FreeWheel’s Council for Premium Video has published a new report, “The Evolution of Streaming,” which outlines streaming’s rise over the past decade and describes four attributes that need to be addressed to fully unlock video advertising’s potential. These include Scale and Unification, Audience Targeting, Quality, Viewability and Fraud, and Audience Measurement.
Scale and Unification
FreeWheel’s report notes that according to Nielsen, streaming currently accounts for 25% of total usage of TV in streaming-capable homes. A little over half (54%) of streaming is ad-supported and the remaining is SVOD. With linear TV still accounting for about two-thirds of viewing, FreeWheel believes it is critical going forward to manage campaigns across linear and streaming. The report lays out the challenges to doing so, including back-end systems, pricing, standards and rights.
For audience targeting, FreeWheel sees a big opportunity for advertisers to leverage their own first party data, given measurement and campaign management inconsistencies of third party data. FreeWheel sees content publishers using registration and authentication first party data as essential to better targeting as well. First party data has the highest integrity and ability to target viewers at the right time with the right message.
Quality, Viewability and Fraud
FreeWheel highlights a number of ongoing challenges around quality, including how easy it is for fraudsters to create non-premium OTT channels for the purpose of attracting ads and server side ad insertion leading to some premium video impressions not being counted properly. FreeWheel notes that technology has improved to verify advertisers’ campaigns, but that all fraud still cannot be detected all the time.
FreeWheel sees ongoing challenges in holistically measuring total TV audiences, with the ultimate goal having all impressions be verifiable, measurable and attributable. Challenges include overlapping audience behaviors across linear/streaming and devices. FreeWheel cites examples like NBCU’s C-Flight, WFA’s cross-media measurement and attribution providers as steps forward in total measurement between linear and streaming.
2020 has been a big year of growth for advertising-supported streaming services, particularly as Covid changed viewer behaviors. The new FreeWheel report acknowledges the ongoing industry challenges and how they’re being addressed. The Evolution of Streaming report can be downloaded here.