Evolution of In-App Advertising & Communication on OTT Apps

Over the past few years, there have been significant advances in over-the-top (OTT) apps. These apps are now delivering user experiences like never before.

New features include the ability to chat with other viewers, social platform integration, and increased interactivity. These developments have drawn the attention of advertisers who are always keen on finding new ways to engage their target audiences.

A Brief History of Advertising on OTT

To understand OTT advertising and its evolution, it’s helpful to have a bit of history. Originally, advertising on OTT platforms was limited to displaying ads before or after content. The interaction was very limited.

Over time, tech advances have given brands much more engaging ways to reach their target audiences. Here are some of the trends these advances have created:

The Growth of OTT

The growth of streaming platforms has been a key driver behind the evolution of OTT advertising. People continue to drop their cable and satellite subscriptions in favor of streaming services. Additionally, new streaming channels and platforms are emerging regularly.

This growth includes major players such as Disney+, but that’s not all. Dozens of niche OTT platforms feature specialized content, including:

  • Children’s programs
  • Anime
  • Sports
  • Classic movies
  • Politics and news
  • Documentaries
  • Food/Travel/Entertainment programming

The presence of these platforms gives brands the opportunity to focus their OTT ad budgets on very specifically targeted channels.

A New Set of Personas

OTT advertisers have had to take entirely new sets of behaviors and characteristics into consideration when developing customer personas for ad targeting purposes. One study revealed five distinct personas relevant to streaming consumption:

Linear TV Subscribers

These are customers who prefer cable and other traditional services. They have a mean age of 57.

Highly Subscribed

The majority of people in this category use both video streaming and pay-tv. They have a mean age of 42.

Hybrid Adopters

This group has a mean age of 43. They tend to go back and forth between streaming and paid television services.

Power Streamers

These are tech-savvy viewers. They are heavy users of streaming services. However, they will go to great lengths to avoid advertisements using ad blockers. Their mean age is 41.

Mobile First

These viewers spend a significant time watching videos using streaming apps and social media. They are the most likely folks in every group to respond to ads and make purchases, and they have a mean age of 33.

Each of these groups tends to respond to advertising differently. Advertisers have had to work at understanding where their audience falls within these categories, then work on personalizing their ad content accordingly.

Hyperlocalization Becomes a Possibility

Geographic location has always been an important consideration in any type of marketing or advertising. It’s now possible to use hyper localization to target customers more specifically than before.

Local brands, particularly brick-and-mortar businesses, can create geotargeted ads that include information such as specific locations, hours, and phone numbers.

OTT Goes Live

Today, when someone is interested in watching a live broadcast, they are just as likely to do that on a streaming service or social platform as they are on paid TV. These live videos get an exceptional amount of engagement. This engagement creates a natural opportunity for advertisers to reach an active audience.

A Need for Better Production Values

When brands adopt OTT advertising, they must learn a new set of rules and best practices. These are the technical considerations that improve production values and ensure ads are optimized for the platform as well as the audience.

One of the most important factors is to ensure that all ads work well on a variety of devices. A single OTT ad may be shown on smartphones, smart TVs, and laptops. If content doesn’t adapt well to every screen size or device type, that will be a problem.

Next, consider video length. Here, advertisers must think about whether the ads they show will be skippable. With skippable ads, getting the message and CTA out in just a couple of moments is imperative. There’s more time available with non-skippable ads, but not as much as some people may assume. It’s still important to be brief.

By getting the length and format correct, brands help to ensure a better response to their ads.

Interactive OTT Ads

Since customers frequently see OTT ads using devices with touchscreens, there’s an opportunity to use interactive advertising. Viewers no longer passively watch ads; they can interact with them.

For example, they can tap the screen to answer a quick poll, test a sample level of a mobile game that’s being promoted, click a CTA button, or share the ad on social media.


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