OTT Is More Than Just An Acronym

For years, the advertising industry talked about how TV is losing ground to digital. 2017 was coined as the year “digital finally beat TV” in ad spend. While that may be true, the eyes are still tuned in to TV.

With the ability to consume content anytime, anywhere, viewing habits have changed. Time spent viewing television content in Q1 2018 topped the previous quarter, per Nielsen, largely due to the rapid increase in video streaming.

There is an entire industry springing up to support new content delivery technologies — particularly OTT (over-the-top). While digital media companies may have stepped out in a big way at Cannes, the undercurrent running outside the festival was all about how the TV ecosystem is changing.

As marketers are continuously challenged to find new ways to grow their brands, ever more quickly, reaching that audience of mostly younger people who don't subscribe or never subscribed to traditional pay-TV has required creativity. And not only in advertising methods and formats, but also in ad targeting and sales lift measurement.

OTT isn’t a new delivery method for watching TV content — per Nielsen, 67% of TV homes in the U.S. have Internet-enabled devices and the Video Advertising Bureau projected 11% of all U.S. TV households use only OTT streaming services and devices.

This year, OTT became a major channel for video content consumption. As the industry continues to see disruption, it will continue to offer more interesting ways of reaching consumers:  CBS All Access, Amazon Prime’s NFL broadcast, Sling TV and network apps, just to name a few.

More options will lead to better technology, data, targeting and performance.

At this time last year, there was still limited ad-supported inventory and a perception that OTT was relatively expensive. Advertisers were also having difficulty quantifying the value of an audience that watches a show on their laptop or on a mobile device versus a television screen.

But as OTT has reached a critical mass of viewers, advertisers have started to get their toes wet.

We’ve reached an inflection point: Demand has increased enough that supply has started to follow. An entire ecosystem of fresh new faces has popped up, outside of the established leaders (Hulu and Roku), and the conversation has started to change — from “What’s the value?” to “How do we make this happen.”

One of the more interesting use cases is re-targeting, primarily made possible by ACR (automatic content recognition) technology providers, like Gracenote or Inscape (Vizio), to keep track of everything that comes across the glass.

Based on what ad is delivered via a television screen, some brands are choosing to have an ad delivered to a mobile device in the same household on the same day. For example, a yogurt brand might choose to have an ad delivered to a mobile device every time their competitor’s ad was delivered on the television.

Or in a similar vein, have an ad delivered as frequency reinforcement to a mobile device every day that their own ad was delivered via TV.

There are still some pieces to be figured out in the OTT advertising ecosystem, but the good news for advertisers: Tthere is nothing that’s holding you back from reaping the benefits today.

In the near future, OTT will offer the same audience-based buying capabilities that are available for digital advertising today. Till then, OTT is accelerating the use of user-level data in the TV industry, and advertisers have an opportunity to reach this audience with video advertising in creative ways.  

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