What You Need To Know Before Spending On OTT

Male hand holding TV remote control.

OTT platforms have become increasingly popular among consumers, especially with the various streaming services now available in the market.

The pandemic and lockdowns have also spurred the uptake of video streaming, with 180 million Southeast Asians using OTT streaming services, according to a report by The Trade Desk. Also, 57% of OTT viewers increased their streaming during COVID-19, while 73% plan to maintain or increase OTT consumption even after the pandemic.

Brands have also experienced positive impact from OTT. According to a Southeast Asia neuroscience study by Kantar and PubMatic, exposure to ads in premium OTT platforms improved unaided brand awareness, delivering a 37% uplift over exposure on non-premium video. Compared with non-premium video content, premium OTT was found to deliver brand messages with an average of 1.9 times higher brand awareness.

During a recent webinar hosted by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, in collaboration with iQiyi International, GroupM’s APAC investment director John Miskelly said OTT’s growth presents an interesting opportunity to associate brands around premium brand safety as well as brand safe content.

“I always think it’s better to appear against [premium] shows rather than user generated content. And from our clients’ perspective, OTT is a really good chance to have their brands associated with premium broadcast quality content,” he said.

Adding to the discussion was iQiyi International’s head of Southeast Asia advertising sales, Elaine Tan, who explained that with paid TV subscribers and linear TV audiences on a decline, premium OTT fills a void for advertisers who are trying to reach a younger, more diverse group of audiences.

The likes of iQiyi is an attractive platform for marketers given the audience they can reach out to, Tan explained, stating: “There is a smaller overlap between OTT viewers and traditional TV viewers, given the target audience for the latter often falls under the older demographic.”

She also shared that in comparison with OTT, traditional TV’s reach can be fragmented due to measurement difficulties. However, having the right tech backing, which enables the filtration of the right type of data and audience segmentation, targeting becomes more precise on OTT platforms resulting in lessened expense wastage for marketers.

How can brands measure their OTT campaigns?

Brand uplift and reach are often effective ways to gauge the return on investment for OTT, agreed the panellists during the webinar. However, PubMatic’s regional VP – OTT and CTV, APAC, Vijay Anand Kunduri, said what marketers and brands track also depends on the KPIs they are looking for in a particular campaign. In fact, it is not necessarily just all about the impressions.

“If a campaign objective is awareness, we should definitely look at metrics such as impressions and views. But if the campaign KPI is people engaging with that content and what has been produced, the far more relevant metric would be dwell time and completion,” Kunduri explained.

Meanwhile, if the campaign KPI is about individuals engaging with the content and then taking the next step to purchase, then the measurement metric would be clicks, downloads, or any other relevant action metric. Hence, when working with brands, Kunduri said he and the team think about setting the right campaign KPI before deciding on a set of metrics.

Javed Jafri, Unilever’s media and digital hub lead for Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, said there should ideally be different metrics for different campaigns because the rationale behind each campaign might be different. For Unilever, while each campaign may be different, at the end of the day, it boils down to two core areas of quantitative and qualitative metrics.

“We might go for cost-per-mile or click through rates (CTR) when eyeing a possible lead. While these are the common metrics, the most important metric is whether or not the campaign has had an impact on your business result, which means we need to have much more validation in terms of brand lift and reach,” he said.

Jafri explained that marketers must also link campaign objectives to the impact on brand growth – and this might vary depending on what the business objective is. Another area marketers should consider is in ensuring the metrics they are using or tracking can help them not only create a seamless journey for customers, but also open up paths for re-targeting.

“How can I catch my consumer again and again by customising my creatives? How can you re-target your consumer and offer them better, and customised creatives? That’s a solution which we see is available on OTT platforms,” he said.

GroupM’s Miskelly also argued that generally CTRs are “not a great measure” for OTT, so brands should ideally focus on brand uplift.

“Ultimately, most clients are trying to use advertising to drive some kind of business outcome. So, if you know you’re able to shift consideration, then that’s the metric the clients are looking for,” he said.

Premium or mass?

While OTT platforms are no doubt gaining prominence, most are yet to reach the same level of mass as non-premium ones. But the numbers game shouldn’t stop marketers from exploring these platforms, the panellists said.

Regardless of the platform used, marketers need to calculate the incremental reach they are getting if they use video platforms.

“Calculate your overall incremental reach against broad target audience but then look at how you can use data to target your strategic core audience,” Miskelly explained.

“Go for the broad audiences on YouTube, and then build incrementality reach by tapping into OTT platforms. It’s good to go with a mix versus one single platform.”

At the end of the day, it’s all about testing and experimenting. The best thing about digital compared with TV, Unilever’s Jafri said, is that marketers can easily change the mix. For example, marketers can test out OTT for two weeks before switching to another platform – and vice versa – to find out what works for them.

Agreeing with him was PubMatic’s Kunduri, who added that when testing and experimenting, brands still need to be absolutely sure about what they want to achieve and what their objectives are.

“First understand what exactly you want because each screen, be it TV, YouTube or OTT, is different. That brings a different benefit to the table. It’s about how you weave that together,” he said.

Credit: Marketing Interactive

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