Streaming TV advertising in 2023—everything marketers should know

by Samuel Pordengerg Mar 21, 2023 News
Streaming TV advertising in 2023—everything marketers should know

The streaming wars were once a phrase used to describe the bloodshed between TV's growing list of streaming services, duking it out for the highest user counts as a seemingly endless plague of network- branded services bombarded viewers. Streaming has left the battlefield littered with short-lived platforms such as CNN+ andQuibi to take on bigger foes in force. The TV advertising market is in danger of being taken away.

Most streamers have launched ads. Despite new ad inventory from Disney+ andNetflix, commitments to low ad loads keep inventory for marketers scarce.

Ad Age has gathered answers to some of the most common questions about the streaming industry.

It's very in a sense. As market saturation seems to have reached a breaking point, competition between streaming platforms is at an all time high. After many audience saw declines in 2022, platforms are no longer ranking their showdowns by subscriber numbers. TVision says that the average number of streaming apps per household is seven.

Advertising has become more important to streaming as media companies try to maximize their average revenue per user to offset higher production costs. The trend of lower-priced ad tiers will continue as Apple TV+ recently hired a head of sales, indicating the company's entry into ad-supported streaming. The head of ad sales has been hired by Apple TV+.

It looks like an unwinnable war at the moment. The company has 230.8 million subscribers around the world. Disney has a total of 161.8 million international subscribers to Disney+, which includes 48 million to Hulu and 24.9% to Disney+). Warner Bros. Discovery will debut a combined platform this spring with 96.1 million subscribers.

At an investor conference in December, Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCU, said that Peacock was close to 10 bucks per subscriber, while Disney had an average revenue of $5 per user in the U.S. Linda Yaccarino has a plan for NBCU.

It's one thing to have a good share of viewers for all of these services. While transparency in the performance of programming on each streamer is a persistent problem, the monthly report of top streaming services by volume of playtime in the U.S. has become another metric by which to rank them. The most recent edition shows that the network streamers are not the only ones with a large share of streaming eyeballs.

The modern evolution of the streaming wars can be seen in the chart.

Digital and social video platforms pose a threat to the streaming crowd as their divides become blurry. While the networks have begun implementing methods to prove their superiority to advertisers, this year's upfront may tip the scales if, for example, high pricing from streamers sends marketers running to other platforms. For the first time, streaming TV surpasses cable.

OTT, or over-the-top, is a term used to describe streaming platforms that deliver content directly over the internet. OTT is the classification of content. The term "CTV" stands for connected TV and describes the device that carries these apps, such as a Roku TV, Amazon Fire Stick or even video game consoles.

OTT platforms have many different subdivisions. Video-on-demand services allow people to choose what they want to watch. They can either be ad-supported, which most of the streamers now offer, or they can be fully subscriber-supported, which includes Apple TV+.

There are apps that look similar to linear TV with continuous streams of content. Fast, or free ad-supported TV, are free-to-use services that offer channels themed around genres such as action, true crime or news, as well as content from third-party programmers. Some of Warner Bros. Discovery's original shows, including "Westworld" and "Fboy Island", have been moved to Tubi and Roku's FAST platform in an effort to reach more people.

vMVPD services are opposite of FAST. Similar to cable, these are paid subscriptions for live programming. The acronym for popular apps is FuboTV, but also applies to add-on services such as YouTube TV.

Advertisers should care about what FAST channels are.

While consumers are dealing with both high content and platform saturation as well as tight budgets, bundling is becoming a popular option for streamers looking to boost their subscriber numbers. The simplest form of these bundles is an alliance between a streamer and another service.

If you enroll in Walmart's loyalty membership program, you can get a free Disney+ membership if you choose to sign up for a phone or internet plan. JetBlue has an exclusive deal with Peacock to show its content on flights.

There are some streaming services that bundle themselves. One might choose the Disney bundle that costs less than paying for each separately and keeps consumers within, instead of opting for the popular series like 'Only Murders in the Building' and then canceling to free up some of the monthly budget for Disney+ to binge 'The Mandalorian'. Disney owns both Disney+ and the majority of the internet service providers.

Some streamers offer more than one option. Although this doesn't equate to savings, consumers tired of hopping between apps can subscribe to other streamers and host programming from each on a single platform.

Walmart is partnering with Paramount+.

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Many marketers advertising in the streaming landscape place the same 30-second or 60-second commercials on both linear and streaming, as media companies have made efforts to eliminate the barriers between buying ad time Streaming environments can be used to target consumers with ad formats that move beyond the commercial break.

Many of the capabilities advertisers used in search and social media are now available in streaming advertising.

The power of being in a fan-favorite show as well as reach premium, ad-averse viewers can be harnessed by marketers. Simply Spiked was put into a storyline in Peacock's "Bel- Air" or Coca-Cola created its own holiday mini-series on Amazon Prime. It doesn't mean that classic product placement doesn't work, but it does mean that it doesn't have to be cliché.

The Simply Spiked storyline is featured in "Bel- Air".

The stars of Coors Banquet are in two films.

There are certain types of ad units that are associated with streaming. Pause ads and binge ads allow viewers to skip mid-roll ad breaks if they choose to watch a longer ad at the beginning of an episode. These types of ads are the standard set for streaming; however, new to market ad tiers such as Disney+ launched with just pre- and mid-roll products available, choosing to launch sooner and build more options in real time with advertisers.

Shoppable advertising is becoming more popular as platforms launch capabilities for interactive commerce. AMC launched product integration for its FAST programming in the year 2022, while Peacock will be taking in-app shopping in the upfront.

In the future, streaming ads will be all about creativity. NBCU launched "Watch With" in February, which allows brands to sponsor Q&A and live commentary with a show's talent. Ted sarandos shared his vision for advertising tailored to each program that is better than TV in itself at the festival.

Shoppable makes its way to Peacock.

There was a minimal ad offering by the company.

Multiple cases of fraudulent impressions have been reported. These cases involve schemes that spoof ad impressions, including infecting devices with malicious software to turn them into ad-viewing bot. Fraudsters can spoof millions of ad orders from connected TVs in order to snare brands.

Connected TVs are vulnerable to fraud but there are ways for brands to protect themselves. Verification companies such as DoubleVerify have arisen to combat these trends, but measurement in streaming has been a challenge all on its own.

There is still no solution to sharing metrics from campaigns that span linear and streaming TV.

After decades of providing measurement to the TV industry, the Media Rating Council accreditation was not restored last year after it was outed for under counting audiences during the H1N1 swine flu epidemic. Until solutions are agreed upon across the industry, measurement will be a pressing issue.

The measurement conversation is constantly changing.

Streaming platforms are massive marketers in their own right, as newer players try to break through the clutter.

This year's Super Bowl featured work from Peacock, Paramount+ and Tubi, as well as work from other companies. The latter was a hit with audiences because of it's visuals and prank. There are many fan events around their programming, such as the campaign for "Wednesday", "The Last of Us", or NBCU's "BoratCon".

Marketing can make a difference when it comes to businesses. Multiple agency buyers told Ad Age that Disney began marketing Disney+'s ad tier at least a month prior to going live, even though the company delayed marketing for its ad tier until after launch. After three months of being active, signups for Disney+'s ad tier represented 29% of all signups to the service compared to 19% for Netflix's ad tier, according to a study.

"Wednesday" is the next hit for the streaming service.

The Last of Us used to be marketed by Hbo.

The lines are moving in different directions. Live news, spots and tentpole events are some of the things that make linear TV different. This type of programming is available on streaming platforms.

For the first time in the history of Thursday Night Football, it will be streamed exclusively on Amazon in 2022. Major League Baseball and the MLS can be found on Apple TV.

The Screen Actors Guild Awards will be streamed live on the platform starting in 2024, as well as live news, which has become a staple of FAST programming.

Advertisers felt about Thursday night football.

Consolidation is predicted to hit the streaming landscape majorly over the next few years. Discovery+ and HBO Max are two of the platforms that are already merging.

Smaller programmers such as A+E Networks choose to license their content to other platforms instead of streaming until the waters are calm. Last year, Hallmark struck a deal with NBCU to host its content on Peacock instead of launching its own streamer.

Not too long from now, the streaming wars could look very different.

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