With more and more viewers cutting the cord and going full OTT, consumer brand marketers urgently need to determine how to reach CTV viewers with their advertising. This conversation with Corinne Casagrande, Broadbeam media’s SVP, Strategy and Growth, looks at the challenges and opportunities involved and what it all means for marketers.
Q: With CTV/OTT gradually displacing the linear TV/cable package model, what kind of advertising opportunities are currently available for consumer brand marketers in the streaming universe? What sorts of new opportunities are likely to emerge?
There are exciting opportunities with targeting in the CTV/OTT space. Linking the client’s 1st party data and/or vendor 1st party data to target cord-cutters, suppress audiences, target by interest, etc.
Opportunities for multiple creative messages and personalization based on sub-targets are also really exciting coming from a traditional linear TV model where everyone sees the same ad.
Q. How is ad creative for streaming channels evolving? What is—or should be—different in ad strategy compared to developing ads for network TV or banner ads online?
The principles of good video creative and storytelling are the same. The level of production polish reflects what the brand is trying to communicate, keeping in mind it’s likely on a 60” screen. The length in streaming can be more flexible, from 6 to 60 seconds. Because of the shorter ad pods and fewer frequency breaks vs. linear TV, viewers are used to seeing :15s and :30s in the OTT space. Being able to communicate brand USPs in a meaningful way, in that time period, is key.
At Broadbeam, we have been experimenting with units that have a direct response mechanism built-in, like an email submission or an interactive component to help understand what is driving an outcome for our clients. We’ve also been testing message sequencing and serving different ads based on the viewers’ interests.
Q. How complex is the pricing discussion? For example, how does the cost of running ads on free streaming services such as Pluto TV compare with the cost for other options?
There is a lot to navigate when it comes to pricing, even for the same inventory. Will you purchase impressions guaranteed or non-guaranteed, direct from a publisher, aggregator, or through a DSP? All of these factors impact pricing.
For our performance clients, we start with their goals. How broad is the target, what is the anticipated response, and how valuable is the response to the client? That drives the CPM we are willing to pay for the inventory.
Q. How significant is the sale of ad time during pause breaks (AT&T’s Xandr ad-tech arm selling video ad time, Hulu inserting static images)? Is this a trend that’s going to expand?
It is another way to monetize the ad-supported inventory as we wait for ad-supported viewership to grow. There are fewer frequent and shorter ad pods in the OTT space vs. linear TV, which leads to a limit on inventory. Advertisers are looking to capture attention when they know viewers are watching the screen (example: Pausing and un-pausing after breaking from the show). When Peacock launched, they committed to shorter ad breaks (5 minutes per hour) vs. linear and reduced ad frequency (not seeing the same ad repeatedly). They also touted new options outside of the :15 or :30s spot. Source: CNBC, 1/16/20.
I think we will see this more and the viewer will let us know which formats they prefer. I think OTT providers will want to keep ad pods low. Ad recall is higher with shorter breaks. Source: Magnaglobal, 4/2018.
Q. How are marketers measuring ad performance in the streaming arena? How effective are the tools they have now? Is something more needed?
We look at the measurement of ad performance in two ways. First, media delivery — did my ad hit the right person, and did they see it. And second, media impact – did my ad help to drive a desired action or conversion.
In terms of effectiveness, it’s kind of the wild west right now. There are agencies, vendors, and 3rd parties offering solutions for unified measurement and reporting. The OTT/CTV space is incredibly fragmented, and the tools that we have now to measure reach and delivery are better than they were at the same time last year, but there is still a lot that is needed.
The biggest part of this will be standardization – universal persistent identifiers, that are privacy compliant, and can help marketers analyze where their ads are airing and how that drives a conversion.
Q. What do you see happening with media spending? A 2019 study found that while 29% of TV viewing is done via OTT services, just 3% of TV ad budgets are spent there. Is that going to change? If so, how soon and what will drive it? If not, why not, and what needs to happen to kickstart it?
Our performance clients are spending 10% – 20% of their former TV budgets on OTT. Performance clients lead the way here because they have a framework for what’s working and understand the balance of reach needed based on the KPIs they hold TV to.
As viewership in the CTV/OTT space continues to increase, there will be more opportunities for advertisers to reach viewers, however they decide to consume video content. Kicking off 2021, there are more ad-supported opportunities with either new entrants (ex. Discovery +) or existing players starting ad-supported tiers in the near future (ex. HBO Max). There was this thought of subscription fatigue prior to COVID and we are not seeing that happen yet. According to a recent TiVo video trends report (Q4 2020 Video Trends), 25% of respondents added at least one new OTT subscription during COVID.
Q. What are the most important considerations facing consumer brand marketers around this topic? What are their biggest opportunities and their biggest challenges here, and how do they weigh them against each other?
De-duplication of reach & inventory. As mentioned, the inventory waterfall is complex, and the same content can be sold through multiple groups (publisher direct, aggregator, DSP/SSP). With most OTT households watching content across multiple apps, it also makes it challenging to understand unique reach and frequency across the OTT plan. A lot of our clients are using OTT and linear TV together so understanding incremental reach OTT is driving as a plan extension is very important too. We are using ACR technology to help us understand OTT and linear TV overlap for some of our clients.
Combatting fraudulent traffic in CTV. As more ad dollars flow into the space, there are going to be issues with fraudulent traffic. Ensuring that we are responsible for our client’s ad dollars is a key consideration when planning any OTT/CTV buy.