Video adtech provider Beachfront has launched in beta a pod bidding solution for connected TV ads. The solution allows publishers to programmatically sell an entire ad pod while pricing each ad differently and guaranteeing positions within the pod. Guaranteeing first position would be especially valuable for CTV publishers to be able to optimize for advertisers who are willing to pay a premium to be in the first slot of a pod.
Beachfront founder and president Frank Sinton told me in a briefing that this kind of preference has been available in a direct sale model for CTVs, but not in programmatic. Choosing first position has long been part of the traditional TV buying world, but Frank said that because a lot of the ad infrastructure used for CTV is based on desktop and mobile this capability has been missing. CTV advertising is growing strongly, with eMarketer forecasting over $10 billion in spending next year.
Topics: Beachfront Media
A new survey from FreeWheel has found that 80% of Americans say they’re spending more time watching TV and streaming video during the pandemic. The results are the latest to find that screen time is up as viewers shelter-at-home. In the survey, 49% of respondents cited News as what they’re watching more of, followed closely by Comedies (48%) and Dramas (41%). Sports was last with 7%, not surprising given the absence of live sports.
FreeWheel also probed viewers’ attitudes toward advertising during the pandemic and found an overwhelming 9 out of 10 said advertising is still appropriate. However, half of these respondents said only certain types of ads are appropriate. Almost 60% said advertisers should incorporate specific virus messaging into their ads, but the caveat is that it must be done tastefully.
Due to the COVID-19 virus, VideoNuze's Connected TV Advertising Summit will be held on a new date, Tuesday, September 22, 2020. The venue continues to be the Westin NY at Times Square. There is a lot of uncertainty about how the stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines will be updated in the coming months. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that better days are ahead soon and we'll return to some normalcy by September.
I'm extremely grateful to the CTV Ad Summit's 8 partners who have been incredibly supportive. Our Presenting partner is Deloitte; Gold partners are Extreme Reach and SpringServe; Silver partners include Beachfront, SpotX, Roku and Xandr and Branding Partner Verizon Media. Please contact me if you’d like to learn more about sponsorship opportunities.
Discounted early bird tickets are available through August 28th (If you’ve already bought tickets, I’ll be in touch with you directly). I'll have more updates in the coming months. In the meantime please stay safe and well.
Side note: As we’re all aware, during this stay-at-home period, the amount of streaming entertainment and news video has surged, including on Connected TVs. If you’re interested in the latest usage and industry data being shared by industry leaders, check out our free Coronavirus Video Industry Research Hub.
Continuing our series of short interviews with industry leaders sharing their insights about the impact of the coronavirus, below is an exchange with Philip Inghelbrecht, Co-Founder and CEO of Tatari, a data and analytics provider for linear TV and OTT advertising. I hope these interviews are helping readers better understand the state of the market. Please also check out our Coronavirus Video Industry Research Hub, which I'm constantly updating with new industry data and reports.
Roku shared upbeat estimates on its Q1 ’20 active accounts, streaming hours and profitability yesterday, ahead of its May 7th earnings release. Roku said active accounts were approximately 39.8 million at the end of the quarter, up almost 3 million during the 3 months. That’s 49% higher than the 2 million active accounts it added in Q1 ’19. Roku has nearly doubled its active account base in the past 2 years; back on March 31, 2018 it was 20.8 million.
Streaming hours in Q1 ’20 also surged, to 13.2 billion, up 49% from 8.1 billion in Q1 ’19 and more than double the 5.1 billion hours from Q1 ’18. The increase in streaming hours is noteworthy because Roku said that in Q1 it finished rolling out its “Are you still watching?” feature which prompts the viewer after 4 hours of viewing and will terminate the session if there’s inactivity. The feature would suppress growth in streaming hours because sessions when people have fallen asleep or left the room would not play on indefinitely. The other impact is that for free, ad-supported services being watched on Roku and for Roku itself, ad inventory and monetization would be suppressed.
A new survey released by video ad platform Unruly has found, among other things, that younger users are spending more time with their phones and connected TVs in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The survey revealed that 86% of 18-24 year-olds are either spending “a lot more” or “a little more” time than before on mobile phones. Other age groups are close behind; 25-34 year-olds (83%) and 35-44 year-olds (84%), with 45-54 year-olds (62%) and 55+ year-olds (44%) trailing.
Time with connected TVs has also surged, with 66% of 18-24 year-olds either spending “a lot more” or “a little more” time than before on CTVs, with all other age groups up as well: 25-34 year-olds (76%), 35-44 year-olds (72%), 45-54 year-olds (60%) and 55+ year-olds (46%).
As stay at home guidelines remain in place, it seems like more and more free TV and video are being made available, spanning the short and long ends of the tail (meaning super-premium through user-generated) - and everything in between. Not only does this create more choices for viewers, which will be welcomed, it also means more competition for subscription video services which were already vulnerable to belt-tightening. And for free TV/video that is ad-supported, it means more inventory and choices for advertisers.
Here’s what’s caught my eye just in the past week:
As part of VideoNuze's coverage of the virus's impact on the TV/video industries, we're publishing a series of short interviews with industry thought-leaders. The goal is to have them share relevant details of how their companies are experiencing the virus's impact, to help us all be better informed in our decision-making. Today's interview is with Joe Hirsch, CEO of SpringServe, a leading independent video ad platform. A few key takeaways from the interview: CTV is posting the biggest percentage growth, sports channel viewership is holding up, ad demand is dropping (consistent with IAB research) and publishers are digging into operations to squeeze out every dollar they can.
Read on for the full interview. And also check out our Coronavirus Video Industry Research Hub for more data and insights.
VideoNuze: Which categories of viewing are spiking as people are staying at home?
The IAB released new research on Friday afternoon indicating connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) video are likely to benefit from ad spending shifts caused by the coronavirus. In a survey of approximately 400 agency and brand decision-makers, 35% of respondents said they anticipate increasing their use of OTT/CTV device targeting, second only to audience targeting (38%), with mobile/tablet (34%) in third place.
Supporting the IAB research, last Friday Beachfront said it has seen a 105% increase in average daily CTV ad requests in March vs. February. Founder Frank Sinton noted that typically only big sports events drive these kinds of bumps in usage. There have been many other reports of surging CTV/OTT usage since stay-at-home guidelines have been implemented.
Everyone is struggling to adapt to the new realities of life with the coronavirus. One of the big side effects is a spike in stay-at-home viewing of both ad-supported (AVOD) and subscription-supported (SVOD) video. Changes in consumption are being strongly influenced by the suspension of live sports and the postponement of this summer's Olympics. In addition, billions of dollars of ad spending are being reviewed - either to be reallocated elsewhere currently, eliminated or banked for the future.
A lot of valuable data and insights are being provided by industry leaders that helps us better understand these rapidly-shifting times. I will be trying to curate as many of the links to all of it as possible on a daily basis on this Coronavirus Video Industry Research hub, which is part of our sister site, VideoNuze iQ (where lots of other great industry data is also available).
If you have data or insights to share, please send them to me, along with appropriate links and any other suggestions you might have. I'll be contributing interviews with industry leaders as well. Hopefully this hub can assist all of us in getting through these challenging times.
There are a lot of questions swirling these days about how ad spending is going to be reallocated given the virus's interruption of live sports. I'll be publishing a series of short interviews with industry thought-leaders sharing their current experiences and what changes they're seeing due to the virus. The first interview is with Jeremy Steinberg, Global Head of Ecosystem, MediaMath, which is an adtech company serving brands and their partners (also known as a demand side platform).
VideoNuze: What are you seeing so far from clients in terms of shifting spending from live content (e.g. sports, etc.) that have been cancelled to AVOD?
Jeremy Steinberg: Brands and agencies are obviously rethinking their marketing strategies. Because we are seeing a significant uptick in OTT viewership as daily consumer behavior is shifting with more individuals staying at home and we have recommended to our clients that they should re-invest their media budgets into home-based channels most specifically CTV. We are seeing budgets pulled from live sports and many other channels including experiential. Quality of the content has never been more critical, as clients across all industry verticals demand the purity of the connections between brands and consumers. They are focused on reaching real people on real devices, as we see consumers purchasing more goods and services and streaming more content at home.
VideoNuze readers will recall that several months ago I made a prediction that Netflix would launch a lower cost (around $5-$7 per month) ad-supported tier in 2020. I predicted this despite Netflix management having steadfastly resisted the model, because I believed the logic was just so compelling and straightforward that no “religious” argument to the contrary would preclude it.
However, a month after posting, on Netflix’s Q4 ’19 earnings call, management once again rejected the idea. In my and other analysts’ view, Netflix offered what seemed to amount to a “we can’t chew gum and walk at the same time” argument that focused on its perceived inability to compete effectively with the ad triopoly of Google, Facebook and Amazon. Despite CTV ad dollars being scooped up by the likes of Hulu, CBS All Access and other premium video providers, Netflix somehow concluded it simply couldn’t play.
With the coronavirus upending life and prompting a surge in stay-at-home viewing, I’d like to suggest 6 reasons why now would be the absolute perfect time for Netflix to announce a lower priced ($5-$7 per month) ad-supported tier (note to readers: feel free to let me know if I’m missing something colossally obvious that would negate my assertion).
I’m pleased to present the 506th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. It's a difficult time for everyone these days with the virus and we hope all our listeners are staying well.
On this week’s podcast we discuss how the spike in virus-driven streaming will benefit advertising-supported VOD services. There is still a lot of uncertainty about the extent of the benefit; mainly I believe the question is whether there is enough advertiser demand to meet the soaring supply of inventory.
Answering this question leads back to how billions of ad spending intended for live sports will be reallocated. Based on discussions I’ve been having with industry leaders, these allocation decisions are currently taking place. But some categories like travel and entertainment are now dark. Can others pick up enough slack?
We also spend a little time exploring the virus’s impact on SVOD. We are both modestly optimistic, but believe that there are numerous reasons even the stay at home spike won’t ultimately benefit SVOD. We also touch on the impact on pay-TV, which is even murkier given the lack of live sports.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 32 seconds)
With people spending more time at home due to the virus, there has been a ton of speculation around what impact this will have on streaming consumption. For example, based on prior disruptive incidents, Nielsen estimates viewing could increase 61%. WURL released data that it saw 7%-44% regional increases on its platform last weekend. A message I received yesterday from SpotX said its experienced a 16% increase in video ad inventory across their entire global marketplace. So the data suggests increases, the range of them is pretty wide.
A sub-question within the “streaming is surging” speculation is how it affects AVOD vs. SVOD services. Even before the virus the dynamics in both categories were fluid. AVOD services are benefiting from multiple tailwinds: cord-cutting, CTV-based viewing, targeting, content proliferation, etc. SVOD services were proliferating, with new competitors like Disney+, Apple TV+, Peacock and soon HBO Max (Quibi could be included too, although its mobile-only). From my perspective, the new competition made incumbents like Netflix look vulnerable. I calculated there was a decent chance Netflix would actually lose subscribers in its US/Canada region in Q1, which would be unprecedented.
In all the virus craziness of the past few days, I didn’t have an opportunity to share an update on WURL, which last week announced key growth metrics for its first full year of operations. WURL is benefiting from all of the key trends around connected TVs (CTVs), CTV advertising, programmatic, direct-to-consumer and cord-cutting.
WURL offers a solution to ad-supported video providers and producers to efficiently deliver their live, linear and VOD content onto all of the most popular CTV devices. This is critical because, as has been said a million times in recent years, content providers are not technology companies. With the rare exception of behemoths like Netflix, Disney and Amazon, the vast majority of content providers don’t have the specific technology expertise in-house to navigate each CTV device’s detailed specs for stream formats, close captions, metadata and other things.
Effectv, which was recently re-branded from Comcast Spotlight, has released a new white paper, “OTT and Its Place in the TV Ecosystem.” The paper is yet another reminder that linear TV and OTT (or online video or CTV or digital or whatever one’s preferred term is) are complementary. Effectv presents a slew of data and case studies illustrating how linear TV still accounts for most viewing time for most viewers, so it should be foundational to any campaign plan. But in order to achieve incremental reach with non-linear viewers (who are typically younger), OTT advertising is essential.
The paper’s thesis is of course correct at a high level - though as linear TV continues to decline across all age groups, it becomes slightly less correct with each passing day. But at a deeper level, focusing on younger viewers in particular, the paper could be written in the inverse - that OTT advertising is the foundation to reach this audience and linear (especially sports) would be the complementary part of the campaign. There are plenty of DTC brands that would gladly be case study examples for this approach.
After the Democratic Party primary results last night, lots of heads are spinning this morning, including mine.
But my head was already spinning yesterday afternoon. Here’s why: In the morning I received the note “U.S. Media: Watching the Slow Death of Linear TV…Live (2019 Edition),” from Michael Nathanson at MoffettNathanson. Michael’s an old friend as is his partner Craig Moffett, and together they provide must-read data and insights. I began skimming the note and, as expected, it was jam-packed with all the current evidence supporting the “linear TV is dead (except sports and news)” narrative - especially for younger audiences who have moved to OTT.
The head-spinning part of the day for me came later in the afternoon when I had a briefing call with Jill Goldfarb, VP of Linear Programming at Jukin Media. If you’re not familiar with Jukin, it’s a user-generated content / viral video powerhouse with over 200 million social media followers globally.
Topics: Jukin Media
I’m pleased to present the 503rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.
First up on this week’s podcast, Colin shares details of Verizon Media’s new research on live sports streaming, which found that 53% of fans are paying for some type of extra subscription service. Also noteworthy is that two-thirds of respondents said DVR is a critical feature and that 39% use the DVR feature to skip ads.
These underscore how different the user experience is becoming between ad-free SVOD viewing and ad-heavy live sports viewing. Lots of fans seem to be willing to watch time-delayed just to avoid the ads. But we agree that connected TV is going to drive lots of innovation in both sports streaming and advertising/monetization going forward. On that topic, we also review Extreme Reach’s latest Video Benchmarks Report. Though CTV ad share settled around 50% in 2019, Colin and I see plenty of growth ahead - and accompanying innovation.
Listen in to learn more!
Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 52 seconds)
Extreme Reach has released its Q4 and full year 2019 Video Benchmarks Report, finding, among other things, that connected TV (CTV) has settled into a range of approximately 50% share of all video ad impressions. In Q4 ’19 CTV impression share landed at 47%, slightly down sequentially from 51% in Q3 ’19 (also its peak quarter for the year), but slightly up YOY from 44% in Q4 ’18.
Three months ago, when I reviewed ER’s Q3 ’19 benchmarks report, I wondered whether CTV share would step up in the Q4 holiday season since cord-cutting was accelerating and new services were launching. But it looks like the answer was no, at least for now.
Topics: Extreme Reach
Connected TV advertising has a mile-wide opportunity ahead, but there are a few critical challenges that loom, including viewer privacy, lack of cookie-based targeting and cross-screen identity management. There are lots of initiatives addressing these challenges and I have little doubt that over time they’ll all be fully resolved and/or the industry will get comfortable with approaches irrespective of their particular limitations; CTV advertising is simply becoming too strategic for too many players for it to be derailed.
Helping move the ball forward, this morning Beachfront and Beeswax announced they are adopting LiveRamp’s IdentityLink identifier for clients' CTV ad buying. Beachfront is an ad management/SSP in both video and TV. Beeswax is a DSP for programmatic ad buyers. LiveRamp started as a data on-boarding company and has evolved to an identity solution provider.