For brand marketers, video continues to be the most important story in media. Audience behavior is evolving rapidly across generations, and consumers now watch more than eight hours of online content every week, according toThe State of Online Video 2018 report by Limelight Networks.
Faced with a fragmented device landscape, advertisers are seeking greater simplicity and transparency. Consumers are more concerned about data and privacy, following the rollout of regulations such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act. Additionally, adtech partners are grappling with the technical challenge of personalizing video ads for prime-time-size streaming audiences.
These issues are poised to take center stage next year, and advertisers should bear in mind these four top trends as they approach their 2019 video strategy.
1. New offerings will make OTT a must-have for achieving meaningful reach.
Given the expense of cable bundles in the US, consumers are leading the charge in embracing more affordable digital options. Nearly one-third of adults now belong to the cord-cutter or cord-never camps, opting to watch their traditional TV content through new OTT services. For advertisers, this trend means that post-cable distribution is essential in achieving meaningful reach for any video campaign.
Targeting remains a challenge in these environments. CTV — like mobile apps — is a cookieless environment, and there are hundreds of OTT services and connected devices. Fortunately, supply-side players are innovating to better coordinate this inventory and improve audience targeting.
2. Traditional pay TV will continue to influence the video landscape.
Despite the growth in OTT, cable remains a dominant force in the industry. Pay TV captures nearly five hours of average daily viewing according to Nielsen, compared to only 46 minutes for long-form CTV content. Cable providers are also recapturing value from lost subscribers through investments in many leading digital platforms, from Hulu (Comcast) to Sling TV (Dish) to fuboTV (AMC Networks and 21st Century Fox).
It’s become increasingly clear that traditional TV is far from dead, but instead is experiencing a major inflection point. Expect to see more broadcast programmers repackage their inventory across devices and platforms to simplify things for buyers in 2019. These traditional media companies will also become savvier in collaborating with ad tech partners to facilitate data activation at scale, enabling brands to personalize video messaging for different viewer “personas.”
3. Shifting consumer expectations will drive innovation in ad transactions and delivery.
With countless video options available on TV, consumers increasingly won’t tolerate irrelevant or disruptive advertising. In fact, nearly 30 percent of U.S. consumers now use ad blockers, according to Statista. In the coming months, we’ll likely see more aggressive efforts to combat ad fatigue, such as the decisions by NBC and Fox to cut down total ad time in 2019 in favor of less-intrusive and higher-value ad products.
While TV advertisers have traditionally focused on scale for their broadcast campaigns, modern advertisers must be more calculated in their efforts, prioritizing relevancy over reach. But the first-party data necessary for executing such personalized campaigns remains difficult to activate. The industry will see adtech partners introducing solutions that help buyers and sellers harness the power of first-party data, while keeping that information anonymous and secure.
4. Transparency efforts and regulation will spur larger investments in data management.
The boom in video has unsurprisingly attracted some bad actors. Given the higher ad rates for video, fraud occurs nearly twice as often with that format than with other formats, such as display. Recent initiatives led by the IAB have helped combat fraudulent activity, with protocols like ads.txt and ads.cert preventing domain spoofing by signaling to buyers which inventory is authorized by the seller.
Many buyers and sellers are demanding greater transparency through supply path optimization (SPO). SPO tools use algorithms to filter out fraudulent bid requests and streamline paths to inventory, eliminating costly middlemen. Over the next year, there will likely be a reckoning amongst supply-side platforms, as buyers increasingly seek partners who can maximize performance and ensure brand safety.
Agility is essential
Above all, 2019 will require brands to be open and flexible with regards to their video advertising strategies. The most effective buyers remain sensitive to shifts in consumer behavior, while also proactively seeking opportunities to responsibly improve targeting and personalize their campaigns. Like any year in digital media, the only guarantee is change.
Kevin Hunt is senior vice president of global marketing at SpotX