Streamers & OTT: Actionable Insights for Brands. Interview with Tubi

By Fox InSites Archives
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Since the pandemic, streaming has accelerated in its growth and acceptance among viewers, but its rapid progress is out pacing our ability to assess its full impact on the media business. This is why Tubi's recent study called, The Stream – 2021 Actionable Audience Insights for Brands, is a welcomed addition to our knowledge of the state and the future of AVOD for both advertisers and programmers. In this interview with Tubi's Natalie Bastian and Melinda Staros, we share insights from the report and a guide to action for brands and agencies.

The launch of this expansive study involved a partnership between Tubi, which is owned by FOX, and an impressive roster of first and third party data sources in order to match the quantitative with the qualitative results. For Natalie Bastian, Tubi's vice president of marketing, the report unveiled "a treasure trove of insights fueled by the data we have as a platform, which helps inform who our audience is and what they care about - we uncovered a great untold story that I knew brands would find valuable."

The Stream, The Report

In offering an overview of the findings, Bastian explained, "The report not only looks at the broader shifts of content consumption and the rapid growth in streaming, but also specifically at AVOD and how AVOD is at a pivotal point of scale. In the year ahead we will see fundamental changes of how brands are evolving their TV strategies, especially going into Upfronts this year. Scale, targeting and measurement are all coming to a head. Because of our scale, (the results are) representative of the broader AVOD streaming audience." The report is timed to maximize the value of AVOD in the Upfront as an addition to linear. "This is our first proprietary research report," she added, "but not the last." The Stream is poised to be an ongoing assessment of the marketplace and the importance of AVOD in it. "This is our stamp and our voice," regarding, "consumption and engagement and the reasons why consumers are gravitating to free streaming platforms."

The Stream, The Meta-Analysis

The study's methodology was especially interesting to Melinda Staros, Tubi's director of audience research, "It was a meta-analysis of first party and third party data and our ability to thread that together. We used our first party audience data with all of our proprietary analytics – this was the first time we were using these to this scale." The study also added Tubi's qualitative research and, "all of the interviews we have done with our streamers for the past couple of years." In addition, "We ran a custom B2B research study with Advertiser Perceptions," which helped share what marketers are looking for in streaming media, and incorporated data from a number of trusted industry research sources such as MRI Simmons, TVSquared, Kantar and Nielsen. "There are many layers to peel back in this report," she noted, "and it's a compilation of all of these different methodologies and how they connect together." The uniqueness of this study is its 360-degree holistic view of the industry.

The Stream, The Takeaways

For Staros, the study's biggest takeaway, "has three layers. The first one is the industry where we found a discrepancy in the numbers. Seventy-nine percent of the people are streaming, growing daily and cutting the cord for cable. Streaming is so prevalent on the consumer side … and yet up to 90% of the video ad spend is still going to linear. There is a disconnect from the consumer side to the media side of the business." But she is sure that will change in the next year. "From an audience perspective," she continued, "it's really the fact that streaming presents an incremental audience and that they are nationally representative. For us, Tubi's audience is young and diverse. The industry isn't necessarily used to that. The third is measurement. That is having substantial impact. The case studies outlined in the report show that streaming helps brands increase ROI, offline conversion, and incremental reach to young and diverse audiences."

For Bastian, an ah-ha insight was that "When people in the marketplace talk about incremental reach the assumption is that it is incremental over linear TV. But what we found is that our audience is uniquely incremental to other streaming audiences as well." She pointed out that while there is little overlap between Tubi and other AVOD audiences, there is substantial overlap between Tubi and Netflix which is not ad-supported, thus enabling advertisers to reach those desirable audiences through Tubi. "We find that not only is our audience young, diverse and highly engaged, we can click into what they are watching, how long they are watching and when they are watching." Tubi also boasts one of the lowest ad loads in TV – an average of 3 to 5 ads per hour.

The Stream, The Pandemic

While some industries have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, for Bastian, "The pandemic has across-the-board expedited the speed to stream for consumers. It has accelerated launch efforts for other platforms to come to market," but, she added, "I think that will level out over time. I think that over the next year, consumers will reevaluate and realize how their subscriptions add up. Resulting in SVOD leveling off and cable to continue to decline. But AVOD will continue to rise … especially free AVOD," which includes Tubi.

"In terms of the numbers we are seeing, the pandemic has had a big impact on the sudden jump in the number of people streaming and the amount of time they spend streaming," noted Staros who added, "one in five people have cancelled their paid streaming service because of COVID and that was especially true of people ages 18-34 (at 33%) who tend to have lower household incomes and tend to be early adopters."

The Stream, The Value to Advertisers and Programmers

For both Bastian and Staros, the value of AVOD and Tubi in particular to advertisers is a no-brainer. Bastian explained that, "when you look at how cable numbers are shifting and how streaming numbers are growing, you need to be able to diversify where you are spending your money." She believes that buyers will pivot and make AVOD a must-buy this Upfront season. "We have one of the largest, most engaged AVOD audiences in streaming," she stated.

For programmers, Staros shared that it is possible to take a program on linear that may skew older and, on a young platform like Tubi, age it down. "When FOX released The Masked Singer on its network, they had huge viewership, but it skewed older," she explained, "The big question was, if they put it on Tubi could they reach a younger audience or is the audience inherently older? The answer was that the platform dictates the type of viewership that you are going to get."

The Stream, The Future

The future is bright for AVOD. "Streaming consumption is only going to continue … and in next few years ad-supported streaming will surpass cable." Bastian noted. The data supports this. "Between more cord cutting, more streaming, and more streaming services, there are definite changes happening in the marketplace. The shift is really pronounced in that there are so many people who are not going to be reachable through traditional TV that at some point we are going to hit a threshold. They are saying by 2023," Staros concluded. The future certainly looks exciting, especially for AVOD.

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