With consumers more empowered than ever before, people don't want to be told when and where they can make purchases, gather information, or watch their favorite entertainment. That's why in recent years, consumers have started ditching their traditional TV and cable subscriptions in favor of exciting Over-The-Top (OTT) services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Over the past months, OTT has developed at an incredible rate, so much so that it has spread to live broadcasting, educational channels, communications - and beyond - and it's just going to keep getting bigger.
With growth comes great opportunity. As the OTT sector expands, so does the chance for brands and businesses to leverage the technology and place themselves in front of a wider target audience. By 2020, Strategy Analytics predicts that OTT video revenue in the US alone will surpass the $30 billion mark, up from $19.45 billion in 2016, with steady double digital growth. And, the company projects that this increase will mainly be driven by SVOD and advertising. The figures are hard to ignore.
In the grand scheme of things, OTT is still in its infancy, but it's already known for its colossal audiences and strong customer retention. Will OTT change the landscape of digital marketing going forward? Yes. But what will it mean for your brand?
Over-The-Top, messaging apps like WhatsApp and iMessage have been having been around for a short while, but they've already taken off in a big way.
Since its launch in 1999, WhatsApp went from an unknown development to the most popular internet based messaging app on the planet, with around a whopping one billion users today. It seems that the fact that you can message friends, family, and business contacts for free (as long as you're connected to the internet) coupled with the apps interactive nature, has propelled their popularity in recent times. And brands are wising up to their power.
As OTT develops and messaging become more desirable, apps like Line and Tango are picking up momentum and offering opportunities to interact with their target audiences. Part-video calling platform, part-interactive messaging app, Tango's quirky features, like it's live gaming function, are attracting new users all the time and its brand friendly user interface along with sponsored app listings allows businesses and organizations to interact with their audience in a natural and unintrusive way.
As more OTT apps emerge and develop, brands will have even more room to showcase their products, tell their tale and start a personal dialogue with potential consumers, rather than plying them with cold, static ad banners.
With 100 million people using OTT subscription services worldwide there is enormous scope for companies to interact with new, and existing consumers.
One of the striking things about this number is the opportunity for brand advertising. As mentioned, OTT provides new and exciting ways for brands and businesses to interact with today's consumers and sell their message in a more organic manner.
OTT offers brands the chance to create interactive advertising content that immerses the viewer in the narrative. An effective example of this is Skittles’ 'Touch Cat' advert. By asking the audience to place their finger on the screen at a particular touchpoint, with a hilarious outcome, Skittles immerses them into their brand for a minute and forces them to pay attention. This campaign resulted in 10 million views and an increased social media following.
Another way a brand can leverage OTT to appeal to its target audience is by sponsoring content themes. A business can associate itself with curated programming threads that reflect aspects of its message or image; for example, particular genres like comedies or dramas, or by backing a box set that tackles themes relevant to the brand. This area hasn’t been explored hugely, but the potential is there, nonetheless.
For example, American department store Target would have worked incredibly well in conjunction with Modern Family. The popular show appeals to a broad age range and its humorous take on everyday family life ties in perfectly with Target's 'we have a little have something for everyone all under one roof' image. In short, those who watch Modern Family in the States would be likely to want to shop at Target, and sponsorship of the show would have most likely yielded excellent results; the world of OTT opens these kinds of opportunities up ten-fold.
Perhaps one of the most attention-grabbing ways a brand can utilize OTT technology is by producing its own original content, tailored to its audience.
A shining example of a brand in fine tune with the potential is Red Bull. The brand, synonymous with energy, inspiration, and extreme sports has been sponsoring extreme sporting events and televising its own content for years, but just over a year ago began distributing its content across a host of OTT platforms online. Now, not only does Red Bull have its very own niche OTT network that is free to use online, but it's also venturing into a broader range of content to entice a wider range of consumers.
Red Bull's video series is expanding all the time, allowing the company to invest in more documentaries and push the brand forward. And, if this is anything to go by, it won't be long before more and more niche video content emerges from brands looking to expand their demographic and market themselves in new and exciting ways.
The rise of OTT opens up a whole new dimension to the world of digital marketing, and as today's consumer looks for fresh and innovative ways to be entertained, educated, and above all, talked to, businesses and brands must wise up to its power, and employ the skills to do so.
We have become a world of storytellers, and due to digital technology, there are more mediums on which to tell your tale than ever before. A failure to use OTT as part of your strategy could leave you behind in tomorrow's world.
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