Why And How To Buy Advertising On Streaming Services
11.05.2019 | by Emma Rose

Why And How To Buy Advertising On Streaming Services

Advertisers go where the audience is. A decade ago, that meant advertising on television. Today, the audience is shifting away from TV toward streaming services like Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube TV, and Sling. These platforms deliver on-demand video content including movies and TV shows over the internet with or without ads. As viewers embrace this new way of watching their favorite shows, more brands are exploring how to buy advertising on streaming services. Meanwhile, platforms are providing tools to make it both easy and cost effective. 

“To do TV-like advertising on a big screen in someone’s home is actually highly achievable now,” says Mark Power, Founder and CEO of Podean an Amazon agency, and the author of Amazon for CMO’s.. “You don’t have to spend a fortune to do that. It’s much more accessible to brands of any size now than ever before, plus there’s immense opportunity to use data to make that message go as far as possible.” 

For this post, we’ll ignore streaming channels that require a traditional TV subscription, like DirectTV streaming or ESPN on Demand, because these mostly mirror the ads from the over the air versions of their service.

The Streaming Video Service Marketplace

In terms of revenue and reach, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix are the top streaming services today. YouTube TV and SlingTV sometimes get honorable mentions. Of these, only Hulu and Sling allow brands to buy advertising. 

One new platform that hasn’t yet made the list of top streaming sites, but may be worth exploring, is IMBd TV. This platform is owned by Amazon and the tech giant is using IMBd TV as a testing ground for advertising solutions, including shoppable ads. Shoppable ads allow viewers to click on your commercial, or a link within it, and immediately buy the product being featured.

“Amazon is really going to be pushing into that in the future,” Power says. “Amazon is always testing and learning.”

Anyone who wants to buy ads on streaming services should be testing and learning too. The video-on-demand advertising market is evolving rapidly thanks to the speed of technical innovation and changing consumer expectations. To stay relevant in this shifting marketplace, brands need to stay aware of the rising trends.

Reaching Cord Cutters With Streaming TV

The biggest trend in television advertising is the movement away from traditional TV. Viewers, especially young people, are skipping live TV in favor of streaming services. In the third quarter of 2018, cable and satellite television companies reported the loss of 1 million customers, their greatest single-quarter loss yet. Neilsen found that the number of 18 to 34 year olds watching live TV dropped  36% between 2014 and 2018.  

People are still watching TV, they’re just doing it in a new way. About 74% of US households have a subscription to at least one of the major video on demand services according to the Emerging Video Services 2019 study from Leichtman Research Group. Most of these (69%) have more than one subscription. 

Consumers generally prefer the convenience and cost savings of streaming services. Advertisers would be smart to buy space on these platforms, especially if they’re hoping to reach consumers under 55. 

Best Practices For Ad Buys On Streaming Services

Before we dive into buying on specific platforms, there are some best practices that apply to all streaming services. 

  1. Know your audience. One of the benefits of advertising on streaming services is the access to nuanced viewer data. Platforms know more about viewers than just want they watch. They may also have demographics, buying habits and other data valuable for targeting. To use these tools to your best advantage, you should understand exactly who you’re trying to reach before advertising on streaming services.
  2. Choose the right streaming service. Each service is different. Ask for information about their audience demographics and viewership habits to decide if this is the best platform for you.
  3. Design for multiple screen sizes. Remember that television screens are just one way that people watch video on demand. Viewers may see your ad on their desktop computer, tablet or cell phone. Create an ad that is visually effective even if it’s served on a five inch screen.
  4. Keep your brand in focus. “If you’re going to spend the money on video make sure your brand is really present as you’re telling your brand story, not just a logo that pops up at the end.” Power said. “Bring that story to life in the context of how the product is used.” That doesn’t mean you stick a logo on every available surface, but it does mean you viewers should know what the commercial is advertising even if they look away from their screen for a few seconds.

Buying On Specific Streaming Services

Most streaming services give you the option to buy advertising space directly or through their programmatic advertising partner. Programmatic advertising allows for automated ad buying based on budget, demographics, and other preferences. Buying direct often guarantees your placement, but that may come at a premium. Meanwhile, programmatic advertising allows for a hands-off approach. Your ads are served if they fit the space and budget available. The risk here is that you could be outbid by other advertisers.   

Buying advertising on Hulu – For a direct buy, you’ll communicate directly with the Hulu sales team to set budgets and plan your placements. For programmatic advertising, you’ll go through Hulu’s programmatic advertising partner, Telaria.

Buying advertising on Sling – Sling, a subsidiary of Dish Media, was among the first to introduce programmatic advertising to their streaming service. To buy programmatic ads on Sling, you’ll go through the Adobe advertising cloud. For other advertising options, you’ll use the same interface you would use to advertise on Dish Network, meaning you can communicate directly with Dish Network or go through one of its advertising partners. 

Buying advertising on IMDb TV – To buy advertising on IMDb TV, you’ll go through Amazon DSP, a programmatic advertising marketplace. If you have an ad budget of $30,000 or more, you can work with an Amazon Ad Consultant to buy an ad. Amazon also has a long list of trusted partners that understand the platform and its unique requirements.