OTTxSCIENCE 2021: Streaming in the New Media Landscape: What’s Next? (Event Summary)

OTTxSCIENCE, held on October 26-27, 2021, presented the latest research-based insights about viewers’ use of streaming services, providers’ strategies to reach and captivate those viewers, and the role of advertising on CTV/OTT platforms. Attendees learned about the evolving AVOD vs. SVOD landscape, advances in measurement as well as fraud detection. Experts explored data on the latest trends, the drivers of viewing behavior and the future of OTT. See the 2021 highlights: Key takeaways, the full event video, and presentations are available for ARF members: If you are interested in becoming a corporate member, please contact New-Member-Info@thearf.org.

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NYCU: How Normal is the "New Normal"?

Omnicom Media has conducted a series of surveys that reveal trends in consumer attitudes. Omnicom Media Group's primary research team, led by Managing Director Pamela Marsh, has been conducting longitudinal research, among 1,000 respondents over the course of 17 waves, fielded since March 2020. The four most recent waves have focused on tracking the "New Normal"—i.e., behaviors and attitudes emerging following a year of drastic shifts in consumers' daily lives and media behaviors. MediaVillage was given access to insights from the research. The latest wave of this study shows a strong indication that the Delta variant is driving consumer sentiment back to where it was almost a year ago, foretelling a longer path back to the type of normal than might have been within reach just a few months ago for many business sectors. According to Marsh, "For more than a year and a half, we've been a marketplace for which there is no model—2019 behaviors weren't predictive of 2020, 2020 couldn't be used as a model for 2021, and it's looking more and more as if 2021 won't be a reliable model for 2022. "As the findings from our New Normal research have revealed, consumers' behaviors and sentiments about the economy and the pandemic can change in a relatively short period of time. While in June, 82% of respondents felt the pandemic was close to being over, that number has plummeted to only 38% in September. Most significantly, only a third now feel that life will eventually get back to normal—new, old, or anything in between—down from more than half in June." These dips in confidence, which Marsh describes as "elation deflation", are having the expected impact on plans to return to normal activities. As always, confidence varies significantly across demographics, with Millennials far more optimistic than Boomers or Gen Xers, and more women than men believing that life will never again be "normal." "The New Normal Wave 4" report confirms that the biggest benefactor of the past eighteen months has been streaming video, with 70% of respondents saying they will continue their increased consumption of this medium. Interestingly, 76% of consumers said they will continue their increased consumption of music, post-pandemic, as a sense of normality returns. In sum, according to Marsh:

  • At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone talked about recovery. What our research has shown us is that we need to instead, think in terms of a continuing series of re-sets with consumer readiness and attitudes across activities, purchases, demographics and mindsets still highly sensitive to COVID vagaries. For marketers, that means taking a far more targeted and customized approach to messaging and investment.

Source: Minsky, J. (2021, October 6). Consumer Confidence Setbacks Reported In Omnicom Media's "New Normal" Research Tracking COVID-19 ImpactMedia Village.

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NYCU: Customized Ads vs. Privacy

While many studies have shown consumers' growing concerns about privacy, the data also suggest they like ads customized to their interests.

At the ARF's upcoming OTT event, HUB Research is one presenter who will share new insights from their research on viewers' attitudes about streaming services with and without ads. The enclosed slide suggests that some of these attitudes are in conflict. Many consumers are concerned about their privacy, but they also say they prefer ads based on behavioral tracking.


To register for the OTT event: OTTxSCIENCE 2021: Streaming in the New Media Landscape: What's Next? – The ARF

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NYCU: The Future of Media Measurement

Here are edited highlights from two conversations at AUDIENCExSCIENCE on the future of media measurement and its challenges. First: between Bill Livek — CEO & Executive Vice Chairman, Comscore, Inc. and Scott McDonald, Ph.D. — CEO and President, The ARF.  Scott: From the standpoint of a measurement company, trying to get as granular as possible but still aggregating things up for the advertisers who find this difficult and complex to buy - how do you think about this in 2021? Bill: This really is THE question. There’s premium video and video from user-generated content (UGC). But UGC should not even be remotely close to the value that premium video does for an advertiser. Scott: At this conference the one category of papers that we saw that had a huge increase was around the direct measurement of attention. Bill: We need engagement impressions of all types. We need to define what their content is (not just with length)…the branded advertisers look at those characteristics and they have to filter into media buying, as they are already in planning. We see the great agencies that are hired by the premium brands do a remarkable job of planning off these other data sets. But when it’s distilled into a buying metric of age and gender, I am not sure if we are doing justice to the premium content. Scott: Limitations of panels - what’s the workaround if we don’t have panels, what’s the alternative way of reconciling that? Bill: In my career we’ve seen response rates deteriorate … response rates for radio and TV (decades ago) were in the 60’s or 70’s.  We now know that it’s in the single digits. Which essentially means that we are guessing. ….Panels are interesting to collect other information that are not in big data sets. And we should leave it there. Scott: Parting words of advice? Bill: Have an open mind as we look at the future of measurement… We have an opportunity now to fix all the different verticals and how they intersect on how the consumer is being entertained and informed. And let the advertiser have those tools and let’s empower the media companies so that they can price appropriately based on the content that they have. I think this is a great time to be in the business.

Here is a summary of Nielsen COO Karthik Rao’s perspective on these issues, from an AUDIENCExSCIENCE conversation with Scott McDonald, Ph.D. – President & CEO, The ARF. The major challenge to measurement is the vast amount of content to measure and the ability to deduplicate across many screens. Inclusiveness is the second major challenge – showing the face of America. But this is an opportunity also. The third is chasing identity and privacy at the same time. Karthik felt that interoperability will have to be a core piece of the identity future. Nielsen built its identity graph in 2020 – which is necessary for coverage of populations. There can be multiple ID systems dedicated to different purposes – targeting systems are for scale, while measurement is for coverage. What will the role of panels be in the future, with it being more difficult to recruit them and service them during a pandemic? Nielsen stressed that it has been using big data for a long time and foresees a role for both in future measurement. Karthik announced that in January, Nielsen will be showing impact data combining ACR, STB and panel data. The Census is one data set serving as a truth set. It is used to calibrate ratings, but Nielsen will be looking at other data sets to use for calibration. This may be data for outcome-based analysis. Nielsen is a big believer in the WFA initiative. It also thinks it can create cross-platform measurement by working with multiple, walled gardens. Key takeaways:
  • Challenges are the vast content viewed on multiple portable devices, inclusiveness of the population, and the balance between identity and privacy.
  • Panels and big data each have their own strong points. Panels are directly observable – you simply know much more about the home, while big data may be less representative, but its size affords stability.

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NYCU: Making OTT and CTV Ad Investments Count

How does PepsiCo manage identity, activation and measurement in a changing TV landscape? The TV industry is undergoing a massive transformation, into a complex, multi-platform, video market, composed of linear, digital, streaming and on-demand content across platforms and devices. Advertisers know that maximizing OTT/CTV investments goes beyond the strategies and measurements of linear TV. Identity, activation and measurement are the keys to maximizing your investments in the changing TV landscape. PepsiCo and LiveRamp will discuss how identity, activation and measurement are the keys to maximizing your investments in the changing TV landscape at the ARF’s upcoming OTT event. Presenters are Christine Grammier – Head of Solutions, Head of TV Measurement, LiveRamp; and from PepsiCo Kate Brady – Senior Director, Global Media & Consumer Data and Head of Media Innovation & Partnership Development; Risa Andersen – Senior Director, North America Media & Consumer Data; Atin Kulkarni – Senior Director, Global Marketing Science/Tech & Store Analytics To register: OTTxSCIENCE 2021: Streaming in the New Media Landscape: What’s Next? – The ARF OCTOBER 26 - OCTOBER 27 @ 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

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NYCU: How to Improve Streaming Ads

As advertising on steaming platforms becomes more important, given strong increases in the viewing of ad-supported streaming services, a new study by Conviva and Dynata explores how viewers feel about advertising on streaming services and how such ads can be improved. The research, presented at AUDIENCExSCIENCE by James Lamberti, CMO, Conviva, and Steven Millman, SVP, Global Research & Operations, Dynata, focused on identifying the key drivers of viewer satisfaction. The main data source was a consumer survey conducted earlier this year. The key findings:

  • Most viewers say they are happy to watch ads in return for free streaming services, but they nevertheless skip ads when they can.
  • There are distinct segments with different views and behavior regarding streaming ads. In general, viewers appreciate lower ad loads and ads they regard as relevant and that fit into the context. Technical difficulties, repeated ads and privacy concerns are key drivers of dissatisfaction.
  • The authors think that there are “Untapped Potentials” – viewers who would increase their viewing of ads (as well as the content), if the ad experience was improved.

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NYCU: Updates from the NFL

Games are spread across five primary networks throughout the season: ESPN, NBC, Fox, CBS and the NFL Network. Here are some updates: Ratings for the First Game: The Dallas Cowboys’ showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday ranked as the most-watched NFL Kickoff game in six years, garnering 26 million viewers, according to NBC Sports.  It was also the most-streamed NBC NFL game to air on linear TV, Peacock and NBC Sports Digital, according to preliminary Nielsen estimates. The average minute audience score for last night’s live stream (via Peacock, NBC Sports Digital platforms, NFL Digital platforms, Cowboys and Buccaneers mobile properties, and Yahoo Sports mobile properties) was, approximately 1.6 million viewers, up 64% from last year’s NFL Kickoff game. Source: Zorrilla,  M. (2021, September 10). TV Ratings: NBC’s NFL Kickoff Game Delivers TV’s Biggest Audience Since Super Bowl. Variety.   Sports Betting: More than half of the states in the US now offers legal sports betting, just three years after it was allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Gamblers in 26 states plus the District of Columbia are expected be able to wager bets legally, according to the American Gaming Association, with as many as five additional states offering such betting before the season ends in February with the Super Bowl. That’s up from 18 states with legal sports betting at the start of last year’s football season. And some of the biggest markets in the US, including California and Florida, are moving toward legalization, with New York planning to adopt mobile sports betting at some point. More than 45 million Americans say they plan to bet during the NFL season this year, according to the American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s national trade group. That’s an increase of 36% from last year. Source: Parry, W. (2021, September 8). Half of US offers legal sports betting as NFL season begins. AP News., The Associated Press. Players’ Helmets: The NFL will allow six social justice decals on players’ helmets. The decals, with messages such as “Stop Hate” and “Black Lives Matter,” are part of the league’s efforts to show solidarity with players who have protested racism and police brutality. Source: Levenson, M. (2021, September 5). N.F.L. Will Allow Six Social Justice Messages on Players’ Helmets. Only subscribers of the New York Times can read the full article. 2021 N.F.L. Season, The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/05/sports/nfl-social-justice.html  

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NYCU: The Future of TV: It’s Complicated

A new report analyzes 2nd quarter data to predict what’s next for the TV industry and finds “a mixed bag.” Digiday’s Tim Peterson shared highlights from his most recent, “The Future of TV Briefing” with the ARF. They are:

  • In the second quarter of 2021, the broader TV industry flatted further. That showed up in the general growth on the streaming side of the industry. But it may be most apparent in the mixed bag that was the period from April through June for some companies.
  • Netflix remains the dominant subscription-based streamer worldwide. However, it lost subscribers in the U.S. and Canada during that same period. while other subscription-based streamers added customers –not only Disney and HBO Max, but also ViacomCBS’s streaming services (which include Paramount+) and Discovery’s Discovery+.
  • Roku reported that the amount of time people spent streaming video on its connected TV platform dropped one billion hours from the first quarter, while Netflix saw its share of TV and streaming audiences’ watch time grow. (YouTube and Hulu held steady, according to Nielsen.)
  • The TV advertising industry is still recovering after bottoming out in the spring of 2020, but most traditional TV companies and streaming services have climbed back to beat their pre-pandemic ad revenue marks. Ad dollars are moving to streaming. Yet, much of that money is still going to traditional TV companies, whether to their linear networks or the streaming services they are standing up.
  • The second quarter was particularly a mixed bag for the Pay-TV industry. Cord cutting continued, although its pace also continued to slow and some services reported subscriber gains. The patchwork of Pay-TV gains and losses suggests that linear TV is not going away anytime soon. Just as there are people who canceled cable and only watch Netflix, this earning season showed that there are also those who have decided to cancel Netflix or to start paying for linear TV.
  • The impact of Nielsen’s accreditation hiatus is unclear: Its long-term repercussions are likely to have more impacts than any short-term effects. “It should certainly accelerate the degree to which everyone scrutinizes more [measurement] options. That’s the direction we’re headed towards in the future, anyway,” said one agency executive. For the present, however, TV advertising is expected to continue to transact on Nielsen’s currency, accredited or not.
Source: Peterson, T. (2021, August 18). Future of TV Briefing: What TV and streaming companies’ latest earnings reports say about the state of the industry. Digiday. (For subscribers only).  

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NYCU: Measuring Ad Impact

In light of the dramatic changes in consumer behavior during the last year, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) recently polled marketers about media KPIs. Half focused on ad effectiveness.   The last year drove significant changes in consumer behavior. It transformed the way we shop, with 75% of U.S. consumers saying they tried a new shopping behavior. Most intend to continue that behavior after the pandemic. During this period, consumers also spent more time on digital media, streaming, digital audio and online gaming. Despite consumers’ demand for more content—and the increasing complexity of multi-channel distribution—most media companies are still in the early stages of transforming their operations, to take advantage of these new realities. And many brands are not confident they can measure results accurately and completely across media types. That’s especially true in the growing connected TV (CTV) and gaming channels. All those changes in behavior have us wondering—how well do we really understand today’s consumer?  We need to continue to ask questions about the true impact of ads. We need to ask what we are getting, in terms of attention, and what messaging resonates with whom. Do we know if somebody is paying attention differently on one platform versus another? And what media channels drive sales and store visits? The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) recently polled marketers to understand which media KPIs are most important. It’s telling that half focused on ad effectiveness. Proactive marketers are taking steps to understand this campaign performance information. These steps include:

  • Optimize baseline verification measurement. Verification is the baseline to evaluate ad effectiveness. This includes validity and viewability (g., is a real and relevant ad served to an actual person who can see it)? Ads need to be in a suitable environment as defined and controlled by each brand. As is well known, ad fraud is a challenge all brands face.
  • Track engagement and impact. Once you connect your campaign to datasets that reveal meaningful impact, things rightly center around attention. Human, viewable and brand-safe impressions still set the standard for core measurement. But true brand effectiveness requires deeper evaluation.
  • Measure across channels. Fluid media consumption habits change how we reach and capture audiences. It also calls for the ability to understand how consumers actually pay attention across emerging formats to uncover what real viewing means.
Innovative marketers who plan and experiment with formats beyond traditional social media posts and editorial-style content learn much more. That’s because verification alone won’t tell you about impact post view. Source: Constantino, D. (2021, August 3). 3 Ways ad measurement is evolving to gauge true ad impact. InContext: An inside look at the business of digital content, OracleDataCloud.    

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