MediaPost Insider Connect: The Road to Montauk—Part Four

It used to be much simpler. Media buyers and planners deployed broadcast and then cable TV to build awareness for their clients and help push them down the purchase funnel. But with the rise of digital, mobile, and now OTT fare, consumer choice has expanded exponentially.


And with measurement largely failing to keep pace with the media industry’s on-demand and delayed viewing transformation, brands and their agencies are left looking for metrics that can prove that their messages are not only reaching but also resonating with the intended targets. That task has become further complicated by the rise of direct-to-consumer options.


“OTT is becoming highly fragmented and very difficult to navigate,” said Steve Smith, editorial director of events at MediaPost. “There are no standard metrics or narratives.”


MediaPost’s TV & Video Insider Summit, which will be held at Gurney’s Resort & Spa in Montauk, N.Y. from Sunday through Wednesday, Oct. 20-23, aims to provide some guideposts within this complex OTT sphere, which itself is splintering amidst more providers, apps, and platforms.


For instance, Smith said that during a Tuesday morning panel called “The OTT Calculus—Metrics Across the New Grid,” MediaPost’s editor-in-chief Joe Mandese, Magna Global’s Julie Anson, and Spark Foundry’s Brad Liebow will dig into where DTC budgets are heading—and why.


OTT, not surprisingly, will particularly dominate the programming on Tuesday (starting with a keynote titled “The Move to OTT”). Behind that, as Smith noted, is the fact that “OTT is the fastest growing category across all of television.” Proof can be found in BIA Advisory Services’ estimate that local OTT advertising revenues will total $857 million in 2019—a 43% gain over 2018 levels—and reach $2.13 billion by 2024. Echoing that estimate, IPG Mediabrands Magna Intelligence unit revised its initial spending forecast for the overall OTT segment from $2 billion to $2.7 billion in 2018, a 54% year-over-year improvement. The sector is expected to grow 41% to $3.8 billion this year and jump another 32% to $5 billion in 2020.


Among the OTT options that media buyers and planners are increasingly availing themselves of today (and will be discussing at the Summit) are Hulu, which tallied some $1.5 billion in ad revenue in 2018, as well as Amazon and Roku devices. There are also opportunities within Viacom’s Pluto TV platform and Tubi. Smith also noted that some are turning to Samsung and LG smart TVs, which carry their own inventory loads, in addition to the commercial offerings found on the attendant channel apps. Moreover, he added, by April, buyers and planners will be able to look to NBCUniversal’s Peacock, which will enter the OTT fray with some 15,000 hours of series and movie fare, plus coverage of the Tokyo Summer Olympics.


“With more eyeballs on Connected TV, content creators and distributors are jumping on the OTT bandwagon, especially free ad-supported platforms from distributors like Viacom, CBS, Sling TV, Amazon, and more,” said Devin Fallon, VP, Media Insights & Analytics at Tremor Video.


Leading marketers and agency executives speaking at the Summit will identify the OTT channels that they have found offer contextual and behavioral opportunities, as well as assess the various forms of video and storytelling that have resonated thus far with consumers, such as Sleep Number’s branded content series and digital campaign tied to its role as “the official sleep + wellness partner” of the NFL.


The importance of measurement will also be reflected throughout the Summit with a combined focus on the role first-party data plays in locating prospects across various screens and the ways in which planners are melding metrics to best measure against campaign executions and KPIs. During Tuesday morning’s “That Measurement Panel,” for example, executives will explain how they combine offline and online, OTT and addressable, mobile and on-demand inventory to assess reach and attribute impact.


Speakers will also describe local efforts. Mall of America, with an assist from agency Ciceron, will discuss driving foot traffic and sales during both the 2018 holiday period and spring break through campaigns tapping connected TVs and Spotify. And building on the local angle, Ashley HomeStore’s Nicole Hanni will demonstrate that not all local markets are created equal. An example, as Smith pointed out, is that while OTT offerings tend to attract younger affluent viewers, many in the often difficult-to-connect-with 18-to-34 set, OTT penetration levels differ greatly by area. In fact, he said, some DMAs with a smaller OTT presence deliver enhanced ROI because they produce higher levels of interaction.


A critical theme, Smith noted, will be examining how today’s consumers are creating their own personal primetimes—with a look at what it takes for marketers to convey more relevant messaging to them within the OTT environment.


This is critical, given that peak TV now delivers almost 500 original series across linear broadcast and cable networks, premium cable, and streaming leaders Netflix and Amazon Prime—a total that will grow with the November launches of the much-ballyhooed SVOD services from Apple and Walt Disney, not to mention a ton of theatricals, non-fiction, and reality fare. Those vast offerings have led to the diminishment of daypart distinction, noted Smith, who pointed to the continued erosion of live entertainment audiences. On-demand, in its various forms, now rules the viewing roost, he added.


“With each year, fewer people are waiting around to see what linear programmers are offering at 8 p.m.,” Smith said, adding that his daughter doesn’t know what “primetime” means. He underscored that sensibility by calling primetime an “antiquated term,” adding that “while media buyers and planners used to fill a finite primetime, which we all watched, at this Summit we will see how they now have to chase an infinite number of ‘my times’ that consumers build for themselves.”


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