Digital Advertising in Today's TV Landscape: What You Need To Know

Author: Mary Jo Preston

The TV landscape has changed. Technology now allows us to stream our favorite channels wherever we are and on whatever device we are on. This means as an advertiser you have more advertising options to get your brand in front of your audience.
I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Ben Van Horn, Director of Advanced Advertising at Spectrum Reach. In our interview, we talked about:

Watch the video below to see the entire conversation on the current and future state of TV advertising, or scroll down to read the sections most relevant to you and your business. 


Mary Jo (MJ): Please tell us your name and role at Spectrum Reach

Ben: My name is Ben Van Horn. I'm the director of advanced advertising for our central division, here at Spectrum Reach. I work with a team of advanced sellers, as well as support folks that really help all of our associates across our central division, to really help local businesses navigate this space between the convergence of TV and digital. Our job is to bring the best products and solutions to really help small businesses reach the audiences they want to reach. And especially during this year when it's just been a really challenging time. 

How Has the TV Landscape Changed and How Are We Viewing Media Today?

MJ: Currently, we’re seeing the stats on how much viewership has changed within the last three to six months since we've been on lockdown. And as a mom with two girls, we are doing virtual learning and my daughters spend time on multiple devices – their video time and streaming is at an ultimate high. For me, I think the TV landscape is interesting and has changed dramatically. To that point, how should we think about and define TV?

Ben: Think of it as “Advanced TV” because that's where we're at now. As you said, back in the day, you could reach pretty much the whole market by advertising on one or more of the broadcast TV stations. And that's what it was all about-- reach. And then, cable comes along and all of a sudden, there's all of this content you could watch from sports to news to movies and shows and more. Eyeballs are moving. So marketers realize that they could not get the reach they need with broadcast alone. That’s where advanced and streaming come in.

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How do we continue to follow those eyeballs and find those audiences?

TV is not just the content, it's also the hardware. The way we watch TV is different, it may be on a phone or iPad, or laptop. The definition of TV has changed. TV is my ability to watch when I want, where I want, how I want. And so I think that's the biggest thing that we've had to get used to understanding is how to find the audience that customers want to reach and looking at consumption across several types of platforms. How do we bring all those things together and provide a one-stop shop for our advertisers.

Definitions of OTT/CTV/Ads Everywhere

MJ: You're right. People have more devices, I think I read last time over eight devices in their house. You talked about the different types of devices that help with streaming, can jump in here and talk a little bit about definitions for those. Can you help us break it down a little bit under Advanced TV.

Ben: Yeah. I'll start with OTT, which stands for “over the top.” But I think that people define it in two main ways. One is from a device perspective, it's any kind of connected stick, smart TV, or gaming platform that delivers content over the internet without a need for a box or some kind of digital converter. 

OTT can also be defined as whether you're watching something on Netflix or Pluto, or you're watching through your cable TV app. It's kind of this overarching term for the overall space. 

You mentioned earlier about devices. In a recent Deloitte study, it stated that on average there are 11 devices per household used to watch and stream video.

ComScore also released a recent study that said:

 the average household subscribes to over 4.6 streaming services. 

So it's not only devices, but there's also this kind of stacking of different services that you want to watch more and more video. There's an abundance of opportunities for people to take advantage of.

MJ: Okay, you talked about OTT and then I've heard CTV, the “connected television,” and then all of a sudden “Ads Everywhere” became part of the discussion. I think that's what you were jumping into and talking about was the two together – the device and the content together. Is that correct?

Ben: Actually, “Ads Everywhere” was our offering when it came to buying streaming advertising. For us, that was our proprietary name for how we can help you reach people who are watching in these new ways. We've now transitioned to our streaming TV and I'll tell you why in a little bit why we did that. 

The “Ad everywhere concept was responding to consumer behavior because again, we had to understand that people were now using OTT devices to watch television. And we may not be capturing them with the linear and traditional linear TV campaign. We had to be able to get those ads in another platform, again, whether it's through a device or apps. So that was where “Ads Everywhere” came from.

I think going back, you mentioned earlier, CTV, is connected TV. At its core, it's a connected television, or smart TV. So it's internet-enabled television. It's your Samsung, your Vizio, your LG, or whatever TV you can connect to the internet, to your wifi. 

But connected TV is also using other ways to connect your TV to the internet and stream. Those are connected sticks like a Roku or a Fire TV, gaming platforms such as XBox or PlayStation. 

People are throwing around terms, “I want to do CTV advertising.” And I think one of the things that we'd like to educate on is clarifying whether they are talking about streaming advertising in general, meaning, you want to reach these audiences, but there's also some advertisers that really want that connected TV experience because what you want to see is that people are still watching the big screen. It's not all just done on a phone. 

And so there are also advertisers who say, “I still want to reach people when they're watching on a television screen, but they're watching in a different way”. So those are some of the distinctions that we make when we're having conversations. What does CTV mean to you? What does the OTT term mean to you and then narrow it down to what your objectives and your goals are. 

MJ: Thanks so much for clearing that up for everybody. So we talked about the landscape and some of the terminology around streaming media. Begs the question, Is Streaming Media the new norm?

Is Streaming Media the New Norm?

Ben: Yes. And here's where the data nerd comes out of me. Nielsen is a great resource for us because I think Nielsen has done a good job in really trying to measure and evaluate how people are watching. And one of the stats that really jumped out to us this year is in the second quarter of this year with their total audience report:

25% of total time spent with television is spent streaming. And while that sounds okay, it's only a quarter. It's one fourth, but that's up from 14% in one year, that's a 73% increase in a year.

We've also seen an acceleration of that with COVID. Also, part of their media report is a work from home special edition in which they stated that upwards of 70% of time spent this year is a combination of connected TV, viewing and digital. 

Now that more people are spending more time at home, we're spending a lot more time watching TV. So I think it is the new norm. 

What I tell marketers is that you can't ignore the shift that's happening. And so you have to be able to have a strategy that you're thinking about cross platform or multi-screen strategy to be able to capture that because the eyeballs are going there.

There's another report from MRI, the evolution that states that 56% of OTT homes are looking at Streaming as a compliment to their TV viewing. It's an addition to their traditional linear TV, whether that's sports news or other things. So, do I think it is the new norm, absolutely. I think it's something that every marketer should have as part of their strategy. Every conversation is how do I look at this to compliment what we're doing for our clients?

MJ: I couldn't agree more. And, you're not just seeing it amongst the young kids only. It’s for all age groups!

What Age Groups Are Consuming Streaming TV?

Ben: You made a really good point. That's the perception. It's younger viewers. Because they're digital natives. I'm going to go back to Nielsen and that same report. They said that looking at the most recent data from Q1 of this year, actually, 35 and up represent more than half of total streaming viewing and minutes viewed. It's 53%. So, this is not just young people that are watching. This is really across all age groups. 

I set up my mom's Samsung smart TV. She can now stream ShowTime along with her Spectrum. So it's across the board. And I think where that is really helpful is that when we talk to our clients, we need to think about the audience first because we know everyone's streaming, but there is still how people stream in those different age groups – empty nesters, college students, families, etc. We know that they're all doing it, but how they're doing it is different. And it's important to think about that in your strategy as well.

Advertising Budget Shift to Streaming Options Like OTT/CTV

MJ: Let’s talk advertising and getting in front of the right target. There's definitely a shift in traditional TV buying and looking into some of these digital streaming channels now. What are you seeing in terms of the shift? Are people using the two together as an integrated approach?

Ben: We wholeheartedly believe in multi-screen advertising because it is your path to purchase. It starts with brand affinity and recognition on TV or going online to spend some time researching. And then when we're ready to buy, we're doing a search on Google or Bing because we're ready to go make a purchase. 

So for us, we truly believe in a multi-screen approach to advertising because we want to be a one-stop-shop to get an advertising message across different touch points during a customer’s path to purchase.

Going back to Nielsen, it is clear that TV viewing is still really strong. The perception that streaming is replacing television is inaccurate. It's really complimentary. In fact, time spent with television has largely remained unchanged over the last few years. People are spending more time with media, whether traditional viewing, streaming or on-demand.

Where you're seeing growth is in digital – your phone, your laptop, but also gaming as well. So you're not abandoning your TV strategy, what you're doing is augmenting it.

You're looking at other ways to bring it together. And I think that's where we really advise our customers to think of it holistically.

We have to bring everyone together and be thinking about the creative in a consistent way, thinking about our messaging in a consistent way. The only thing that changes is the delivery model and moderating our creative to fit each of unique platforms. 

MJ: Great points, Ben. Does streaming media make sense for my advertising dollars to reach my audience?

Ben: Your job has become more difficult in a very fragmented world when it comes to media. And so for us, we do think about how we look at the different delivery models and platforms to best reach from an audience-first perspective. 

So instead of thinking, “Am I going to do streaming or broadcast or cable TV, or online video or social?” it's thinking of the audience first. How do they consume? How do we find those audiences and then work backward from there to figure out which of the different platforms makes the most sense? Even looking at how  we allocate the budget in each of these platform or areas. 

We have a market research and insights team that does a good job of taking this research, which is privacy- compliant, from ComScore and Nielsen. 

There's still a lot of people watching TV. They're also watching on streaming and they're also online. How do we continue to find more and more eyeballs and ways to find the customers that your advertisers want.

What Is on the Horizon for Streaming Media and TV Viewing As We Know It?

MJ: We know technology is always evolving. What's on the horizon for TV and Streaming? Do you have any predictions? 

Ben: I think it's really imperative that people need to start thinking holistically. Look at advertising in a different way. The things that made you successful a few years ago may not be the right approach now. 

I think that consumers are speaking for themselves. They're watching a lot of content and they're watching a lot of streaming and there's more choice than ever before in terms of the things that they can watch. It's important that you stay up to date, read about what's going on, and then you test your assumptions. Use the information that you have at your disposal today to continuously improve.

MJ: I’m excited to see what's next. We all know that no one would have predicted what happened in 2020, but I am excited to see what 2021 brings us and how it's going to keep changing. 

Ben, thank you for taking the time today and talking with us a little bit more about streaming TV, the landscape, what it looks like today. Advertising is changing. TV viewership is changing, and I think you hit it on the head when you said just keeping track of it.

Ben: I appreciate you giving us the time to talk with you. Thank you for your partnership with the Spectrum Reach team. Any way that we can be a resource, that's what we're here to do. 

Here at Stream, we are showing some great success with OTT/Ads Everywhere. We are seeing our clients shift some traditional TV budget into these channels. What is your experience with Streaming?

Taking a poll, how many devices are in your house? Leave the number below.


Topics: Digital Media, streaming tv, OTT

About the Author:

Mary Jo comes with over 30 years experience in media, marketing, advertising, promotions and special events. I love ever changing technology and all the craziness that comes with it.

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