Commentary

First (And Last) Impression Units Rise In Popularity As Smart TV Adoption Soars

For advertisers, the peak era of broadcast television was like driving up and down the densely populated corridor of the Eastern Seaboard looking for places to get gas or eat a meal. Waves and waves of viewers were continuously reachable through traditional 30-second ads. But the advent of streaming — and the rise of non-ad supported models — has taken the advertising industry westward, into the wild unknown. 

According to eMarketer, more than 181 million Americans will use a connected TV (CTV) in 2018, with the number topping out near 200 million by the end of the decade. A thriving, high-growth ad industry has been built to monetize CTV and over the top (OTT) platforms. And yet non-ad supported models permeate the landscape. Netflix drives the majority of smart TV viewing at 57%, according to comScore, while several other popular streaming services such as HBO Now are also completely ad-free or like Hulu, offer premium ad-free versions. 

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But all is not lost. A sign is coming into view … it says, “First Impression Units, This Stop.”

The idea of a first impression unit (FIU) initially emerged on the web as a takeover ad unit displayed on the first page viewed in a session. For consumers accustomed to skipping over typical banner ads, the visual impact of a brand owning so much real estate on a page naturally commands the viewer’s attention.

A similar opportunity exists with smart TVs. A smart TV FIU is a premium high-share-of-voice unit displayed within an original equipment manufacturer’s smart TV hub. FIUs run in highly visible positions as viewers look for content (e.g., home screen, content store and apps). They also offer a variety of available post-click actions such as click-to-video, click-to-website, click-to-custom micro-site and click-to-app, all of which are full screen experiences. This unit is particularly effective when trying to get in front of audiences who are about to enter non-ad-supported content such as Netflix — right before they binge.

Just think about how impactful that ad can be — potentially the last ad viewed before experiencing an otherwise ad-free environment. Digital buyers are quite familiar with the concept of a web page takeover. FIUs for smart TVs are even more consumer friendly and may turn out to be even more valuable. Smart TV providers can work with ad tech platforms to layer in robust targeting and measurement solutions which will help advertisers more effectively realize their goals. 

As more brands experiment with creative and integrated approaches to smart TV advertising, they are certain to realize and report greater benefits of the FIU — the last stop for more and more viewers of CTV.

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