With television -- the king of all advertising media -- in the midst of a transformation to digital "over the top" (OTT) delivery, improving the advertising experience is becoming a mandate. Encouragement can be found in the fact that Millennials will accept advertising that is relevant and “in context,” and are even known to seek out ads. Some of the most-watched videos on YouTube are actually brand-sponsored content.
The message from Millennials is not that advertising is doomed – it’s that it needs to evolve. At the most basic level, advertising needs to adapt its form and delivery to fit emerging technologies and consumer behaviors.
While digital gives consumers unprecedented control over the viewing experience, it also gives progressive publishers and advertisers the power to reach TV audiences in ways that are more welcoming and effective.
What exactly can the industry do to boost ad receptivity among Millennials (and the rest of us)? Here are three areas to focus on:
Get The Basics Right
No commercial is more irritating than the one served to you over and over and over again, a uniquely digital scourge. A key culprit is digital advertising’s continued reliance on cookies and mobile IDs, which target devices, not people.
With many consumers routinely using four or more digital devices, a video ad with a frequency cap of 10 can come in on spec, despite having bombarded its carefully curated target with a lethal dose of 40+ exposures. Millennials are most affected, as they have the greatest number of devices and rely most on digital for news and information.
People-based targeting is a ready antidote. Systems built from the ground up around consumers are inherently “cross device” and are beginning to displace legacy approaches. In addition to improving the user experience, people-based targeting dramatically improves campaign reach and efficiency.
Another deadly sin is the commercial that won’t render. In a recent survey, 73% of consumers cited “poor delivery” as a reason for rejecting online ads. “Buffer rage” is for real -- the good news is that like over-saturation, it is manageable. Adhering to IAB’s LEAN protocol, which provides technical guidance to improve ad load times, is a great first step.
Unlock the Power of Connected TV (CTV)
Who doesn’t have an Internet-enabled TV in their living room? CTV accounts for two-thirds of OTT TV viewing, and continues to gain share relative to desktop and mobile. CTV is a dream come true for advertisers, blending 1-1 targeting and attribution with lean-back, big-screen viewing occasions.
Even better, CTV campaigns can be synced to other digital devices enabling retargeting and coordinated messaging over time and across screens. That’s a win for advertisers as well as consumers, whose ad experiences become more relevant and cohesive.
But your targeting system must be pure to realize the holy grail of CTV. Because CTV devices are cookie-less and do not have unique IDs, people-based targeting is necessary to realize CTV’s promise of precision-targeted TV ads and seamless cross-screen execution.
Other benefits of CTV advertising include high viewability and the freedom to “personalize” creative based on a viewer's profile, location, and brand history.
Go Back to the Future of Advertising
Regardless of how beautifully they render, how perfectly they are targeted, or how riveting they may be, stand-alone ads will not dominate OTT the way they dominated linear TV. Publishers and advertisers need to consider alternative ad forms that are more tightly integrated with programming.
Product placement is a time-proven form of "native advertising” that is immune to channel fragmentation and ad-avoidance. CTV-compatible measurement solutions enable content owners and advertisers to quantify product exposure and connect the dots to subsequent actions, including brand purchase.
"Branded entertainment" is another old-school form of advertising well-suited to these multichannel, ad-blocking times. Early television shows were often produced by brands in return for sponsorship rights, a model that was abandoned when production costs ran too high.
These days, production-cost barriers have come down (think reality TV shows or some of the new cable comedies), and linear TV CPM's are on the rise. Mix in program audiences that are both more fragmented and more targetable, and it’s a recipe for a branded entertainment comeback.
Dramatically improved targeting, customization at scale, and new creative containers -- it just might be the golden age of television … advertising.