Monday 23 September 2019 6:11 am

Advertisers need to get in on the streaming revolution

TV consumption habits have undergone a revolutionary shift. It started with the arrival of players like Netflix, and a decade later, it’s rapidly accelerating as new platforms like Amazon Prime Video and BritBox enter the space. 

These new entrants are being spurred by consumer demand – 63 per cent of UK consumers stream today, with the average user subscribing to at least two services. In fact, millennials watch nearly twice as much streaming content as live television, and one in four of all UK consumers report that they don’t watch live television.

With so many players joining the fray, BBC director general Tony Hall has been vocal about the opportunity this poses to offer a better service. But it’s not just broadcasters like the BBC who should be searching for opportunity amidst change – advertisers could see benefits too.

So what should advertisers be looking for? To date, the streaming wars have focused on the user experience: how to offer the best combination of content, access, personalisation, and value. There is a lot of overlap however, and in this crowded, somewhat undifferentiated landscape of providers, it’s increasingly hard for consumers to identify the best option.  


But one point of differentiation not often discussed is the business model.  

The BBC relies on its licence fee for revenue, while its many challengers use a subscription model. But there is a real need for a third, ad-supported model. Advertising can give consumers access to content without impacting their wallets, giving them the opportunity to try new services without committing to a subscription. 

Such a system would be ideal for marketers. Streaming offers an improved way to reach consumers who’ve stopped watching live TV with the kind of meaningful and effective advertising that is only available in a connected, logged-in streaming environment.   

Streaming ads can combine the storytelling of a traditional 

30-second TV ad with the targeting and relevance of digital advertising. And when done right – in a privacy compliant way – consumers say they prefer it. In fact, a majority of UK streamers report having been so engaged by an ad they watched on a streaming platform that they paused their content to learn more or purchase the product on the spot. 

So as the streaming wars rumble on, the advertising industry should keep a close watch – the opportunities that arise will reach much further than currently thought.

Main image credit: JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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