior marketing director at Pinger, during the MAU Vegas conference in Las Vegas last week.

“The number one mistake is that we really thought a CTV agency could walk us through the process…and I encourage you not to assume that,” Lenox said. “I encourage you to ask lots of questions.”

Ask “until they get a little frustrated with you,” he said.

For example, don’t assume that an agency is going to share campaign data: confirm it.

“It’s new, and they’re doing their best,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s all necessarily there.”

Experience is the best teacher

And so mistakes will be made.

Pinger did not perform any targeting, including geo-targeting, for its first TextFree CTV campaign. This approach was a “big miss,” Lenox said. Pinger also served only one video creative asset for the duration of the campaign and did not track any metrics other than CPM monitoring.

Pinger’s main takeaway from his first CTV rodeo is that YouTube is a profitable CTV channel.

But, other than that, “at the end of the test, we didn’t understand anything,” Lenox said.

So Pinger launched another CTV campaign for TextFree and began working with Tetra TV, a CTV advertising network and analytics platform launched in 2019 by two former Roku execs, including now CEO Jim Lombard. of Tetra TV and former Head of Advertising Sales and Business Development at Roku. .

Last year, when Pinger was running his CTV experiments, Tetra TV was a brand new scrappy startup, and Lombard was just jumping on the phone with Lenox. “He educated me on everything I didn’t know about CTV,” Lenox said.

For its second TextFree campaign on CTV, Pinger aired two different video creatives on YouTube, Tetra TV and Facebook across four geographies. Pinger has also added a branded search element using Google Ads and partnered with MNTN (formerly SteelHouse and currently the ad tech platform that Ryan Reynolds likes to shilling for).

Pinger tracked account creation in targeted cities (before and after the CTV campaign) and fed their search campaign results into Google Data Studio to see the impact of their CTV campaign on brand searches in those cities. geographical areas.

YouTube and TETRA both had a positive impact on account creation, while Facebook and MNTN’s impact was muted, he said.

But Pinger had no control geo, only test geos, which made it difficult to discern if there were other factors affecting the results. His video designs were also too similar to draw conclusions about which were more successful. The only difference was a minor variation in the text overlays.

Pinger also didn’t have a mechanism in place to track engagement, which is important if you want to treat CTV as a performance channel.

Mobile app developers are used to tracking clicks, installs, and signups, but, to state the obvious, there’s no way to click on a CTV ad.

“At this point, we started to realize that CTV isn’t your typical channel,” Lenox said. “There are ways to track some of that [engagement] now, but, in this case, it was a pretty big fail.

learn, grow

One way to track engagement on CTV is through QR codes, which have made a comeback during the pandemic and have become a go-to for performance marketers.

For its third test, Pinger added QR codes to its video creations and broadcast them to the two best-performing channels in its previous test (YouTube and Tetra TV) in four geographies, which included three test cities and one group. control.

Pinger also made sure that the creatives released this time around were different enough from each other that they could learn something from the test. One of the videos had a rather small QR code located in the lower right corner, while the other had a gigantic QR code that took up almost half of the screen. Both QRs were static and remained on screen for the duration of the ad.

Pinger tracked QR code scans and cost per scan. Unsurprisingly, the ad with the larger QR code performed better. But Pinger also learned some more nuanced lessons.

For example, adding a test location to its targeting gave Pinger more confidence that its campaign was actually having an impact in test cities. Pinger also saw subtle performance differences between its two top channels. Although YouTube was much better at generating searches, Tetra TV led to more QR code scans.

And that was one of the biggest takeaways from Pinger: know what you want to measure from your CTV campaign before you start.

It all “depends on which metric you think is most important,” Lenox said.

Lance B. Holton