What are OTT ads?

Are you down with OTT? You should be! Recent data shows more than half of all American adults are devouring over the top (OTT) content, and it is not a passing fad.

Ask friends for advice on a new show to watch or ask co-workers what movies they recently caught. You are not going to hear them talking about traditional TV, you are going to hear about an original series only found on Prime, or the latest Netflix movie. You might hear about a documentary or stand-up comedy show they are binging on through their Chromecast or Apple TV, and if you do hear about The Bachelorette or This is Us, they are likely watching it through their ABC or NBC app rather than through cable.

What does OTT even mean? It stands for Over The Top, initially named in reference to devices that bypass cable and instead go “over” a cable box to give the user access to streaming TV content. In OTT channels, content is delivered via an internet connection rather than through a traditional cable/broadcast provider.  

People are cutting their cable cords and are watching what they want, when they want. Many don’t even have to cut the cord, they never had it, their official term is “cord-nevers”. In fact, it is estimated that 67 million Americans do not pay for a traditional TV service and 1.3 million Americans cancelled their pay-TV service in the 1st quarter of 2019.

Streaming options continue to rise and there are a lot of players in the game and from Apple TV+ to Disney + the options seem endless. With so many options to choose from, people are likely pondering just how many of these streaming options we need AND how many can be supported? A new survey of 2000 plus verified adult users of OTT services is attempting to answer some if these burning questions by digging a little deeper. The survey, conducted by the Harris Poll and AdTech platform Open X , has revealed many interesting facts:

  • 52% of all US Adults over 18 use at least one OTT service
  • The average OTT user streams more than 2 hours of content every day
  • The average OTT user streams content across three devices and uses three different OTT services.
  • Usage also varies by age with Millennials spending more time on their phones than they do sleeping and 1 in 3 OTT users stating that screen size has no impact on the type of content or how long they watch.

What does this all mean? That OTT is rapidly becoming the norm. People are not just testing the waters anymore, they have cannon-balled into it and are swimming freely.

The next question in my mind then is just how many streaming services does one really need? And, how many is too many for the market? How many monthly fees are we willing to pay when new streaming services are coming at us all fast and furiously?  Survey says, “Up to $100 per month for about 15 channels/outlets.”

Are you overwhelmed? Most of us are. Managing our streaming subscriptions does not spark joy. We want it to be easy. Easy to choose, easy to manage and easy to navigate, however, there is no perfect way to cut the cord and no perfect magical combination of streaming that will give you everything you want.

Take sports for example. We have a Roku in our house, and I live with some massive soccer fans. In the last four weeks we have downloaded at least four different services in order to watch specific games that were not being broadcast on a service we already have. Keep in mind, in the last four weeks we have also decided to cancel two subscriptions. One as soon as the free trial was complete and the other as soon as the super special unicorn game we could only find on that app was over. We decided to keep one as it has a more massive variety and sports package and as for the fourth service, we are still in the trial period and we are still mulling over how necessary it is and if we want to keep it.

I would imagine a lot of households work this way. We are all constantly patching together different combinations of services to get just the right fit, yet like your favorite jeans, that perfect fit can be really hard to come by.  

The average consumer subscribes to at least three services, and we will continue to see several more debuts in the next year or less. Now instead of just turning the TV on, we actually need to compile a strategy and game plan to watch TV.

What makes us decide which services to use? Content is huge. For us, it was about where can we watch this game and who has it? Often there is only one place to watch so the choice is simple. The survey agrees to a point and determined that while specialized content is a good way to attract new viewers, it is not enough the keep them long term. 

As we are all working on patching together our own personal quilts of streaming, advertisers are busy keeping up with it all.

It is estimated that $76.1 billion was spent on advertising to television audiences in 2019, down from $79.3 billion in 2018. For 2020 it is predicted to rise 4% thanks to all the political ads we can expect in an election year.

What about Video ads and what do those budgets look like? According the IAB, marketers report we will see an increase for digital video budgets by 25%.

Some key areas are driving this spend increase:

Original Digital Video content— ODV now averages $9.3M (up 31% y/y); although advertisers consider ODV “essential”, the spend on this content type is still challenged by “quality of content”

• Advanced TV— Nearly 60% of advertisers report that they will increase their budgets for ATV this year, primarily because they find OTT to be beneficial in delivering tough to reach audiences

• Mobile and Desktop have reached parity in spending, with nearly two-thirds of the total digital video spend allocated evenly across the two devices

• Programmatic— Growth in digital video programmatic spending is expected to rise +4% year/year, now reaching 53% overall

With more video ads coming at them, how are OTT audiences responding to ads, especially when they are consuming content on their mobile devices? Going back to our Harris Poll and AdTech platform Open X survey, 40 percent of all OTT users will pause a commercial on their phone, search for info on the product, and display intent to purchase. That is a HUGE opportunity for brands as OTT adverting could generate incredible results. The key is to determine the best approach, the creative needs to be strong and there must be a call to action.   

Another challenge for advertisers is the diversity of the OTT universe. Not all providers allow advertising and not all in the same way. Some platforms are ad supported and others are not which makes it difficult to achieve a tactic that encompasses the whole scene.

The survey found:

• 72% of OTT users understand there is a trade off between watching free content and having advertisers use their data to serve ads, and most do not find ads bothersome if they are relevant
• 46% of OTT customers are willing to pay $10/month for a service with no ads
• 25% prefer a free service with ads
• 29% want a hybrid model with a few ads and a lower monthly cost
• Consumers are willing to pay up to $24/month for a premium package on a single service

These findings hint that OTT providers will most likely arrive at some kind of tiered pricing model with at least one of the tiers being ad supported to include the different customer segments.

As for ad targeting and personalization, there is immense potential to grow as we narrow in on the exact users. Lawrence suggests, “Advertisers will require a much richer inventory of creative to appeal to individual audiences and subsegments.” The concern here is the survey also found a approximately one third of consumers share passwords for OTT services. So he also cautions, “if the account holder is a 55 year-old married couple, but actual primary user is a 21 year-old college student, there might still be a disconnect.”

Although we don’t have all the answers yet, this new survey does help us to quantify some of the changes and gives us a bit of a baseline. I personally have lived through antenna only TV with no remote control, to FINALLY getting cable and the ever so important MTV in high school, to not being able to live without HBO, to all the on demand cartoons my boys watched to the now teens in my family downloading and deleting streaming services at a blinding speed. I’m not certain what exactly is next but I’m down with OTT and excited for the ride!

Digital Marketing Blog Post

Top Three Digital Trends of 2019

Digital opportunities continue to boom and explode. It was forecasted in 2019 digital ad spending will rise by 17.6% to $333.25 billion. That means for the first time, digital will account for roughly half of the ad market.

Some of the top digital trends on the rise are video marketing, artificial intelligence and chat boxes.

Video Marketing is anticipated to climb and climb. Video has always been an important marketing tactic, but it is changing. By 2020, 85% of all consumer internet traffic will be made up of video. And gone are the days of fancy overproduced videos. Consumers want genuine and good content that is entertaining and informative and put a lower a priority on dazzling special effects and fancy edits of high-end footage. They want it to be real.

There are many video options when reaching your target audience. OTT is the HOT new way to reach the cord cutters of the world. Who is watching TV live anymore? In the world of streaming and binge watching of movies and shows, OTT is where it is at. 71% of internet users also use OTT services and 47% of US wi-fi households own a streaming device.

OTT can be targeted to certain demos and behaviors like Moms and Sports nuts or even isolated to certain areas or neighborhoods with a geo-fence. AdWeek notes, “While watching a program, two out of every three people use a second screen to look up information about a product they saw during that program.” Talk about the power of advertising!

OTT is not the only place video can be consumed. Pre-roll video on YouTube and other publisher websites that allow video is another great way to capture people on their phones, laptops and other devices.

A pre-roll ad is a video advertisement that automatically plays directly before a featured video, on both mobile and desktop. These ads are commonly :15 or :30 seconds in length. It has proven to be a great format for brand awareness, brand engagement, brand favorability, and purchase intent.

Video ads also can be included on Facebook. Facebook touts video posts have increased by 94% with 8 billion views a day and 100 million hours of Facebook videos watched daily.

Mobile Conquesting is one of our most popular products. As consumers spend more of their online time on smartphones and tablets, it’s important to include a mobile strategy in your digital marketing. Mobile Conquesting allows advertisers to use both location-based targeting combined with demographic and behavioral targeting to reach desired consumers on their mobile devices with video ads.

Video is changing and so is digital targeting, by leaps and bounds now with machine learning, AKA Artificial Intelligence (AI). Machine learning gets to the heart of your target consumers based on who is engaging with the ad, and showing your ad to more people like those. Utilizing this tool really helps advertisers get their campaigns in front of the most receptive audience. As digital consumers, we want a more personalized experience and are more likely to purchase if ads are customized to us.

All of this activity will yield in more traction on your website whether it be from OTT, mobile ads or AI targeting to capture that potential lead. This is where Live Chat can play a huge role. When advertisers have placed Live Chat on their website, they have seen a 30% increase in leads. 42% of end users prefer a live chat as a major means of communication.

These live chat conversations are not with Chatbots, but with real humans, trained live agents to be precise. These chats can play a critical role in improving the customer experience and allow marketers to better engage with their website visitors, without really doing a whole lot. They offer real-time assistance to the user, and proactive interaction where they ask questions to understand the real problem and provide lead data to advertisers.

Video, mobile, machine learning and chat agents are a small taste of some of the top digital trends this year. Stay on top of these new trends and work to incorporate them in your next marketing plan before the next wave of trends is upon us. Be relevant.

Organic Blog Post

Why Your Marketing Plan Should Include More Than Just PPC

PPC, Pay Per Click, Google AdWords and now Google Ads are all different names for paid text ads on google search returns. They generally appear at the top of your search reruns or at the bottom and in some instances in the first position in the “snack pack” returns (the listing under the map image).

They can be an important part of a business marketing strategy, but just because people understand what PPC is, does not mean this should be the ONLY digital strategy you should include.

PPC can deliver a message to an audience looking for something in particular that they type in, but what about that other set of the universe, that has not searched yet? Or what created the need for the search to begin with?

Studies have shown that 94% of users skip search ads and head straight to organic results. And this is just the people that are being targeted by search, but in the world of the internet, there is so much more to digital than just search. As digital consumers, we consume and use online tools in many ways. We use mobile apps, buy items online, find out news, research, order items for store pickup, listen to music, watch how-to videos, check Facebook feeds, text, buy and trade stocks, online bank and so much more.

So, yes Google is a great tool, but it is not the only way to reach people online. As a matter of fact, PPC does not create demand it merely captures it. So as marketers we must also create the need, the want and desire. Investing in one strategy is never going to solve all your marketing goals and challenges.

How do we create the demand and what tools can we use?

It starts with your sales funnel and understanding what strategy aligns well with your goals. As consumers we are in and out of various stages of the buying cycle. And each level plays a role in buying decisions.

In building a brand, you need awareness.  70% of consumers will click on a business that they know. Some digital tactics that work well in building brands are OTT, video pre-roll, Native & Display by targeting online behaviors. Ask us about these solutions and how they can help your business!

Traditional and Digital Blog Post

Why Do Digital and Traditional Media Work Well Together?

You have heard the phrase, opposites attract. Well the same holds true for your media mix. Traditional media like radio and television work hand in hand with digital. Digital marketing can include tactics like SEO, online display or native and social media across all online devices.

First, it is important to understand your audience and to realize there are many ways to reach them. Traditional marketing like radio and TV can be great for brand awareness as well as reach and frequency. Some may categorize traditional media as a more passive marketing approach, while digital is more active and can be extremely targeted. The combination of these strategies can really complement each other and work together to solve your marketing goals.

Consumers sit at various levels of a sales funnel and a great media mix can help close the loop on conversions and sales. Traditional media efforts can create the awareness of a need and digital can convert the need or want into action.

We also live in a busy and connected world. And consumers stay very connected in multiple ways. In 2016, it was reported that the average household has more than 7 connected devices. And it is forecasted that by 2021, there will be 13 networked or connected devices per person.

And the ability for consumers to adapt and receive messages from multiple places has almost become commonplace. One can be surfing the internet on his or her laptop, checking out a Facebook newsfeed on their phone, with the TV on a program and have Alexa streaming audio all at the same time.

According to a custom survey of Nielsen’s Media Enthusiast Community, 45% of respondents watch TV while using digital devices very often or always.

Digital devices are often used in tandem with TV and audio to augment users’ overall experience. 71% of respondents said they have looked up information related to the TV content they were viewing, while 51% did the same for audio. There are also e-commerce opportunities as 35% of TV viewers and 25% of audio listeners have shopped for the products and services advertised on the main platform.

In that busy and connected world, comes a flood of activity and advertisements. So the importance of being relevant and targeted and where consumers are is a necessity.  The best way to reach prospective customers is to target them wherever they are – on any device!