OTT Advertising and OTT Platform Overview
Television advertising is changing. The audience for traditional antenna, cable and satellite TV, also called linear TV, is shrinking. Marketers who don’t change with the times are destined to be shotgunning old-fashioned ads to fewer and fewer viewers. Those who want to keep and expand their audience need to get on board in the world of OTT advertising.
Over-the-top television, or OTT, is streamed content that’s delivered over the internet and viewed on a computer device. It’s called OTT because it most frequently comes into homes over the top of an existing cable setup. An OTT stream is not like the transmission from a TV tower or through cable. It’s a data stream that can be recognized and displayed by a computer such as a laptop, pad or smartphone. It’s not viewable on most older TVs. Fortunately, most of today’s television sets are smart TVs, which contain the computer needed to interpret OTT. Viewers with a non-smart TV can enjoy OTT content by adding an OTT device such as a Roku or an Amazon Fire Stick to their set.
There are hundreds of platforms viewers can access for OTT content. A few are free but most require a paid subscription. Among the biggest and best known OTT platforms are Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. These are video on demand (VoD) platforms that maintain repositories of TV shows, movies and their own proprietary content.
What Is OTT Advertising?
Many OTT platforms offer viewers two subscription levels: one that includes advertising and one that doesn’t. Most viewers choose to save some money and use the version with ads. There are over 100 million Amazon Prime accounts and about 35 million Hulu accounts. That’s a huge audience for Hulu and Amazon OTT advertising.
OTT ads aren’t like linear TV ads. They’re short, 15 to 30 seconds, and they appear either before or during streamed content. They’re typically non-skippable on TV ads. Skippable or not, there’s less tendency to ignore them than with linear TV ads. They can be targeted to a specific audience based on age, zip code and interest, and they provide real-time statistics that report on their effectiveness. On non-TV devices they support hybrid advertising, sometimes with clickable links. The OTT audience is growing and the linear audience is shrinking.
Why Is OTT Advertising Important?
There’s almost a “rush to the exits” in the way people are “cutting the cord” and abandoning cable TV. Streaming internet content is taking over. Both network and cable TV have experienced double digit viewership lost from 2019 to 2020. About half of American homes now feature an Amazon Fire Stick or a Roku. Within a couple years, it’s estimated, there’ll be 50 million Americans who’ll refuse to pay for cable TV.
Traditional TV is increasingly irrelevant to younger viewers. Studies indicate the millennials spend seven hours a day on streaming devices, but the 18 to 24-year-old group has scant interest in old-fashioned TV and watches it half an hour a day or less.
OTT advertising trends are the trends of the future. They drive toward targeting the most desirable viewers for your product. Because you can go after a smaller and more specific audience, OTT advertising presents a budget opportunity for small to medium-sized businesses that might not be able to afford linear TV advertising.
OTT Advertising and Amazon Advertising
There are lots of ways to participate in Amazon digital advertising. You can advertise in the Amazon marketplace. You can get your Amazon-affiliate ads to appear on the Google search page. Amazon marketing offers Amazon advertising opportunities in a variety of media, and the Amazon OTT platform is just one of them.
The Amazon Customer Base
Amazon knows a lot about its customers. While other OTT platforms specialize in streaming content, Amazon is a retail behemoth with an unequaled user list. When a customer subscribes to Netflix they get streaming content, but when they become a member of Amazon Prime they get access to books, movies and free shipping on purchases as well as the Amazon Prime streaming library. People who joined Amazon Prime for other benefits become part of the audience available for OTT Amazon Prime ads.
One of the advantages of OTT advertising is the ability to target a specific audience, and Amazon is uniquely positioned to help you do that. They know which of their customers shopped for a particular type of merchandise. They have age, income, education and geographical data on most of these folks. They categorize into interest groups such as homeowners or luxury vehicle drivers. They can identify who viewed your product but didn’t purchase it.
Starting with Amazon OTT Advertising
Amazon has its demand-side platform, or DSP, that allows you to purchase ads not only on Amazon Prime but off Amazon as well. DSP supports you in the process of setting your key performance indicators, identifying your target audience and designing and executing your campaign. You can build ads that will appear on Amazon Prime OTT and gather the statistics to analyze ad effectiveness measures such as completion rates and clickthrough rates.
OTT Advertising and Hulu Advertising
Unlike Amazon, Hulu doesn’t have a massive retail operation and a huge database of customer shopping data. However, Hulu is one of the more innovative companies in offering flexible advertising on its popular streaming service.
Hulu Ad Products
Ad Products is a suite of tools that tailors the advertising experience for both the viewer and the advertiser. With Ad Selector, viewers can select from more than one ad option. They can also choose whether to watch a long commercial at the start of a show or several shorter commercials during. Pause ads appear when viewers take a break. These tools make ads more palatable to the viewer and more likely to be watched attentively. The marketer can use Binge Ad, which places relevant ads into binge sessions. Marketers can present multiple versions of the same add to different target audiences and can also present interactive ads.
Hulu Ad Manager Tool
Hulu is rolling out Ad Manager, a self-service tool that will allow advertisers with a limited budget to place ads on Hulu. They submit an ad video, select desired dates and identify the characteristics of the target audience. Once the tool is approved, they’re on the air in the OTT world without an expensive campaign.
For organizations undecided whether to use Hulu or some other OTT platform, there are CTV companies that place OTT ads. (CTV, or connected TV, refers to that subset of OTT that’s viewed on a television set.) For example, Premion is a one-stop OTT advertising platform that specializes in local and regional advertisers. They’ll help those marketers decide how to place OTT advertising and with which OTT platforms.
OTT Advertising and OTT Platform
There are hundreds of OTT advertising platforms in the United States and more being added every day. To know how to advertise on OTT, you have to decide which of these platforms to select. In general, the best OTT advertising platforms are ones that have a large viewership along with the type of programming that will attract the viewers you’re most interested in. Here are some you might consider:
1. Netflix is the undisputed giant of the OTT world with over 150 million subscribers. It is not only a distributor but is also known for its original content. Whatever your target audience is, a good portion of it is going to be watching Netflix.
2. HBO Now has the same content as HBO, but viewers don’t need a TV set or a cable package to watch it. HBO has been providing movies for decades, but its most talked-about offering of recent years is Game of Thrones.
3. Disney+ appeals not only to families with small children but to viewers of all ages. In addition to Disney, Pixar and Star Wars, it also offers content from National Geographic.
4. Hallmark Movies Now has about as enthusiastic a set of fans as there can be, in a demographic suitable for quite a few products.
While OTT advertising is more flexible and more accessible than its old linear TV counterpart, the variety of choices can be intimidating to a marketer who’s new to OTT. How do you choose your OTT advertising platforms? How can you be certain you’ll have complete coverage of your target audience without incurring the unnecessary expense of overlap? What should an interactive ad look like? You’ll be getting back a lot of data about who is watching your advertising, when they’re watching and what they’re doing with it. How do you analyze his data?
Many of the OTT advertising platforms have tools and consultants to help you make best use of their specific platform, but how do you decide whether theirs is the right platform to choose in the first place? These are questions you’re going to have to address if you want to keep abreast of the 21st-century world of OTT advertising.