Advertising on Streaming Services: How to Reach the 'Cord-Cutters'

Advertising on Streaming Services

How your business can reach the sought after "cord cutters"

If you use audio services like Apple Music or Spotify, or video apps like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, then you’re already familiar with how streaming services work.

When these services provide music, TV and movie content over your Internet service rather than through a paid TV subscription, it’s known as over-the-top (OTT) media, since it’s a service purchased in addition to your standard TV service (click here to watch a quick video all about OTT). For your business, this represents a growing number of consumers—and TV-viewing sessions—that create advertising opportunities outside of the traditional TV format.

OTT media consumers are often referred to as “cord-cutters”—consumers who have left traditional cable TV in favor of streaming services. But the reality of cord-cutting is a little more mixed: 42 percent of U.S. households still have a paid cable TV subscription, according to eMarketer. And only a small population—about 11 percent, according to AdWeek—consume OTT media exclusively.

OTT streaming isn’t the end-all solution for advertising your business, but it can become part of a larger plan to follow your intended audience wherever it goes, and regardless of the type of content it consumes. Here's a quick overview of the best ad channels to continue reaching cord-cutters.

How OTT and TVE Advertising Works

Over-the-top and TV Everywhere may look and act similar to one another, but there are important differences advertisers should consider when strategizing for campaigns through these respective TV viewing experiences—especially since you now have the ability to advertise on network apps and websites like WatchESPN and the Food Network website.

For starters, OTT is a platform, while TVE is a solution. Streaming services typically offer their own library of content, with certain limitations: Live programming isn't as widely available through OTT services as it is with other types of TV service, for example, and access to newly released content may be tougher to come across.

OTT streaming services can be purchased on their own, or they can be accessed through TV Everywhere. In that regard, TV Everywhere offers a more flexible viewing experience than either traditional cable TV or OTT streaming. TV Everywhere is a digital extension of a TV subscription service that makes its content, including on-demand, recorded shows, and other channel-specific programming available through a branded cable service app. It offers OTT streaming apps, as well as video-on-demand from traditional TV service and TV-like cable apps.

Essentially, TVE provides viewers with an alternative method of watching TV. With TV Everywhere, access to all types of content is much easier. You can easily switch from HGTV to watching a Netflix show, and then jump over to the WatchESPN mobile app to watch highlights of your favorite team before using video-on-demand to watch a movie offered by HBO.

For advertisers, the digital nature of these content channels provides easier access to customizable ad space and campaigns, all thanks to programmatic advertising solutions.

How Digital Audio Advertising Works

Digital audio ads reach consumers in a similar way as OTT and TVE ads: They appear in content streamed over audio apps like iHeart Radio, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora.

These ad insertions are enabled by programmatic solutions that automate the process of purchasing ad space within certain types of content. Audio is also a great way to influence people throughout their day, including during their commute, at work or at home, or anywhere they choose to listen to music or podcasts.

Just as Hulu might play an ad before and/or after the TV show you're watching, a streaming audio app might interrupt your playlist every few songs to play a quick ad targeted to each user based on their demographic information, location, listening history and/or other data points.

For example, a local fitness center could target ads to exercise playlists on these streaming services. Similarly, retailers could target holiday promotions to holiday playlists and themed holiday music. This allows brands to take a more granular approach to purchasing and playing their ads to their target audience.

The Benefits of OTT, TVE and Digital Audio Advertising

Trading out traditional TV and radio campaigns for OTT, TVE and digital audio advertising provides a number of worthwhile benefits to brands of any size, but especially small and mid-sized businesses. First and foremost is the scalable nature of these ad purchases: While traditional TV and radio ads are broadcast to an entire market, targeting filters through digital ad platforms makes it easy to target your ads to select groups of users that meet certain criteria.

By scaling the size of this audience, you're able to control the overall cost of your ad campaigns while also increasing their value. Targeted advertising is much more relevant to each individual user, and these digital ads make it easy for brands to cut out ad exposures to consumers who wouldn't be interested in their brand.

A skateboarding company, for example, can easily target their core consumer base through basic demographic information and their preferred types of music, for example. At the same time, a life insurance company can target older populations without blowing their money on younger audiences.

The process of buying ad inventories for both OTT and TVE are also much easier. Through programmatic ad buying platforms, businesses can purchase ad inventories using automated solutions that optimize pricing and improve targeting capabilities far beyond what traditional TV offers.

This makes TV advertising for local businesses more accessible than ever, since OTT and TVE enable scalable, efficient purchasing that can more reliably reach a niche audience. But smaller platforms aren’t able to provide this service in an efficient way: Instead, larger companies like Cox Media are able to use their broad access to ad inventories to help even the smallest local business reach its intended audience.

It’s important to remember that an advertising partner can help you design a consistent, impactful message that translates properly across all devices. You can evaluate this performance through analytics and data that are unique to digital advertising channels. Businesses can use this data to evaluate the success of their campaigns, such as how frequently consumers skip through their ad, to guide better ad creation and strategy in the future. Over time, these data-driven insights can drive better strategy and greater campaign ROI.

How to Purchase OTT, TVE and Digital Audio Ads

If you're interested in advertising on several of these channels, find an advertising partner that services all of these different kinds of content. It's important to work with a partner experienced in programmatic ad buying so you can find the best for your ad buys while also navigating and avoiding potential issues of brand safety and fraud. 

Why Businesses Should Consider Combining These Ad Options

Between OTT, TVE and digital audio ads, any one channel could be the key to driving new value and ROI out of your audio and video advertising strategies. But combining these channels could be even more effective in terms of their ROI potential, and a local business's ability to reach its target audience.

Today's TV viewing audience is fractured across many different channels, which makes it hard to reach everyone through a single digital channel. Most consumers tend to lean toward certain media channels over the others, so if you're exclusively advertising on OTT platforms, you're sacrificing the potential audience you could engage through TVE. By combining these channels together for a multi-pronged digital strategy, your business can take steps toward a more comprehensive audience engagement strategy, even as traditional TV continues to splinter off into new content experiences.

TV advertising is still one of the best ways to reach a local audience, but as it changes, there's a growing need for new advertising ideas for local businesses. By focusing your efforts on advertising on streaming services, your business will be well-positioned to remain relevant and visible throughout this period of disruption.

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