The future is OTT - advertisers must move with the market

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Asia was slow to launch over-the-top (OTT) video offerings such as live TV streaming or subscription video on demand (SVOD) but the market is starting to move with new services launching, smartphone adoption and changing media consumption habits pushing the space forward.

For advertisers, this means that opportunities to serve highly-targeted video ads in premium environments are quickly growing in scale. Audiences are watching broadcast-quality content on desktop, mobile, and connected TV devices through services like iFlix, SingTel’s HOOQ and OONA. They’re engaged in a TV-like viewing experience, and are watching as targetable individuals, rather than non-defined viewers of a timeslot or general TV audience.

Noticing the potential for growth in Asia Pacific (APAC), media companies from around the world are turning their gaze towards the region. With forecasts of declining subscription growth in North America, major SVOD players like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are focusing on APAC to drive revenue. To many consumers, international content is as attractive as local language content, giving English-based global companies a foothold.

What exactly is OTT advertising?

By the IAB’s definition, OTT is video content transported from a video provider to a connected device over the internet, outside the closed networks of telecom and cable providers. It’s high-quality content, often broadcast or HD in quality, and usually long form (movies and TV shows), rather than the shorter clips you might find on news publisher websites.

And, given that it’s delivered via a digital stream, it comes with granular targeting capabilities. Yet, despite these advantages, most brands aren’t tapping into the opportunities it brings.

Benefits for advertisers

The benefits of OTT for advertisers don’t end at a premium, lean-back environment with targetability. There are other major benefits that advertisers should be taking advantage of, including:

  • Viewability: Advertisements are viewable by default with full-screen placements that put the main message front and centre, and usually can’t be skipped. In fact, OTT returns the highest completed view rate of any video format at more than 90%.
  • Unique audience: Connect with high-value consumers including cord-cutters and cord-nevers who may not be accessible through traditional TV.
  • Re-targeting: Advertisers can maximise campaign dollars by serving ads directly to specific target audiences with real-time metrics to reduce wastage, as well as re-target known viewers of an ad to continue the narrative with the consumer.
  • Full transparency: The measurability of the digital world lets advertisers understand the cost of media, who all the players in the supply chain are, where their ads are running, and evaluate success.

Overcoming the adoption hurdles

While the benefits are clear, there are still some barriers in the way of full adoption. These include factors such as unclear industry standards, disparities in ad creative formats between buyers, sellers, and third parties, a lack of general understanding about OTT, and gaps in ad delivery infrastructure.

Currently, the industry largely treats OTT environments as either standard digital video or TV buys, rather than as its own ecosystem with its own unique requirements. However, this is starting to show the first signs of shifting. The industry is currently developing a technology standard specifically for OTT, with the IAB recommending the use of VAST 4.0 to allow buyers to send through several creatives – such as a mezzanine, a standard MP4, and VPAID – enabling publishers to then choose the format they want to use. This approach allows the publisher’s ad server, or player, to consume the right ad on-the-fly, for the right format, device, or application.

Work is underway on creating a mechanism to help publishers increase demand and maintain some control over creative assets in OTT, while allowing advertisers some say in the creative decision-making process. To help close the communication and infrastructure gap between buyers and sellers, publishers are being encouraged to make inventory available across third-party platforms. On the buy side, DSPs are being encouraged to make it easy for advertisers to meet publishers’ needs.

Video streaming is exploding in Asia with consumers showing high demand for more accessible and advanced delivery of quality content over the top. With a potential OTT audience of around 1.8 billion subscribers in the Asia-Pacific region, the race for the OTT market is underway. Brands will need to start exploring OTT strategies now to get in the game and not miss out on the growing opportunity -- to get in front of the right audience at the right time with unparalleled audience data in a premium environment. In today’s multi-screen world, ad campaigns need to reach audiences on the most relevant screen, with continuity and relevancy. It’s time for APAC advertisers to take advantage of OTT, and plan their video buys with an all screens, all streams approach.

Antoinette Patterson, senior sales Asia (Demand Facilitation), SpotX

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