Here's a hot tip for advertisers and ad agencies crafting their 2020–2021 TV strategy: Don't go overboard on over-the-top advertising just yet.
That's the new message Comcast's advertising unit Effectv will circulate early March, through a whitepaper authored by the unit's senior director of Audience Insights, Heather Coghill (pictured below). In that document, Effectv suggests that, although over-the-top is a valuable and growing pathway for ad spending, the media avenue is most effective when used in conjunction with more traditional advertising platforms.
Over-the-top, or OTT — as defined by Effectv — is premium video transmitted through the Internet and displayed on smart television sets (by LG, Samsung, Vizio, and others) and via TV-connected devices (such as Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, and Roku), as well as on mobile phones, personal computers, and tablets. "We include premium in our definition because we're dealing with the delivery of quality content and advertising in that premium environment," Coghill explains. Cable and satellite operators offering TV Everywhere services, where customers can get individual channels or channel bundles on any device through an authentication process, also falls under this OTT classification.
The issue for advertisers and media buyers, as Coghill observes, is getting the widest audience reach with their campaigns. Although OTT — and, in particular, connected TV (CTV) — is growing in appeal as an ad medium, especially for reaching young adults and millennials, it's far from fulfilling reach targets exclusively.
"Advertisers need to engage audiences across multiple platforms in a premium video environment: not only OTT, but also in set-top-box [originating] video-on-demand, as well," Coghill says. "And most important in linear TV [e.g., broadcast, cable, and multicast networks], to maximize reach in this fragmented environment."
The whitepaper also covers what Effectv deems myths about the current state of OTT. The biggest myth in Coghill's view: the magnitude of OTT inventory available to advertisers. "There's this feeling in the marketplace right now that OTT viewing is at similar levels to linear TV. It's just not the case, especially when you pull out the non-ad-supported services, given that some of the biggest [streaming] players don't carry ads," she says.
OTT-distributed services account for less than 20 percent of total TV usage, according to Nielsen's latest Total Audience Report, published earlier this month. Almost half of that usage is going to services such as Netflix and Amazon that do not take ads, Coghill notes.
Another myth is today's misperception that linear TV is unable to provide the targeting and attribution precision of OTT for today's audiences watching their big screen TV, Coghill explains. "The power of today's data-informed linear TV is that it can do essentially everything marketer's love about OTT — at scale," she asserts.
"There's no doubt that OTT is a huge growth area," Coghill adds. "There are lots of new players, platforms, and services coming in. It's an exciting space and we know that younger audiences especially are watching these products to consume content in new, flexible ways. We also know that, even among these younger audiences, OTT's relative scale is smaller than linear TV's. In most cases, viewers are using OTT as a complement to traditional linear television and we think advertisers should do the same."
With that top of mind, Effectv's whitepaper recommends that advertisers and agencies develop comprehensive TV plans that balance linear TV with video-on-demand and OTT. The exact percentage of spending for each medium depends on the advertiser's specific campaign goals.
"What makes the most sense for a given advertiser is to use data to pull together a cross-platform campaign. It's the best means to find, target, and reach engaged audiences," Coghill says. "If you start with your foundational linear TV plan, then layer on OTT and video-on-demand, it will complement linear by building incremental reach, as well as helping to balance frequency in low viewing TV households."
Coghill hints that Effectv will continue to bring a variety of cross-screen tactics to advertisers throughout the year that will help to maximize reach and business outcomes.
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