Digital Content Next (DCN) recently released findings from the NEW DCN OTT Video Benchmark and Best Practices Report. This media strategy research provides marketplace intelligence on over-the-top (OTT) video strategies to support publishers as they increase their investments in and distribution of OTT products and channels.
Publishers directly monetize OTT through advertising and subscription sales. They sell advertising for their branded products as well as for content distributed through vMVPDs and SVOD services with advertising. Advertising revenue sold by publishers represented an average 15 percent of participating DCN publishers’ digital revenues. Branded AVOD represents the vast majority of publisher sales of digital advertising revenue.
With OTT is in its early stages, publishers face a range of challenges in trying to monetize it through advertising and subscription sales.
Core challenges identified in the research include:
- Most publishers decentralize their OTT business between digital operations, corporate distribution, and licensing — and frequently between major divisions and/or brands as well — making it hard to coordinate OTT strategies, commit to investments and recognize operational economies.
- Resource constraints impact branded product development for some publishers with respect to:
- the operational labor intensity of complex content distribution and DAI integrations for multiple brands, distribution partner operating systems, and devices; and
- the substantial investments required for original content, marketing and staff to scale, as well as for the development of subscription funnel management and retention capabilities for branded SVOD products.
- The evolving OTT ecosystem does not yet fully support digital advertising because:
- DAI is available on major streaming device platforms, but it is not available on all vMVPDs;
- When DAI is available, it may not be supported by fully-integrated ad serving, third-party measurement or the availability of data for targeting; and
- Publisher integrations are complicated and may result in poor user experiences and/or service to advertisers.
- Consumer touch points for marketing branded products and developing loyal usage are fragmented across devices and platforms, often resulting in low adoption and high churn rates.
- Cable network publishers, in particular, need to delicately navigate their relationships with multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) when developing branded OTT products (e.g. branded SVOD, branded skinny bundles, integrated branded AVOD products) to protect their interests on traditional platforms where they still make the majority of the revenue.
Best Practices to develop the OTT digital advertising ecosystem include:
- Prioritize the development of OTT initiatives at the executive level of your company management to coordinate strategic trade-offs, commit resources, evolve management structures, foster risk taking and negotiate with key industry players.
- Focus on OTT branded products and distribution that leverage and support your core business, are replicable and/or have the potential to scale:
- Use branded AVOD apps and vMVPD distribution to offset audience and revenue loss from traditional broadcast and cable distribution and to gain younger, more valuable audiences;
- Consider developing branded SVOD products based on:
- the ability to develop premium, original and/or exclusive content;
- the opportunity to scale and/or super serve stable user bases of enthusiasts or fans; and
- the potential to leverage subscriptions for corporate data initiatives.
- Negotiate with device, vMVPD and retail partners for business requirements that support scaling as well as overall corporate strategic goals as appropriate, including:
- full ad server integration;
- full third-party advertising and audience measurement integration;
- reciprocal data rights for advertising and subscription monetization on and off platform;
- advertising, marketing and promotion commitments for branded products as well as content licensed and/or distributed through third-party services and retailer.
- With branded products and vMVPDs:
- Take advantage of opportunities to drive digital ad revenue by implementing DAI advertising with VOD content; and
- Balance opportunities for DAI advertising in live-streamed content with the ease of pass-through advertising, the degree of difficulty with implementing DAI operationally, and the goals of maintaining the user experience and serving the advertiser.
- Manage OTT ad sales within the context of the evolving addressable programmatic world:
- Develop cross-platform sales capabilities; and
- Integrate OTT data into corporate data initiatives for cross-platform advertising targeting capabilities.
 Technologies that allow the use of audience-level data to serve different ads to different audiences watching the same programming delivered digitally via a connected device or set top box. The IAB Video Advertising Glossary, 2016, IAB.