TV has changed a lot over the last few decades, and I expect more changes in the coming years.
For one thing, streaming viewership is growing over time (paywall). And in 2018, Nielen data showed that 80% of the U.S. adult population used an app or website on their smartphone to consume online content on a weekly basis.
Videos streamed through over-the-top (OTT) services, like Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus, Peacock TV and other video streaming platforms, account for 25% of the collective time consumers spend using their TVs, according to a recent Nielsen survey.
With this rise in viewership comes another opportunity for marketers — OTT advertising. So, what is OTT advertising, and why is it so popular right now among marketers? Let’s dive in.
Defining OTT Advertising
The phrase “over-the-top” refers to streaming companies’ ability to bypass TV providers. OTT services don’t need to worry about things like a broadcast schedule or geographic limitations. Viewers can access their content at any time of the day or night.
Because people stream over multiple devices, OTT ads need to be formatted to work well on everything from a large-screen TV to a laptop to a smartphone. Another difference between OTT advertising and traditional broadcast advertising is that you can typically reach a smaller but more targeted audience with OTT advertising, which is one of the primary reasons I see advertisers drawn to it.
While we often think of the big names in OTT when considering the best live TV streaming service, including Roku or FuboTV, there are plenty of smaller, more niche OTT channels out there. As I’ve written about before, anyone can create a video streaming app, which means there are almost limitless opportunities for marketers to advertise on platforms that will reach their target audience.
Why Is OTT Advertising Trending?
In my experience, marketers are loving OTT advertising because it delivers ads directly to viewers through streaming devices and services. Viewers see these ads on their devices, like a connected TV (CTV), laptop, tablet or smart TV.
These are some of the reasons why I believe OTT advertising is trending right now.
Reaching A Targeted, Niche Audience
Unlike traditional TV broadcasting, which has to cater to a broad audience, OTT services can target niche audiences. By advertising on an OTT platform, your ad dollars can go further to reach a more targeted, niche audience than with traditional forms of advertising.
When you incorporate OTT into your overall marketing strategy, you can re-target your audience through OTT, social media, audio ads, your website and any other channel that you use. Bringing your audience into your ecosystem can increase engagement from users across channels.
Minimizing Ad Spend Waste
Through audience targeting, OTT ads can stretch your marketing budget further and dramatically reduce spend waste. They make it more likely that your ads are only shown to people who are likely to be interested in your brand. Essentially, with OTT advertising, I’ve found that you’re less likely to waste time or money on people who are never going to buy your product.
Best Practices For OTT Ads
If you’re going to advertise on OTT services, make sure your ads are relevant to your audience. Here are a few guidelines to follow.
Keep Them Short
How often do you sit through a minute-long ad? Not very often, unless you recognize the brand and know that the ad will be entertaining. Many people skip ads on OTT as soon as the “skip ad” button shows up. So, keep your ads short. They should be no longer than 30 seconds. Fifteen seconds is even better.
Pay Attention To Formatting
Your ad might look fantastic on the big screen, but how does it look on a smartphone? Make sure to format your ad for all types of devices, including TVs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Make Your Ads Relevant
OTT ads should be current and relevant to your audience. Take time to get to know your audience before diving in so you can create a personalized experience that will build trust and turn viewers into customers.
I’ve seen companies of all sizes leverage OTT ads to reach their audience in innovative and creative ways. Consider making OTT advertising part of your marketing strategy to engage with your audience in meaningful and personalized ways.