The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has created huge ripples across different industries, all pointing towards the same parallel shift to digital and virtual. Many companies are either in process or considering moving to remote workforces. Virtual kiosks and digital platforms are the new normal. And in advertising, cord-cutters are abandoning traditional cable and TV in hoards. While this is not news, it is noteworthy to highlight the role of the pandemic in accelerating the movement to digital streaming platforms.
What will take place in OTT & CTV advertising in the next 12 months?
Typically, when we discuss trends and predictions, we lean heavily into the technological advances, changes in consumer media consumption and the way those influence best practices. Given the quarantine policies, social-distancing, and stay-at-home orders in this new normal, the Strategus team wanted to take some time to highlight how we expect the current circumstances to impact the industry in the upcoming year.
These are the top 3 OTT (over the top) and CTV (Connected TV) trends we anticipate coming to fruition in the next 12 months.
1. Mindful advertising and re-focused creativity to play a larger role
The uncertainty of the global crisis has created reluctance around spending across the board. Consumer behavior shows a lack of optimism in the economy, forcing advertisers to be more thoughtful and creative in their campaign approach. Because of the shift to mindful shopping, consumers are not only placing a heavier emphasis on the value of a product before purchase, they are taking more time to diligently research a brand before buying.
What does this mean for advertisers?
- Brand messaging and tone can heavily impact the success of an OTT/CTV campaign
- Brand loyalty is not an assumption that should be taken as a given; more consumers are switching to new brands and trying different companies despite previous loyalty in order to save money
- Social awareness and whether a brand showcases empathy will impact purchase behavior
As we have seen, the internet has the innate ability to take a relatively unknown brand viral overnight just as easily as it can rally a boycott of an established brand. It is a particularly sensitive time, and this cannot be overlooked. Tone-deaf messaging and launching OTT/CTV campaigns as if nothing is wrong can truly backfire. At the same time, it can be equally ineffective to have heavy undertones of crisis and fear.
How should you shift your campaign strategy in response?
- Hyper-targeting your audience based on individual behavior. Tolerance and uncertainty will vary from household to household, person to person. Take advantage of big data to lean into hyper-targeting. This will help avoid showing a video ad to an individual who is unlikely to take action.
- Continue incorporating messages of community and unification in the OTT/CTV campaigns. Be mindful when retargeting individuals and be wary of overly aggressive call-to-actions.
- Revisit lookalike audiences following each campaign. Since COVID-19 protocol changes from month to month, from state to state, avoid the mistake of “set it and forget it” with previous lookalike audiences.
2. A heavier emphasis on hyper-local campaigns and small businesses
One of the notable exceptions to the drop in consumer spending intent is the increased desire to support the community. Essential workers, retail employees, mom and pop shops– there is collective sentiment of “spend with local/small businesses” that is currently trending. We see this prevalently in the restaurant industry, particularly with the uptick of activity on food delivery apps such as Postmates and Uber Eats.
What does this tell imply for advertisers?
- There is a large opportunity to zero in on hyperlocal campaigns, especially for savvy businesses looking to coax consumers back into the world and/or target consumers that for whatever reason are actively out in the world
- Geographical targeting is an effective tactic as individuals slowly test the waters with socially distanced outings
- Retargeting campaigns can be stretched out over a longer period of time to increase brand awareness for local businesses. As consumers are not likely to leave their current location, carefully leveraging retargeting across devices for the same local campaign can be a strategy that works particularly well during this unique time.
Relevance is one of the key traits to a successful OTT/CTV campaign. As consumers are spending greater periods of time inside their home and within their neighborhoods, local businesses are more relevant than they were prior to the crisis. Similarly, strategically crafting the narrative to complement current emotional states will be a higher driver for conversions. An individual who is on the fence about making a purchase may justify it as “supporting small businesses” if that was a factor in the campaign.
3. Higher volume of online conversions stemming from sequential messaging
Storytelling and a strong narrative have played a large part in converting views to clicks to buys in the realm of advertising. In fact, one of the reasons why programmatic and video ad campaigns are so effective is due in large part to the emotional impact that is created. Sequential messaging is an underutilized strategy when it comes to doubling down on a campaign story.
Why is sequential messaging particularly impactful?
- An OTT/CTV campaign combined with sophisticated retargeting allows advertisers to follow a user around on all ad-supported streaming sources
- Messages build upon one another, creating a higher likelihood of brand recall, and a more powerful campaign message
- Subtle nudges in the form of “did you know?”, empathetic stories, helpful tips, etc. are non-aggressive methods of pushing a user to complete a transaction
- During pandemic times its a way to increase a feeling of connectivity and specificity when it is harder to do so with fewer face to face interactions — it’s advertising that feels more human and narrative-based than a 30-second standalone spot
As more and more time is spent within the confines of a house or apartment, consumers are also spending more time on their mobile devices, tablets, or computers, in addition to watching television. Given the limited options for entertainment, there is a greater chance for marketers to play a longer game. We know that attention span is limited, but this is where repetition and tactical sequential messaging can slowly drive a consumer towards purchase.
We anticipate that more advertisers will leverage this method to increase conversions since individuals are likely to migrate from device to device in order to diversify their device usage. While our team of experts have always stressed CTV being the premium inventory of all OTT options, we recognize that the unique times call for unique strategies. This includes leveraging smaller screen sizes and other devices more heavily for OTT/CTV campaigns.
The Key Takeaways
For advertisers and media buyers, it is tempting to focus purely on the numbers. When consumer behavior points towards a hesitance to spend, it is easy to throw everything at the wall to see what might stick. We are living through a global crisis and this is one of the eras where it is of high importance to take a step back and analyze the “why” behind current consumer behavior.
At Strategus, we believe that “smart” advertising is both quantitative and qualitative, which means keeping the human element in mind as we adjust our campaign strategies. Over the next year, we predict that the brands and advertisers that perform the best will be the ones that take a similar approach. It is foolish to expect consumers to forget what is happening, and the marketers who continue in this manner will more than likely observe diminishing returns in terms of conversions.
If you’d like to chat more about how you can adjust your next OTT/CTV campaign, our team is available to offer insights and answer questions. Contact us to hear the opinion of our experts.
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