Executives Talk 'Complicated' World Of OTT

The current state of over-the-top video is “complicated” and “political,” but the opportunities in the space will only get bigger as more consumers embrace new platforms, executives said at the Interactive Advertising Bureau Video Symposium on Monday.

Brands, content creators and agencies were all represented at the symposium, which sought to explore the opportunities and challenges of  OTT video.

“What is exciting as a marketer is the ad-supported growth in OTT platforms,” said Sophie Kelly, senior VP of the North American whiskeys portfolio at beverage giant Diageo. Kelly noted that while Netflix may be king of the OTT universe, ad-supported options continue to grow at an aggressive pace as well. Hulu, for example, was growing at 2% per quarter.

And while Netflix does not accept any advertising for now, eventually its subscriber count will slow down or reach a ceiling.



“When that happens, they are going to be looking for more revenue opportunities,” Kelly said, implying that advertising is the next logical step.

Still, the world of OTT remains messy, with a slew of players on the content and technology side.

“It is truly complicated,” said Andrew Snyder, senior VP of video strategy and solutions for Time Inc.’s Video Center of Excellence. Snyder added that as a content company, Time Inc. wanted to offer a rolled-up solution for brands looking to reach young consumers.

It’s "political,” said Sarah Warner, managing partner and digital investment lead for programmatic and video at GroupM. Warner compared the current state of OTT to a pool with swim lanes, where different players tried to encroach on lanes that may have traditionally been dominated by other players in the ecosystem.

“Every publisher has set themselves up differently and are approaching this marketplace differently. I would love to get uniformity, but also parity,” Warner added.

As brands increase their spend on OTT services, they are also trying to navigate an ecosystem that is more fragmented than traditional media platforms.

“It is a total arms race. Everyone is trying to figure out, how do we crack the consumer distribution platform?” said Snyder, noting that Time Inc. not only invests in video on its own platforms, but also on Twitter, skinny bundles and elsewhere.

“Are you going to shift your entire TV budget to OTT? No, you’re not,” said Kelly, who added that while brands may still buy on traditional platforms, they need to be engaged with the platforms that tomorrow’s media consumers will be using.

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