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The rise of OTT advertising and why businesses need to stream their ads

Whether you have heard the term “cord cutters,” “cord stacking,” “OTT advertising,” “Connected T.V.,” “over-the-top advertising,” or a variation of something similar – 2021 is going to be a game-changing year for digital advertising.

Streaming is the new black, with research predicting that 60 million households will watch content on their T.V. exclusively through streaming by 2025. This means it’s never been a better time for businesses to get on board and add OTT advertising to their brand’s media mix.

Here are seven things business owners need to know about Over-the-Top or OTT advertising:

What is OTT advertising anyway?

OTT advertising is a new way to directly market to consumers digitally over the internet via streaming services. The best way to reach anyone, anywhere, on any type of Connected T.V. (CTV) or device with full-screen ads that include sound, can’t be skipped, and have an average completion rate of 97%.

Named “over-the-top” because it gives you the ability to bypass traditional media distribution on T.V. and reach the targeted audience you want directly. This means you are not boxed in by a broadcast schedule, geography, or limited demographic knowledge.

What platforms are OTT ads on, and are they good places to advertise?

Hulu, Roku, Crackle, Plex, Pluto. T.V., Vimeo, Vevo, and more have OTT advertising. Amazon has 68 network partners with direct integration to Amazon Publisher Services, including Major League Baseball, Food Network, and Amazon’s own OTT app, IMDb T.V. Amazon OTT is brand safe with licensed-only T.V. and movie content. Brand safe means that Amazon takes steps to manually review content sources, create blacklists for poor placements, block unauthorized publishers from selling impressions, manually audit their inventory for compliance and provide advertisers with post-impression traffic and standards checks. As an advertiser, Amazon also looks to you and agencies to submit blacklists to weed out apps that do not align with Amazon’s brand-safe policies.

What sets Amazon OTT advertising apart from the others?

Amazon is known for its wealth of customer data. Partnering with Amazon will increase efficiency in terms of impressions delivered within LMA (Local Market Area) by an average of 30%.

Better Targeting: As an advertiser, you will have insights into your audience based on product interests and shopping behaviors. Like social sites, you will also have demographics such as age, income, gender, and more. Other publishers and platforms use I.P. targeting, which averages only 60%-75% accuracy, and even less so at the zip code level, resulting in an immense amount of wasted impressions delivered outside of the targeted DMA (Designated Market Area) or zip codes.

Ad Conquest: Advertisers gain the ability to direct ads to an audience that has also viewed competitors’ products. This feature is unique to Amazon OTT advertising.

Engage with Difficult-to-Reach Audiences: You can still reach users who have ad-blockers enabled and users that do not have an active T.V. subscription with Amazon OTT advertising. Due to Amazon’s direct publisher/app relationships, inventory is efficient because these app-level integrations allow approved vendors to serve ads within those apps on non-Amazon devices, such as Apple T.V., Smart T.V., Xbox, and more.

Why should you be running OTT ads?

The details are in the data. OTT advertising is highly targeted, scalable, and measurable. Easily add OTT advertising into your media mix for marketing and sales initiatives. Showcase inventory, increase brand awareness, and move your customers through the entire funnel by having higher engagement with ready-to-buy consumers. Amazon OTT advertising is excellent for brand awareness and gives you the power and data for retargeting. Complementing your high-impact videos with display, search, and social gives you the ability to guide consumers through the funnel to that final purchase.

With the decline in watching traditional T.V., the cost of television ad spots has risen. Amazon OTT advertising is cost-effective with a more controllable ad spend, plus it is easier to get relevant data to track. Businesses can obtain an awareness campaign that’s targeted at around $5,000. There’s no way you can do that with traditional T.V. advertising. There’s typically around 80% of ad dollars wasted in traditional advertising, and the business is casting a wide, untargeted net.

In talking with one of our clients, Jordan Barrett, at Liberty Automotive Group in Peoria, Arizona, OTT advertising offers a powerful alternative to the mostly phased out traditional ad buys. There is still a desire to leverage the “T.V. audience,” but the needle has moved as they have gone to streaming and connected T.V. in droves.

“The reality is that our dealerships are family-owned, so regular T.V. buys could eat up 80% of our advertising budget,” Barrett said. “I have to play Moneyball with my spends. I calculate that the returns on investment for OTT advertising are typically 300% higher than traditional media buys. That’s only based upon a flimsy, correlated lift in Google-listed searches and calls after the traditional media buys. The [digital marketing] savings allows me to use the remainder of the budget on directed mail or email campaigns to get impressions to the interested buyer rather than a hope and a prayer, spray-fire approach.”

What makes OTT videos different?

Unlike traditional T.V. advertising – the ads can be dynamic and change throughout the month. And unlike other digital advertising sources, the ads can’t be skipped.

It’s like they know me. It is no longer just delivering relevant content; it has to be personalized. Think about the timing, what’s going on in the world, location, weather, behavior, etc. Amazon’s vast knowledge of shopper behaviors allows businesses to advertise based on interest. For example, advertise services to people purchasing furniture, housewares, and other items that indicate they may have bought a home recently or are renovating. Another example, someone who is buying diapers and baby items may be in the market for a vehicle with more room for car seats.

However, similar to other forms of video advertising – keep it snappy! No one wants to watch more than 30 seconds of your ad, so keep it tight and impactful. You don’t need to be as short as a YouTube bumper, but you also don’t want to hit the minute length.

How good is the audience measurement and targeting with OTT advertising?

Just like you layer clothes to survive the winter cold, you can layer your audience targeting. Similar to how you blend and layer together audiences for social media advertising, you have additional behavior insights when creating your OTT audiences.

“It gives businesses many opportunities to present an ad in a less competitive environment with an element that’s always being refreshed,” Barrett said. “Another compelling thing is how well Amazon is using this data for targeting and placement of our ads.”

Tips for getting started with OTT campaigns?

Don’t go at OTT alone. There is a huge market to take advantage of since 74% of U.S. homes have streaming services. Whether you have your 2021 digital strategy mapped out or your business needs help to disrupt your advertising technology, a vendor skilled in digital marketing is the best route to take. The right partner can also help you approach your entire digital marketing spend (not just the percentage you want to allocate to OTT) with a more holistic strategy to maximize and ensure the dollars you spend to get the most ROI – from visitors to leads to sales. Work with partners who understand the entire customer journey – not just a small piece.

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