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Ad-Supported OTT Growth

While linear TV is slowly declining, there is growth in ad-supported OTT-CTV.  Seeking profitability, streaming services are raising subscription rates and getting more aggressive with advertising.  Almost all streaming services now offer ad-plans.  Viewership of those services has also greatly increased.  Initial ad costs were high but have softened, although not enough to make up for the large divide between linear TV ad costs and streaming ad costs.

Peacock, Paramount+ and Hulu lead the way in ad-supported content, but Amazon’s Prime is expected to make a big splash in 2024 with its advertising plan.  How things shake out in 2024 with streaming video in general will keep advertisers challenged.

2024 Outlook

Consumers are predicted to spend over 12 hours daily with media in 2024—about 60% with digital media.  Just ten years ago, this was traditional media’s percentage. Nonetheless, traditional media—led by TV—remains a big part of the equation.

In 2024, we’ll continue to see a fragmented media landscape with more niche networks and platforms delivering more and more content. Audience engagement will be more difficult than ever with consumers spread out across different channels.  Example:  From 2021-2023, the number of individual TV programs has grown to over 1.1 million. Combined with an explosion of streaming services, the video landscape alone has quickly become vast.

More content will lead to more time spent with media but also increased fragmentation.  Marketers will be challenged to achieve the target audience reach needed for their brands to grow and succeed. It will be more important than ever to adjust the media mix to reflect the growing fractionalization.

2024 is also a presidential election year, which always makes marketing more difficult for advertisers, especially in swing states like Ohio.  With issue-based ad spending expected to increase double-digits compared to the last presidential election, the key to success will lie in continuously monitoring and adapting to the ever-changing marketing landscape, while keeping the customer at the forefront of all strategies and initiatives.

 

AI and Marketing

There are now over 250 companies competing or collaborating for the AI space as it relates to marketing.  Needless to say, AI has the marketing and advertising world’s full attention.

Next-generation artificial intelligence burst onto the scene in 2022 with the debut of ChatGPT and DALL-E 2, both from Silicon Valley AI pioneer OpenAI. ChatGPT has now grown into a near-overnight sensation, reaching a million users in just five days and hitting 100 million active users faster than any consumer app so far.

One of OpenAI’s biggest early investors, Microsoft, has since poured an additional $10 billion into OpenAI while beginning to introduce a host of new AI-powered features, including a ChatGPT-powered version of the Bing search engine.

In turn, Google—the first company to utilize large language models (LLMs)—has introduced its own AI chatbot, Bard, while promising new, soon-to-launch AI-powered features in Google Search, Gmail and more. There’s also Meta that has spent nearly 10 years and billions of dollars on AI and has taken to touting its LLaMA as a powerful open-source language model.

The evolution of AI use for image creation by one of the many new generation AI companies, Midjourney, is pretty astounding.

So, how will marketers use next generation AI? 

The Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute recently published this list of questions to help identify if there is a case for AI use in a marketer’s marketing.

AI is or allows for smarter marketing technology or systems that builds smarter businesses.  Every marketer should learn how to use it to their advantage.  Agencies, advertising and PR, shouldn’t fear it if they become AI integrators for their clients—much like how agencies became Internet/digital integrators when the Internet came about.

Based on what we see and know right now, marketers and agencies should definitely be considering new-generation AI in their tech stack.

 

How Americans Are Listening

There’s the perception that radio is being overcome by streaming audio platforms like Pandora and Spotify, especially among younger audiences ages 18-34.  New research from Nielsen debunks that perception and shows that radio isn’t just viable but is the only audio medium capable of reaching large numbers of all ages.  That’s true of ad-supported and non-ad supported platforms.

As marketers we are only interested in ad-supported channels.  Radio’s impact is even more pronounced when comparing reach among ad-supported options for audio marketing campaigns.

Like the reach comparisons, radio’s impact is also more pronounced when comparing time spent with ad-supported audio.

Radio use spans the bulk of the day, reaching consumers on the path to purchase; it is the dominant audio source in the car.  A daily habit for millions, radio is a particularly effective medium for advertisers due to its legacy of reaching listeners during the prime hours of the day while they are out of home and closest to the point of purchase (commuting, working, shopping). Furthermore, radio is also the top audio source in the car. More than 60% of all time spent with audio in vehicles goes to AM/FM radio as of the Q1 2023 Edison Share of Ear study.

Americans are still listening to radio in large numbers and it’s one of the few mediums capable of high target audience reach for marketers.

Meta’s Threads

There’s been a lot of buzz around Meta’s latest new social platform Threads, Meta’s version of Twitter.  While paid ads are not yet an option, it’s very likely to be one in the future through paid Facebook/Instagram accounts. In the meantime, here are some great points to be aware of from an organic perspective and initial set-up:

  • The app has more than 90 million downloads as of midway through 2023.
  • An Instagram account is required to set up a Threads account – read on for more implications before doing so.
  • If a Threads account is created but then the decision is made to delete the account, the associated Instagram account will be deleted as well.
  • Instagram username, contacts and other related information will be pulled from your Instagram account.
  • You will be able to automatically follow all the same contacts you follow on Instagram, which means your Instagram followers will also easily find you on Threads.
  • Threads’ posts allow:
    • Up to 500 characters (Twitter limit is 280)
    • Links, photos, and video can be included – video can be up to 5 minutes (Twitter limit is 2 minutes 20 seconds)
  • Currently there is limited functionality:
    • No direct messages.
    • No edit button.
    • No open API – currently not able to connect to third-party tools to schedule content.
    • No advertising as yet – but we have it on good authority it will be available in the future.

Should your organization have an Instagram account you may want to consider setting up your Threads account to secure your username and be discoverable.  I also recommend an initial post.  It could simply be a greeting and statement that you are exploring the best ways to use this new platform and encourage folks to follow you on other platforms.  Be sure to include links to those platforms.  Be sure to only include links to those platforms that you update regularly.

 

Influencer Marketing

An industry-wide anticipated report each year, Influencer Marketing Hub has released the annual 2023 State of Influencer Marketing results showing growing importance for the tactic according to U.S. marketers.  80%+ have dedicated influencer marketing budgets for 2023; more than 2/3 have increased budgets for 2023.

Notable Highlights

  • Influencer Marketing Industry is set to grow to approximately $21.1 Billion in 2023
  • 63% plan to use AI in executing their influencer campaigns, 2/3rd of these brands will use AI for influencer identification.
  • Nearly 60% of influencers felt they faced discrimination in 2022.
  • Over 83% of our survey respondents still believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing.
  • 71% admit to having increased the amount of content they produce and share.
  • 67% of those respondents who budget for influencer marketing intend to increase their influencer marketing budget over 2023.
  • 23% of respondents intend to spend more than 40% of their entire marketing budget on influencer campaigns.
  • There is a strong preference for working with small (nano – 39% and micro – 30%) influencers ahead of expensive macro-influencers (19%) and celebrities (12%)
  • It is now the norm to pay influencers (42%), rather than just give them a free product (30%).
  • TikTok (utilized by 56% of brands using influencer marketing) is now the most popular influencer marketing channel, jumping ahead of Instagram (51%) for the first time, and well ahead of Facebook (42%) and YouTube (38%).

Fast Channels

Traditional TV continues to drive audience reach but streaming platforms like free ad-supported streaming (FAST) are growing in popularity with viewers. In the second half of 2022, FAST channels made up 30% of total ad views in the US, proving that FAST and other over-the-top (OTT) services offer advertisers other vehicles to access audiences.  There’s been a substantial increase in programmatic deals in the US driven by greater CTV adoption and the rise of FAST channels.

FAST channels have redefined distribution in a way that no other platform has before. It has opened the floodgates for publishers to monetize content while giving viewers the experience they crave – a live linear experience like having a cable subscription. Currently representing 50% of all OTT ad views, FAST channels will only grow.

CTV is highly fragmented, but when seen in the collective it represents over 70% of ad views in the US.  With premium video consumption continuing its steady climb, advertiser interest in the medium is expected to continue to increase, with more brands diverting to premium video as
one of the most effective strategies for connecting with highly engaged and targetable audiences.  Programmatic views continue to grow in the US, with guaranteed deals
promising to deliver a specified number of impressions as the preferred purchase practice.

TV Seasonality Viewership

It’s true that TV viewership reflects the availability of what people want to watch.  Minus the Super Bowl, February 2023 had fewer high-demand, mass-appealing programs than January, which led to declines in viewership across broadcast, cable and streaming.  January is always a banner month for TV viewing, highlighted by the culmination of the NFL season, which sets the bar very high.

Streaming platforms remained the favored destination for TV audiences, but overall viewing to streaming content was down 0.9% from January—the smallest decline across categories. Despite the drop in total streaming viewing, the category gained 1.5 share points to account for 34.3% of TV usage.

Within the streaming category, Tubi TV became the latest service to achieve a 1% share of TV usage, joining Pluto TV as the second free, ad-supported platform to be broken out from the “other streaming” category. Other streaming highlights in February included:

  • New Amsterdam was the most-viewed streaming program, with 4.6 billion viewing minutes across Netflix and Peacock.
  • The Last of Us was the second most-viewed program, with 4.4 billion viewing
    minutes on HBO Max.
  • Viewing on YouTube (main) was up 2.5%.
  • The arrival of a new season of You on Netflix generated 4.2 billion viewing minutes, but overall usage on the platform was down 6.7%.

Growing Significance of Digital Audio

Digital audio is becoming more and more imbedded in our lives, from downloading the new Pink album as soon as it hits Spotify, to following MLB news on your home’s smart speaker as you prepare dinner, streaming your favorite music play list while working out at the gym to downloading a podcast before taking a road trip.  Digital audio is becoming more significant to consumers, and it should be to advertisers.

It’s a channel that goes above and beyond traditional radio and offers advertisers a unique opportunity to harness the power of some of the most proven tools in AdTech—from
programmatic advertising, to advertising automation, to ad personalization and targeting—to connect with audiences when, where, and how they’re listening.

 

Media planners and buyers need to get to know what makes up digital audio.

  • Digital Audio: Audio that is stored and/or transmitted through digital devices such as mobile phones, desktops/laptops, and tablets.
  • Audio Streaming: Technology that allows platforms to deliver audio in real-time on internet-connected devices. (In other words, it’s what allows you to have 10,000 songs in your Spotify library without maxing out your phone’s storage!)
  • Digital Audio Advertising: The process of placing ads in digital audio content—from podcasts, to streaming music, to digital radio—to connect with consumers in the moments they’re listening.
  • Programmatic Audio Advertising: Technology that allows advertisers to place audio ads in an automated and data-driven manner, typically by using a demand side platform (DSP).

Audio advertising has so many advantages.  Providing a break from video overload, non-skippable (unlike video), provides the opportunity to connect with consumers across different content types and interests, costs less to produce than video creative and more.  Until now, digital audio’s power has been largely underutilized, but the tides are turning, and audio spend is growing.

Building Customer Profiles

Building customer profiles is key to any marketing campaign.  They describe everything you need to know about a specified group of customers. You can leverage that information to create a marketing strategy that aligns with the wants and needs of your audience. A customer profile will help you make informed decisions about campaign messaging, creative and channels, and targeting tactics to use.

Here are three steps to build customer profiles for your marketing campaigns:

  1. Identify your broad audience. Focus on the problem your product, service, or business aims to solve and who needs that problem solved.
  2. Consider your customer’s journey. Understanding how a customer goes from awareness and consideration to evaluation and conversion enables you to narrow your audience further. Knowing the touch points that a customer passes through before making a purchase will help inform what channels and ad formats you should leverage for the best results.
  3. Create a profile description. You now have a more narrowed idea of your audience and their customer journey, so it’s time to consider their demographics and psychographics in detail, such as age, income level, occupation, education level, and marital status along with influences such as hobbies and interests. Some of this information can come from your customer database, especially geographic information that can also be important to a successful marketing campaign.

Customer profiles are especially important when there are different types of customers shopping for your product or service. For example, minivan shoppers include families with young children as well as empty nesters, both who like a minivan’s practicality and ease of getting in and out.

With all of the consumer data available today, building customer profiles is not that difficult and can make or break marketing campaign.