The coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on OTT. With everyone sheltering at home, streaming media consumption has gone through the roof, drawing attention to a shift in consumer behavior that began long before COVID-19.
Where consumers go, marketers must follow, and the uptick in time at home, streaming content has made OTT even more of a marketing imperative. A full 50% of U.S. agencies and marketing professionals plan to increase their OTT/CTV spending this year – to the tune of $5 billion.
However, what’s particularly notable for marketers isn’t just that more consumers are enjoying streaming services, it’s also that more diverse demographics are. For example, a 90-year-old grandmother is streaming Hulu these days and having Zoom family get togethers. And that’s in addition to tweens watching their gaming idols stream on Twitch instead of doing their schoolwork. These are trends that began quickly in this unique moment in time but will probably continue long after we’re back to our “normal” lives.
The growth of these services has been exponential because, in the current shelter-in-place environment, it’s a “fish in a barrel” situation. Marketers know that the eyeballs are there. There are more people streaming information and consuming content than ever, and if they’re not new to streaming, they’re certainly streaming more. Time spent consuming streamed content is up 23% over last year. Netflix alone has added over 15 million new subscribers.
So, with the confidence that consumers are actually there, how do marketers discover success?
It’s important for marketers to recognize that the reach, scale and build are there with OTT – we’ve hit critical mass. You can target using demographics, geography and interest level. So, how do you ensure you’re not just getting your message in front of people, but in front of the right people, at the right time, in the right mindset? And how do you persuade them to complete a predetermined desired action based on their consumption of OTT and CTV?
As always with marketing, success starts with targeting and understanding who your best prospects are. As a seasoned marketer, you already know your target audience, and reaching them via OTT advertising is as easy and efficient as any digital medium today, thanks to AI-powered targeting tools – regardless of whether you’re targeting by demographic, interest, location or any other trait.
Next, marketers need to understand how to measure success. What does it look like for your business? Is it driving shoppers into a store? A CPG brand may count store visits as a success metric. For an automotive brand, success might be an online car sale.
As OTT has grown and begun to mature, so have the tracking mechanisms behind it. OTT/CTV media exposure is device-driven. It’s ideal to close the loop, tying success back to the campaign, by using a pixel in conjunction with foot traffic or a brand lift study to measure how each exposure on each device contributed to a conversion. In simpler terms, if a shopper enters the supermarket as the result of seeing OTT content on a tablet, computer, phone, and/or their TV, a pixel attached to your campaign can help track that activity.
OTT advertising is similar to television, and similarly, branding metrics aren’t always sufficient. KPIs attached to sales or lead generation matter and must also be measured. Marketers responsible for contributing to sales need tracking mechanisms that can actually tie their OTT campaigns back to a return on ad spend (ROAS) or another hard metric. The days of pulling it together, throwing it against the wall and hoping something sticks are over.
Everyone in marketing today is being asked to prove the efficiency and the efficacy of every dollar they're spending. You have to have the data, analytics and metrics behind every claim of success to prove that your campaigns had a measurable impact on the bottom line. We are at a point where we can home in and tie different data points together, and actually build out models of important KPIs tied to an OTT campaign. OTT campaigns are effective, and you can prove it.
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Klarn DePalma is executive VP is MNI Targeted Media