As Viewing Moves to OTT, Every Day Becomes a Super Bowl Sunday for Advertisers

May 13, 2020

If the 2020 presidential election were held today, New York democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo would win by a landslide. Cuomo is single-handedly proving that the line between content creator and viewer is now very straight, short, with hardly anything in the middle, save the internet. The governor is helping fuel a disruption, likely unwittingly, that is changing the face of television and advertising.

Governor Cuomo’s daily press briefings are available in traditional ways like broadcast, cable, and satellite, but they are also available via OTT. Therein lies the disruption and the reason he has suddenly become so insanely popular. Where Trump had Twitter, Cuomo has live-streaming, and that live-streaming takes his hyper-local events and opens them up to the world. Getting your daily Cuomo fix is as easy as point, click and watch.

So, should advertisers flock to these hyper-local gone international bellwether live-streaming events? Sure, but that is not the end of the opportunity, it is just the beginning. Not every event, or person, is going to reach viral sensation status. That said, because of how the internet works – one-to-one – advertisers should not discount the value of micro-audiences, where every viewer has the potential to see your ad regardless of what they are watching.  

Advertising has been the primary fuel on the internet since the early days. In exchange for seeing exactly what we want, we see ads. The model works. In the world of OTT, we do not need a company like Nielsen to measure audiences like we do for broadcasting, cable, and satellite. Advertisers only pay for an ad when that ad is seen by the viewer. No projections needed. This is an often-overlooked or, at the very least, misunderstood benefit of streaming, live- or on-demand.

Binging Friends on Netflix the last few years has taught millions of us that a thirty-minute episode is 22 minutes long, not 30. Back when NBC ruled the day with Must See TV, we watched Friends live together on Thursday nights. We saw eight minutes of commercials and we did not care one bit. That was the price we paid to watch our favorite shows. Advertisers took comfort in knowing the masses were not only watching Friends, but they were likely tuned in early and stayed late. Still, it was anyone’s guess and, quite honestly Nielsen’s as well, just how many people tuned in.

Using the history of free, ad-supported television as our guide, we can assume a couple of things here and apply those to OTT. First, viewers are more than happy to see some level of advertising during their favorite shows. Second, since the internet is a one-to-one medium, we know that an OTT viewer is watching exactly what they want to watch, which is precisely the state of mind every advertiser wants the viewer to be in when they see their ad.

To prove that advertising nirvana awaits in OTT, especially with the advent of hyper-local and micro-audiences, let us put a value on just one viewer watching for one hour. Watching the exact programming they choose, whether be a dirt track car race in Cadillac, Michigan, or the annual Iditarod dog sled race out of Anchorage, Alaska, that viewer will likely see 50 targeted avails. If those avails are sold at $50 CPM, that one viewer watching for one hour generates $2.50.

Local broadcasters, more than anyone else, are in a great position to capitalize on this shift. They can start taking hyper-local events from their communities straight-to-OTT, knowing, at the very least, they’ll garner a micro-audience. Since they are local broadcasters, they bring the often times elusive notion of brand safety to streaming — advertisers can take comfort in knowing a local broadcaster has either created or vetted the programming where their ads will be seen.

Communicating the value proposition of OTT might just be the biggest challenge of all. The term broadcasting in general means one-to-many, so the focus has understandably always been on finding the biggest audiences, which is what necessitated the need for measurement to begin with. Now, as everything moves towards one-to-one, hyper-local and micro-audiences, measurement becomes irrelevant. Advertisers can take comfort in knowing every dollar spent is a dollar spent on the people most likely to buy their product. It is incumbent on all of us to make sure advertisers understand, embrace, and take advantage of OTT.

There are 8 billion people in the world and 5 billion are considered active internet users. Streaming hyper-local events to micro-audiences in the one-to-one way that will enable advertisers to follow viewers to whatever they want to individually watch. Viewers are happy to pick their own must see TV, paid for by ads relevant to them and, in the end, that shift will turn every day into Super Bowl Sunday.