How to Prep for CTV Inventory Shortage and What to do Next

Ad-supported inventory for some connected TV streaming (CTV streaming) services is almost gone. Projections for 2024 are estimating over 140.1 million viewers, yet inventory demand has outweighed supply.1 Why? Because the reach of the ad-supported streaming providers simply cannot meet the demand. 

The Issue with CTV Inventory

Advertisers should consider moving their connected TV (CTV) dollars into YouTube. YouTube is the largest ad supported CTV provider globally and its platform offers much more scale than any of the other ad-supported CTV services.YouTube connected TV also offers better targeting, unique non-ad supported and incremental broadcast reach opportunities. Not to mention brand suitability advantages.

Despite accounting for 83% of all streaming hours, of the “Big 5” streaming players – Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu and Disney+ – only Hulu is ad supported. The remainder of CTV streaming happens through a growing ecosystem of ad-supported platforms like Hulu, Roku, Tubi, PlutoTV and Peacock, as well as a handful of other smaller services such as TiVo+ and Redbox.

According to a report by Innovid and the ANA, these platforms are “still in the beginning stages of adopting CTV inventory and building the infrastructure needed to support CTV buys at scale.”2   Most CTV ad buys take place directly, and are bought quickly.  

The bigger problem isn’t how you buy it, but rather the scale of the platforms themselves.

Why YouTube CTV?

YouTube is the largest CTV app. It out-scales its competitors by almost a factor of 2. Over 100 million watch it on the big screen every month3, while Hulu comes in second at 58 million total subscribers4. The other players trail off in the distance: Roku (43 million subscribers)5, Tubi (33 million subscribers)6, Pluto TV (26.5 million subscribers)7 and Peacock (15 million subscribers)8.

What are the Benefits of CTV inventory?

On YouTube, the content never dries up. YouTube creators publish 500 hours every minute. In December 2021 Youtube reached over 135 million people via CTV.9 In 2021 over 50% of ad-supported streaming on CTV came from Youtube.10 

YouTube streams things like Major League Baseball and has captured more than 600 million views on the main U.S. late-night talk shows. The video platform also nurtures huge fandoms for broadcast TV shows.  Views on the official YouTube channels for the NFL and WWE as well as on content created by YouTube creators about both sports were about 22 times higher than the broadcasts themselves.11
Even non-ad-supported shows are accessible on YouTube. Netflix’s Stranger Things pulls in about 25+million viewers per season and YouTube Stranger Things-related content pulls in over 300 million views.12

Ad Opportunities

On YouTube CTV advertising with the right partner, you can run 6,15 and 30-second ads opposite contextually customized, brand-suitable YouTube videos and channels.

Non-YouTube CTV inventory is mostly unskippable 30-second spots and targeting is much less specific. Advertisers have a limited variety of demographic, geographic, content viewer habits, and linear TV household mimicking targeting options, with contextual options still in their infancy and no real brand safety or brand suitability controls.13 

YouTube Offers Brand Suitable, Contextually Aligned Ad Performance

YouTube’s targeting advantage also helps drive performance. As we’ve seen not only can contextual alignment drive up to 93% better brand awareness 14, but YouTube ads consumed on CTV devices can deliver up to 47% lift in ad recall and 35% in purchase intent.15

As we move forward, advertisers who want more contextual control over the living room experience should look no further than YouTube—which, unlike other streaming services, is always open for business.