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The next battle in streaming wars: Addressable TV

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The way we consume media has been changing for decades. Over the last 30 years, we’ve gone from renting VHS tapes at Blockbuster, to watching user-generated videos to our heart’s content on YouTube, to bingeing an entire series in one day on Netflix. With 2020 set to be another crazy year in the streaming market, here we will look at how marketers can achieve success among the evolving landscape, whether promoting a streaming service or taking advantage of associated advertising channels to promote a brand or product.

What’s coming in 2020?

Last year felt like something of a turning point. The growing and powerful trend towards streaming was universally acknowledged and not even the most ardent traditional powerhouses could afford to pretend otherwise. Established cable networks announced their own alternatives to the likes of Netflix. And finally, long after their ownership model through iTunes became obsolete, Apple entered the fray with Apple TV+. In fact, in November 2019 alone, three huge global brands launched their own streaming services: Disney+, Apple TV+ and Britbox from the BBC. 

And there are no signs of a slow down in 2020. HBO Max, Peacock and Quibi are just a fraction of the services due to launch next year making the market more cluttered than ever.

But with such an abundance of choice for users and the shadow of the behemoth that is Netflix looming, how can any new service hope to stand out?

A marketer’s weapons

The launch of all these new brands hasn’t escaped users’ notice, but it’s not necessarily been greeted well. A recent Deloitte study found that 47% of users were frustrated by the growing number of streaming services they need to access their favorite content. This was perfectly demonstrated last year in the UK when Britbox, a joint venture by the BBC and ITV was launched. It garnered a huge amount of negative press and chatter on social media, as users expressed frustration not only at the fact they already pay an annual license fee to the BBC for its content but that many of their best shows would now be removed from Netflix giving the public no choice but to pay twice if they still wanted access.

I predict this subscription fatigue will get much worse in 2020 – you can’t ask people to keep paying more and more for content they used to be able to find in one place and expect them to just cough up. So, a key success factor when promoting a new service is to not market yourselves as another Netflix (we already have one and nobody can hope to compete). Instead, it’s vital to find your niche, what your brand can uniquely bring to the table, and market the hell out of it. Don’t just go after people that already have a streaming subscription, they could be those suffering with fatigue already. Instead look to audiences with whom that unique messaging will resonate most, using market insights tools or any first-party data you have to hand to ensure your decisions are backed up by solid data.

Once you’ve got users, make sure you don’t lose them. The 30-day free trial is synonymous with streaming these days and you’re unlikely to secure significant numbers of new users without one, but don’t let those numbers fall off a cliff 29 days after launch. Ensure you are able to segment your CRM data accurately and to a granular level based on people’s viewing habits. This will allow you to create bespoke ads and offers that resonate with your users and convince them that yours is a service worth sticking with, even as others appear in the market.

How every marketer can take advantage

This proliferation of streaming services is just one symptom of the bigger trend of people spending less time watching traditional TV, and more streaming or watching on-demand. If you’re marketing any product or service, this trend should be welcome news. It’s the evolution of our media consumption that has led to the birth of addressable TV. TV advertising used to be for big budgets and broad audiences – all you could choose was which show to appear during and hope you reached the right viewers as a result. But now advertisers have the ability to access highly relevant, specific audiences with addressable TV in the same way they’ve been able to do with digital for years.

In 2018 Roku launched Audience Marketplace, allowing advertisers to access their users based on intent signals from their viewing habits. Thanks to AT&T’s merger with Time Warner, we now have Community – a curated marketplace of publishers through which advertisers can target niche audiences across multiple viewing platforms. LiveRamp extended its IdentityLink offering to connected TVs. In the UK, Sky recently announced that Channel 4 will join its AdSmart platform allowing addressable advertising during Sky programming. Long story short, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.

What that means is that the lines between digital and traditional media are becoming ever more blurred. Stop thinking of TV as just a place for your big budget spot, or that it’s out of your budget altogether. Marketers have an opportunity to be early adopters of addressable TV and take advantage of its enormous reach and penetration across all age groups, while still maintaining relevance and impact. 

Final thoughts

If you’re hoping to market a new streaming service, you’ve got a challenging year ahead. The market is too cluttered and users are starting to grow weary. More than ever, you have to using relevant for the audiences and invest heavily in retention strategies to ensure you maintain a loyal user base.

If you’re marketing something else on the other hand, more streaming services means more competition in the market. That means more platforms offering an ad-funded option for you to utilize puts advertisers at the advantage of being able to demand highly effective campaigns. Otherwise, you’ll simply take your money elsewhere.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

The next battle in streaming wars: Addressable TV 1

Laura Collins is Head of Paid Social at UK-based paid media agency, Merkle|Periscopix. In her six years in digital marketing, she has acquired in-depth knowledge of Facebook, Twitter, AdWords, and several other platforms. She has managed accounts across a range of sectors with a specialization in finance & retail. Laura is a regular contributor to Marketing Land and a familiar face on the London speaker circuit.





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