This is the cost-cutting secret of the future of advertising

by Ana Lopez

Opinions of contributing entrepreneurs are their own.

Traditional TV still has its viewers, but — unless you missed the memo from the past decade — you probably know that streaming is entertainment’s current reigning champ. New over-the-top TV (OTT) (aka Streaming TV Ads or STV Ads) options are official faster than traditional TV viewers (34.8% vs. 34.4%).

That means more people are tuning in to 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 for reaching your audience at scale.

But the biggest selling point of OTT advertising? Cost.

Sure, you could gamble and drop $7 million in a single Super Bowl ad The Farmer’s Dogwho won USA today‘s 35th ad meter. You could even throw similar amounts at designated marketing area tactics (DMA) or out-of-home advertising (e.g. billboards, live events). But that is not it imperative. By pairing data from first-party retailers with solid, creative video content delivered on TV streaming platforms, you can laser-focus any budget you have for powerful impact.

Related: A media executive on how brands can leverage OTT and FAST for marketing success: ‘It’s more lean in than lean back’

The easiest way to win

Before you put 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 first category includes only the information you’ve collected about your customers through their interactions with your brand – think email addresses, age data, website traffic, or purchase history. Retailer first-party data covers similar areas for another retailer’s customers.

Both are powerful. But larger retailers, say Amazon, Walmart, or Target, tend to work with many more people in larger geographic regions. Their information gives you a richer picture of the current market and trends and still answers accurate marketing questions. It is the ideal secret weapon to expand your business through targeted marketing.

With that right, imagine you’re a luxury brand Louis Vuitton. Your average sales price is five times the category average (yes, really), so good luck getting a ton of sales with general marketing. Instead of throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks, a better option is to target women between the ages of 18 and 54 who are in the market and have bought several handbags in the last six months with a median household income five times that of the rest of America (think places like Newport Beach, California).

Agencies can take this targeted approach in the OTT arena using first-party retailer data to ensure your ads are shown in appropriate shows in specific locations. Now stop pretending to be Louis Vuitton. Pretend to be you. Imagine having a gym with three locations – think how convenient this could be to get to 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 are a direct-to-consumer business, your own website analytics data can help you define your target consumer. Plus, this little tool, Google Analyticsis 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 resources. Unlike Apple’s ads that say you can generate high-quality videos on your smartphone, you should never settle for generic content. You should go for the emotional jugular – design something innovative that is memorable and resonates with the specific viewers you want to reach. Let’s not forget that you will be on TV screens all over America; your production must be spectacular. After all, when you come to people’s homes, you have to bring value.

The next step is knowing what success looks like. Unlike traditional media, sales are not the most important key performance indicator (KPI) for OTT advertising. Your core KPI? Searches for your brand on Google and websites like Amazon (assuming you sell there), whichever Google Keyword Planner can help you see. You look at whether the search volume for your brand keywords is growing.

Think bigger. What if you use QR codes? You can easily see how many people clicked on it. If you’re smart, 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 the sales of an ad running on a TV!

Related: 10 QR Code Generator Features You Can Use for Free

Soon on a screen near you

You once advertised in a non-specific DMA and hoped your sales would increase. Once again we see a stunning breakthrough: we can use QR codes, marketing cloud cleanroomsstore 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 ads could connect to other platforms and combine advertising solutions as well. Can’t a car enthusiast get enough of Fast and Furious movies? Let’s say they go to Freevee to get their fix. The streaming platform places a QR code for – you guessed it – custom wheels. Then they head over to IMDb to rack their brains about who’s in the movie, where they also see an ad for those same wheels. Regardless of the device, you reach them with the same ad. It can even be extended to virtual (VR) or augmented reality (AR) where consumers can put the wheels on a photo 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 purchase barriers for your customers and use different platforms together in a cohesive strategy to sell a product.

Stream your way to success

In the prehistoric era of retail and TV, advertisers had to cast a wide, expensive net to get ads to people’s attention. It was hard to see the fruits of their efforts. The new world of retailer data combined with OTT advertising is fundamentally different because it doesn’t require a huge budget and you can tailor exactly who you want to reach.

You have an incredible opportunity to advertise more efficiently and creatively than ever before. Do you want to take it?

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