Over-the-top (OTT) advertising is an increasingly important component of digital marketing plans.
As greater numbers of people cut the cord and move away from traditional cable and satellite content, OTT and connected TV (CTV) markets will become even more valuable to those in the digital marketing space. Approximately 2.8 million consumers cut the cord in 2018 alone, so the trend away from traditional content and toward streaming media options is one that you shouldn’t ignore.
Despite the growing importance of OTT and CTV content, many marketers seem hesitant to shift their focus toward OTT strategies. A 2018 Nielsen survey found that a full 30 percent of marketers didn’t even have a budget in place for OTT ads. If you want to keep your company competitive as the shift to streaming digital media continues, it’s important that you develop an OTT strategy for your content.
If you don’t, you may wind up being left behind as your company’s competitors move on to the OTT space.
Identifying a target audience
Some may balk at the idea of OTT advertising out of fear that the largest streaming services are not ad-supported.
This approach would be the equivalent of avoiding traditional cable advertising because premium networks exist. However, just because some premium streaming platforms exist doesn’t mean you can’t find a target audience for your advertising.
There are a number of ad-supported OTT platforms available, though they hold a much smaller market share than the “Big Four” of Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu and YouTube TV. Some of these platforms offer higher consumption than the heavy hitters due to a larger overall install base, however; YouTube TV, for example, has fewer than 1 million CTV users despite its strong brand name. Smaller streaming platforms that offer free premium content supported by ads can surpass its consumption rates despite not having its massive brand recognition.
Market research needs to be a priority when planning your OTT strategy. In addition to simply identifying popular streaming platforms that you can target with ads, you also need to find out as much as you can about user demographics and how they compare to your target audience.
Advertising costs also factor in, since some platforms may not have a large enough representation of your target audience to make advertising on them worth the cost. Given how protective some platforms are of their user data, this research may take longer and require a bit more work than the market research your company has done for other platforms.
Balancing the load
Just because OTT ads are increasingly popular doesn’t mean that you need to abandon other forms of advertising.
Social media advertising and even search-based ads are still popular and reach users, though their effectiveness is often determined by how well you can target your ad content. Striking a balance between OTT advertising and other digital advertising such as social media is an important part of developing an OTT strategy.
As a part of balancing your digital advertising initiatives, you can use some of your OTT ads to help drive your social media presence. A number of OTT advertisers “continue the story” on other platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, using their OTT advertising to entice viewers and then referring them to social media to give them a chance to engage. This overlap not only converts some OTT views into other forms of engagement, but it also allows you to create a larger advertising narrative without having to devote a bigger budget to developing it all on OTT ads.
Find a voice
As you develop a content strategy for marketing across OTT platforms, be sure to take into account how different demographics view advertising content.
No two platforms will have the exact same user demographics, which is why programmatic advertising is so important in the OTT space. Instead of buying placements as you would with a traditional television model, you instead buy audiences; your ads target only those viewers you most wish to capture. Instead of developing unique campaigns for each channel, develop a voice for the audience you target across the OTT platforms you advertise on.
Some of the work in developing a voice for your ad content will simply be applying the demographic data you collected during your early research. Different platforms may have their own preferred types of content and this should be kept in mind when developing ad deployments, though in most cases this will not be that much of an issue.
Staying mindful of the demographic target you are aiming for when developing the overall voice of your advertising efforts will help you to better match OTT ads to what the viewers will respond to. If you are targeting the same audience across multiple platforms then you can focus on defining a singular voice. Should you target multiple audiences, the ads created for each target should have its own unique voice that best fits that demographic.
Consider the hardware
In most cases, when you think of OTT advertising, you picture ad content created for specific streaming channels.
While this does make up the majority of advertising opportunities, your OTT strategy should also consider hardware-based opportunities as well. Many OTT and CTV hardware manufacturers have advertising options available on the home screens or other parts of their device interface, allowing you to potentially reach viewers even when they don’t have a specific streaming channel open.
Bear in mind that these opportunities are more limited than those for streaming channels, but they also have the potential to reach a larger percentage of the population that uses those hardware options. Hardware-based OTT advertising shouldn’t be a primary focus of your OTT strategy, but it also shouldn’t be ignored without considering whether it would fit your marketing campaign plans.
It could be that supplementing your channel-specific ads with hardware-based ads is just what you need to meet your OTT campaign goals.