Ad-insertable OTT streaming video could be the "it" channel for political marketers in 2020 — or at least that’s what some vendors are pitching campaigns and groups.
With digital targeting tightening up on some platforms, the next best option in terms of price and capability could be over-the-top streaming video, which is increasing penetration across the United States.
Some 97 million homes now have a connected TV device — “equating to over 75% of all homes in the United States, and surpassing cable TV households,” according to a recent report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), an industry trade group.
“This could be the OTT cycle, in part, thanks to Google changing their rules, and now the fact that Facebook is going to do the same and crackdown on advertising,” said Sam Osborne Reynolds, a GOP digital practitioner-turned senior director at The E.W. Scripps Company.
The definition of OTT inventory can differ between vendors. In a recent report, the IAB defined it as “video existing either within the confines of the big screen (through a connected TV device or Smart TV) or conversely, streamed to any screen (on smartphones, tablets, and desktops).”
It’s delivered through “various internet protocol (IP)-enabled devices that can be accessed via a wide range of options, from HDMI sticks (Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast), gaming consoles, Blu-ray players, and connected television sets.”
In the same report, the IAB said: “OTT streaming video presents an opportunity to speak to an audience that is increasingly difficult to reach through traditional media channels.” Brands advertisers have been using it to reach cord-cutters not targetable through traditional television.
While spending on OTT is set to increase from $3.8 billion this year to $5 billion in 2020, Reynolds said that political spending is still novel.
Still, she recommends it for “turnout, GOTV [and] reinforcing your messaging."
“All of that belongs on OTT,” she said.
Targeted Victory’s Katie Spannbauer doesn’t see the Google ad targeting restrictions as an impetus for spending to migrate to OTT.
“It's possible it steals some of the planned targeted YouTube budget, but OTT still isn't doing voter file targeting at scale to really steal a lot of the targeted voter file digital budgets,” she said.
OTT does offer campaigns and groups the ability to move away from targeting a TV-like audience by designated market area and instead by zip or state.
Now, vendors are making the pitch for even low-five figure spends. To wit, Keith Norman, who heads political advertising at Premion, an OTT platform, said the channel can work even for down-ballot races with “levels of investment similar to digital and to mail depending on the audience and the geography.”
When it comes to targeting, “data solutions can come in various ways. You have the voter-file or third-party layer,” he said. “We are very much a persuasion and motivation recommendation for a strategic mix of media. We can — OTT and steaming — be a fundraising list building, donor solution,” as an ad can include a digital call to action.
Competitors question whether OTT has the reach campaigns and groups need to target hard-to-reach voters or light TV viewers. To get those impressions, Mark Failla, a director of political ad sales at vendor D2, notes that addressable TV could be the better option in those instances — if the campaign has the budget for it.
“On average, our addressable campaigns serve a 4-5 weekly frequency to each household of our addressable audience targeted universes,” he said.