Streaming media platforms are no longer the new kid on the block. Every year, media companies launch and refine their streaming platform strategies to serve more diverse content, better user experiences, and, perhaps most important, more efficient advertisements.
Today, roughly 22% of all television ad spend came on streaming media platforms, according to Strategy Analytics, a number that will only increase as both user and advertiser spend for the medium increases. This is a significant and growing portion of ad spend, and advertisers — small and large alike — make those investments in an effort to become more effective in converting impressions into customers. The old world of media makes it hard to track and complete conversions, while streaming media enables more nimble, interactive ad delivery — for those who know how to wield it.
As the old sales idiom goes: time kills all deals. If you can deliver an ad quickly based on recent purchases or search history, and that ad is proven to convert customers in a target demographic, that’s a recipe for success and a far cry from the scattershot media ad buys of old. This type of targeted ad delivery, in combination with social media platforms that help establish brand identity and culture, gives advertisers many creative options.
In this blog, we’ll break down some of the different types of streaming media ad features in use today, and how they can deliver customer conversions.
Types of streaming media ad features
Effective advertisements can work in any medium and on any platform. Likewise, ineffective ads won’t be saved by emerging technologies. For example, streaming media ads that are annoying, mistargeted, or served too frequently won’t be saved by interactive or creative delivery.
However, these types of streaming media ad features offer a lot of promise for brands that want to maximize their ad investments:
in-scene ads/product placement
click to microsite
In-scene ads/product placement
Far from a new technique, in-scene placement happens when a product can be seen in the content the viewer is using — not as a commercial, but within the primary content. For the right price, brands can insert their products into the content. Sometimes the product even plays a role in the plot of a fictional program, which the brand can further amplify or cross-promote through social media. You might expect Amazon, for example, to take advantage of this strategy for some of its Prime Video original content.
However, through advancements in technology, advertisers can now take a more dynamic approach with product placement. For example, during sporting events, ads are typically overlaid onto banners placed near the field of play. Rather than display one static ad for the entire country, media companies might present the opportunity for targeted advertisements based on the viewer’s location.
While the product placement approach is familiar to many, the way it has evolved to a large extent mirrors how advertisers will try to target customers in the future. Rather than wait patiently for an opportunity to present a static ad to a generalized audience, the brand can target a specific, relevant audience on a platform where their attention is already held. It’s not too dissimilar from, say, a retailer serving a push notification offer when a customer walks by their store, or a quick service restaurant using facial recognition to identify a customer and recommend a past order. These ideas might be new to some, but they’re on the horizon, and in-scene ads will evolve with the times.
The future of advertising is customized attention on specific customers or personas. Dynamic overlay, also known as frame ads, are one means to achieve that objective, in which the viewer is served an advertisement as a border around the primary content.
Dynamic overlay comes in two forms. First, the ad can wrap around the primary content, as we often see in sporting events now. A beer advertisement, for example, might play around a minimized screen of the game during a timeout. This is a great time to capture the attention of a viewer who is already invested — sometimes literally — in the on-screen action. Second, an interactive frame ad can wrap around the primary ad delivery video. The viewer might have a chance to select an on-screen option, scan a QR code displayed, see an address for a local brick and mortar location and more.
While dynamic overlay offers quite a bit more customization potential than general ads, advertisers should be cautious to find the right blend of targeted but generalized. Advertisers should keep a wide enough funnel to attract potential customers unfamiliar with their products while also being efficient and effective with their ad spend.
As the name suggests, click-to-contact gives viewers the choice to receive additional information about the brand or product from the media provider via the advertiser.
Whether the platform provider or the client controls the data, which might be a point of change in the near future, the viewer ultimately voluntarily enters the marketing funnel where they might be converted into a customer. Client-side ad insertion (CSAI) enables more personalized and interactive advertising, though server-side ad insertion (SSAI) allows for a more smooth, consistent experience across all devices and network conditions. Content providers must select the data strategy right for them based on customer feedback and data.
Click-to-contact ads might offer the viewer something they want, such as a discount, if they engage with the brand. And because the media provider already has the client contact data, it is exceptionally easy for the viewer to engage with and opt in to receive communications.
Perhaps the most dynamic of ad delivery options, in-stream interactions enable brands to personalize in-platform ads according to the user’s persona and past behavior. YouTube accomplishes this type of ad delivery well, pulling data from the user’s browser or past history, and interrupting the content to serve an ad relevant and engaging to the user.
These types of in-stream interactions, however, don’t always interrupt the content. Often, these ads are displayed within the content to progress a potential customer further down the pipeline, similar to product placement in today’s media landscape. Influencers have incredible power in today’s media ecosystem as younger audiences flock to recognizable and likable content creators. Those influencers are often paid to feature products or promote an ad within their content, which gives brands a rare ability to showcase their products when the user is already captivated. There are regulations to this type of content, and the influencer often has to state when a product is being shown as part of a paid engagement, but it’s becoming common in the marketplace.
These personalized ads let viewers decide a path in an interactive ad. Viewer’s choice ads might offer a pair of ad promotions from which the viewer selects based on their personal or product preferences. For example, a liquor company might offer a viewer’s choice between how to make a mojito or an old fashioned — with their products featured, of course.
Not only do viewer’s choice ads help reduce the likelihood that a viewer will be served with the same ad over and over again, but it also helps engage them from the beginning, as their input directly affects the ad delivery.
These ads offer a lot of potential for the future, as brands can explore branching or continuing storylines that the user can select. For example, over the course of an hour-long show, the viewer might be able to make decisions for the characters featured in the ad, leading them down a unique pathway that keeps the viewer engaged and interested. These types of choose-your-own-adventure viewing experiences are already growing in popularity on streaming platforms, and it’s not far-fetched to think the same could happen with advertisements.
Click to microsite
One of the most popular ads from the most recent Super Bowl was simple in its execution. Coinbase released an ad with a QR code bouncing around the screen for a few seconds — that’s it. Yet, that ad led to an app install increase of 309% week-over-week, with more continuing to download the app in the days to come.
The viewers that engaged with the QR code were sent to a Coinbase promotional offer screen, which is the core of this type of ad delivery. Microsites help convert customers further down the funnel. Viewers engage with your product because they know your brand. These microsites can be tailored to specific personas or promotional offers, giving a level of personalization that other ads might struggle to provide. A game show might also display a QR code in its commercials to give viewers a direct path to apply to be a contestant.
These are also becoming popular as part of a tie-in with the primary content. For example, a popular television drama over the last few years included a click-to-microsite that led to a retailer page, where fans of the show could purchase some of the products seen in the show.
Quality over quantity
Brands will seek to deliver their messages in engaging, relevant and efficient ways, enabled unlike ever before by innovations in streaming media technology. Just because the tools are at their disposal, however, doesn’t mean they know how to use them.
It’s essential for brands and streaming media companies to validate the functionality of ads in the real world, as well as gauge the user experience on these increasingly personalized, localized communications.
That’s where Applause comes in. As the worldwide leader in digital quality, Applause sources testers and participants all over the world that match the demographics and personas you need. For example, Applause testers can validate that a viewer’s choice ad works as expected in Germany on a recently released smart TV. Real testers, real demographics, real devices, real markets — this is the way to validate digital experiences. Leave the guesswork to the competitors.
Tell us about your digital quality goals, and we will tell you how we can help achieve them.