Growth in brand content for connected TV & digital video

By Lorraine Landon, Google SSA & Aleksandra Surogina, Special Effects Media South Africa. IAB has predicted a 14.4% increase in CTV ad spending - CTV refers to connected television, known as smart television.

By Lorraine Landon, Google SSA & Aleksandra Surogina, Special Effects Media South Africa. As the ways in which audiences consume content change, brands and marketers must find new ways to communicate with those audiences. According to a Kantar study, 50% of people go online to engage with digital content, second only to taking a nap.

So why this rapid shift to video?

In 2023, Oneday reported that, “researchers have determined the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Therefore, not only does video content connect with your audience at a deeper level, but also does it far faster than text”. It’s also a lot more effortless to consume video and — unlike text — emotions, tone and more, are easier to convey through this medium, making it easier to connect with the audience.

Video consumption accelerated during and post-pandemic as more and more consumers purchased — and continue to purchase — devices connected to the internet. In fact, 43 million of South Africa’s 60 million people have access to the internet, with 26 million of those accessing YouTube. Further to that, recent local data from Special Effects Media shows an interesting use of television devices, with more than 5 million people accessing YouTube from a TV screen (Google, May 2022) and the average watch time being higher for audiences accessing content on a television screen when compared to mobile. This indicates that people are now accessing content across an array of devices as the lines between technology become even more blurred.

The global Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), a network that empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy, has predicted a 14.4% increase in CTV ad spending for 2023. CTV refers to connected television, more commonly known as smart television — any TV-connected device that can connect to the internet, allowing users to access OTT (over-the-top) or on-demand content such as Netflix or YouTube. Given the sharp increase in the consumption of video content, it’s a no-brainer for brands and marketers to include digital video and CTV in their strategies. This includes taking an omnichannel approach, ensuring the brand is present across all touchpoints or platforms where their audiences are.

How marketers are shifting communications strategies to include digital video and CTV

Currently, the vast majority of Connected TV (CTV) advertising opportunities in South Africa predominantly exist on YouTube. In future, this will expand to OTT platforms. From an advertising perspective, Google found there has been more than a 200% increase in CTV ad impressions since 2022 while research by Instapage indicates that viewers are 27.5 times more likely to click on a video ad than a standard banner as well as being more likely to share that video, especially when it has been crafted creatively and utilises storytelling methods.

The proliferation of digital video content has also resulted in the growth of South African content creators, which provides an opportunity for marketers and advertisers to collaborate on great South African storytelling. And the numbers say it all: over 20 South African YouTube channels have more than 1 million subscribers (a 15% year-on-year increase), over 450 channels have more than 100,000 subscribers and over 4,000 channels have more than 10,000 subscribers (YouTube, December 2022). The latter statistic can be likened to the rise of micro-influencers and provides an opportunity for brands to tap into audiences within specific niches.

However, video is not only relegated to mediums traditionally linked to this type of content. Social media platforms have also adapted to the move to video: Instagram’s algorithm now favours Reels (short, entertaining multi-clip videos) over static posts while TikTok has seen an explosive growth and now offers long-form video opportunities. It was also the first platform to introduce vertical videos. While its chief executive does not view YouTube as social media, mostly due to audiences using the platform to primarily watch content as opposed to how they engage on social platforms, YouTube has always been video-first and allows brands and content creators to create video content that can be shared with subscribers and foster communities through interaction and engagement.

Best practice playbook for a video-first world

As more and more brands and marketers come to terms with introducing video into their communication strategies, there are a few key concepts to keep in mind:

  • Rethink the video/TV mix: Marketers need to find a way to integrate their advertising to be used across both CTV, which falls into the digital category, and traditional broadcast channels. This does not necessarily mean using the same ad across both mediums but being aware of how consumers spend time across a spectrum of platforms and building a communication strategy based on that (for example, partnering the content to make media buying more efficient and repurposing or creating content that works together seamlessly). Data from YouTube and Kantar shows that integrated campaigns with customised creative amplified brand impact by more than 67%.
  • Do what’s platform-appropriate: When introducing video content across different platforms, such as YouTube, social media or TV, consider the format for each platform. This includes length (for example, Instagram Reels are limited to a maximum of 90 seconds), aspect ratio (using vertical video for YouTube Shorts and TikTok as opposed to landscape for a normal YouTube or broadcast ad) and the application of sounds or other effects.
  • Pay attention to structure: With an incredible amount of video content available with just a click or swipe, brands have less time to converse with audiences through their marketing content so ensuring a video hooks the audience from the first few seconds is crucial. The work doesn’t end there though: adding emotion will keep a viewer engaged and stop them from scrolling away while a call-to-action (CTA), either as part of the video or in the caption, can provide an incentive for viewers to watch more of the brand’s videos or visit its website. Introducing the brand upfront — whether through a logo, a mascot or verbally in the audio — will assist in brand recognition.
  • Tap into the creator economy: As the South African creator pool widens, collaborating with local creators to tell South African stories that resonate with both the creator and the brand’s audiences will assist a brand in connecting with a broader audience.
  • Participate in trends: This provides a human and relatable element to a video. A great example is the Duolingo TikTokaccount, where the brand’s mascot actively participates in trending sounds, dances and hashtags, amongst others. Not only has it helped the brand’s visibility on the platform and earned it thousands of followers, but it cements it as a brand that understands popular culture and is in touch with its audiences.
  • Think relevant, act quick: With the volume and turnover of content that is being produced and posted daily, it’s important to also ensure that the content a brand creates is relevant to its audiences on a particular platform and offers some form of value. Additionally, marketers and brands will have to rethink the approval process for video content, which may involve restructuring workflows and embracing imperfection.
  • Measure the impact: As with any other communication campaign, marketers must be clear on how their digital video campaigns will be measured and, ultimately, how it has an impact and drives business results.

It’s obvious that video has become the new online language. This means that marketers need to identify the video-accommodating platforms where their brand’s primary audiences are and include this in their strategies — not just to reach more people, but to keep their brands top of mind.

Additional sources: Special Effects Media, Google/YouTube.


Lorraine Landon, Head: Advertising Products and Solutions at Google SSA, and Aleksandra Surogina, Operations Manager and Creative Producer at Special Effects Media South Africa, were both speakers at the IAB South Africa Insight Series. Insights is a webinar series that focuses on innovation, technology and trends in the digital media and marketing industries. The webinars are free to attend, with previous episodes available to IAB South Africa members on the IAB portal.


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