The Amazing Streaming Balancing Act
6 Min Read Remember when Netflix conducted business via snail mail? The younger generations will never know the thrill of picking what to watch, waiting weeks for the titles to arrive, finding that at least one was unwatchable because it was scratched, sending the DVDs back and then starting the whole process over again. From DVDs in paper sleeves to the current state of streaming wars—things have certainly changed. The major streaming players have worked to make their respective platforms most desirable to viewers through buzzworthy shows, added features (whoever created “autoplay next episode” deserves a Nobel Prize), a seemingly endless array of content and more. Each platform is clearly doing everything in its power to reign supreme, but what might go unnoticed is the delicate balance needed to keep everything moving forward. No longer can streamers rely solely on popular content to stay successful, especially with the addition of ad-supported offerings. They now have to understand how to drive business while keeping viewers and advertisers happy. The continued success of each streaming service may come down to how well they can juggle customer needs in conjunction with their own. The Much Needed Balance Between Profitability and Customer Satisfaction Advertiser and viewer satisfaction is an obvious concern of streaming services, but at the end of the day these are businesses that need to be profitable. And, it’s become clear that both aspects need to be maintained in order for streamers to achieve long term success. As Elle Woods said, “What, like it’s hard?”. We kid. Keeping this balance is certainly a tricky task, but Disney+ has figured it out (for now at least). Last year the platform was ranked the top streaming service consumers were most satisfied with. And, it appears that viewers are still content with Disney+. Users were unperturbed when subscription prices were raised by 38% in December 2022—the vast majority of subscribers (94%) kept the service despite the price increase of $3 per month. So, consumers are happy with the platform, but Disney+ is also driving business. In addition to subscription price hikes, ad-supported offerings have become another essential tactic for streaming services to stay profitable. While Hulu was early to the ad-supported game, streaming heavy hitters like Netflix and Disney+ waited to join in. These offerings brought a noted change to the space—now, instead of simply marketing to potential subscribers, streaming services have to consider advertisers as customers as well. Ad-supported streaming has opened up a plethora of opportunities for brands of all shapes and sizes. And recently, advertisers have found value in an unlikely place. Family-Friendly Programming Presents an Opportunity for Advertisers Family-friendly media might not immediately jump out as a desirable space for many advertisers—kids don’t exactly have a ton of purchasing power. However, because this type of programming has historically been overlooked by brands, there is plenty of advertising space to go around, particularly on Connected TV (CTV). “Inventory on streaming kids-themed content is plentiful and growing in scale,” Digiday reported. “And the ways in which buying works in this environment provide the kind of campaign insights advertisers don’t always get from connected TV.” Kids aren’t the only ones seeing these ads, either. A recent study found that 94% of parents co-view content with children. That’s an important fact for advertisers. “There is a misperception that the explosion in screens has created siloed TV viewing, with families watching from different devices and rooms,” said Vikrant Mathur, Co-Founder, Future Today. “In reality, parents with younger children, in particular, are co-viewing more than ever.” Child/parent co-viewing has unlocked new ways for advertisers to reach families—while the streaming material may be meant for kids, brands have the chance to engage with household decision makers. All of this said, advertisers need the right tools and capabilities from streaming ad tech to be able to reach those specific decision makers, among other groups. At this point in major streaming networks’ ad evolution however, some are still working out the kinks when it comes to targeted advertising. User Experience Can Be Inconsistent While ad targeting capabilities have become increasingly more sophisticated, there are still some pain points. Research done by contextual intelligence company Gum Gum found that 20% of ads served on family-friendly programming contained at least one inappropriate advertisement. Associate Editor at AdExchanger, Alyssa Boyle, experienced this first hand when she reviewed Disney+’s new ad-supported tier. “Whether I was watching “Hannah Montana” or the National Geographic show “Airport Security” about cocaine smuggling, the ad experience was pretty much the same,” Boyle reported. However, an improved user experience may be on the horizon. Some of the biggest players in streaming are taking action to make advertising a safer space for brands and consumers alike. Streaming Services Are Looking for Solutions to Better Support Advertisers and Viewers Netflix understands the challenges of offering ad solutions that hit the mark for brands. As you might remember, shortly after launching its ad-supported tier in fall of 2022 the streaming giant offered to pay back some of its advertisers due to missed performance goals. Netflix has been closely monitoring the situation, even going so far as to review its adtech partnership with Microsoft. As its latest solution to build up its ad offering, the streaming service announced that it is integrating with DoubleVerify (DV) and IAS. According to a press release from Netflix, the DV integration will help with the following: Fraud Protection: DV identifies and protects advertisers against fraud and IVT from hijacked devices to bot manipulation. Viewability Measurement: DV provides comprehensive viewability authentication, offering clarity into whether an ad has the opportunity to be seen. IAS ad verification, on the other hand, supplies third-party reporting, campaign optimizations and detailed measurement across media buys. Disney+ is hoping to follow suit. “For now, Disney+ advertisers can only target their audiences based on age,” Boyle of AdExchanger wrote. “But Disney says better ad targeting is next on its to-do list, with plans to add Disney data into its graph and make targeting on par with Hulu by the summer.” These platform changes will not only support advertiser needs, but they will also help to create a better experience for viewers—research shows that consumers prefer ads that are contextually relevant to them or support their purchasing needs. So, more accurate ad targeting will hopefully lead to satisfied viewers who are willing to spend. Streamers Still Have Work to do, But Brands Have Options When it Comes to Targeted Advertising In order to keep advertisers and consumers happy, streaming services need to continue to work on balancing customer needs with their own. A big part of this comes in further developing their ad targeting capabilities, creating a safer and more desirable experience for viewers and advertisers alike. The ad-supported streaming space is evolving, and as streamers develop their solutions, they’ll only become a better option for advertisers. Case in point—established ad tech solutions like Performance TV have developed comprehensive capabilities that enable advertisers to accurately target specialized consumer segments across top streaming networks.
US Adults Will Spend Almost 2 Hours a Day With CTV Devices in 2023
2 Min Read Adult viewers are expected to spend an average of 1 hour and 51 minutes per day using CTV devices in 2023 (21.4% of their total digital time). According to research from eMarketer, this amount of time spent on CTV devices is nearly double what it was four years ago. Part of the reason for this rise is their increasingly ubiquitous presence in American homes—over 85% of US households are expected to own at least one internet-connected TV set this year. This increase in time spent with CTV has already caught up with American users’ time spent with desktops and laptops, and by next year eMarketer expects that CTV will have surpassed them. Time spent with digital video overall will also exceed time spent with traditional TV for the first time this year, with US adults’ average daily linear TV time expected to drop to 2:55 and digital video time expected to increase to 3:11. Ultimately, it looks like Connected TV is breaking records this year and beyond as more and more users make the switch to streaming over linear. Connected TV in the News Walmart Data To Be Used To Personalize Connected TV AdsAd AgeInnovid struck a deal with Walmart Connect to use the retail giant’s data to target and deliver personalized creative to shoppers on connected TV networks. Building Strong Memory Structures in Your Connected TV AdMNTN ResearchEver wondered why some ads resonate more than others? Turns out, it takes more than powerful storytelling and a strong brand to catch a viewer’s eye. Netflix Ad Supported Tier Is Getting TractionForbesNetflix had one million ad-supported subscribers in the U.S. within the first two months, but the streaming giant is reportedly looking to upgrade their ad server capabilities. Get the Latest Connected TV News, Right to Your Inbox Why not receive our CTV advertising report, right to your inbox? Just enter your email below and you’ll never be out of the CTV / OTT advertising loop again. Sign Up for the Connected TV ReportSubscribe to the report Apple, Amazon, NBC and more use to get their CTV news.
Pay TV and Cable Lost 5.8M Subscribers in 2022
3 Min Read As more consumers continue to make the switch to streaming, cable and traditional pay TV providers are experiencing an increased loss of subscribers. According to a tally by Leichtman Research Group, pay TV lost 5.8 million net video subscribers in 2022, up from a loss of 4.7 million in 2021. Comcast experienced the largest drop, losing just over two million subscribers, followed by Charter with 686,000 losses and Cox with an estimated 340,000. Satellite TV provider DirecTV also faced a significant loss, with an estimated 1.5 million subscribers leaving in 2022. Amid the transition to streaming services by consumers, traditional media companies like Disney and Comcast are investing heavily in streaming, but are experiencing uneven results. Disney’s first-quarter earnings for 2022 showed that its direct-to-consumer revenues were up 13% from the previous year, but the segment reported losses of $1.1 billion, down 78% from a year earlier. According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, the media giant hopes that their streaming efforts will reach profitability in the coming years and offset their linear losses, “…We’re in a very interesting transition period, but one I think, is inevitably heading towards streaming.” Ultimately, the pressure on linear channels from cord-cutting, combined with the advertising downturn, has created a challenging environment for pay TV providers and media companies during this period of evolution in the world of TV. Connected TV in the News Connected TV Growth Poised to Accelerate in 2023VarietyConnected TV is no longer the future but the present. The format will ultimately be how the vast majority of TV content is viewed, consumed via apps built into smart TVs, and it’s just a matter of time until CTV is the biggest TV ad source. Thinking Long Term With Connected TV AdsMNTN ResearchWhat matters more to a performance marketer—achieving short-term or long-term goals? Likely, it is both. But how can advertisers balance short- and long-term thinking through the lens of CTV advertising? US Adults Will Spend Nearly 2 Hours a Day With CTV Devices This YeareMarketerUS adults will spend an average of 1 hour and 51 minutes per day using Connected TV devices in 2023—bringing time spent with CTV devices up to one-fifth (21.4%) of adult viewers’ digital time. Get the Latest Connected TV News, Right to Your Inbox Why not receive our CTV advertising report, right to your inbox? Just enter your email below and you’ll never be out of the CTV / OTT advertising loop again. Sign Up for the Connected TV ReportSubscribe to the report Apple, Amazon, NBC and more use to get their CTV news.
The Biggest Thing Missing from This Year’s Oscars? A Way to Stream
4 Min Read This past weekend marked one of the biggest nights of the year for the entertainment industry, the Academy Awards. Those looking to stream the event may have been disappointed to find it missing from Disney-owned channels, however. On Monday, MNTN’s water cooler chat wasn’t about who was the best dressed, but rather how we found ways to watch the event. Like most, MNTN team members are streamers, having long ago cut the cord. One employee was surprised when the live stream of the red carpet they were watching on Hulu (one of Disney’s streaming channels) cut off and didn’t continue to the show itself. Another scrambled to sign up for a free trial of a vMVPD service like Fubo, while another still borrowed her parents’ cable login to be able to watch. A majority of people have cut the cord which begs the question: why has Disney not taken the leap to make the show available via streaming? The Academy Awards Boasted Increased Viewership and an Ad Inventory Sellout Despite not being available on streaming, the Oscars still drove notable viewership. While award shows have seen dwindling performance over the past few years, this year marked a comeback for the event. Compared to the previous year, the show saw a 12% gain in viewership. Advertisers also took advantage of the cultural moment. Inventory for ads on linear sold out, an estimated $106MM value. With that inventory sell out in mind, it would stand to reason that Disney would look to capture both more viewers and more ad dollars by extending the event to streaming. Yet despite this demand, the awards were still noticeably missing from Disney’s streaming services. As of last year, streaming viewership surpassed linear for the first time. Throughout the shifting tides of TV viewership over the past years, sports and award shows were often cited as the last reasons to hold on to a cable subscription. Sports leagues have begun to develop their streaming offerings. The NFL partnered with Amazon to bring Thursday Night Football exclusively to Prime Video and other leagues are making their seasons available throughout the streaming realm. However, Disney seems slow to follow their audience the way that sports leagues have. It’s not a lack of infrastructure preventing Disney from achieving such a feat. During the Dancing with the Stars season, weekly episodes are streamed to Disney+ so that subscribers can keep up with the live action. If the concern is whether the content doesn’t fit the family-friendly nature of Disney+ (perhaps due to last year’s drama), Disney could instead use Hulu as a streaming host. With the infrastructure already in place and the audience ready to stream, it’s mystifying why Disney has delayed this move to streaming, not to mention the missed ad opportunities by extending it to this platform. Streaming Movies Are Continuing To Win Awards While the awards were absent from streaming, streaming was certainly not absent from the awards. Last year, CODA became the first film released on a streaming channel (Apple TV+) to win the Best Picture award. And streaming continued to be front and center at the awards this year, with Netflix securing 16 nominations and ultimately winning six categories. Netflix recently debuted an ad-supported tier, meaning advertisers can see their ad run within Academy Award-winning content, despite not being able to advertise during the event itself. Streaming Channels Will Continue to Find Success if They Have the Content (Live Included) Disney may be slow to adapt to live programming on their streaming channels but streaming natives like Netflix are testing ways to ensure they aren’t left behind. Earlier this month, Netflix premiered their first live comedy show with Chris Rock, testing appointment viewing on a platform that is notoriously on-demand. Could this type of programming help advertisers align around large cultural moments through their CTV ad spend rather than continuing to rely on linear TV? It’s clear that content has continued to be the essential driver of audience attention and therefore of opportunities for advertisers. Brian Wieser, strategic financial analyst of global advertising, recently wrote in his newsletter Madison and Wall, “[F]rom past analysis I believe that there is a direct (if rough) relationship between share of spending on content by packagers of content (i.e. studios/distributors) and share of consumption by viewers.” Ultimately, he projects that all streaming services can succeed if they have the content to support it; it seems that Disney, owner of three of the largest streaming channels, would be remiss not to include the Oscars among their streaming content in the future.
Your Dream CTV Features Probably Already Exist
5 Min Read It’s a shaky time for advertisers. Global economic inflation is on the climb, and marketing budgets are slimming down just as fast to match. Now is the time for speed, efficiency, and performance—and Connected TV is leading the charge. Advertising Week and MNTN recently polled marketers to learn how they’re using CTV to drive success and boost outcomes across all their ad channels. Now we’re sharing what your peers think to help give your campaigns a little extra oomph. Tim Edmundson, Director of Content Marketing & Research at MNTN, recently joined Advertising Week for a live webinar to break down the polling results, detail best practices for CTV success, and address misconceptions about the channel—including how advertisers’ wishlist features for the future are already available today. You can watch a full recording of “Make Your CTV Ads Go Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” here—or you can keep reading for a high-level recap of the presentation. It’s Time For a Performance Boost Edmundson started the webinar by noting that, yea, things have been better for advertisers. “There’s a lot of inflation across the globe, which affects consumer spending—and as advertisers, that [impacts us] quite a bit,” he said. “In these times of uncertainty, history seems to dictate that marketing budgets tend to be on the chopping block or at least under scrutiny,” noted Edmundson. “If you’re working with higher scrutiny and potentially limited resources, the tools you use, the strategies you deploy, and the channels you activate on really make a difference,” he concluded. This new environment has raised the stakes for advertisers. In good times and bad, brands need to continue growing—and that puts pressure on marketing teams to produce big wins for less cost and effort. Edmundson outlined the need for solutions that offer speed, efficiency, and performance—but took time to recognize that bandwidth for channels like CTV is an issue. “Folks have a lot on their plates,” he admitted. “A new TV advertising channel, especially if you don’t have experience with it, can seem like a complicated thing.” The good news? “It’s not,” a confident Edmundson said. In Economic Sickness and Health Edmundson laid out the benefits of premium CTV platforms—both in good times and bad. “CTV is very similar to digital ad channels that teams are already familiar with,” said Edmundson. He elaborated on the opportunities the channel presents by keeping costs down, targeting audiences likely to convert, driving measurable ROAS, and improving ad performance. “But importantly, it helps you maintain a presence on TV. That’s huge because TV is still the prestige advertising channel; there’s nothing better than it,” he noted before detailing how brands have used TV advertising to weather previous economic crises. Of particular note is just how accountable and measurable CTV is. “Now you know when someone sees your ad, goes to your website, and converts—and then you can track that revenue back to your TV ads,” said Edmundson, referring to MNTN’s Cross-Device Verified Vistis model. “Five, ten years ago, that was science fiction. But it’s real and you should be taking advantage of it today.” Edmundson went on to explain that this level of campaign measurement helps advertising teams use hard data and actionable insights to justify their budgets and promote their wins to decision-makers. “Or if you’re the decision maker, it helps you know that your decisions are paying off.” Calling All Advertisers At the heart of the presentation, Edmundson explained how MNTN and Advertising Week teamed up to survey marketing leaders on their CTV experiences. He led the section with an eye-popping stat: 64% of marketers classify CTV as a performance marketing channel. “That’s enormous,” commented Edmundson. “Nearly two out of every three marketers—your competitors, your peers—are seeing this as a viable way to reach their core audience, engage with them, drive measurable conversions, and generate measurable revenue…just like a paid search campaign.” “This is a sea change moment,” Edmundson commented. He further noted that CTV is seeing a lot of these sea-change moments as of late, including streaming besting linear TV in viewership for the first time last year. Other key findings from the survey that demonstrate a shift in how advertisers view CTV: 90% say it will be a relevant part of their ad strategies for the next 5+ years 79% are confident with their CTV strategies. 60% say that platform plays an important role in their marketing mix 50% of advertisers said that both ROAS and reach are important on CTV Making Wishes Come True Later in the presentation, Edmundson revealed that MNTN and Advertising Week asked marketers what they think about measurement—and what features they wished the channel had. While only 42% of respondents said they were satisfied with CTV reporting, a quick look at their wish list of features explains why that number isn’t higher. From 71% wanting performance analysis at the individual segment level to 58% wanting the ability to monitor campaign performance in real-time alongside other channels, Edmundson broke down a large list of features that advertisers wished they could have to bring CTV alive. “Needless to say, all of these [wishlisted features] sound amazing,” admitted Edmundson. “But I have good news: you can throw out that wishlist; all of this stuff already exists if you’re working with the right partner.” Edmundson addressed every single wishlist item and showed how it’s already possible on premium CTV platforms like MNTN Performance TV thanks to features like audience segment reporting and automatic campaign optimization. “This comes down to an adage that goes around the MNTN offices,” said Edmundson. “Not all CTV solutions are created equal.” We’re Just Getting Started We often say there’s more to the webinars than we have room for in our recap blogs, but in this case, it’s especially true. For nearly an hour, Edmundson covered a lot of important topics with Advertising Week — including best practices brands can deploy now to combat economic uncertainty, to a more comprehensive breakdown of survey results from advertisers. Click here to catch it all.