In the Living Room: Your Best CTV Strategy for the New Year


In the Living Room: Your Best CTV Strategy for the New Year

January 11, 2021

The year that most of us would rather forget produced effects that will linger well into this new year and beyond for advertisers and media agencies.

Trends in digital video and TV that had been moving incrementally for years suddenly fast-forwarded in 2020, thanks to a surge in demand beginning with lockdowns and quarantines in Q2, and impacts on production, including bellwether traditional TV content like sports events and live audience shows.1

In the Livingroom Young People Watch YouTube on CTV

Cord cutters, cord nevers and on-demanders

For example, while audiences overall have been shifting from traditional TV to streaming video for several years, a couple key statistics indicate how the pandemic has accelerated this trend.

  • Pay TV providers (cable, satellite and telecom) lost the most subscribers ever in one year—6.6 million households—down 7.5% year-over-year. Total households now stand at 77.6, which is down 22.8% from pay TV’s peak in 2014. By the end of 2024, fewer than half of US households will subscribe to a pay TV service.2
  • Connected TV households surpassed the 100 million mark for the first time, topping out at 104.7 million, or almost 81% of US homes. That number is up 82.1% from 2014. By the end of 2024, almost 86% of US households will use connected TV.3

Industry observers and analysts feel these accelerated trends are likely to continue this year and that CTV may have already reached a tipping point in its adoption.

Nielsen reported in June that “the rise in total media consumption during shelter-in-place restrictions was expected and has been well documented to date, but the persistent high levels of CTV use across smart TVs, internet-connected devices and game consoles suggests that life in the new normal includes a heavier dose of connected TV use than before the lockdowns.”4

US Connected TV Households 2020-2024

And Adweek added that this “…underscores the belief among many television streaming executives and onlookers that the pandemic may prompt an acceleration in streaming migration.”5

Get your complimentary copy of eMarketer/Insider Intelligence US YouTube Advertising 2020 report 

US YouTube Advertising 2020 Report

Digital video and CTV top ad formats in 2021

The pandemic has had similar effects on advertising as well. eMarketer/Insider Intelligence reported that time spent with digital video will grow another 19.4% in 2021.6 

And in its annual YouTube advertising report, it spotlighted the digital video platform’s dominance in OTT viewership and its significance for CTV advertisers:

  • YouTube is the largest ad-supported digital video platform in the US in reach and time spent. In 2020, YouTube was watched by 214.9 million Americans, making up 74.2% of US internet users.
  • This year, 95.4% of US OTT video viewers will watch YouTube at least monthly, surpassing even Netflix (74.9%). YouTube is second only to Netflix in share of time spent with OTT video in the US, particularly notable given that YouTube is largely ad-supported. 
  • During the coronavirus pandemic, YouTube saw both viewing and ad revenue increase due to behavioral shifts. For TV advertisers, this accelerated trend could make the platform a powerful alternative for those looking to re-allocate ad dollars from television to digital video.
OTT Video Viewer Penetration, by Provider - US, 2020

Your best CTV plans include YouTube

The report concludes that in 2021, advertisers wanting to extend the reach of their TV campaigns to digital video and CTV will increasingly target their audiences on YouTube.

Not only is YouTube the most-used digital video platform in the US, it is “the single biggest source of supply in US CTV advertising. YouTube’s outsize role in the US CTV space is particularly striking given that advertisers can’t access CTV inventory on YouTube on non-Google platforms (e.g., Roku).”7

Whether your desired outcome is TV extension or digital video reach, branding or action, your best plan should include a mix of audience- or content-targeted YouTube on CTV—then augment it as needed with CTV on other platforms or YouTube across other devices.

Contact Sightly’s strategy team for digital video and CTV ideas you could incorporate into your next plans.

How Brand Loyalty is Disappearing and What to Do About It


How Brand Loyalty is Disappearing—and What to Do About It

December 2, 2020

We’ve heard a lot about how the pandemic has accelerated several marketing/media trends such as cord cutting,1 online shopping2 and live video viewing.3 But we haven’t heard as much about how COVID is accelerating the erosion of brand loyalty.

Marketing teams have been battling this problem for decades. The emergence and growth of national retailers, private labeling, competitive “everyday low” pricing, and ecommerce-driven convenience shopping have chipped away at brand loyalty over time. And the situation has become worse throughout 2020.

shopping online

How bad is it?

According to Fortune magazine, communications agency Ketchum reported in July that “…45% of American shoppers have altered their brand preference amid the rapid changes in the world.” And only month later, McKinsey’s research estimated that number at 73%.4

How has the pandemic made it worse?

The pandemic certainly has accelerated the shift to online purchasing. Shopify reports that 52% of buyers say they’ve shifted more of their spending to online. This has contributed to an even greater shift to private label brands and is further eroding brand loyalty by:

  • Exposing consumers to the opinions of other consumers through connected ratings and reviews
  • Promoting/positioning certain products over others in search results (e.g., “Amazon’s Choice”), and
  • Attaching price breaks, faster delivery or both to certain products during sorting and selection.

More people are drawn to deals when their finances are constricted, and they are more likely to sacrifice brand preference for lower cost or greater value.

Many people also have started buying more from small, local businesses, according to Shopify. 46% of buyers in the US and Canada said they made purchases from local, independently-owned businesses since the pandemic started.5

Is it going to last?

Unfortunately, McKinsey’s analysts expect these attitudes to continue beyond the COVID-19 period. According to its research, 75 to 83% of US consumers plan to stick with brand loyalty-eroding behaviors post-pandemic.6 (See chart from McKinsey & Company report.)

Mary Elizabeth Germaine, partner and managing director at Ketchum Analytics, adds, “We’re seeing massive consumer behavior shifts that are likely to persist.”

Ketchum’s study found that “62% of people who have changed their brand preference will make that a permanent change before the pandemic is over.”7

What do we do about it?

Some industry stakeholders recommend integrating brand-building media tactics with ecommerce experiences as a way to battle loyalty defections in the online purchase process.

Suggestions include running paid search, display and video ads on retailer sites and apps, as well as placing other paid promotions in retailers’ targeted emails and social posts.8

McKinsey & Company chart

These tactics increase brand visibility at critical points and help retain previously loyal customers. However, they may not be enough to revive fading sentiment, as there are deeper forces at work eroding brand loyalty. They have been gathering momentum for many years and COVID has added much weight and speed.

Change is the new loyalty

Writing on Retail in Forbes back in 2016, marketing strategist Kathleen Kusek cited a study from a year earlier by the digital and consumer loyalty firm Catalina that 90 of the top 100 CPG brands were losing market share on what were then and still are “consistently low-growth categories.”9 

This trend was amplified by McKinsey at the time, which reported that loyalty still drove purchasing behaviors in only three of 30 major categories.10

group on phones

Kusek contended that this signaled a revolutionary new “philosophy of buying” not based on loyalty at all but on something completely antithetical to it — change

Cultural and attitudinal shifts, driven largely by technological progression, have been transforming bedrock institutions such as marriage, religion, politics and business for decades, elevating change to hero status and placing significantly more value on the “new” vs. the “known.” She summed it up this way:

“The consistent theme is that change is not something to be feared or avoided. Change is inherently good. And the hankering for change is increasing at an accelerated rate.”11

What she couldn’t have known writing in 2016 is that in 2020, COVID would super-accelerate our consumption of change and solidify its prominence in our habits and desires.

Embracing change

As their audiences consume more and more change — sudden events, breaking news, social swings, tipping points, viral trends, the latest craze — brands and their agencies need a way to: 

  • Read emerging signals in the vast ocean of data generated every moment by our current technologies, 
  • Tap into their previously unspoken Brand Mentality™ for instructions about what matters, and
  • Respond most opportunistically in real time.

This need has led us to develop a solution that is win for all parties—brands, agencies and publishers alike. It encompasses brand safety and suitability in an entirely new framework called Brand Mentality—a brand’s unique worldview and “human-like” mindset that aligns with its audiences.

Brand Mentality™ unique mindset

For example, one dimension of the platform taps into your Brand Mentality™ around competitors to anticipate and respond to what people are saying and sharing in market about their brands and products, news they are making, business moves, comments by executives, interviews, etc. 

This enables you to “competitive conquest,” even in short windows of opportunity. One CPG client quickly drove a 7x increase in purchase intent behaviors using our solution when a competitor CEO made news with controversial public comments that polarized his brand’s customers.

We’re currently sharing details about our Brand Mentality™ framework and invite you to join the discussion. Just click the button below to request an exclusive seminar session:


  1. 6 More Trends That Coronavirus Has Accelerated
  2. 5 Consumer Trends Accelerated by COVID-19
  3. US Digital Users 2020 – Insider Intelligence Trends, Forecasts & Statistics
  4. Brand loyalty is changing due to the pandemic
  5. 5 Consumer Trends Accelerated by COVID-19
  6. Consumer sentiment and behavior continue to reflect the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis
  7. Brand Reckoning 2020: How Crisis Culture Is Redefining Consumer Behavior, Loyalty and Values
  8. The Cost of Convenience: Declining Brand Loyalty
  9. The Death Of Brand Loyalty: Cultural Shifts Mean It’s Gone Forever
  10. Technology Is Eroding Consumer Loyalty
  11. The Death Of Brand Loyalty: Cultural Shifts Mean It’s Gone Forever

What Are the Big Challenges for Advertisers and Marketers Right Now?


What Are the Big Challenges for Advertisers & Marketers Right Now?

November 10, 2020

What’s Going to Happen Next and How Do We Respond? 

Those two have to be at the top of the listquestions that probably have been keeping a lot of usincluding CMOs, brand managers and agency teamsup at night the past several months.

Put another way: how do we react minute-by-minute to the unprecedented speed and magnitude of changing events that has suddenly become the new normal?

Things were moving pretty fast before COVID-19 but now the game has ratcheted up several levels. It seems that every day brings multiple pivotal moments. And it likely won’t ever go back to the way it was.

The world is moving at warp speed now

The pandemic has magnified our reliance on connected devices—to communicate about personal and business matters, to get news and opinions, to share comments…and comment on the comments until sometimes they come full circle and become news items of their own.

No wonder a survey released just last week showed that CMOs in the US feel their biggest challenge is understanding consumer behavior changes. And number three  was aligning with new/changing customer sentiment.1

Audiences Are Moving Faster Than We Can React

Back in March, prior to quarantine, two-thirds of Americans were checking their smartphones an average of 166 times per day. That was up from 96 times per day the previous year, so imagine what the number is now.2 

66% of Americans check their phones 166 times a day

Some other signs of the times:

  • Global content consumption has doubled since the start of the pandemic, with 48% of consumers spending more time on social media.3 
  • For Q2 2020, Twitter increased its year-over-year Monetizeable Daily Active Users (mDAU) to 186 million, a 34% increase, which is the highest quarterly year-over-year growth rate delivered since the company began reporting mDAU growth.4 
  • Mobile app usage surged 25% in the third quarter of 2020 as people continue to work and find entertainment online during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from app data and analytics website App Annie.5 

Here are a couple more indicators of the acceleration and virality of information. When you consider that as many people get their news from social media as get it from direct news sources now, and 57% of them get it from Facebook and YouTube6

  • U.S. audiences are now watching 2,351,949,456 YouTube videos a day, up 15% since the beginning of March.7 
  • Facebook daily active users (DAUs) were 1.79 billion on average for June 2020, an increase of 12% year-over-year.8 

Media Planning Can’t Stay Ahead of the Storm

The world is changing at warp speed now and this tectonic shift in the flow and mass of information, opinion and reaction is disrupting marketing calendars like never before. 

eMarketer reported in May that an Advertiser Perceptions survey of 151 U.S. agencies and brand marketers revealed they had cut the time for media planning in half from pre-pandemic levels for all types of media, aggregated. 

Six months later, many planners have reduced that planning time to a few days or less. And we see traditional upfronts continuing to lose value because COVID-19 has shown us how quickly and completely the marketing calendar can be upended.


It’s Not Just About Threats—It’s About Opportunities…At Speed

Potentially significant events now arise several times a day. We’re familiar with the threats some of these events can pose to brand image. But equally important are the opportunities—for aligning more closely with audiences and increasing their brand loyalty as they move toward or away from news and events.

Responding proactively to significant events in market requires speed because the window for response often closes very quickly—within a day or two in many cases. Responding appropriately requires a way to “humanize” a brand and gain a comprehensive understanding of how it thinks and feels in those moments.

Our research, informed by discussions with customers and industry partners, has led us to develop a solution that is opportunistic for all parties—advertisers & marketers, agencies and publishers alike. It encompasses brand safety and suitability under the umbrella of a brand’s unique worldview and “human-like” mindset that aligns with its audiences. We call it Brand Mentality. 

We’re currently sharing details and gathering additional insights through a series of small virtual seminars. To learn more, please use this form to request an upcoming session:

isolated brain network sightly red


  1. Biggest Challenge for CMOs? Understanding Consumer Behavior Changes
  2. 66% of Americans Check Phone 160 Times a Day, Here’s How Your Business Can Benefit
  3. Global Online Content Consumption Doubles in 2020, Research Shows
  4. Twitter Poised for Take Off as Users Grow, Ads to Boom
  5. Mobile app usage surged 25% in Q3 as coronavirus keeps people home
  6. 5 global news consumption trends in charts
  7. SocialBlade YouTube Stats
  8. Facebook Reports Second Quarter 2020 Results’20-FB-Financial-Results-Press-Release.pdf

Sightly Team Mentors NYC Youth Through Summer Bridge Marketing Challenge


Sightly Team Mentors NYC Youth Through
Summer Bridge Marketing Challenge

August 20, 2020

Program Provides City’s Neediest Young Adults with Valuable Work Experience

New York City’s annual Summer Youth Employment Program was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, but leaders from the City, State and more than 50 nonprofits came together with Tech:NYC to create a new program to fill the gap.

tech:nyc logo

Summer Bridge is providing low-income NYC students with City and State-funded professional workplace experiences in the tech industry and beyond, and Sightly has jumped in to mentor eight students throughout August.

“Our team is guiding the students through a marketing course that teaches basics about digital video advertising through YouTube, TikTok, Live Streaming and connected TV,” said Alena Pilichowski, Sightly’s Associate Director of Product Marketing and Committee Chair of our United Outcomes diversity and social responsibility program.

“We’ve pulled together a great internal group of cross-functional experts who love teaching,” added Sightly CRO and General Manager, Adam Katz. “We want to increase our diversity as a company, and mentorship programs like this not only allow us to help develop young people with a passion for marketing, they give students an opportunity to work with us and maybe spark an interest in joining our team some day.”

Sightly Summer Bridge Program Mentors

The second part of the Summer Bridge program is where the students get to use the knowledge they’ve gained to solve four major brands’ media challenges and create marketing proposals for them under the tutelage of Sightly mentors.

Students will then present their proposals for feedback and additional insights to a panel of agency, brand and Sightly veterans.

According to Ralph Mack, CEO of Sightly, participating in Summer Bridge aligns well with the company’s new United Outcomes program, which focuses on developing internships and mentorships, as well as creating more diversity and inclusion in hiring. 

Mack explained, “We feel that providing training, mentorship and work opportunities for Black and minority youth in the marketing technology industry is something we are well-suited for and want to do regularly as a way to give of our time and expertise.”

Participating in Summer Bridge and establishing United Outcomes are deliberate initiatives to practice antiracism and spread positivity in the communities where the company works and lives. Sightly embraces its social responsibility, and its employees are all in, driving these initiatives and supporting them with their individual commitments.


So are we!

Sightly Supports YWCA Chicago’s Until Justice Just Is Initiative with YouTube Ads


Sightly Supports YWCA Chicago’s Until Justice Just Is Initiative with YouTube Ads

July 16, 2020

Company’s Pro Bono Campaign Drives Increased Awareness for Anti-Systemic Racism Effort

Sightly is running a month long digital video awareness campaign through YouTube in the Chicago market during July to support YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s Until Justice Just Is initiative. 

According to Chandni Shah, Media Strategy Director at VSA Partners, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s agency, Until Justice Just Is introduces the organization’s new Racial Justice League, a powerful extension of its core mission to eliminate racism and empower women. 

Shah explained, “The Racial Justice League gives individuals and corporations actionable items for real change, and YWCA Chicago hopes it will radically reposition the conversation around corporations as mechanisms for social good.” 

“As ardent supporters of Black Lives Matter, we are proud to sponsor this campaign and help YWCA Chicago spread awareness of Until Justice Just Is and the Racial Justice League,” said Daniel Pineda, Sightly’s Chicago-area account executive. “Our company stands against systemic racism and appreciates the opportunity to contribute our services to support these causes.”

Sightly’s YouTube campaign features six-second bumper video ads for custom personas we created to reach people whose interests and affinities include social issues, advocacy for social justice and anti-racism, causes like Black Lives Matter, consumers of Chicago area media and nonprofit donors. See the full Until Justice Just Is video and take the pledge here.


So are we!