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CTV is the future, but don’t discount linear from your media mix

US linear TV ad spend is shrinking (8.0% YoY) as connected TV (CTV) ad spend grows (21.2% YoY). This year, US CTV ad spend will total $25.09 billion while linear will total $61.31 billion.

“The future is now for CTV,” our analyst Paul Verna said on a recent episode of the “Behind the Numbers” podcast. “It’s not three years from now. It’s not five or 10 years from now. It’s right now. But there’s still a lot of value in linear TV.”

Linear versus CTV: Both formats have an advertising use case, because US adults still spend several hours per day on both platforms—2 hours, 55 minutes for linear TV and 1 hour, 55 minutes for CTV.

  • Linear still has value, especially during major events like the Olympics, the World Cup, and US elections.
  • Linear can be useful for reaching older audiences.
  • CTV shows more promise than linear because of its growing audience and targeting potential.
  • Plus, CTV advertisers don’t need to reinvent marketing. “CTV brings a lot to the table that TV doesn’t have, but the basic creative unit is similar,” said Verna.

Spending on CTV: Hulu ($3.63 billion), YouTube ($2.89 billion), and Roku ($2.19 billion) lead the US CTV ad market this year. Don’t expect that to change right away.

  • Verna said Hulu’s lead is “solid,” likely attributed to how long the platform has operated on an ad-supported model.
  • YouTube is worth watching for CTV advertisers. About half (45%) of all viewership now happens on TV screens, according to internal figures, signaling a pivot from smartphones toward CTV. If advertisers aren’t thinking about YouTube the way they think about TV advertising, they may want to reconsider.

Changing the channels: “I don’t think the [CTV ad spend] leaderboard is necessarily going to shift, at least not dramatically. But there are a lot of players that are coming into the ad-supported space,” said Verna.

  • Disney+ and Netflix both launched ad-supported tiers last year. Verna expects those platforms to be major players, but it will take several years before they build up their ad businesses.
  • Amazon is considering an ad tier for Prime Video, which could lead to an explosion in CTV ad spend from brands looking to take advantage of Amazon’s retail media data.
  • Free ad-supported TV platforms like Amazon’s Freevee are expanding in viewership and content.

Listen to the full podcast.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.