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Traditional TV still has its viewers, but — unless you missed the memo circulating for the last decade — you’re probably aware that streaming is the current reigning champ of entertainment. New over-the-top TV (OTT) (a.k.a streaming TV ads or STV ads) options are officially outpacing traditional TV viewership (34.8% vs. 34.4%).
That means more people are tuning into Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and other internet-based options instead of cable. It’s a no-brainer for entrepreneurs: Incorporating streaming TV into your advertising strategy is a powerful tool to reach your audience at scale.
But OTT advertising’s biggest selling point? Cost.
Sure, you can gamble and drop $7 million into a single Super Bowl ad like The Farmer’s Dog, which won USA Today‘s 35th Ad Meter. You could even throw similar amounts at designated marketing area (DMA) tactics or out-of-home ads (e.g., billboards, live events). But it’s not imperative. By pairing first-party retailer data with solid, creative video content delivered on TV streaming platforms, you can laser focus whatever budget you have for a powerful impact.
Related: A Media Exec on How Brands Can Leverage OTT and FAST for Marketing Success: ‘It’s More Lean In Than Lean Back’
The easiest way to win out
Before putting all your chips on the table, make sure you understand this fundamental concept: There’s your own first-party data, and then there’s first-party retailer data. The initial category covers only the information you’ve collected about your customers through their interactions with your brand — think email addresses, age demographics, website traffic or purchase history. Retailer first-party data covers similar territories for another seller’s customers.
Both are powerful. But larger retailers — say, Amazon, Walmart or Target — usually work with far more people over larger geographical regions. Their information gives you a richer picture of the current market and trends while still answering precise marketing questions. It’s the ideal secret weapon to expand your business through deliberate target marketing.
With that straight, imagine you’re a luxury brand like Louis Vuitton. Your average selling price is five times more than the category average (yes, really), so good luck getting a ton of sales with generalized marketing. Instead of throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks, the better option would be to target women ages 18-54 who are in-market and have purchased multiple handbags in the past six months with an average household income five times that of the rest of America (think places like Newport Beach, California).
Agencies can assume this targeted approach in the OTT arena using first-party retailer data to ensure your ads appear in target-appropriate shows in specific locations. Now, stop pretending you’re Louis Vuitton. Pretend you’re you. Imagine you own a gym with three locations — think about how useful this could be for reaching your audience.
Related: Where Entrepreneurs Can Innovate in the Streaming Service Space
The beginner’s guide to streaming ads
Your first rule of thumb should be to know your audience. If you’re a direct-to-consumer business, your own website analytics data can help you define your target consumer. Plus, this little tool, Google Analytics, is free and makes it easy to understand, present and leverage the data you already have.
Once you have a detailed picture of your audience, you need creative assets. Contrary to Apple’s ads that say you can generate high-quality videos on your smartphone, remember never to settle for generic content. You have to go for the emotional jugular — design something innovative that’s memorable and resonates with the specific viewers you aim to reach. Let’s not forget that you’ll be on TV screens across America; your production needs to be spectacular. After all, if you’re entering people’s homes, you must bring value.
The next step is to know what success looks like. Unlike traditional media, sales are not the core key performance indicator (KPI) for OTT advertising. Your core KPI? Searches for your brand on Google and websites like Amazon (assuming you sell there), which Google Keyword Planner can help you see. You’re looking at whether the search volume for your branded keywords is growing.
Think bigger. What if you used QR codes? You can easily see how many people clicked them. If you’re clever, you can create a custom landing page on your site with a promotion or deal to make your OTT spend impactful. Now you can track sales from an ad served on a TV!
Related: 10 QR Code Generator Features That You Can Use For Free
Coming soon to a screen near you
Once upon a time, you advertised in a non-specific DMA and hoped your sales would go up. Again, we’re seeing a mindblowing breakthrough: We can leverage QR codes, marketing cloud clean rooms, retailer data and your website data to determine if your ad converted into a sale.
And the future promises bigger and better methods. Imagine if OTT advertising could connect to other platforms and combine ad solutions, too. A car fan can’t get enough Fast and Furious movies? Let’s say they head over to Freevee to get their fix. The streaming platform puts a QR code up for — you guessed it — custom wheels. Then, they head over to IMDb to jog their brain about who’s in the film, where they also see an ad for those same wheels. No matter the device, you will reach them with the same ad. It could even extend to virtual (VR) or augmented realities (AR) that allow the consumer to put the wheels on a picture of their car.
This setup illustrates how technology is transforming the customer journey and the advertiser’s ability to measure success. It’s easy to remove all the barriers to purchase for your customers and use different platforms together in a cohesive strategy to sell a product.
Stream your way to success
In the prehistoric age of retail and TV, advertisers had to cast a wide, expensive net to get ads in front of people. It was tough to see the fruit of their efforts. The new world of retailer data combined with OTT advertising is fundamentally different because it doesn’t require a mammoth-sized budget and can hone in on exactly who you want to reach.
You have an incredible opportunity to advertise more efficiently and creatively than ever. Will you take it?