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Guest Blog: Welcome to the Streaming Era: 3 Things Marketers Should Expect -- And Demand -- During Upfronts 2020

Since the emergence of streaming over two decades ago, brands and marketers have increasingly craved a way to be able to create, optimize and report on their media campaigns across OTT, linear TV, omnichannel and more all in one place. This demand has become even more pronounced as a result of COVID-19.

Kristina Shepard, head of agency partnerships and east brand sales, Roku

Kristina Shepard, head of agency partnerships and east brand sales, Roku (Image credit: Roku)

Upfronts were originally created with much pomp and circumstance to give brands control and value, but in today’s uncertainty, they need flexibility more than ever. In fact, the ten years of growth we all expected in the Streaming Decade of the 2020s has somehow ended up happening over the last ten weeks of Stay At Home orders across the country. Nearly half of TV viewing among A18-34 is now streamed and Nielsen recently estimated the overall streaming increase could be up to 60%.

Content providers, programmers and brand marketers as a result are all now finding themselves in a unique situation. According to a recent Kantar study, major TV advertising categories like travel/tourism and retail have seen a noticeable decline in 30 second commercials in recent weeks, while other categories like auto have spiked. With more people streaming content during the midday hours, marketers have more opportunity to connect with viewers and in more unique ways for more hours in the day. 

As brands and agencies navigate this newly defined Upfront season through the lens of streaming, there are 3 areas that they should take note of to elevate their  campaigns to a whole new level.

⦁ Go beyond the traditional demographics. Many streaming platforms now require users to register upon sign-up. As a result, it is possible to know who viewers are and what they are most interested in, allowing brands the ability to target the appropriate audiences with the appropriate message. If live sports don’t return as hoped and planned later this year, marketers need to understand how they can still reach those audiences across OTT, linear, omnichannel and more. 

⦁ Go beyond traditional ad formats: Streaming gives brands the unique ability to reach their consumer in innovative and compelling ways -- from sponsored pause breaks to branded integrations and home screen takeovers -- all of which allow a brand to make a bigger impact with their core consumers when they’re in a lean back environment.  Interactive ad formats also provide for flexibility in the message and allow messaging to become more relevant in the moment.

⦁ Go beyond traditional measurement tools: Measurement is king and marketers need to be able to demonstrate various levels of return on investment. The cookieless world of streaming is built upon advanced analytics tools to ensure messages resonate and are viewed as helpful versus bothersome to consumers. Moving forward, marketers need to confirm that their partners and platforms are able to measure reach and frequency holistically across mixed media, measure incremental reach to ensure no oversaturation, and only charge for that incremental impact.

We should all raise a glass to the Upfronts of old, thanking them for the lasting contributions they’ve made to the industry and how they’ve shaped the relationships between content, brands and consumers. But we should also be looking towards the future, excited for what is truly possible now that we are officially entering the Streaming Era and beyond.

Roku is the #1 streaming platform in America, connecting users to the streaming content they love, enabling content publishers to build and monetize large audiences, and providing advertisers with unique capabilities to engage consumers.

Kristina Shepard is head of agency partnerships and east brand sales, Roku