Mike Rowan, President, Founder @KPItarget
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.
We probably don’t need to tell you how much the TV landscape is changing with the rise of cord-cutters and the increase in content being consumed on smart TVs and mobile devices. The data-fueled advances in digital marketing are starting to make traditional TV advertising look like a small step up from spray-and-pray marketing.
For years, the limitations of TV advertising have been brushed off for lack of a better alternative. Sure, you can target a fairly general demographic, but there’s no easy way to determine how well you’ve reached your target audience — much less track your return on investment.
Enter over-the-top (OTT) advertising, the new frontier of the digital TV landscape. You’ve likely heard the buzzword, but what does “over the top” actually mean?
OTT refers to film and TV content delivered via the internet through smart TVs or phones and streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV. While we’re still in the early days of adoption, many savvy marketers are taking note.
As a digital marketing agency that provides overall marketing campaign strategies to a variety of B2B and B2C companies, we are increasingly weaving OTT advertising into client recommendations based on their target audience and needs. We’ve found that it’s more effective than traditional TV from a targeting perspective and that our ability to hyper-personalize advertisements to the audience is invaluable.
According to eMarketer, OTT service subscriptions are on the rise as traditional TV viewership continues to decline. In 2018, 90.3 million U.S. households subscribed to “pay TV” services like cable or satellite, and that number declined to 86.5 million this year. The number of subscribers is expected to drop to 82.9 million households in 2020.
On the OTT front, there were 170.7 million subscription viewers in 2018, which went up 6.9% to 182.5 million this year. eMarketer estimates that number will grow to 191.5 million in 2020.
Unsurprisingly, streaming platforms are reaping the benefits. Hulu’s ad revenue is expected to climb 25% to $1.82 billion this year. Roku aims to join the billion-dollar club this year, with devices in nearly 30 million households as of February 2019.
This kind of reach has opened a world of opportunity for marketers. Are you ready to capitalize on the possibilities this new channel can afford? Here’s our advice on how to do so.
What if you could target TV audiences at the same granular level that you can on social media? OTT advertising is starting to bridge that gap.
The first crucial step is to know your audience. Draw heavily on your buyer personas, which hopefully you’ve created. Conduct interviews to determine what type of people are buying your products (age, gender, location, interests, etc.). Audience information is the foundation for successful OTT targeting, so take the time to do your homework.
Segmenting your audience based on their actions and intentions, such as what they browse and purchase on your website, is a highly effective way to target. And collecting data from your customers can be as easy as installing cookies on your website or as sophisticated as asking customers directly about their preferences.
Armed with your personas and other customer data, you’ll know exactly who you’re trying to reach — and with OTT, you have the ability to serve up ads that are tailored to highly specific groups.
Let’s say you’re targeting male millennials with children. You’re probably not going to serve up an ad featuring female retirees, right? Make sure your ads line up as closely as possible with your target audience.
Depending on the type of ad you’re running, this starts with your image or casting choice. Opt for images of people who reflect your target audience’s gender, age, income level or interests to build immediate relatability.
The same advice applies to your ad’s language and tone. Do you talk to your teenage kids the same way you talk to your parents? Probably not. Tailor your tone and wording to connect with your specific target.
OTT advertising allows you to retarget through web and mobile traffic to complete the cross-channel marketing loop. You can use device thumbprints, website retargeting and IP targeting to connect TV traffic with online marketing efforts.
Consider the following hypothetical: A man browses new grills on Home Depot’s website on his laptop at home. After a bit of browsing, he closes his computer and turns on the TV, where he chooses a show on his Roku, which uses the same IP address as his computer. Can you guess what ad pops up before his TV show? A Home Depot grill ad.
Inspired, our grill guy hops back on his computer and pulls the trigger on the grill he was eyeballing. And thanks to all of the interconnected data at play, Home Depot knows exactly how to attribute his grill purchase with no guesswork required.
You can get started with cross-channel retargeting by using retargeting pixels on your website, which can help you build and segment audiences to best fit your key performance indicators. To get even more sophisticated with cookies, you can then sort by device and the areas of your website that the user visited to target them with hyper-personalized advertising experiences based on the intent that they’ve demonstrated.
Thanks to OTT, television no longer has to be a medium with wasted spending and no easy direct attribution. The ability to target more precisely and personalize your message for maximum impact means there’s a whole lot less waste.
And OTT isn’t just for big brands. Smaller businesses with more modest budgets can get in the game with highly specific placements that provide maximum exposure.
If you’re ready to see where OTT can take your digital marketing strategy in 2020, don’t skip the most important step: Take the time to define your audiences in as much detail as possible so your tailored ads can connect with viewers in an authentic and impactful way.
If you’d like to chat about using OTT in your digital marketing strategy, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.