Why the Best Time to Invest in OTT and Digital Media is Now

Consumers are cutting cable but still watch favorite shows by streaming them. Invest in CTV and Local OTT Media to maximize your marketing investment. 

Even some researchers who conducted a recent survey of cord-cutters expressed surprise at their study results. Cord cutting refers to people who have canceled their cable TV accounts but kept internet as a way to access streaming content. This content may include their favorite TV shows and streaming-only programs. People still watch television shows, but far less of them watch via cable these days.

While it’s obvious that regular TV ads won’t reach as many people as they used to, you can find out how savvy marketers can enjoy even better returns from accessing local OTT media and CTV advertising.  These kinds of ads reach the viewers that cable cannot and offer plenty of benefits.

The importance of digital media for advertising

The survey mentioned above occurred last year and involved 5,000 Americans. The survey takers believed that their demographics tended to skew a bit younger and more budget-conscious than average, but they still included residents of each state and people from age 18 to 69.

The results uncovered surprising insights and trends: 

  • Almost 60 percent of the respondents had already canceled their cable service.
  • Meanwhile, almost 30 percent said they had not yet cut the cord but were actively considering it.
  • In summary, about 90 percent of survey respondents had already canceled their cable TV subscriptions or planned to do it in the future.

Meanwhile, industry analysts expect the trend to continue. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon already offer billions of dollars worth of content. Such devices as Roku Streaming Stick and Google Chromecast let viewers access multiple services from older TVs, and newer sets often come with built-in internet connectivity. Of course, people can also watch content from their laptop, mobile phone, or tablet, so they really don’t need a television at all.

Rather than choosing an expensive cable package, many consumers have found they can get more content for less money by streaming. Even cable companies recognize the trend and have begun to offer stream-only accounts that give customers internet access to basic and some premium cable stations. In addition, most cable and network stations offer free and paid plans to let viewers watch their favorite shows through an internet connection.

Also, you can only access some new network programs from, like the new Star Trek series, through a paid app. With that CBS app, for example, the basic paid plan still shows ads, and viewers need to pay more to remove them. As another example, you have to have paid cable access to see some AMC shows, and you still have to pay more to remove advertisements.

In any case, the numbers from the survey may not exactly illustrate the behavior of all Americans. Still, they represent a large population of internet-aware, budget-conscious consumers. If that sounds like your market audience, you should consider the digital media marketing options that will let you reach them.

What is OTT Vs. CTV advertising?

Very often, OTT and CTV advertising get used interchangeably. More precisely, CTV refers to connected TV or even any device used to watch content through an internet connection. OTT stands for “over the top” and refers to using a service to access content from the internet. For instance, people still need to get bandwidth from their cable company, but they may need a subscription to such OTT providers as Hulu and Netflix to watch a particular show. 

The anachronistic origins of over the top came from the days when people usually placed their gaming or streaming device physically over the top of their cable box. Anyway, you can usually think of OTT and CTV advertising as having a similar meaning, depending upon context, but they may not always exactly mean the same thing.

So, you might see CTV and OTT advertising more precisely described like this:

  • CTV advertising: CTC advertisements generally describe short-form, professional video ads that marketers can offer to targeted audiences of people who use connected TV.
  • OTT advertising: Advertisers can have OTT ads inserted inside of OTT content in much the same way that viewers are used to seeing ads on network shows. Subscribers will not see ads for external businesses on Netflix or the HBO app. However, some services have subscription levels, so the provider will display ads to bring in additional revenue for the cheaper plans. Examples of these services include Hulu and the CBS and AMC streaming apps.

Benefits of OTT and CTV advertising

Before discussing the benefits of digital media advertising, it’s a good idea to consider the drawbacks of traditional media:

  • Targeting: Traditional TV, radio, and even print ads generally cast a wide net. You may have had some ability to target an audience by choosing time slots or media; however, you can’t tune that well enough to target things like your previous website visitors or people who have or haven’t seen your ads before.
  • Analytics: After your ads ran, you may have figured out how to gather some rough metrics. For instance, you might have asked viewers to call a particular phone number or ask for a specific TV-only deal. Still, you had no way to track the buyer’s journey or know exactly which of your efforts effectively gave you the best returns.

Besides knowing that you’ll gain an increasingly larger audience by targeting online content, you should understand the rich features of streaming ad platforms.

Targeting

Sophisticated digital media marketing platforms offer these kinds of popular targeting options:

  • Geographic location: In the past year, local OTT media marketing grew by 127 percent, which amounted to seven times the increase for all digital media marketing put together. You can also use IP targeting to find customers in specific geographic locations.
  • Your own insights: You can use your own website visitor tracking, subscriber list, and other first-party data to find your audience.
  • Demographics: As with other kinds of ad platforms, you target by personas, age, gender, income, and many other demographic variables.
  • Frequency caps: You won’t have to worry about overexposure when you can set frequency caps to avoid showing your same ads to the same people too many times.
  • Retargeting: Besides targeting your own website visitors, you can also target the same people across multiple devices, such as their connected TV, mobile phone, and laptop.

Metrics

Just as you’re probably used to from typical online analytics and advertising program, you will get a free suite of metrics to monitor performance. Some common examples include:

  • Site visitors: You can track visitors to your website or individual pages. You will also know which first-time visitors you attracted and which visitors have visited your site before. You will even get completion stats to see how many people watched your entire video to the end.
  • Performance statistics: You can also track performance data by device, local region, publisher, creative, time of day, and much more. This will give you the information to test every aspect of your marketing plan. You will know which campaigns performed well and which ones you need to discard or modify.
  • Specific costs and conversions: You will have the information to calculate exactly how much you paid for each view, and you can follow your audience through to your website or phone system to calculate conversion costs as well.

Other OTT advertising benefits

Perhaps best of all, viewers don’t appear to mind OTT ads. For one thing, TV viewers have already grown accustomed to commercial breaks during their favorite shows. Unless they have paid for a premium subscription, they accept ads as a price they will pay for their content. In fact, many platforms see video completion rates in excess of 90 percent. Most of the time, the viewer cannot skip the OTT advertisement if they want to finish watching a show, so perhaps this isn’t so surprising.

When you promote your business on high-quality services and programs, you can also help protect your brand image in a way you cannot always do with typical display ads people view on websites.

Why it’s time to invest in OTT and digital marketing media now

Right now, the majority of households access at least some content through CTV and OTT. Many people have already canceled their regular cable subscription, so they only access content through the internet. By 2021, according to eMarketer, almost three-quarters of American households will rely solely upon OTT and CTV to deliver the kind of content they used to watch on cable television.

Meanwhile, during the current coronavirus crisis, viewing habits will increase by about 60 percent, according to Nielsen. Nielsen observed that people tend to consume more programming during times of crisis in order to remain inform, connect with other people, and of course, to entertain themselves. Beyond the overall trend for more digital media consumption, right now, interest is definitely spiking.

Besides the increase in audience size, your marketing efforts can benefit through sophisticated targeting and analytics tools that you will use to promote and measure your efforts. If you ignore the power of OTT and CTV, you risk losing your audience as the cable companies lose customers.

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What Brands Can Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Pivot your marketing strategy to handle coronavirus by producing digital content, airing television ads and OTT ads, and a communication strategy.

Shift focus from events to digital

On top of major events like NBA games and Coachella being cancelled or postponed indefinitely, conferences, expos, and trade shows have also been cancelled. According to a Demand Gen Report, 53% of B2B marketers say in-person events are the most effective channel for driving conversions, so many marketers are now searching for new channels to connect with target audiences. 

Google Cloud Next, Adobe Summit, Y Combinator Demo Day and more have opted for a digital-only approach. Although digital-only events do not offer the same traditional networking opportunities as in-person events, marketers can experiment with their event strategies to still capture those audiences. Consider these tactics: 

  • Produce digital content that can still influence your intended audience. Even though your company will not be able to interact with your audience in person, you can still reach them through digital channels. 
  • Target attendees with email campaigns or direct-mail. These channels provide the personal messaging that audiences look for while attending events. 
  • A/B test everything to measure the effectiveness of attending events in the future. You could find valuable insights from changing your strategy this year. 

Opportunity for television and OTT advertising

Social distancing and work from home mandates mean more people will be at home watching television and streaming content. Audiences are tuning in to reporting on the coronavirus pandemic and searching for ways to stay entertained while limiting contact with potentially affected areas. 

Although ad spending is projected to slump across the board, reallocating budget to television and OTT advertising could pay off. Many brands are cutting ad spend in preparation for lower sales projections, which means there could more inventory available. Between self-quarantines, cancelled events, and precautionary measures, potential consumers are on the couch in front of the television as a captive audience.

Communicate any service disruptions to the customer

In the event your supply chain is disrupted, you have to cancel your event, or any other major changes, clearly communicate to your consumers why your regular service may be affected. Your customer will understand if your company has to make changes in the current situation as long as you are clear on why the package is taking longer to arrive or you are issuing a refund. The last thing the consumer wants is to be left in the dark and without the proper information.

Dispel misinformation about your brand

Misinformation about COVID-19 is multiplying across all social media channels. In-depth social listening for mentions about your brand will help you monitor untrue information that could be harmful to many people. 

For example, some people are attempting to make their own hand sanitizer using Tito’s Handmade Vodka and aloe. However, the CDC recommends that hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol and Tito’s only has 40%. To stop this unsafe information from spreading, Tito’s is replying to all tweets with a statement disproving it and recommendations from the CDC. 

Don’t sacrifice safety for the bottom line

It’s hard to predict what kind of long-term impact coronavirus will have on our economy, but it’s important to keep acting with brand values in mind. At the end of the day, the safety of the public is the most important thing and companies should act accordingly.

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The Explosion of OTT Content

OTT content and distribution platforms continue to proliferate at an astonishing rate. Here’s what you need to know about marketing your OTT services.

Remember when Netflix was a quaint little DVD delivery service? When they introduced a streaming component, it seemed more like a novelty, and less like the future of entertainment. OTT services (short for “over the top services”) have since become ubiquitous, thanks to the “Big Three” streaming content providers: Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

We’re experiencing another shift in the OTT services marketplace, however. Unwilling to cede the streaming entertainment category to the OTT Big Three, a number of major competitors are entering the market in force and creating ripple effects through the ad world.

These days, everyone is a content provider…

Disney, WarnerMedia, all the major TV networks, cable providers, technology companies etc. have all pivoted to become content providers and distributors. The end goal? To become OTT companies and capture as many eyeballs as possible, carving out a significant piece of the $70 billion spent in the U.S. every year on TV advertising.

While OTT services account for roughly one-third of all TV viewing, ad spend (and budgets) don’t correspond. At the moment, OTT video services have only gained about 3% of total TV advertising spending. So what does this mean? It’s simple: Though OTT viewing is growing at an exponential clip, advertising and marketing in the OTT space hasn’t grown in parallel. That’s coming, however — and the brands that act today will be in the best possible position to create competitive advantages.

Currently, OTT advertising is dominated by two large players: Hulu (which generated $1.5 billion in ad revenue in 2018) and Roku. Other major players are coming in strong, however. YouTube is refashioning itself as a platform with TV-like programming capable of going head-to-head with traditional television networks — a competitive, rather than complementary force.

YouTube has one undeniable argument in its favor: Raw viewership. According to the most recent company data, U.S. residents spend 200 million hours each day watching YouTube videos, many of which are consumed on smart TVs or other large screens.

Meanwhile, Amazon has been pursuing a new TV advertising strategy based around Fire TV. The technology giant has been heavily targeting TV advertisers and has created a dedicated TV ad sales team to further that goal.

An OTT ad duopoly?

This activity is sparked in part by a realization that, if other players in the space don’t fight for OTT ad dollars, Hulu and Roku could form a duopoly reminiscent of the digital ad duopoly created by Facebook and Google.

TV advertisers, meanwhile, have their own imperative: Audiences are moving to OTT services in ever-increasing numbers. If advertisers don’t mirror the behavior of these audiences, their pitches will be less successful, and they’ll ultimately cede ground to competitors.

There’s another reason why OTT advertising shouldn’t be a hard sell: It holds the potential to be far more effective than traditional approaches. While network TV may have been the gold standard in terms of reaching viewers, it can’t compete with OTT in terms of audience segmentation. The data-rich nature of OTT platforms allows for high-level audience targeting, allowing brands to deliver much more relevant ad content and target motivated buyers who have an interest in what they are selling.

Finding the right OTT marketing agency

OTT advertising can move the needle — but only if you’re working with an agency that has the experience and expertise to drive results. At Bigeye, we’re OTT experts, and we’d love to show you the power and reach of a well-executed OTT ad campaign.  

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OTT, You Know Me! Jump Into Cross-Channel Advertising

Television and film content has been migrating online at a rapid rate. Most of us use platforms such as Hulu, Amazon Video and Netflix daily– if not hourly. Popular streaming services such as these are generally referred to as OTT (or “Over-the-Top”) media.

The idea behind OTT is simple: Instead of a conventional set-top box, audiences simply stream their favorite content directly from a provider’s app. This, in some cases, eliminates the need for a cable or satellite company to act as a content distributor. 

Overall, the transition to OTT has made the process of watching our favorite programming easier and more accessible than ever before. We can open a mobile device, fire up an app and stream content anywhere at any time — a shift that has a multitude of significant implications for marketers.

Why OTT is essential for cross-channel marketing campaigns

Studies have long illustrated the utility of a cross-channel advertising approach: One survey found that 72% of consumers prefer an integrated marketing approach across all channels. Meanwhile, Google discovered that consumers displayed better brand recall during cross-channel campaigns (74%). 

So this much is clear: A cross-channel approach not only works better, it’s the campaign format that audiences find most useful. 

Here’s another important statistic: Roughly three out of four people consume OTT content, and the number of OTT-only households has tripled over the last five years. Additionally, one-third of OTT consumers watch content on three or more devices.

Some other eye-opening OTT numbers:

  • The four largest OTT services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and YouTube) average a total of nearly two hours of viewing time per day in every U.S. household.
  • Streaming accounts for 11% of all TV viewing in the 18 to 49 demographic – an increase of more than 100% in the last three years.
  • Netflix accounts for the lion’s share of OTT consumption (40%). YouTube is second with 18%; Hulu 14% and Amazon 7%.

Given these numbers, determining the optimal approach for marketing in the OTT ecosystem should be a key consideration moving forward. According to a recent Video Advertising Bureau report, 65% of people who use a second screen when watching OTT content have researched products or services they’ve seen advertised on the programming they are watching.

This kind of multitasking is a boon for advertisers and marketers, and the future possibilities for integrated marketing are profound. A generation or two ago, advertisers were forced to take a scattershot approach to reach audiences. Market research and notoriously unreliable TV ratings were the tools of the trade, and the only real methods available for creating targeted ads over a TV set.

Today, advanced data analytics have allowed the process of ad targeting to make a quantum leap in effectiveness. The general trend toward OTT consumption enables even more precise targeting, as OTT content is streamed across devices and apps that often know more about our history and preferences than we do ourselves.

OTT allows advertisers a deep level of control; they pick who sees an ad, the device it’s on and when it shows. They can track which ads are skipped, which ads are watched and the overall preferences of viewers.

Incorporating OTT advertising into a campaign isn’t without challenges, however. Advertisers, for example, need to create ads that are optimized for myriad screen sizes, browsers, platforms etc.

Yet the truth is fairly simple: Audiences want cross-channel advertising, and they want content streamed Over-the-Top.

It’s the job of marketers and advertisers to give it to them.

The takeaway

The numbers tell the story: OTT viewing is experiencing explosive growth, and will eventually become the default content viewing experience for most audiences. The data-rich OTT ecosystem is also fertile ground for the kind of highly-targeted cross-channel advertising that moves the needle.

Connect with us today to discuss how OTT can help your advertising be seen by the right people in the right place at the right time.