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.
2017 saw tremendous consumer growth in streaming TV services and 2018 is set to be even bigger. This year, eMarketer estimates that 181.5 million U.S. consumers will use connected TVs at least once every month — equating to more than 55% of the U.S. population — and by 2021, that number will expand to 194.4 million, which is almost 58% of the population. Let’s begin with a basic definition of OTT video (over-the-top): OTT video is video transmitted via the Internet that bypasses traditional cable/linear distribution. While it can either be ad-supported or subscription-based, at Premion, we consider true OTT to be long-form and live streaming premium content such as network programming, TV shows and movies.
The pace of digital disruption that is transforming the TV industry is accelerating: the growth in IP-delivered TV content is reshaping distribution models, consumer viewing habits and advertising. Every major TV operator has launched or is in the midst of launching and scaling up their direct-to-consumer streaming offerings. Consumers now have more choice than ever — from DirectTV Now, FuboTV (a Premion partner), Sling TV (a Premion partner), PlayStation Vue and YouTube TV, to name just a few. Philo is another recent entrant that offers 30-plus entertainment channels. Disney has plans to launch two streaming services and may develop even more following its 21st Century Fox deal.
With many media and content companies jumping on the streaming TV bandwagon, the marketplace is becoming increasingly fragmented, and it’s creating even more competition for high-quality content to keep viewers hooked: Already there are over 200 OTT services in the U.S. market, according to Parks Associates.
What can we expect in 2018 with the rise in streaming services and OTT advertising growth?
The transformation of TV is happening faster than many anticipated. OTT (over-the-top) viewing is growing exponentially. It’s now the dominant platform for premium video viewing. While advertisers know they must be there, many are still asking: Is it a broadcast or a digital buy?
It’s time we look at OTT advertising differently.
In this golden age of TV, where consumers have more quality content options than ever, they’re embracing the speed at which TV is moving to the Internet, especially if it’s ad-funded and free.
eMarketer estimates there are 193.3 million OTT users in 2017, with 168.1 million U.S. connected TV users. The rise of OTT comes at a time when cable is seeing continuing declines as another million consumers cut the TV cord last quarter, per a DSL Report.
Audience fragmentation across devices and screens is accelerating; according to comScore, the average household has 10 connected devices, and that figure rises to 19 devices among households with at least four people. Every major TV player is adjusting to this phenomenon by moving quickly to launch or announce plans for standalone Internet TV services.
How should marketers navigate the rapidly evolving and fragmented OTT space and reap its full potential?