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What Does the Future of TV Look Like for the PI Industry?

by Laura Hudson | May 4th, 2022

We’ve been talking about OTT and CTV for a few years now and studying it for even longer. OTT has been around for more years than you may realize, but it hasn’t been incredibly relevant for our industry until recently. And the big question remains: When should we be adding this media to the mix?

But before we get into that, let’s define what it all really means.

The Emerging Media Acronyms: OTT & CTV

Lots of vendors throw around acronyms, and as a media person, I love a good acronym. We’ve got them in spades in the media world. But if we’re not all working from the same playbook, they’re pretty useless.

Let’s get on the same page:

  1. OTT – Over the Top – Watching video via an internet connection on any device
  2. It could be a cat video on YouTube or your phone or Black Widow on Disney+ on your living room television (although most vendors refer to OTT as TV (non-skippable, non-clickable ads) on any device).
  3. OTA – Over the Air – TV broadcast from local TV stations via antenna
  4. CTV – Connected TV – TV connected to the internet by a dongle (like Firestick),  game system or Smart TV
  5. SVOD – (pronounced S Vahd) Subscription Video on Demand – Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+
  6. AVOD – (pronounced A Vahd) Ad-supported Video on Demand – Hulu with ads, Philo, Tubi, fuboTV

How Are People Consuming TV Today?

Linear TV (broadcast and cable) viewing still dominates TV consumption. Streaming is growing but faces big hurdles before it becomes the main source of ad spend for our industry.

Two main issues are:

  1. Streaming is very fragmented viewing. There are lots of options for a user to choose from, making it even more expensive to have the necessary reach to create a direct response.
  2. Ad-supported (AVOD) and Subscription services (SVOD) are included in the percentages of time spent streaming. 
    • SVOD services cannot accept ads and so are not relevant to us as advertisers. 
    • Of the graph shown below, Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, plus parts of Hulu do not accept ads.
      • Also of note, the YouTube usage is not just YouTubeTV viewing, and HULU usage includes HULU Live where linear spots are being shown.
Television Streaming Graph

Benefits of CTV

Despite the challenges, there are benefits to adding streaming to the media mix when the time is right.

Streaming is growing and quickly. The pandemic pushed the industry forward at lightning speed when users adopted the technology while stuck at home. The reach of the medium has grown by leaps and bounds and it should be seriously considered as a viable branding media and extension of your TV buy.

One of the myriad reasons this medium is viable is that the targeting capability of streaming TV adds a digital-style capability to TV viewing. While PI-based targeting has been historically hard to nail down, other case areas can benefit from a more targeted approach. We can target people, rather than just programs, which allows us to find the people we want no matter what program they are watching.

And with that in mind, we must prepare for the future. Does this mean linear TV will ever go away? That’s the million-dollar question wrapped in a blanket of equity questions and infrastructure. But the short version is until everyone has access to dependable high-speed internet, over-the-air television won’t go away. It remains to be seen if usage will fall to levels that turn OTA TV the way of newspapers and Yellow Pages. In the meantime, we should be prepping for whatever comes next and we believe streaming will definitely be a part of it.

Potential Gamechanger on the Horizon

The latest big news on the streaming front is Netflix’s decision to offer an ad-supported subscription tier. While there aren’t many details available right now, we do know that this announcement has the potential to be the tipping point that advertisers are looking for when it comes to streaming. The time spent with Netflix more than doubles other CTV streaming service options.

But the future will depend on how Netflix sets up their subscription tiers and whether subscribers stick around after the new price points roll out. We’ve got another year or two before that happens. But you can rest assured that we’re monitoring and assessing the Netflix news at it rolls out.

When to Add Streaming?

What does all of this mean for a primarily PI (auto)-based advertising law firm? And when is it time to start advertising in streaming TV?

For our industry, TV still serves a direct-response purpose. Kill TV and kill your leads. TV also serves a branding purpose because like it or not, your local TV stations have the biggest mouths in town, and they fill the top of your advertising funnel (which opens the door to a last-touch attribution rabbit hole… but that’s another topic for another time.) Linear TV is the bread and butter of direct response. That hasn’t changed — yet. Still, we may be singing a different tune when Netflix supports ads.

But we all know that there is a time for all mediums to be used when building a brand. When direct-response mediums are fully funded, it’s time to look at the next steps. Depending on your market and your firm, CTV may be the place to look first. But in the meantime, we plan for a long-term DR strategy to prep for your future branding opportunities.

And while the media landscape is sure to change, there are a couple of things that will always remain the same. Leads matter and our team will always strategize with that in mind.

If you have any questions about the information in this blog and how it pertains to your firm, reach out to me, Laura Hudson, at lhudson@cjadvertising.com  or aputman@cjadvertising.com. We’re happy to discuss. TTYL! 😉