Advertising in 2021: Seizing the Moment in OTT

By Will Offeman, CPO, WideOrbit

According to the Nielsen Total Audience Report, in 2020, American adults 18 to 34 years of age consumed about 1 hour and 37 minutes of television per day. However, this number is continuing to increase as over-the-top (OTT) services remain on the rise. Consumers are focusing more on digital viewing platforms than in previous years. In fact, Comscore found that in 2020, the total viewing hours across live TV, VOD, DVR, and OTT grew by 2.3 billion hours compared to 2019, and OTT is responsible for 60% of that increase. Another report from Absolute Markets reported that OTT traffic increased by 198% in April 2020 alone. While much of this growth is attributed to COVID-19, it continues to hold steady, creating significant opportunities for advertisers and broadcasters alike.

Our industry has changed and the seemingly separate worlds of digital and linear TV are colliding. As this convergence continues to become more commonplace and the viewing experience preferred by consumers rapidly evolves, the benefits of services like OTT have become impossible for traditional broadcasters to ignore.

Here’s a closer look at the opportunities being created for the industry through the rapid growth of OTT, and how both advertisers and broadcasters can seize the moment.

The opportunity

Consumers are spending more time at home, leading to increased viewership for streaming TV. Audiences for subscription OTT streaming services like Disney+, Netflix, and Apple TV grew by 37% in 2020. But the real opportunity lies with free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) services, such as Pluto TV, Roku, Peacock, and more. These services allow broadcasters to offer advertisers the expansive reach of over-the-air inventory combined with the addressability of digital ads, opening new revenue streams at a time when linear broadcast revenues are declining.

With the convergence of linear and digital, OTT makes it simpler for advertisers to buy the inventory types they want, while broadcasters can easily manage the sales process for that inventory. To take full advantage of this opportunity, advertisers and broadcasters must turn to industry innovations that can help reach audiences where they are by streamlining the management and sale of inventory while simplifying the cross-screen campaigns.

How to seize the moment

Seizing the moment in OTT requires the ability to leverage innovative technology offered by TV advertising platforms — platforms provide simplified ad transactions for both over-the-air and digital ads, in addition to improved data analytics and attribution capabilities.. For example, more precise data provided by OTT platforms allow advertisers to target specific audiences, allowing them to serve ads that cater to their unique audience preferences. And when done well the ad-supported streaming experience is seamless for viewers, mirroring that of traditional, over-the-air TV, so advertisers avoid the risk of their brand being associated with less precise, more intrusive forms of advertising often associated with digital. Ultimately, overall engagement with customers dramatically improves.

In addition, attribution data that matches broadcast advertising ad times to digital metrics can help advertisers measure cross-screen campaign effectiveness in-flight, allowing for mid-campaign optimization. When that data can also be correlated to website, search, social, and foot traffic metrics, the attribution dataset becomes much more comprehensive.

For broadcasters, TV advertising platforms provide tools to automate both linear and digital transactions, increasing revenue by making it easy for advertisers to access and buy the inventory they want, whether that’s over-the-air, OTT, or a combination of both to create cross-screen campaigns.

It’s safe to say the media landscape hasn’t played out the way the industry thought it would a year ago. The impact of COVID-19 created significant challenges, such as shrinking advertising budgets and shifting audience behaviors. However, the rise of OTT and innovations that create opportunities for advertisers and broadcasters to leverage its full revenue potential, provided much-needed relief and will continue to be a bright spot through the coming year.


Author Bio: Will Offeman is the Chief Product Officer at WideOrbit where he leads strategy, design, and development for all products. Will leverages decades of experience with TV and radio broadcasters, national cable networks, and digital publishers, to inform WideOrbit’s product roadmaps. As the media landscape continues to shift, Will is focused on evolving WideOrbit’s media operations platform to advance the unification of digital and linear advertising. v