In 2020, the over-the-top (OTT) landscape shifted greatly, ushering in a new era for subscription-based OTT video streaming services. New players like HBO Max, Disney+, and Peacock joined the scene. All the while, service providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video continued to dominate the market.
So, what is next? OTT services are predicted to generate just over $158 billion in ad revenue by 2024.
As OTT experiences these major growths and investments, it brings about some key advertising questions – What are the best practices for selling advertising in this emerging channel? Which channels have the best measurement? How is OTT different from linear TV? And, more. With that, MediaRadar hosted a virtual panel to explore these recent and upcoming changes in OTT, plus what the future holds for this type of advertising.
Los Angeles Times reporter Wendy Lee moderated the discussion. And panelists included Bill Condon of Xumo, Justin Gutschmidt of Premion, and Matt Graham of Acorn TV, as well as myself. Here is a recap of some of the key insights discussed.
While TV advertising has been largely the same for decades, OTT platforms are changing the game, offering new ways for advertisers to get their messages across. Hulu, for example, has a choose‐your‐own‐adventure‐type ad option, allowing viewers to select which of multiple ad options they would like to watch. Hulu also uses interstitial and binge ad options, a format where viewers can watch all their ads at once so they don’t have to be interrupted later.
After a lifetime of seeing TV ads presented in one way, these new, more creative ad options feel refreshing. They also help keep audiences engaged. With more of a change in what they’re watching, most people are much less likely to get bored. In fact, Hulu claims that the options provided by their platform lead to a 150% increase in brand recall.
OTT advertising offers many advantages to brands looking to get more for their money, as well as more views, more click‐throughs, and more sales, and provides opportunities to get a message in front of the right people at the right time. Leveraging the audience data that OTT channels provide, advertisers are able to produce highly targeted campaigns. They can segment audiences based on geographic location, demographics, preferred content, and much more. Advertisers can also capture impression data for guiding future ad buys.
By narrowing down an ad’s audience to include only those to whom it is relevant and applicable, brands drive awareness. They also save money by not showing ads to obvious dead ends. Audiences also appreciate not being shown ads that don’t apply to them.
As OTT content becomes more popular, the industry is starting to consolidate. For example, Xumo was acquired by Comcast in February 2020. According to Bill Condon of Xumo, being tied to a larger company has boded well for them.
“Right before the pandemic hit, we were doing well. But, being tied to a larger company has been really beneficial. I’d say there’s four key areas in terms of what has been helpful to Xumo,” Condon explained.
Condon shared that distribution, discoverability, content, and data were four primary benefits of the merger for Xumo. With Comcast’s help, Xumo now reaches a wider audience and is easier for potential audience members to find. It has also seen a large increase in the content acquisition budget, and has access to more data and data processing tools. Other companies are likely to undergo similar merges and find similar benefits, moving forward.
The number of unique OTT providers will likely decrease, now that all of the major players have introduced their OTT platforms. The average OTT consumer is willing to pay for about 3.2 platforms. Past this threshold, they are willing to accept ad-supported OTT, which major leaders already offer (i.e. Peacock and HBO Max starting next year).
At MediaRadar we track what happens to our customers and, out of those 2,400 customers we track, there was more M&A activity last quarter than any single quarter in our ten years of doing this. As for the number of OTT platforms, this consolidation is a strong sign that the industry is maturing. As the platforms band together for various benefits, we will soon learn what else they can offer.
With many big name players already on the scene, the future of OTT advertising will be interesting. As advertisers continue to capitalize on the benefits of OTT, it is only a matter of time before we begin seeing even more of its potential and profitability play out.