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Taking a 'Streaming First' Approach to Marketing

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Rapid change is on the near horizon for TV advertising. There’s no doubt that the traditional, linear, TV model must evolve fast to reflect audience behaviour and meet advertiser need. The boom in connected TV (CTV) - accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak – and the streaming of video content across devices, presents an opportunity to marketers.

Significant growth in the US (CTV’s share of US ad impressions jumped from 33% in 2019 to 41% in 2020, according to the latest Innovid US Video Benchmarks Report) is reaching Europe. For instance, in the UK, half of households now subscribe to at least one subscription streaming service, 12 million people signed up to a new streaming service during the first coronavirus lockdown, and viewing of video streaming services rose 71% in the year to the end of June 2020, according to Ofcom.

The Roku Channel launched into this dynamic UK market in April, offering viewers free access to more than 10,000 movies, TV episodes and documentaries streamed through Roku devices but also other providers including NOW TV and Sky Q boxes.

Mike Shaw, director of sales, Europe, at Roku, argues that the launch was timely in terms of this being a “golden age for consumers”, and in providing new opportunities for marketers looking to reach audiences of all ages in the streaming space.

Shaw says that the potential for streaming services such as Roku lies in providing connectivity across platforms for brands: “Roku offers advertisers a ‘self-serve’ ad platform, OneView. That means that you, or your agency, can go into a tool to plan the optimal activity based around the audience that you're looking to reach, can upload creative, and execute that activity. Not just around connected TV but also, across digital video and display.”

Effective addressable TV advertising has proved elusive for brands, and marketers could be forgiven for doubting CTV’s ability to deliver. Yet Roku is making progress. Its work with IPG Media Lab and Magna, for instance, involved building various ad units and then creating a range of content hubs to address specific audiences on The Roku Channel. Follow-up research established that placing these branded experience units alongside relevant video ads was four times more effective in terms of driving purchase intent than running the video ads alone.

But what about some practical advice for brands that want to achieve maximum impact from a “streaming first” approach to marketing? Shaw has three tips: “Firstly, there is a chunk of the audience who are now just not being exposed to ads in linear TV, and you've got to be able to have a new plan to go and find them. So embed a ‘streaming first’ mentality within the planning that you either do yourself or with your agency.”

“Secondly, think about the data assets that you have as an organisation, and how you understand your consumers. And about how you can bring them to bear not just within the walled gardens but actually to this incredibly effective world of television as well. And, lastly, don't forget creativity, which drives such value within this ecosystem. Have a really good think about the expertise within your organisation and agency for how you can use the new creative options provided by connected TV, and to maximise the value of your ad investments”

CTV has issues to address, not least regarding trading and measurement, but Shaw points to the recent launch of the European Connected TV Consortium (Roku is one of the founding supporters) as a step forward in putting the case to marketers: “We need to give planners, buyers, agencies and brands themselves the opportunity to really understand what ‘good’ looks like, and show how those campaigns have performed in the same way, if not by the same metrics, that they have understood previous TV investments.”

Above all, Shaw anticipates a shift in gear that will see streaming provide options beyond the 15 or 30-second video ad. This will require acceleration in thinking and development of trading models that prioritise the creation of better TV experiences and drivegreater mental availability for brand messages among audiences. Marketers, and their brands, are set to be the big winners in this “streaming first” world.

Mike Shaw, Roku director of sales, Europe, talks to Kenneth Hein, US editor of The Drum, in a ‘Taking a streaming first approach to marketing’ session at The Drum’s Digital Summit.

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