The Big Game is Just the Beginning: The Rise of FAST Streaming Advertising

By Navdeep Saini, co-founder and CEO of DistroScale, parent company of DistroTV

Perhaps the biggest example of a consumer trend that accelerated due to the pandemic was the adoption of streaming. About a year ago, the world was forced indoors: feeling scared, confused, and downright anxious, the abundance of streaming services available for download provided a sort of escapism to a fraught America. In fact, it was reported that the market for streaming services grew by a whopping 37% in 2020, with the average American streaming eight hours worth of content daily and subscribed to four streaming services.

Enter a new year, and with it, a new sense of optimism, as well as a reality check on household spending. The light at the end of the tunnel and vaccine-inspired optimism are also throwing light on what viewers are paying for entertainment. More viewers are thinking twice before they sign up for another streaming subscription and are instead turning to free, ad-supported streaming, or FAST, services. In fact, FAST played a dominant role in this year’s Super Bowl viewing habits. The Super Bowl was just, to many, the first big TV moment of 2021, and one that up until recently, was largely dominated by linear TV.

Until this year. With FAST streaming on the rise in American households since the onset of COVID-19, many savvy digital outlets offered ways for fans of the Big Game to stream the game live, and for free. Other FAST networks even planned Super-Bowl themed programming lineups (hello, Dip Fests!), signifying that there is clear whitespace in the streaming market that advertisers should look to take advantage of in the weeks and months ahead.

But how? Let’s take a look at three benefits to streaming advertising to help advertisers understand, and take full advantage of, the FAST market as we prepare for the next TV moments of 2021.

Streaming advertising can reach a broader audience.

TV advertising is just that; it reaches television sets. Streaming advertising is not limited to any screen type, and in a sense, opens up endless possibilities for a brand to appropriately target their intended audience… yes, even as we continue to be a nation battling stay-at-home orders and lockdowns.

For instance, how many of us wake up in the morning to check our little screen (phone) for news, before settling into work on our medium-sized screen (laptop/tablet) for work, and then rewarding ourselves in the evening by watching our bigger screen (TV) for entertainment? People are quite literally bored in the house and they’re in the house bored, and they’re using any and every device at their disposal to “switch up” their daily content consumption routines.

And this sentiment does not just ring true for GenZ and millennials. In fact, according to Deloitte research, FAST streaming well appeals to Boomers, who grew up on traditional broadcast and pay-TV and often crave nostalgic content… which is easy to create and distribute through FAST channels.

It’s more agile, which is great and necessary at a time when consumer sentiments are shifting rapidly.

The world around us changes quickly, and so too do audience sentiments. When it comes to creating and distributing relevant advertising content that will well appeal and resonate with a brand’s target audience demographic, it’s imperative to be agile. FAST streaming services afford advertisers just that. In allowing for intuitive advertising, they help brands track, measure, and optimize advertising content in real-time. This is critical, as is the fact that every change advertisers choose to make can be quantified through tracking campaign KPIs, such as conversion or engagement rates.

It’s customer-centric and enhances content control.

Streaming advertising is customer-centric. When a viewer logs in to stream a certain show or movie, it is an intentional act. That viewer is thoroughly invested and interested in the subject matter, which means they’ll more likely watch through the advertisements. In fact, viewers must sit through the advertisements, as FAST streaming services do not offer the option to skip through them. This means for advertisers, FAST streaming services are a brilliant way to target consumers with content that will resonate, and leave a lasting impression.

The Super Bowl was just the first big TV moment of 2021. There will be many more — some that we traditionally plan for and others that are new to the scene. For instance, with concerts and music festivals likely not returning anytime soon, will FAST services run special programming to appeal to concert-goers who miss experiencing their favorite bands play? Will they stream the Oscars for free? The opportunities for content are endless through streaming services, and so are the opportunities for advertisers.