- OTT (Over-The-Top Video) is now mainstream. OTT has the technology and devices behind it, users and the right size of adoption (over 51 million addressable households according to comScore), and significant money spent in the space (advertisers are expected to spend $40 billion in OTT by 2020).
- Given that OTT can be “cast” to the large screen via mobile device (e.g. Chromecast), it is also technically a mobile experience, and we see the smartphone increasingly serving as a mobile set top box in the future.
- Co-viewing is big on OTT with over 90% of Americans ages 13-64 watching programming on their TV screens with other people. Findings from the “OTT Co-Viewing Experience: 2017 Study” show that over half of OTT co-viewers report talking about brands and products they see while watching TV.
- Brands are attracted to OTT video by its combination of big screen, engaged consumers, one-to-one household addressability, dynamic ad insertion, and interactive capabilities.
- OTT viewers are younger: the average OTT viewer is 31 years old vs. 54 years old for the average traditional TV viewer.
- OTT is evolving – this changing landscape still needs more uniformity in metrics and measures to ensure seamless media buys.
- In terms of measurement, currencies are the standards that allow us to compare on an apples-to-apples basis and transact, whereas impact metrics are the delineation points that allow us to make tactical decisions based on our own objectives.
- Content (within the right context) is still king. OTT Video allows for innovative storytelling on the big screen. Given the highly engaged OTT audience, you can use longer-form videos with episodic dimensions.
- A key benefit for brand advertisers in OTT is the reduced risk of fraud as OTT video ads are typically displayed in a full-screen, closed environment. Most OTT platforms require user authentication.
- Cross-platform addressability is becoming possible and the technology providers are working to simplify the process of activating cross-screen video campaigns, with the goal of making automation work while maintaining a great user experience.
The 2017 IAB Video Symposium themed “Video Everywhere: OTT & The Connected Consumer” convened industry leaders, marketers, and publishers on November 13th in New York City to explore innovation and strategies for creating, distributing, measuring, and maximizing the use of video to engage consumers across platforms.
Anna Bager, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mobile and Video Centers, IAB, welcomed a full house by declaring that OTT (Over-the-Top) video streaming is now mainstream with the technology and devices behind it, users and the right size of adoption, and significant money spent in the space. The IAB 2017 Changing TV Experience Study shows that 56% of consumers’ TV are now IP connected. According to comScore, there are over 51 million addressable households. OTT is also a mobile experience with the Smartphone becoming a set top box and more and more cord-cutters. The OTT Co-Viewing Experience: 2017 study shows that co-viewing on OTT is not only #2 ahead of VOD and TV, but also consumers are drawn to OTT because the content is there and social networks are also expanding into OTT. At this year’s NewFronts, Twitter announced partnerships with BuzzFeed, Bloomberg, Vox, and MLB Advanced Media to bring live-streaming content for the platform. Amazon is live-streaming NFL Thursday night football and Snapchat is partnering with NBCU once again for the 2018 Winter Olympics. DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) nimble brands also favor OTT as an advertising and storytelling platform and a great way to reach their target audiences. Advertisers are following the eyeballs to OTT, and are expected to spend approximately $40 billion by 2020 (nearly half of the $85 billion in projected total TV ad revenue in 2020 according to TDG Research). Brands are attracted to OTT video by its combination of big screen, one-to-one household addressability, dynamic ad insertion, and interactive capabilities.
Sophie Kelly, Senior Vice President of North American Whiskeys Portfolio, Diageo, took the stage to talk about her experience with OTT, “From Long to Short (and In-Between): Getting it Right with the Connected Consumer.” For Kelly, what’s exciting is that TV is finally evolving to be consumed and relevant by using data and technology. Now you can watch TV where you want it, when you want it. OTT is about having the best content available and watching it in your terms. She added that 79% of the U.S. population has some type of pay-TV service and 78% now subscribe to at least one streaming video-on-demand service – e.g. Hulu, Roku, Apple TV, etc. Ad-supported OTT is growing 32% month-over-month. “It’s time to get on board with OTT,” said Kelly as you can reach engaged consumers making a deliberate choice to tune in and watch specific content. You can reach the consumer of the future as OTT viewers are younger and affluent – the average TV Viewer is 54 years old vs. the average OTT viewer is 31 years old… This is also an opportunity to tell stories again through longer format with episodic dimension and interactivity. “So, are you down with OTT?” asked Kelly. With engaged consumers, technologies, and platforms, OTT allows brands to create powerful, interactive experiences.
Next, Andrew Snyder, Senior Vice President, Video Strategy & Solutions, Time Inc. Video Center of Excellence, and Sarah Warner, Managing Partner, Digital Investment Lead, Programmatic and Video, GroupM, had a fireside chat around the topic of “Monetizing OTT: Erasing Boundaries between Channels.” For Snyder, monetization of OTT is “complicated” and “evolving.” He wants to address how to remove some of the complexity and make it easier to buy at scale. Warner thinks OTT is “political” as this is a changing landscape – everyone is trying to make it seamless – yet, every publisher has set themselves differently. She would like to get some uniformity and make sure agencies and publishers are set up properly. She also would like to get more addressability and targetability for TV. Lots of the digital first companies are having an easier time with it. And for Warner, any kind of measurement is important – understanding this is not perfect today – measurement is always key to justifying investment to get clients comfortable.
Kristian Magel, East Coast President, Initiative, and Lauren Wiener, CEO, Tremor Video DSP, led the discussions in the Town Hall on “The Modern Living Room: How can we use data to understand the connected consumer?” Among the connected consumers in the U.S., 51 million are cord-cutters or cord nevers. They are connected through Amazon Fire, Chromecast, Hulu, Netflix, Play Station, Roku, or else. In this interactive session, they addressed how we can better leverage data to meet the needs of the addressable consumer; how we can turn data into true insights, and how do we know which data points proves real, actionable results; and what the future looks like for cross-platform addressability.
Adam Shlachter, CMO, Group Nine Media, talked about “One Size Doesn’t Fit All: How Data and Platform Nuances are Fundamental for Content Creation.” What matters now is where audiences are spending time. Platforms own distribution. Brands own hearts and minds. At Group Nine, “we dream in video,” said Shlachter. With its brands Thrillist, The dodo, and Seeker, Group Nine Media reaches 81% of U.S. 21-29 years old according to Shlachter. You want to find the content appropriate for the right platform, the right person, the right mindset, and at the right moment. His advice is to reach users across time instead of one-off, optimizing editorial and every story, and finding how to say it visually to drive shares and engagement. Shlachter recommends to test everything, see what works better in terms of headlines, aspect ratio, sound on/off, etc. and to get feedback immediately to raise the floor. “Data is just people in disguise,” said Shlachter – people are a mosaic of lots of data points. Context is king. You need to fit into the consumers’ world. The rules keep changing, the platforms keep changing, the technology keeps on changing. Yet, we have to stay on top of the platforms to keep on producing content that is compelling, test relentlessly on OTT, and listen to the data to be pointed in the right direction.
Eric Cavanaugh, Senior Vice President, Analytics and Insight, Publicis Media, and Julian Zilberbrand, Executive Vice President, Audience Science, Viacom talked about Measuring What Matters: From Delivery to Impact. We need a complete different set of talents today with the ability to be open, share, and get it right almost from the onset. Zilberbrand recommends to be straight out and communicate clearly what you want to achieve, and what are the key metrics. Often, people are trying to hide some of that as a way to negotiate and not pay for the value received. However, communication is key: indicate what success looks like for you. They made the distinction between common currency vs. impact metrics. You do need standards in this space in one way or the other: A standard will give you a way to trade, while impact metrics will help you choose who to work with and pay. Digital is so measurable that we try to use too many metrics as currency. Standards provide a way to trade. Use the impact metrics as delineation point to make tactical decisions rather than how you trade on those metrics. With new technologies like OTT, as we are able to measure it more effectively then we will see the dollars follow… It does take the entire ecosystem to work together – it has to start with the marketer being clear on what they want to measure then the agencies defining the sets, leading to the delivery of those sets of data.
After a networking lunch, the attendees joined different workshops around the topics of OTT Monetization at Scale; Creative in OTT Video: Innovative Storytelling for the Big Screen; and Connected TV: From Upstream to Mainstream.
The next town hall titled “OTT Co-Viewing: How does consumer behavior benefit brands?” brought Julie DeTraglia, Vice President, Ad Sales Research, Hulu, and Dan Robbins, Head of Ad Research, Roku, on the main stage to present further findings from the OTT Co-Viewing Experience: 2017 Study and to engage the audience in discussions around how co-viewing on OTT differs from co-viewing of linear TV and set top box VOD; how co-viewing impacts consumers’ engagement with the content and ads they are seeing; and how brands and publishers can leverage co-viewing behavior to increase reach and advertising effectiveness.
In the last afternoon session on the main stage, Jon Steinberg, Chief Executive Officer, Cheddar, talked about “The Future of Television” starting with describing two types of video content or what he calls “two bets”: highly produced drama and comedies and short form stunts, which he calls “shitty little videos on Facebook.” For Steinberg, there was no demand for this last type of video, Facebook engineered the demand, created it. Steinberg wants to reboot news and sports for people under 60. He claims that Cheddar is the “leading post cable network” since it launched last April 2016. With 50 guests on a daily basis, Cheddar generate more views, more engagement than established networks, and uses young, fresh, and vibrant voices. They mainly work with skinny bundles such as Cheddar on Sling.
The last two town halls were about “Straight from the Source: How can we simplify the process of activating cross-screen video campaigns?” and “How do we make automation in video buying and selling work while maintaining a great user experience?” followed by some networking cocktails to close this full day of insightful discussions.