TV – Whether Streaming or Linear – is Your Best Bet for Engaging the Post-Pandemic Consumer

By: Cadi Jones, Commercial Director, EMEA, Beeswax

The time has never been better to reach consumers via TV. Streaming media spiked during the pandemic, with more consumers than ever at home, binge-watching everything from The Office to classic Hitchcock films. FreeWheel’s data revealed that overall ad views across premium video increased by 57% in the second half of 2020, compared to 2019. During this period, CTV accounted for 62% of all measured ad views in the US. In Europe, TV watching has transformed into a predominantly connected experience, with 70% of consumers across France, Germany, Italy and the UK connecting their TV to the internet, according to a recent FreeWheel study.


Video View and Ad View Growth


Welcome to the New Normal

Even as parts of the world return to something resembling normal, those new viewing habits will remain. You’re not likely to see people cancelling their streaming subscriptions just because they’re going back to the office. The change is real and permanent.

This creates a tremendous opportunity for brand advertisers who want to engage with consumers on bigger screens as well as desktop and mobile. Just as viewing technology has changed, so has advertising technology, and today advertisers can not only engage in audience-based TV buying, they can actually buy targetable TV impressions as a priority. Programmatic buying is playing a huge role in the upfronts for the first time this year. In the second half of 2020, we saw that programmatic transactions comprised 24% of ad views, an industry milestone that will only continue to grow.


Ad Views By Transaction Type


For advertisers, this means better targeting and reach – as well as more control, more transparency, and better data to drive future campaigns. As Mark McKee, CRO of FreeWheel, recently noted in Ad Age, “The 2021 upfronts aren’t going to be about glitz, glamour and handshake negotiations: This year, it’s all about customization, control and curation.”

Premium Programmatic: The Star of This Year’s Upfronts

Here’s how Premium Programmatic will help you make the most of your TV buys this year.

  • Broader audience: The massive uptick in streaming TV audiences also signifies a shift in demographics. OTT and CTV are not just for the early adopters or Gen Z anymore. Even slightly older audiences, between 55 and 64, increased their OTT viewing time by more than 50% by the third quarter of 2020. That means advertisers have access to a much broader audience when they advertise in streaming video.
  • More options: Demand for ad-supported streaming services specifically is on the rise. While subscription-based models have historically dominated the market, cord-cutters are getting tired of paying for subscription after subscription and migrating to ad-supported services. Addressing the high churn rate among subscription-based streaming services, researchers from Deloitte asked subscribers what would keep them from cancelling. In response, 28% “said they would stay if they could switch to a reduced cost, ad-supported tier of the service.”
  • Better targeting tools: With the growth of ad-supported streaming, targetable TV impressions become scalable. This is a huge opportunity for brands – particularly as FreeWheel introduces its premium programmatic approach.

There’s a reason leading marketers adopt programmatic advertising as their tool of choice for reaching and engaging audiences at scale on the world wide web and mobile: it works. Brands gain the ability to target audiences with data that drives accuracy and results. Ads can be personalized based on a shoppers’ past behaviour or even the weather in the location where they’re seeing the ad. Display ads become relevant and useful to the buyer, rather than interruptive and annoying, and brands start seeing better ROI on their advertising investments. But until now, the opportunities to take advantage of programmatic on TV screens has been limited.

That’s due in part to the outdated perception that programmatic should be relegated to “remnant” media versus premium ad slots. This is particularly true in a medium like traditional TV, where coveted prime-time and special event (i.e.: Superbowl) spots have traditionally been sold directly. But as linear TV gives way to streaming, all that’s going to change.

Going Programmatic with FreeWheel

Premium programmatic, enabled by FreeWheel, offers brands the benefits of data-driven targeting and actionable insights as every other programmatic medium. Along with that comes the same canvas for advertising as traditional TV ads: full-screen, high-definition video, perfect for storytelling. It’s the best of both worlds – the storytelling medium of video paired with the “right message, right time, right device” advantage of programmatic.

The advantages FreeWheel brings to the table are twofold:

  1. FreeWheel is already well established within the premium content ecosystem and able to offer reach that few others can. The audiences that marketers seek are already here!
  2. FreeWheel’s recent acquisition of Demand-Side Platform (DSP) Beeswax means that we can deliver a complete toolset that enables data-driven targeting and optimization at scale, in these premium video environments.

Targetable TV has become a bigger part of ad budgets moving forward. FreeWheel is here to help brands take better advantage of the opportunity.

Contact us to get started today.