Advertising and Streaming OTT in Events

graphic of OTT connected to tv and connections from there

By Alon Alroy is the Co-Founder, CMO & CCO of Bizzabo

Streaming continues to grow in popularity, with the global video stream market size anticipated to increase to $223.95 billion by 2028. With a significant number of people using mobile devices and tablets, we’re starting to witness an acceleration in innovations and increased popularity of online streaming.

Over the top (OTT) streaming continues to make headway into other industries. What does this mean for the events industry and its sponsors? Plenty. Already we’re seeing an evolution of sponsorship value. When the industry pivoted to provide events entirely online in early 2020, event organizers attempted to replicate physical sponsorships in a digital world. While admirable, the strategies yielded less than optimal results.

Recreating a physical booth wasn’t the answer. Neither was creating a Zoom room of sorts and expecting people to click on your booth to enter. Short of having someone stand in a virtual lobby holding a sandwich board to direct people to each sponsor — an impossible, impractical solution — event organizers have been in search of a different approach. They had to rethink digital sponsorships.

Events and Sponsors: Borrowing From TV and Social Media

The event industry has begun to move toward a model similar to TV and social media, in which both mediums use OTT to broadcast sponsored stories and quick ads before and between shows to communicate a brand message to attendees.

While event organizers and brands recognize the value sponsorships bring, 37% of event professionals still struggle to provide that value for sponsors. But just as events themselves have evolved to become more experiential, whether attendees participate in person or virtually, sponsor experiences must also evolve. One strategy? OTT ads.

Millions of people — including those attending events in-person, virtually and via hybrid formats — access content via online streaming devices. We’ve grown accustomed to sitting through a few ads to access content without an additional charge. As the market for OTT advertising increases, events and sponsors should keep these best practices in mind.

Streaming video elements

Since people watch streaming video across multiple devices, OTT video ads need a flexible format that adapts to the screen on which they play. OTT advertisers must make sure content scales appropriately across small, smartphone screens as well as larger TV or display screens.

Streaming video length

OTT offers two types of ads: skippable and non-skippable. Intended audiences can skip many OTT ads, so opting for a shorter length that quickly communicates a key message will ensure more people see it before they skip the ad and move on to their session.

Non-skippable ad lengths typically vary between 15 and 30 seconds. While this format allows sponsors and brands to reach a captive audience, it’s best to stick with a short, focused scope.

OTT for Hyperlocalized Ads

Another customer segmentation factor allowing brands to target ads to different attendees is geographical location. Virtual and hybrid events allow people to attend from anywhere in the world. Sponsors can use OTT advertising to target different audiences based on their city, state or zip code. This segment of advertising has seen tremendous growth thanks to hyper-specific targeting.

Events with audiences tuning in from various parts of the world can include OTT ads intended specifically for them, offering another level of personalization attendees expect.

Interactive OTT

The pandemic also accelerated the growing event trend of turning attendees into participants. By using interactive OTT, in-person events can feature touchable screens to invite participant interaction with ads.

Interactive OTT video content can also include clickable hotspots, call-to-action (CTA) buttons, dynamic content and gamification. For example, OTT ads might include a poll designed to help event organizers and sponsors collect valuable data and feedback from attendees. A CTA might take viewers to a sponsor’s home or landing page or invite viewers to share the sponsor’s message on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Airing Live OTT Ads

Live videos garner twice as much engagement as pre-recorded videos on social media. Event organizers and sponsors can take advantage of that fact by airing live OTT ads during events. The benefits include:

  • Increased customer data, with streaming platforms collecting a wealth of information about who watched an event or ad.
  • Access to vast customer bases, with the opportunity to advertise to hundreds, even thousands, of participants pending the event.
  • Consistent, regular sponsor exposure.

Personalization remains key to successful OTT ad campaigns, as does video quality and length. But when planned with intention and executed well, OTT ads empower events and sponsors to reach and target audiences, collect and gain valuable data analytics, attract — and keep — higher audience attention, and encourage attendee interactivity and action.

About the Author

Alon Alroy is the Co-Founder, CMO & CCO of Bizzabo, the world’s fastest-growing event technology platform for hybrid, virtual and in-person events. Alon helps marketers and event organizers from world-leading brands promote, manage and maximize their professional events, to create memorable and impactful experiences. He was named one of the Meetings industry’s “40 under 40 young leaders” by Collaborate Magazine, one of “Top 10 Israeli CMOs” by Geektime Magazine, and a “100 Most Influential People in The Event Industry” by Eventex.