OTT Advertising: Superhero of the New TV Landscape
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Mike Goodman
By Mike Goodman,
Sr. Director Demand Sales

Today, I was privileged to address the audience at AdExchanger’s PROGRAMMATIC I/O conference in New York to talk about Over-the-Top (OTT) advertising.  This talk coincided with the launch of FreeWheel’s DRIVE – a suite of advanced advertising solutions designed to help marketers reach consumers across emerging forms of TV, including OTT, Set-top Box Video on Demand (STB VOD) and digital video, using advanced data and measurement capabilities.  

Photo Credit: AdExchanger

As I mentioned in my presentation today – we’ve been seeing very strong interest in OTT inventory from marketers for some time, but challenges in terms of scale, measurement and quality standards slowed adoption.  Now, with initiatives like FreeWheel’s DRIVE, viable markets are emerging that allow advertisers to easily tap into OTT audiences in a way that aligns with their needs and goals, thus increasing the value of this inventory for marketers and publishers alike.

Value of the OTT Audience

After battling fraud within the digital media ecosystem, marketers are embarking upon a “flight to quality” with respect to media selection, including video.  Buyers want to know that their investment is reaching the right person—a real person—at the right time.   In terms of quality, OTT offers one of the best environments to reach real users, who are highly engaged with real content, at scale.

Here’s why:

  • TV screens don’t scroll—meaning all OTT units are 100% viewable
  • 69% of OTT viewing sessions are authenticated—driving confidence that real people are watching the content*
  • A big-screen lean-back experience, coupled with long-form TV content, contribute to an engaged audience base
  • Scale is here—and growing—with approximately 200 million OTT users now in the U.S. (eMarketer).

In addition, qualitatively, OTT viewers are more than 20 years younger on average, and have 20% higher household incomes than linear viewers.* 

* FreeWheel Signature Insights, 2017

So, who is buying OTT, and why isn’t everyone?

Well, it’s complicated. While the promise of OTT has been recognized by all, some buyers are still hesitant to divert money from traditional budgets to OTT.  Then you have the question: from whose budget should it come?  OTT is a hybrid format, incorporating the best of digital video and the best of linear TV. So not surprisingly, roughly half of OTT spend is coming from TV buyers and over half is coming from digital buyers.

The truth is, OTT offers everything buyers love about linear and digital video, and it is the perfect way to complement existing buys to achieve a wide range of marketing objectives.  Moreover, as the worlds of linear and digital continue to converge, and as targeting and measurement capabilities evolve, the lines between the two worlds will continue to blur.

Great strides have already been made in this area.  For instance, FreeWheel’s DRIVE removes one of the primary obstacles to OTT and VOD advertising by delivering measurement metrics comparable with linear TV, as well as transparent reporting.

Driving Better Results with OTT

With advanced data, uniform measurement, and the ability to drive marketing objectives throughout the full purchasing funnel, OTT is clearly emerging as the superhero of the media industry.  To realize the full potential of OTT, keep in mind these best practices:

  • Ensure that a campaign is running on premium inventory by working with partners with deep supply relationships, or directly with a media partner
  • Make sure the geographic distribution of the OTT impressions matches the needs of the brand, whether national or regional
  • Ask for transparency in reporting exactly where the ads ran
  • Partner with attribution vendors to monitor results and determine ROI

When done right, OTT—and its partner, STB VOD—marry the best aspects of linear TV and digital video, and can help buyers reach new audiences and drive incremental reach while maintaining scale, quality and transparency.  At FreeWheel, we look forward to helping increase the value of this inventory within the new TV landscape.


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