The Market Value of Streaming
The majority of people are subscribed to at least one streaming service, be it Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Peacock or HBO Max. Streaming media online has become such a part of our world that we now take it for granted. Despite some hiccups in the development and rollout especially from legacy media, epic new shows and movies premiere on all apps and the battle for online eyeballs has continued unabated for many years. Streaming has grown around the world fueled in large part to its growth and popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As such, streaming platforms have more viewers than ever before but it also means the competition to reach new audiences has grown into a genuine race for viewers and profits left streamers struggling to find a business model to support their profit goals.
Original legacy and broadcast media, such as newspapers, television and radio, have largely been dominated by an ad-supported model, i.e. advertisers pay to host ads on networks and during broadcasts commensurate with how popular and viewed those broadcasts are. The Super Bowl’s ad space is worth so much money as a result of this classic paradigm.
Streamers such as Netflix had, until recently, a different business model, one based on subscription costs. You had an ad-free experience for the cost of a couple bucks a month, and you got access to all their shows, movies, and originals. Now, the race is on to get those eyeballs while turning a profit in a market with much greater competition than when the format was born a decade ago.
All this competition has begun a trend of looking to ad-supported video as a way to break through to customers and build subscribers while asking for less upfront money than the original streamers did — in many cases, totally free. Amazon Freevee is one of the latest and largest ad-supported streamers to enter the market, relying totally on revenue from ads much like an original broadcast network. Hulu has had a cheaper, ad-supported tier since its inception. Netflix is now looking to add a similar tier to stay competitive and stem the bleeding from its last missed subscriber goals.
While the streaming wars have heated up, ad-supported models have quietly taken center stage as the next big frontier. And who better than Google to provide cross-platform functionality for video ads?
How Connected TV Bridges the Streaming Gap
Connected TV, or CTV, is a digital strategy powered by Google that lets you place ads on applicable streaming platforms, including Hulu, Peacock, YouTube and most other ad-supported CTV apps. CTV also includes Display & Video 360 functionality for an increased ad experience, along with Google audiences for CTV inventory.
By using Google’s customizable advertising options, you can place text and video ads on streaming platforms, much like how Google places ads on their Search and YouTube features. GoDaddy, for instance, has used Google affinity audiences to reach their customers and potential customers where they are most likely to be found, i.e., on online streaming platforms. This allows them to align their ads with their core demographics. For other businesses, the ability to place narrowed, relevant ads means a new mode of competition and a better access to likely customers and their conversions.
Google has found a way to connect legacy broadcast media strategies with new online ad targeting features to create a forward-thinking marketing mix that can be very precisely tailored to audiences, budgets and needs. Their goal is to take the guesswork out of marketing, and CTV ads mean another avenue to using valuable marketing budgets in an intuitive way. By their own estimate, Display & Video 360 now reaches 93% of ad-supported connected TV households in the U.S.
And it’s only growing more as the space grows.
During Google’s recent Marketing Live Keynote for 2022, these features were expanded upon with new ads functionality and a Performance Max feature to help tailor ad campaigns even more—especially on Google’s native YouTube, which has been a massively successful streaming platform for many years after virtually inventing the format in the mid-2000s. For businesses looking to market more heavily on YouTube, CTV ads are the perfect bridge to enhance advertising opportunities.
For companies looking to grow with online ads and video ads, there are several key factors for enhanced success with CTV:
- Design full campaigns across media types while using video as an essential augmenting channel component.
- Use affinity and audience targeting features to take full advantage of the functionality provided.
- Be willing to spend on creative and copywriting (or video creation) to put your brand on its best feet.
- Measure everything, test often, use A/B features, and experiment with your content.
- Speak to your audience authentically.
While many of these things might be easier said than done, it’s still important to pursue excellence in this mode so as to avoid getting lost in the dreaded skip ad pattern that can rapidly emerge with online streamers. You want your audiences to want to watch your ads; you want them to feel that by watching your content they’re fulfilling a need they have and have discovered your business as the best source for their needs.
CTV requires higher levels of creativity and advertising skill than many other previous formats and there can be a steep learning curve to get it right. This is why testing and experimentation are critical and why ad budgets are put to much better use when precise audience tracking and engagement are put at the forefront of all online efforts. You don’t want to waste your money or your audience’s time with irrelevant, poorly-made ads that serve no one’s interest but the ad budget.
For those looking into CTV ads, the opportunities are endless. Creativity, engagement and precise data metrics will be rewarded and your business can grow and thrive in kind. It’s a useful avenue to go down for companies wanting to break the mold.
“The sum total of human knowledge is available.”
In May, Google held their Marketing Live Keynote for 2022. They touched on numerous advances across the entire digital and search marketing space. One of the key focal points was the considerable advantages for visual searches. It wasn’t long ago that machines could parse words but not pictures. Now, artificial intelligence has become a game-changer, opening up a world where searches can be facilitated by way of photographs of all kinds and readable by machines.
This is a stunning advance for online intelligence.
The internet is filled with a seemingly infinite expanse of data and information about every conceivable topic. For a single search engine like Google, this represents a massive amount of data to sort through to provide the most relevant results for an individual searcher. As a result, technology has had to evolve to the point where massive amounts of data can be sifted, organized and provided upon request—without a human.
New Technologies, New Breakthroughs
During the Keynote address, Jerry Dischler, VP & GM of Ads at Google, explained the new advances underpinning visual search updates. Pictures are now machine-readable—you can literally take a picture of something, upload it to Google, and have search results returned based on that picture. Ads are now integrated across platforms and dashboards, including YouTube “Shorts” and Shopping. The former static mobile SERP (Search Engine Results Page) is now a mobile scroll, with results returned based on factors like search history, personal interests and algorithmically-identified heuristic methods to return searches in many different media.
It can sound overwhelming, but we’ve become gradually used to a more robust interface from the earliest age of search engines. Knowledge panels, powered by Google’s knowledge graph, exists on the right side of the scroll for business queries to provide quick information, along with sponsored related ads, answered questions, business profiles, reviews and similar products through shopping. Video results are returned from YouTube; and all of this is integrated into a seamless interface of returned information for any given query.
Computer technologies like machine vision and natural language understanding is transforming search into a more helpful, more sensory-based environment. Where once search could be done only via text or speech, search can now be conducted based on sounds, pictures, and other aspects of our lived environment. This makes it broadly applicable not only to the majority of customers’ needs, but specially-abled users as well. Search has become an experience powered by experiences.
For example, using Google Lens, you can snap a photo and find relevant results for your car, your home or other needs. I planted a perennial last summer and it began to grow this spring, but I could not recall the name of it. I couldn’t possibly know how to best care for it if I couldn’t even name it! I simply snapped a photo and was able to search the name of it based on the image alone. Pretty remarkable.
Google’s new multisearch feature allows you to customize your search results, find similar products, and automatically search for tutorials or helpful augmenting pages to not only find the right product, but how to use it and integrate it as well. By extending your queries based on your search to help people seek out information intuitively (as opposed to linearly), we’re now able to find what we need, when we need it, and what else we’ll need, so we won’t be stranded with only partially-helpful results.
These results are powered by Google’s breakthrough advances in machine intelligence, called Multitask Unified Model (MUM). MUM is a long-gestating feature for Google’s visual search. The ability to machine-read pictures and other graphic media and pair that with intuitive related results means online search engines have finally begun to resemble search the way humans actually think. It works amazingly for finding patterns, swatches, matches, designs, fabrics and a host of identifiable features that put us closer to the results we seek.
Part of the attraction to this new visual interface is helping people find their content needs through different modes of perception than previously utilized in online spaces. More visual searches mean more visual ads to go along, and for marketers and businesses, this transforms the way we think about advertising and how we can go about reaching more people through visual searches.
For businesses looking to capitalize on these new developments, it will be important to:
- Maintain an attractive visual presence
- Customize ads and ad copy to stay relevant and competitive
- Redesign ad campaigns based on factors such as search intent and pictorial/graphic representations of queries
- Formulate value chains for searches based on other sensory perceptions and how those run together
- Continue to innovate as a brand to stay flexible and agile in an ever-evolving online search space.
Many businesses may elect to pursues the more traditional form of ads and searches—there’s no shame in that, but for a competitive, realistic, and successful ad campaign in the modern world, it will be imperative to constantly evaluate, and update based on these changes which allow for higher quality reach and results. The power of Google advertising lies in its ability to reach people where they are, when they’re searching, and based on their unique interests. Targeting user needs through every possible search modality will keep the business and its marketing fresh and relevant; it will prevent being left behind by changes that other companies are eager adapt.
Google has made search more visual than ever before, and for businesses looking to compete, it will take require an equally robust visual advertising strategy designed to ROAS (Return on Ad Spend) if maximized.