Emotional resonance drove 40% increase in QSR visits for PMG

Creating a Winning CTV Strategy: Campaign Optimization and Retention

For streamers and content publishers, launching CTV marketing campaigns can be exciting. There is a lot to learn in the quest to attract more viewers and subscribers – discovering new audiences and identifying top-performing ways to reach people. However, even while knocking out successful campaigns, streamers and content publishers continue to face unavoidable and disappointing viewership and subscriber churn

CTV viewers are drowning in a seemingly endless supply of content choices. It can be difficult for viewers to find the content that interests them, which certainly invites churn. Some viewers are driven by cost considerations, others may be “episodic rotation subscribers” paying for services to access only a specific program at a particular moment. For example, my husband only subscribes to NBC streaming apps when it’s golf season. And finally, some are “permanent nomadic viewers,” constantly in a cycle between services in search of fresh content – for instance, subscribing to Hulu to catch the latest season of Only Murders in the Building – only to cancel once they’ve watched their fill, and instead want to subscribe to Max to watch The Last of Us.

Since churn is a fact of life in our industry, let’s take a moment to examine why retention is just as important as acquisition. It may help to think of your streaming business as a leaky bucket. As content publishers and streamers leverage user acquisition tools, the bucket fills with new viewers and subscribers, but at the same time, some drip away, canceling subscriptions or failing to return. In this scenario, acquisition campaigns have to work harder in order to grow viewership. As a result, a comprehensive CTV marketing strategy needs to account for slowing or stopping the leak – keeping viewers engaged and minimizing churn.

The foundation for retention 

First and foremost, understanding the content and what really motivates viewing choices is key to both successful acquisition and retention campaigns. Let’s say someone has streamed a few “Fast & Furious” movies on an app. Traditionally those may have been categorized more broadly as “action movies,” but viewers may also be watching because they are huge Vin Diesel fans, like thrilling street racing scenes, or simply enjoy watching movies about underdogs. 

Mapping content across multiple criteria and connecting audiences to similar content can be key for app engagement or channel viewership. 

Not all viewers are equal

Viewer quality is another key consideration when designing a CTV marketing campaign. Marketing teams should ask themselves: Is this a fickle viewer who consistently skips across apps and channels or do they stay engaged for long periods of time? Are they high-volume viewers watching several hours a day, or are they inconsistent viewers who only tune in for 30 minutes once a week? Understanding the viewing behavior of newly-acquired audiences can help marketers optimize their campaigns to ensure a positive return.

Optimizing CTV campaigns after launch

So you’re ready to start a targeted CTV campaign, one that focuses on reaching high-value viewers. Here are a few tips to ensure you are reducing churn in addition to attracting new viewers. 

Analyzing campaign metrics

The first step should always be establishing clearly-defined goals and KPIs. These will help you track the effectiveness of your marketing and drive optimization efforts. AVOD and FAST channels, for instance, track Hours of Viewing (HOV), Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), and Total Return targets; while SVOD and HVOD apps monitor Cost Per Purchase (CPP) to drive subscriptions at the lowest cost per paid subscriber.

Imagine you’re marketing a detective show on a FAST channel. Your KPIs for the quarter are 1,000 HOV, 110% ROAS, and a $1 million total return. Working toward KPIs helps you gather insights into which elements of your campaign are working…or not. Once you know where you’re hitting your goals and where you’re falling short, you can tune up the marketing channels and campaigns that need the most attention. You may find greater efficiency by retaining current viewers of your FAST channel and promoting the new detective show to them, or if it is library content, by reaching fans of the show who have viewed it on other channels. 

Comparing creative performance

Ad creative can have a huge impact on performance. If you have the ability, it is always helpful to run multiple creatives, then compare which performs, or achieves your KPIs, better. Let’s continue with that FAST channel detective show example from above – if you’re running multiple creatives, make sure you have the reporting mechanisms in place to be able to evaluate your ads to see which leads to a higher HOV. In this instance, you may have two creatives: Version A ad shows a montage of your channel’s shows; Version B ad uses the same montage with a classic noir tone voiceover. 

After one month of the campaign, you see that Version A viewers clocked 100 HOV while Version B viewers watched 150 hours (there’s something about that noir voiceover that works!). Based on those results, you tweak your campaigns by using voiceovers in more ads to achieve your HOV target faster.


An effective approach for reminding audiences of your app or channel, CTV retargeting is the tactic of showing follow-up ads to potential viewers previously exposed to your app, channel, or ads. (e.g., previous exposure to CTV ads, mobile search ads, social media, and app or website visits – particularly the subscribe page). Streamers and publishers can leverage granular user data generated by these interactions to launch CTV ads that only retarget high-intent viewers, giving them another nudge to convert or stick with your service. 

For a basic CTV retargeting example, let’s imagine again that you’re marketing that hypothetical FAST channel detective show. You can build a CTV campaign that targets consumers who’ve seen one of your mobile ads. After viewing a mobile ad, these viewers would be served a CTV ad that reminds them of your channel, reigniting their interest to take action. 

Wurl opens the path to viewer retention

ContentDiscovery is a powerful marketing platform that helps CTV streamers, publishers, and channels better acquire and retain viewers while delivering 100% measurable results. We use AI to evaluate content and viewer behavior, uncover those deeper connections, and automatically target marketing campaigns based on demonstrated viewer content interests. By focusing on what really engages each viewer, ContentDiscovery campaigns run more efficiently. Wurl also helps you effectively track your ROI across devices and channels so you have the actionable insights you need to optimize campaigns and retain high-value viewers. 

Streamers, publishers, and advertisers can use ContentDiscovery to target viewers most likely to convert and automatically adjust targeting to achieve campaign goals. Many are already running campaigns, analyzing campaign metrics, comparing creative performance, and retargeting viewers to ensure they don’t just attract audiences – but hold on to them, too. See these links to learn more about how Scripps and A+E Networks are using ContentDiscovery successfully. 

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this series. We started with an introduction to the CTV landscape, the ins and outs of distribution and monetization, and ended with all things marketing and measurement. 

I hope you’re inspired to take your CTV strategy to the next level! 

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