For this upfront season, over-the-top (OTT) advertising is at the top of the “transformation” agenda for the TV industry. In fact, connected TV (CTV) and OTT advertising is expanding at the fastest rate of any major medium and will reach $4 billion this year and $5 billion next year, according to Magna’s latest forecast. Even with this rapid growth, OTT ad spending is still catching up with consumption — it’s just 3% of TV ad budgets.
To win over advertisers, we’re witnessing a battle brewing at the agency level — people are vying for marketers to shift budgets to CTV and OTT. Many traditional TV buyers have renamed themselves as “video investment” teams, and digital buyers are emphasizing their audience targeting, measurement and attribution prowess to stake the vast, growing CTV opportunity.
As the competition rages on between the media giants and the distribution platforms to grow their direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming offerings, the OTT ecosystem is becoming ever more complex and fragmented, which makes the buying experience even more confusing for advertisers. Compounding the market confusion is the rise of new entrants that claim to do the same thing but are executing differently. Advertisers need a checklist to truly understand what they are getting.
“For advertisers, ad-supported Connected TV (CTV) offers a highly valuable proposition: a brand-safe and fraud-free
environment to reach desired audiences across a broad or niche demo range.”
-Jim Wilson, President of Premion, Tegna
2019 is shaping up to be a monumental year for ad-supported streaming over-the-top (OTT) services with Viacom’s acquisition of Pluto TV, Amazon’s IMDb Freedive and NBCUniversal entering the fray. Pure-play OTT networks, such as MLB.TV, Xumo and Tubi TV, are already gaining significant traction with attracting growing audiences in the booming ad-supported OTT market. This beckons the question: how much of the streaming TV future will be ad-supported versus subscription-based?
The expansion in ad-supported streaming services comes amid concerns of subscription fatigue among consumers. In fact, research from Magid indicates that U.S. subscription streaming growth is slowing.
In contrast, consumers that watch ad-supported streaming services are largely incremental to those that watch linear TV, they represent a high-value audience, and they are highly receptive to ads, according to an IAB study. With rising subscription costs and the fact that there’s a limit to how many streaming services consumers are willing to pay for, it’s inevitable that the ad-supported model will prevail.
For advertisers, ad-supported Connected TV (CTV) offers a highly valuable proposition: a brand-safe and fraud-free environment to reach desired audiences across a broad or niche demo range. As such, brands and agencies are moving bigger budgets to this medium. A SteelHouse Survey finds that 78% of marketers plan to buy ad inventory on streaming TV within the next 12 months.
Here are key developments to watch with the growing opportunities in ad-supported streaming:
Convergence of Linear and Connected TV
Since CTV delivers the same highly engaged, lean-back and big screen experience as linear TV, savvy marketers are combining ad-supported CTV with linear TV in their media buys. In fact, a VAB report highlights that viewing an ad on both linear TV and OTT platforms resulted in a two-fold increase in brand favorability and validate that combining linear TV and ad-supported OTT inventory can deliver even stronger campaign results and increased business outcomes for marketers by extending both reach and engagement. This converged CTV and linear media strategy will accelerate as many TV advertisers now consider connected TV as a way to add incremental reach to their linear TV buy.
Furthermore, the proliferation of video experiences across different platforms and devices is triggering broadcasters to review and consider new business models for monetizing their inventory. With broadcasters embracing OTT, we can expect bigger investments in live streaming services, particularly in the world of sports and local news.
With the heightened focus on consumer privacy in the current GDPR era, advertisers come to expect greater transparency across the advertising supply chain. Given the increasing sophistication of brand safety, ad fraud and viewability issues, marketers are moving from the use of third-party data in favor of first-and-second party partnerships.
Trust and transparency are now considered a competitive advantage. Brands and marketers demand accountability in their partnerships and verifiable transparency has become table stakes for doing business. Companies must be held accountable and choosing ethical, trustworthy people aligned with your core values is mission-critical when considering any business relationship.
When it comes to CTV advertising, given the increasing fragmentation and wide disparity in capabilities among advertising providers and video content, it’s imperative that marketers thoroughly vet their partners to ensure that they are buying the highest quality premium video inventory. Defining and setting clear metrics from the onset and having transparent and detailed reporting on campaign results is key for a successful partnership.
Furthermore, the advancement in blockchain and cryptography technologies offers opportunities to bring independently verifiable transparency to the media supply chain, which in turn drives greater trust, as advertisers can be assured that they are getting what they pay for. The AdLedger Consortium is paving the way in driving and implementing global standards to build greater advertising transparency in this area.
The last year has seen connected TV proving its long-term value. Skyrocketing growth of streaming audiences has spurred an insatiable desire for advertising on these platforms. Having spent most of the year on the front lines meeting with hundreds of local agencies and ad buyers, here’s my assessment on the lessons learned in the connected TV (CTV) advertising market for 2018.
The fourth quarter saw the largest spike in the cord-cutting trend as more than 1 million consumers canceled their cable TV or satellite subscriptions. CTV has emerged as the fastest-growing video segment this year, with marketers planning to dramatically increase their CTV budget commitments, according to an Advertiser Perceptions study. At the same time, the fragmentation of the streaming TV ecosystem is only getting worse as direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming services are popping up on a weekly basis.
For many agencies and brand marketers, the perception of CTV is that it’s still an emerging market made up of a highly complex network of players, which makes the buying experience confusing. There’s still a lack of understanding of the differentiation in inventory quality and execution among providers as each platform has its own set of targeting parameters and measurement approaches. More importantly, when it comes to budget, marketers are still figuring out whether CTV should be part of the TV or digital budget or whether it stands on its own.
Best practices for OTT success
By every measure, OTT (aka Connected TV or CTV) viewing is the new normal. With three in four U.S. households now consuming content on streaming services, advertisers and brand marketers are shifting bigger budgets into this rapidly growing channel. In fact, 78 percent of marketers plan to buy ad inventory on streaming TV within the next 12 months, according to a SteelHouse survey.
But for some marketers, the complexity and fragmentation of the OTT ecosystem remain hurdles to widespread adoption. To reap the benefits of OTT, you’ll need a deeper understanding of the solutions available.
What are the key considerations for developing an effective OTT buying strategy? Here’s our playbook to simplify the media-buying process to reach the vast and highly engaged streaming audience.
Data is king for OTT targeting
Data is fueling the OTT landscape but targeting and execution capabilities vary significantly among OTT providers. When planning their media buy, marketers need to consider whether they’re buying audience or content. Or maybe both. And when you’re doing data-driven targeting, where is the data coming from and how accurate is the viewer profile?
The latest OTT advancements allow marketers to use audiences instead of content to plan their campaigns. Audience segmentation can be truly deterministic and addressable down to an individual level. Data can be collected based on viewership and matched back to the individual within a household. Using non-personally identifiable viewer data, marketers can analyze content and match it to channel, program and ad placement data to better understand what types of viewers are watching each type of programming and what is triggering their purchase decisions.
In addition, first-party data collection on some OTT platforms offers the capability for online and offline attribution. This can give marketers richer insights on desired actions taken by a viewer that has been served an ad.
Inventory quality matters
Brand safety remains a paramount concern and advertisers need to understand what they’re buying. Since not all OTT quality is the same, determining inventory quality is imperative for marketers. Many providers claim they have directly sourced inventory, but it is important for marketers to know exactly where the inventory is coming from to ensure that their ads are running in a brand-safe and fraud-free environment.
What questions should you ask? Is it a direct buy with a network or ad solution platform, or through programmatic channels that source inventory from open exchanges and non-guaranteed PMP deals? Which is the right combination to give marketers what they need to ensure brand safety and provide the greatest reach?
The midterm elections are heating up. With the 2018 congressional elections generating more attention than past midterms, the stakes are high for advertisers. 2018 is set to be a record year for political ad spending that’s forecasted to reach $8.8 billion, according to Borrell Associates.
The revelations of Russian meddling and fake ads on Facebook has brought a heightened focus on transparency in political advertising. And while both Facebook and Twitter have announced stricter guidelines to curb manipulation, these changes only address part of the issue. Social media platforms are still rampant with bots.
In an unpredictable and hyper-competitive political climate – with hundreds of congressional and gubernatorial races taking place – political advertisers must rethink their midterm media buying strategy to ensure that they are running brand-safe and effective campaigns to reach the right voters.
The rise of connected TV or OTT advertising is a new phenomenon for political advertising, as this was nascent during the 2016 elections. With nearly 200M OTT viewers in 2018, per eMarketer, connected TV is TV.
The exponential growth in streaming audiences bring an entire new medium of opportunities for political advertisers as 78% of U.S. consumers subscribe to at least one OTT service, per PwC. In fact, of OTT U.S. viewers registered to vote, 96% indicated they vote in presidential elections, 86% in stateside elections and 82% in local elections, according to Nielsen Scarborough data.
So how does the connected TV environment address political advertisers’ top concerns and help them to reach the voters that matter?
With constrained budgets, candidates need to be resourceful in their media spend to achieve specific campaign goals — to sway undecided voters and attract financial supporters.
While digital media offers granular targeting capabilities, there is significant brand safety risks. Inventory sourced through a programmatic exchange is often times remnant and advertisers may not even know the placement until after the campaign delivers.
Fraud, in the form of bot traffic and phony web sites, was rampant in the 2016 elections. Viewability is another major issue: a campaign ad that appears at the bottom of a web page may never get viewed if the user never scrolls down. In a digital environment of low transparency and limited safeguards, campaign dollars can easily go to waste.
Unlike digital, in a walled-garden connected TV or OTT platform, advertising runs on trusted networks with authenticated viewers. Content on connected TV devices take up the full screen, making it unlikely an ad is not be fully viewable.
Since OTT viewers are not channel-surfers, as they’ve self-selected the programming, they represent a highly engaged audience.
Avoid getting preempted in a high stakes race
Preempted spots are TV ad spots, both broadcast and cable, that get bumped from the schedule when another advertiser pays more money for a specific time slot. In a high stakes political race, the chances are high for a campaign to be preempted as spending spikes.
When an advertiser gets preempted, they have to pony up more money or scramble to find other ways to advertise or risk derailing their campaign. And since, there’s only a short window to get a campaign message out, a ‘makegood’ (where a missed spot runs at a later date) could end up being a wasted spend.
In this instance, it’s imperative for political advertisers to have guaranteed impressions to be effective. Getting in front of voters and constituents that matter most to a campaign requires more precision in targeting.
OTT is addressable; it has the ability to serve different ads to different audience segments watching the same programming. Political advertisers can leverage richer datasets to target voters by political affiliation, congressional district, income, education level and other interests.
We make OTT Advertising Simple.
Kate Morley (NY) 703-873-6345
Premion simplifies the OTT advertising buying process by eliminating the hassle of working with multiple providers. Through our direct relationships with leading TV networks and media brands, Premion places your ads alongside premium, brand-safe, long-form on-demand and live streaming content – in just one easy transaction.