Educating Advertisers on Streaming TV: Tips for 2H Planning

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The pandemic drastically altered at-home media consumption; cumulative weekly watch time on streaming TV platforms rose more than 75% within the past year. As a result, advertisers are now starting to pay closer attention to the growing market. In fact, streaming TV advertisements skyrocketed by a whopping 205%, passing $1 billion in spend in the first half of 2020 alone.

But with explosive growth, there always comes a bit of a learning curve. Navdeep Saini, co-founder and CEO of DistroScale, the parent company of DistroTV, explains how the pandemic accelerated streaming TV market growth and what advertisers should be aware of as we approach 2H planning.

How big is the streaming TV market? Is it the future of TV advertising?

Streaming TV is exploding, and it is the way of the future. Within that category, the fastest growth will come from free, ad-supported streaming TV platforms. As consumers cut back on paid subscription services, they will flock to embrace more free options. Content continues to increase across such platforms as these services look to diversify their offerings to meet growing audience numbers. In fact, it is predicted that this year, over 6 million U.S. households will cut the cord with paid TV, bringing the total number of cord-cutter households to 31.2 million. Not only that, but 47% of American consumers are currently watching free, ad-supported video services, up 40% from the start of the pandemic. This is a percentage that continues to rise.

How can advertisers make sure that their streaming TV spend is effective? 

Leveraging the “independent” nature of streaming services to target at the granular level is key. During lockdown, select streaming platforms began to partner more closely with brands and media publishers to distribute independent content that better catered to the individualized needs of their platforms’ growing audiences. Other streaming platforms went the acquisition route when scrounging for new content. 

In today’s entertainment landscape, many production companies have started to pull together to return to physical production but are still nowhere near where they need to be. In other words, there’s opportunity here for advertisers to pivot away from linear (mainstream) TV and embrace streaming services because there is more new, independent content being featured than what’s currently available on linear TV.

As advertisers, we talk all the time about personalizing content to meet the needs of the individual consumer we are trying to reach. Let’s put it into practice. Gone are the days of buying regions, running blanket campaigns across a wide net of consumers, and hoping for the best. Advertisers can today, and should, leverage streaming services to bid at the individual stream level, track if the impression was delivered and viewed, and start to understand the true effectiveness of targeted campaigns. Streaming TV services offer more diverse offerings across granular buckets and provide advertisers with the ability to therefore target consumers at a more granular level. 

There are so many new streaming TV platforms emerging onto the scene. Where should advertisers consider investing?

Invest in streaming platforms that are looking ahead. As we find our way back to normal, streaming platforms that invest in the future of viewership will naturally pull ahead when fighting for audience attention. Consider partnering with streaming TV services that are thinking about content consumption behavior as lifestyle changes come back into play with statewide reopenings. Giving viewers more options to watch and making it easy to do so will result in increased viewership, which will ultimately be a good place to invest your advertising dollars. 

What about marathon days? Aren’t those great windows of opportunity in the linear TV market?

The future of streaming services is continuing to evolve, and with it, there is ripe opportunity for advertisers. Yes, marathon days used to be prime windows of opportunity in the linear TV market for advertisers to make their stake; every day on a streaming TV service is a marathon day. The options are limitless once advertisers identify the specific audience they’re looking to target and the corresponding channel, full of viewers who meet the appropriate criteria.

To summarize, what should advertisers do to utilize streaming TV to their utmost advantage?

When choosing advertising spots that make sense for your client, focus on the audience’s priorities and get to the bottom of why they are watching what they are watching. When choosing platforms to allocate budget toward, focus on the platform’s that are prioritizing diverse, independent voices, that offer viewing across various devices, and that are consistently looking to partner with media brands and channel partners that push the boundaries to offer innovative and interactive viewing experiences to audiences.