It’s been a banner year for the streaming video ecosystem, especially ad-supported platforms that are being acquired every month and reaching a larger audience. As the advertising community figures out how best to use the growing number of platforms, marketers are finding that, as with linear networks, there are differences between the audiences that are served at each.
According to interviews with multiple media buyers and advertisers, few ad-supported platforms are big enough to drive the broad audience buying that television is known for – but they’re growing fast. While investments often depend on the goals of individual customers, hypotheses about the usefulness of these platforms are tested and confirmed in real time as audience growth drives even more spending.
“In the past 24 months we’ve seen a lot more acceleration and confidence in these channels,” said Rachel Hirschl, SVP for digital investments at marketing agencies Lockard and Wechsler Direct. “Since Covid hit, the rest is history. We see everyone really taking off and we get some solid metrics for campaigns that can help our clients with proof points and proof of concept. ”
Audience growth on most ad-supported platforms has not reached the same linear audience scale, with a few notable exceptions. For Hirschl, both the ad-supported tier of Hulu and Roku can deliver broader, awareness-based marketing efforts across streaming. It’s a simple calculation: “When we watch games with broad awareness, we have to play with the bigger impression providers on a large scale, so that’s Hulu or Roku,” she said.
Hirschl is more likely to use medium-sized AVODs like Pluto (with 28.4 million active users per month) and Tubi (with 33 million active users per month) for complementary and incremental purchases, as they can reach a large audience that cannot be reached on traditional television . (They can sometimes also be used for more targeted audience games, said Hirschl.) This is made easier by the numerous levers for the audience and the attractive price points.
“If we look at the most important AVOD partners we work with, such as Tubi and Pluto, if we plan, it is really an addition or compensation where we may run into problems with prepayment,” explained Hirschl. “We know that through these channels we can work out our audience in great detail. So if we want to add to a linear program or improve on a larger video game, we will use these channels.”
New, younger, and tech-savvy audience
AVODs like Tubi and Pluto are especially useful for targeting new audiences, and the lack of duplication has proven more promising than expected, said a TV manager who has experience with multiple AVOD services. “We see almost no overlap,” said the managing director. “It’s really a different audience, and that’s so exciting.”
When it comes to targeted purchases, AVOD purchases are often more similar to what is provided on Instagram and Twitter. “We almost think about the campaigns and the setup, much like an agency might think about social networks,” said Hirschl. “We are really able to break criteria in order to pull these levers and optimize them with measurable results.”
As you pull these levers, advertisers will start to notice subtle differences in how they target each platform. Some ad-supported platforms, like Samsung’s free Samsung TV Plus platform, distort more women in the audience, while Pluto TV tends to be a little more masculine on average, according to TV managers.