Streaming Services in 2020

Posted on January 2nd, 2020 by Mary Caitlyn Polovich

With more and more consumers turning to streaming services, linear TV ad buys are no longer enough. While the industry has been shifting its focus to CTV and OTT options, the variety of services are plenty and have become spread out across many platforms. 

In addition to linear TV, the time consumers are spending viewing video will be broken up among the following:

  • Ad-free subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+)
  • Hybrid SVOD services with the option of ads for a lower cost (Hulu, CBS All Access, and Quibi)
  • Free ad-driven streamers (YouTube, Pluto TV, and Tubi)
  • Virtual Cable Packages (Sling TV, YouTube TV, and fuboTV)
  • Video products from social media (Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok)
  • Online video games (Fortnight) and esports platforms (Twitch)

The biggest streaming services are either entirely ad-free or offer the option for no ads, and even though there are ad-driven options there is still no standardized way to buy inventory, as well as a lack of transparency from streaming services about their audiences. 

The Drum reports that Pluto TV and Tubi both say they have around 20 million monthly active users, but neither service will disclose how it counts a user. Advertisers want to reach a large audience, but they also want to reach a unique audience, more specifically, their specific audience. Until there is a standardized to purchase inventory, advertisers will have to rely on self-reported figures that are calculated differently from one streaming service to the next. 

Beyond the lack of transparency in user count, there is also a lack of transparency in what programs advertisers are buying within programmatic auction. Buyers can only see channel, genre, or rating information depending on the service. However, this is not often seen as big of an issue because most advertisers purchase internet-delivered TV to buy on audiences, rather than content based.

All in all, the video landscape will be just as crowded and noisy in 2020 as it was in 2019, and the industry won’t implement a standard for internet-driven TV anytime soon. In the meantime, here are some tactics marketers will attempt to implement in order to drive reach in video ad strategies next year:

  • Buying inventory from aggregators that sell multiple publishers’ inventory through a single platform. (No guarantee in where ads will run).
  • Purchasing video ads across every type of ad selling platform they can access. (Requires a lot of time and coordination).
  • Going all-in on Connect TV (With supplemented linear TV and other digital video for big brands)
  • Striking product placement deals with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon (Expensive and exclusive).