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5 Benefits of OTT Advertising

By Jeffrey Miller, Senior Vice President - Digital, Audacy

The internet has radically reshaped every aspect of our lives, as advertisers are well aware. This is especially apparent in the rapid proliferation of “over-the-top” media, more commonly referred to as OTT. Unlike traditional outlets such as cable or satellite, OTT encompasses all video content streamed via the internet. OTT has already disrupted the way the media industry understands itself, and while that disruption can be uncomfortable, it also offers tremendous benefits to consumers and advertisers alike.

From the consumer’s perspective, OTT offers a breadth and variety of content that’s easier to access than ever before. For many years, there’s been content all over the web, but you had to watch it on your phone or your tablet or your laptop. Now, with improved smart devices, you can watch a wide array of content on a TV with unprecedented ease, which is reshaping viewer behavior in transformative ways. Most obviously, people are reducing their multichannel subscription packages, or canceling them entirely. These people are known as “cord-cutters.” But a new, growing demographic is just as important, if not more so: “cord-nevers.” These are people who have never had a cable subscription and likely never will. They tend to be younger people who have grown up with digital content, and as such have barely ever been on the platforms typically reached by traditional advertising. These people are taking full advantage of the flexibility offered by OTT content and have historically been difficult for advertisers to reach. As of June 2020, 22% of adults were “cord-nevers,” a number that will only continue to rise.1

When I think about the OTT revolution, I often find myself reflecting on Marshall McLuhan, the influential media theorist who inspired a large part of my career. McLuhan made a famous pronouncement, that “the medium is the message.” He wrote that in 1964, but it’s truer today than ever. OTT allows people to view the content that most closely matches their values and interests. The over-the-top medium is more direct, accurate, and influential than most that have preceded it. This isn’t just useful for consumers; it has tremendous benefits for advertisers as well.

Read below about the top five benefits OTT advertising can offer your business.

OTT advertising is sticky.


It’s not an exaggeration to say that OTT media has completely reshaped the ad experience. When watching broadcast television, viewers are served multiple ads within a 6 to 8 minute ad break. They might watch a commercial, or they might change the channel and surf until the ad break is over. If using a DVR, they will likely fast forward through the commercials altogether. With OTT content, on the other hand, viewers get a 90 second or two minute ad break, typically with a countdown clock somewhere in the video window. Viewers can’t skip it, but they know exactly how long it’s going to last. The experience is shorter, more palatable, and more engaging—I like to say it’s “sticker.” From both a consumer and an advertiser experience, this is a much better way to do it. It’s more enjoyable for the viewer and brands can be certain their ads are seen.

OTT advertising enables advanced targeting.

Advertisers no longer have to make broad and often inaccurate assumptions about a general audience, nor do they have to guess about a supposed demographic. OTT content delivers advertising on a 1-to-1 vector. That means you can target a consumer wherever that consumer may be, no matter what they’re watching or what platform they’re watching it on. Even more importantly, OTT delivers a treasure trove of data about what viewers watch and how they behave. Advertisers can target people based on their unique viewing habits thanks to a comprehensive portrait rendered in numbers.

OTT ads can access the consumers that are hardest to reach.

Remember those cord-cutters and cord-nevers? OTT allows advertisers to reach this elusive group on their terms. More broadly, OTT’s targeting capabilities enable brands to reach specific audiences that they could formerly only hope to contact with a blanket TV ad strategy. With OTT, nearly any consumer can be identified and served.

OTT features advanced attribution capabilities.

Thanks to OTT, brands never need to wonder whether viewers saw their ads again. OTT advertising can provide attribution in a way that broadcast and linear TV never could. Through pixel-based tracking, we can determine whether a person saw an ad, whether they went to an advertiser’s website, and how long they stayed there once they arrived. Brands can acquire this data regardless of the device viewers use to watch content.

First look rights to OTT content offer unmatched selectivity.

While a lot of digital advertising is bought programmatically, brands have the opportunity to find an OTT partner with first look rights. Some partners, like Entercom, can choose specific content for advertisers before the remainder is offered up to programmatic exchanges. This allows an advertiser to circumvent the targeting restrictions that inherently come with programmatic ad buying and brings a number of advantages. For starters, advertisers get access to top quality content. Moreover, they can strategically distribute ads to particular platforms and publishers, so they don’t see a large portion of an advertising campaign go to a single outlet in order to fill an impression target. This makes a big difference in the overall effectiveness of a campaign. To take maximum advantage of OTT advertising, it’s best to seek a partner with first look rights.

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