STB VOD: No Longer Advertising’s Underdog

Anthony Viscuse Head Of Linear Media Strategy & Development
Diane Broglie Head of Digital Supply Partnerships and Strategy

Today’s TV viewer is constantly embracing new alternatives for content delivery, as the definition of TV continues to expand. Connected TV (CTV) is certainly leading the way—65% of households now have a smart TV or internet-connected device hooked up to their TV1. And advertisers are capitalizing on the CTV boom, with 95% of them saying they plan to spend on CTV advertising this year2.

But as CTV works to keep up with the demand from advertisers, we can’t forget the other options that exist in today’s new living room, namely set-top box video on demand (STB VOD). In 2019 alone, Canoe Ventures recorded 27.3B ad impressions delivered on STB VOD—and that’s just to devices within Canoe’s footprint of Charter, Cox, Comcast and Frontier3. While it may not have the marketplace buzz of CTV, STB VOD is a powerful vehicle for advertisers who want to adapt their media plans to account for fragmentation without sacrificing the big screen TV viewing environment.

What is STB VOD?

For the 86.5MM U.S. households4  with cable subscriptions, STB VOD refers to the on-demand content available through their cable provider. This could be shows that have already aired, news and sports clips, movies and some specially produced content via exclusive deals between the cable companies and content producers.

Advertising in STB VOD environments is delivered in different ways depending on whether the household has a traditional cable, satellite or a newer IP-enabled box (like Xfinity’s X1). While the majority of STB VOD advertising today is delivered via traditional cable or satellite boxes, the popularity of IP-enabled boxes is growing, offering the promise of increasingly advanced targeting options in the years to come.

What makes STB VOD so great?

  1. 100% Premium
    • Because STB VOD content is limited to the TV programmers that advertisers are already buying on linear, they know the content is 100% premium, professionally produced and brand-safe.
  2. 100% Viewable and Fraud-Free
    • With STB VOD, advertisers can focus on their content, rather than worrying about fraud or non-viewable ads; additionally, the medium doesn’t carry the risk of hacking that can be associated with digital mediums. Best of all, the big-screen TV format means ads are inherently viewable.
  3. Engaged, big-screen viewing environment
    • Like OTT, STB VOD viewers are actively and intentionally engaged with the ads right on their TV screen – ads that are non-skippable. STB VOD sees a nearly 100% ad completion rate, compared to just 70% for some digital formats. The same big-screen, living-room style ad experience that drives advertisers to OTT and linear is also available with STB VOD.
  4. Efficient and plentiful inventory
    • As if the above weren’t already enough, STB VOD is one of the few spaces that has yet to be completely saturated by advertising, meaning there is a wealth of inventory available to purchase.

Today, STB VOD is a valuable opportunity for advertisers looking to reach consumers in an engaged, safe environment. And, with more IP-enabled boxes replacing traditional cable boxes, targeting and attribution opportunities will multiply. In the meantime, STB VOD is an excellent way to efficiently extend the reach and frequency of your linear and digital campaigns in a quality environment. And did I mention the ads are non-skippable?

FreeWheel has invested heavily in STB VOD in recent years. On the publisher side we’ve been working on technology to enable unified demand, better creative workflows, unified measurement and VOD addressable. And on the advertiser side we’ve aggregated a footprint of STB VOD inventory across multiple publishers and MVPDs so media buyers can access them all in one plan. As we enter a new decade of TV, we’re excited to see how publishers and marketers alike begin to leverage STB VOD as a crucial part of their strategies and look forward to continuing to support them with more creative solutions.

For more information about FreeWheel’s publisher software solutions for STB VOD, contact your FreeWheel account manager or submit an inquiry here.

If you’re an advertiser interested in purchasing STB VOD inventory through FreeWheel Media, you can reach out to your sales rep or submit an inquiry here.

  2. Advertiser Perceptions 2019