Over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video have exploded in popularity in recent years. More and more people are cutting the cord and streaming their favorite shows and movies directly over the internet.
This seismic shift in how people consume video content presents a huge opportunity for brands looking to reach modern audiences in innovative ways.
OTT Marketing 101
OTT marketing — or Over-the-Top marketing — refers to advertising on internet-based streaming video platforms. Instead of traditional TV commercials, brands can now place video ads, sponsor content, integrate their products into shows, and more.
The key benefit of OTT marketing is the ability to target specific audience segments versus broadly broadcasting ads to the masses. Data and analytics provide deep insights into viewers’ interests, demographics, behavior, and more — allowing for highly tailored messaging.
OTT marketing components
Here are some core OTT marketing components brands should focus on:
Pre-roll ads play before the video content, mid-roll ads play in the middle, and overlay ads visually float over part of the video. This video ad format most closely resembles a traditional TV commercial, now adapted for modern streaming.
Brand sponsorships seamlessly integrate into the viewer experience. Dedicated rows or sections are brought to you “by” the brand. For example, on many Netflix home screens, you may scroll past entire rows of content sponsored by brands like Verizon, Lexus, or Target without overtly feeling advertised to.
This represents custom streaming content that embeds brands creatively into the storyline, seamlessly blending the programming with messaging. For example, Lego Masters on Fox saw contestants incorporate Lego products into builds. Branded content feels far less disruptive and helps drive deeper affinity.
Visually displaying products in the background of scenes or used by characters is a subtle but effective OTT marketing approach.
For example, Coke cups on a table or Nike gear worn by a protagonist. This organic visibility can influence audience perception of brands in an entertaining non-ad form.
The power of social media creators can extend to streaming. Brand collaborations with influencers who organically discuss or showcase movie and TV recommendations to their engaged audiences present lucrative partnership potential.
Interactive content layers clickable hotspots, links, polls, or visual overlays onto streaming video, allowing viewers to engage directly.
This drives higher retention and enables customizing experiences to individual interests for deeper connections.
The Benefits of OTT Marketing
Jumping into OTT marketing delivers numerous advantages that make it an extremely promising avenue for brands in 2023 and beyond.
Firstly, OTT ads provide strong return-on-investment potential.
With competitive CPM rates and lower production costs compared to costly traditional TV spots, OTT allows maximizing budget efficiency. Especially as more niche, targeted campaigns have the performance data to justify spending.
Secondly, the captive viewing experience nets better audience attention. Unlike TV viewers passively consuming content with distraction risks, OTT viewers actively choose to stream programming they’re passionate about. This engrossed environment keeps eyeballs glued to screens, with engaged viewers primed to properly receive brand messaging.
OTT also enables immediate call-to-action functionality other mediums can’t match. Clickable overlays can instantly drive traffic to e-commerce sites to enable frictionless purchasing, app downloads, or newsletter sign-ups. This is extremely valuable for performance marketers.
Additionally, the medium offers fantastic flexibility to test out different formats, campaign lengths, and audience targets and creatively push boundaries. Streaming entertainment is a digital environment that is easy to optimize based on robust backend performance data from platforms.
The innate scalability of internet-based distribution also provides a significant advantage. Campaigns can be efficiently expanded through additional media buys to rapidly broaden reach across platforms and geographic territories based on initial success indicators.
Lastly, OTT unlocks creative possibilities that organically lend themselves to the streaming experience viewers crave. Branding feels more fluid and fun when organically woven into captivating storylines or interactive choose-your-own-adventure narratives. This makes ads more enjoyable, engaging consumers versus interrupting them.
OTT Marketing in Action
Many brands have already demonstrated success leveraging OTT platforms to propel significant growth:
Peloton: The exercise equipment brand struck a product integration deal with Showtime, placing their recognizable black bikes prominently in shows like Billions. Peloton also created fun Halloween-themed classes synced up to stream alongside episodes of Ghostober on Discovery+.
Coca-Cola: One OTT campaign involved sponsoring a holiday hub on Roku called Christmas Home that streamed Hallmark-style cozy Christmas programming 24/7. They also repurposed classic holiday commercials into snackable content.
Popeyes: To promote their new nuggets product, Popeyes bought pre-roll ads across YouTube, Hulu, and Amazon. The YouTube bumper ads, in particular, led to a 19% lift in purchase intent.
Charmin: The toilet paper brand forged an inventive partnership with Netflix, creating an interactive bear vs. TP fortress choose-your-own-adventure show synced to Stranger Things. This generated over 4 million possible story combinations based on viewer’s choices all sponsored by Charmin.
While the potential is huge, brands must also be aware of some unique OTT marketing considerations, including:
Ad Clutter: As more brands enter the space, ad fatigue is inevitable. Standing out from the pack will be key.
Audience Data: Consumer insights are incredible on OTT platforms but can get complex across services and devices. Savvy targeting and attribution modeling are essential.
Production Needs: Brands must ensure advertising is optimized for internet streaming environments across living rooms and mobile devices.
Platform Relationships: Deep partnerships directly with leading streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu tend to drive the most value. Roku and Amazon DSP relationships are also ideal.
The meteoric rise of streaming video presents a game-changing opportunity for marketers. As audiences continue migrating from traditional TV to internet-based OTT options, brands must follow suit and connect through sponsorships, product integrations, video ads, and more.
With strategic planning, compelling creativity, and advanced targeting, OTT marketing can become a growth rocket fuel for forward-thinking brands.