How can the ad industry benefit from shoppable TV ads in a world where TV platforms weren’t build with shoppability in mind?

For respected media industry analyst Rich Greenfield, the answer could be consumer-contextualized ad targeting.

We spoke with Greenfield, General Partner, LightShed Ventures after his fireside chat on the stage of the CTV Connect conference  in Manhattan this week. He was interviewed on stage by Axios media reporter Sara Fischer.

The Elusive Dream of Shoppable TV

The advertising industry has long chased the dream of making TV content shoppable on “interactive TV”.

“Everybody wants to do it,” Greenfield says. Indeed, the concept isn’t novel; from early cable boxes to today’s sophisticated online platforms, the idea has persisted.

However, the real challenge lies in execution. As Greenfield explains, “a lot of these platforms are not really designed … to make TV content shoppable”.

First-Party Data: The Key to Relevance

Greenfield thinks contextual targeting using first-party data could unlock the opportunity.

“Think about what Instacart’s doing with shopping data now,” Greenfield points out, emphasizing the potential for a deeper understanding of consumer behaviors.

This information can lead to a significant shift in how advertisements are served. “Having contextually relevant ads powered by what you purchase… that’s what’s going to make advertising on all of these CTV platforms better,” he asserts.

Contextual Ads: More Content, Less Clutter

Greenfield criticizes linear TV for its lack of personalization capabilities.

“It’s a competitive disadvantage for linear TV,” he says, pushing the idea that CTV can deliver a more curated ad experience. “Consumers are actually going to care less about the ad… because [it’s] more like content.”

But the shift towards personalized advertising on CTV isn’t just about consumer satisfaction—it’s also about measuring effectiveness.

Greenfield highlights the need for better metrics to track the journey from ad exposure to transaction.

“How can we actually deliver more relevant ads, obviously have better measurement and targeting on whether ads actually convert?,” he asks.

The Verdict on Interactive CTV

Despite the challenges, the drive to incorporate commerce into CTV experiences remains strong.

With platforms like TikTok leaning heavily into commerce, Greenfield sees a natural progression towards similar functionality in the CTV space.

However, he cautions that success will depend on the platforms’ ability to adapt to this new paradigm.