Last year, TV streaming growth across Europe outpaced TV streaming growth in the Americas, rising by 83% year-over-year. That was before the Covid-19 crisis created a wave of lockdowns that kept people at home and looking for new entertainment options. During lockdown, research showed that UK consumers watched more than six hours of video content a day.
In the UK, 1.6 million consumers signed up for a new TV streaming service during lockdown and most intend to keep those services. This comes at a time when major media companies like Disney (Disney+), NBC (Peacock), and HBO (HBO Max) have all launched streaming services this year, too.
The tricky part, as anyone trying to reach subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) subscribers can tell you, channels like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ don’t offer ad inventory. It’s not just hard to place an ad on SVOD services, it’s impossible.
To reach the unreachable streamers, marketers have to rethink the streaming experience.
The streamer’s journey
Think about your own journey when you turn on your streaming device.
Most likely, you start on a homescreen where you choose which streaming service to use. Maybe you want to go right to Netflix, or maybe you decide to talk into your remote to look up where you can find a certain movie or category.
Unlike pay TV, this search for content is an opportunity for marketers to reach viewers who haven’t decided on what to watch yet. On a platform like Roku, advertisers can build Brand Experiences, which offer curated content to streamers. Brand Experiences function like a microsite or landing page on a website – as streamers search for the next thing to watch, the banner ad for the microsite is visible in the sidebar of that search experience. After selecting the content with their remote, they’re taken to the Brand Experience, where the brand’s messaging and creative are paired with the sponsored movie or TV show.
The key to a successful Brand Experience is the content and creative. A microsite with compelling content can become a destination for your audience, where they engage with your brand. By offering a relevant movie or show during the search phase of the streamer’s journey, advertisers can connect with them before they start watching a subscription service.
Finding the right audience
Once you’ve built a Brand Experience, the ad campaign has to promote the content to the right audience. If you’re trying to reach SVOD viewers, for example, you will need to work with an ad platform that has access to audience data showing what services a streamer has been watching.
When Schneider Electric UK wanted to specifically reach streamers who wouldn’t otherwise see TV or video ads, the team started to think outside the box. By partnering with Roku, Schneider created a Brand Experience that offered streaming episodes of Fifth Gear and promoted the microsite with a native ad on the Roku homescreen.
When streamers clicked the ad, they were driven to the Brand Experience on The Roku Channel. This engaged viewers who were otherwise unreachable: 89% of the audience that saw the ad had streamed SVOD services in the past 30 days and 21% of those streamers had exclusively watched SVOD in the past 30 days.
Not only that, streamers who interacted with the ads and the microsite showed a 5x increase in ad recall, too.
Content, creative, and advertising
Video ads are powerful tools for connecting with streamers, but as the streaming ecosystem continues to diversify, it’s important for advertisers to think about the whole journey of each streamer, not just the shows and channels they’ll be watching.
Brand Experiences and engaging ads, along with more traditional display and video ads, can all be combined into sophisticated, innovative ad campaigns that really do reach those unreachable viewers. It all starts with rethinking streaming advertising – and TV advertising – as we know it.
“The goal of our campaign was to drive reach and awareness, and by partnering with Roku, we did just that,” says Alexander Pasch, global marketing at Schneider. “Not only did we successfully engage viewers with a unique advertising format, but we also reached a significant number of SVOD streamers – a key audience that we would not have reached on traditional TV.”
Mike Shaw is director of ad sales, international at Roku.