Streaming as we know it today has undergone a massive evolution, growing in importance for marketers throughout its rise to mainstream media. The viewing platform continues to grow, with ad spend in the space projected to surpass $10 billion in 2021, according to eMarketer.
A nascent platform in the 2010s, streaming video has matured technologically to deliver engaged audiences at increased scale. However, today’s streaming marketplace is cluttered, laden with poor-quality, unsophisticated platforms.
For marketers, working with streaming partners that are transparent in their advertising experience and that house premium-quality video content is of the utmost importance when activating OTT campaigns. Even more essential is to incorporate streaming and OTT in a balanced media mix, inclusive of linear TV, in order to maximize reach to the intended audience.
“About 25% of households skewing younger are OTT/streaming/digital delivery-only, about another 25% average older and are more accustomed to the broadcast TV format ... and that leaves about half the other people in the middle.”
—Jonathan Steuer, EVP, TV strategy & currency, VideoAmp
Strategies that accommodate the overlap of how audiences are showing up in the video ecosystem—including streaming and more traditional platforms—are critical for advertising. Without them, you’ll either miss or over-saturate consumers.
For OTT to thrive as a marketing channel and for streaming platforms to achieve the economics they need to deliver premium content to their audiences, the following dimensions of streaming will need to evolve:
1. Scale and unification
While streaming is now 25% of total video consumption, premium advertising opportunities are less than half of that total (54% is advertising-based VOD but more than one-third of that is YouTube, which is not considered exclusively premium content).
There are challenges related to the unification (all flavors of TV bought and sold together) paradigm, with the alignment of systems and data, equivalizing of ad units and the adoption of standards to solve for managing delivery across linear and digital environments.
For cross-device campaigns and the operations that manage them to have the flexibility they require, the systems and platforms need to work with real-time data to ensure campaign optimization, such as duplication across linear and digital, can occur.
One of the challenges advertisers have in unifying their buys is mirroring OTT and linear campaigns precisely due to different data dynamics and content catalogs. Buyers of OTT inventory often look for audience data targeting (demographic or behavioral) that does not necessarily match to linear content buys.
While there are already various targeting capabilities offered primarily by TV publishers that operate across both linear and streaming, there is a huge opportunity for advertisers to bring their own first-party data to the table. Audience-based targeting has grown significantly in the last year as data sets and solutions have matured in the streaming space.
Because OTT is an IP-based platform, marketers have carried over their concerns from desktop about viewability and fraudulent traffic. And as demand continues to grow for streaming audiences, the likelihood of fraudulent activity increases. Companies are rapidly developing solutions to certify and authenticate viewership in order to ensure viewers are, in fact, human audiences, not bots.
Increased privacy legislation and data-sharing restrictions have created additional hurdles for fraud detection, as the issuing and tracking of identifiers for legitimate users is less persistent. While technology in the world of OTT has improved dramatically over time to measure and validate traffic, every sign points toward premium partners on recognized platforms to guarantee that advertisers’ investments are indeed reaching the engaged users that CTV and OTT attract.
4. Audience measurement
OTT audience measurement has faced a number of challenges over the years. Because it’s a digital channel, buyers’ expectations for digital-style measurement doesn’t match up perfectly, due to a cookie-less environment and verification providers’ initial inability to validate human traffic and viewability. However, progress is being made, with attribution methodologies evolving to provide a “total TV” view of ad exposure and results.
“Measurement has evolved from probabilistic to deterministic data sets, and attribution techniques can link both linear and OTT exposure to actual business outcomes. We are seeing significant value in the incremental reach of streaming audiences, not only to drive additional exposure to linear but also to bring lift to website engagement and actions.”
—John Hoctor, co-founder, Data Plus Math (LiveRamp)
The world of streaming may be over a decade old, but with new entrants, both legitimate and otherwise, and viewing and advertising standards still evolving, this next decade is sure to be a fascinating journey for all stakeholders. TV will continue to be redefined in this decade, but what is clear is that streaming will be central to its future.
For the full report, “The Evolution of Streaming,” please click here.