HBO and Showtime are Being Revitalized using OTT

Netflix has become the poster child of how over-the-top delivery of premium content can create a hugely valuable business. But in Netflix’s shadow, traditional premium TV networks including HBO and Showtime are being revitalized by OTT delivery which is changing the dynamics of subscription TV.

Both HBO and Showtime recently reported record subscriber levels for 2017, mainly attributable to online growth. HBO and Cinemax gained over 5 million subscribers in the U.S., driving its domestic base to 49 million. Half of the online subs came from HBO Now, its standalone streaming service, with the other half coming from distributors like Amazon Channels and skinny bundles like DirecTV Now.

While HBO made a big splash with its HBO Now launch back in early 2015, the company has been extremely careful not to discount its monthly price below $15 (though distributors routinely offer it on promotion), continuing to pursue a market skimming strategy that inherently limits its upside. Yet, even at the relatively pricey $15 per month, HBO Now more than doubled in size in 2017.

Meanwhile, Showtime passed the 25 million subscriber mark for the first time in 2017, notching its best revenue growth in history. CBS said the nearly 5 million online subscribers it now has from All Access and Showtime are equally split between the two. That would mean approximately 10% of Showtime’s subscribers now come from direct-to-consumer, skinny bundles or online distributors like Amazon Channels and Hulu.

HBO’s and Showtime’s revitalization underscores how OTT’s ability to improve consumer choice can change business fundamentals. In the pre-OTT era, HBO and Showtime were entirely dependent on striking carriage and bundling deals with pay-TV operators. While both networks have created driven strong promotions, they were high-priced options for increasingly value-oriented consumers.

The heart of the issue was that for the most part pay-TV operators would not give their subscribers the option to subscribe to HBO or Showtime unless they first subscribed to an expensive tier of ad-supported TV networks. This “buy-through” meant the decision to add HBO and Showtime would only happen once a subscriber was already spending $50 or more per month. Talk about a hard place for HBO and Showtime to be positioned when Netflix is available for $10 per month with no contract.

Fast-forward to today’s OTT era and not only are HBO and Showtime available online as standalone services, but they can also be accessed on top of inexpensive skinny bundles. And perhaps more importantly, they can be accessed with a couple of clicks by tens of millions of Amazon Prime subscribers in the Channels program, with billing straight to the credit card on file.

read more here: www.videonuze.com

Study reveals strength of mobile video ads

New research from respected marketing science academic Professor Karen Nelson-Field has uncovered new insights into how and why video advertising works for brands when viewed on mobile devices.

The ‘mobile edition’ of Professor Nelson-Field’s ongoing Benchmark Series, commissioned by Australian commercial TV advisory resource ThinkTV, makes a number of significant findings that are designed to help advertisers and their agencies get the best out of video advertising.

Professor Nelson-Field used bespoke AI machine-learning technology and eye-tracking software to minimise human bias in her team’s data gathering.

The latest tranche of the Benchmark Series seeks to compare the sales impact and attention generated by video advertising viewed on mobile devices on Facebook, YouTube, and TV (over Broadcaster Video-On-Demand services).

It found that:

1. Advertisements viewed on mobile devices by consumers of Facebook, YouTube and Broadcaster Video-On-Demand (BVoD) all generated a positive sales impact for brands.
2. On mobile devices the sales impact of BVoD is 33 per cent higher than Facebook and 17.5 per cent higher than YouTube.
3. The sales impact of TV outperforms Facebook and YouTube irrespective of screen.

Key findings:

Sales Impact

Using the well-established metric of short-term advertising strength or STAS (Short-Term Advertising Strength) to measure the impact an advertisement has on sales, the research found that BVoD on mobile devices performed 17.5 per cent stronger than YouTube and 33 per cent stronger than Facebook.

Attention

The same pattern carried for attention, which Professor Nelson-Field scored out of 100 based on the results of eye-tracking measurements. On an aggregate of these measures, BVoD scored 63 points out of 100. That was 9 points higher than Facebook, which scored 54, and 19 points higher than YouTube, which scored 44.

TV wins on every measure

Professor Nelson-Field found that the sales impact of TV outperformed YouTube and Facebook irrespective of screen. So TV, whether viewed on a TV screen, computer or mobile device, delivered a significantly stronger result than both Facebook and YouTube on those platforms’ best performing screen, mobile.

Screen Coverage

The study found that screen coverage (the percentage of a screen occupied by an ad) was highly correlated to attention and sales, in line with previous findings from the Benchmark Series. On this measure, TV, at 100 per cent screen coverage, provided almost four times more screen coverage than Facebook and three times more screen coverage than YouTube, which Professor Nelson-Field identified as one of the key reasons for TV’s ability to have the most impact on sales.

Mobile

Professor Nelson-Field explained that because mobile screens tend to be held closer to the viewer’s eyes their peripheral vision adjusts to the screen proximity, which means that passive viewing on mobile is worth more to sales than passive viewing on other devices. (N.B. Professor Nelson-Field did not investigate other factors in advertising success such as the impact of reach and reach velocity.)
“In the first tranche of the Benchmark Series when we measured YouTube, Facebook and TV on PC, as well as TV on the TV set, we could clearly see why certain platforms drive higher levels of attention and greater levels of advertising impact than others,” explained Nelson-Field. “And in simple terms this is about visibility.”

“Now with mobile devices increasing in importance for video viewing, we can see that ALL platforms benefit from the lean-in viewing experience. Of course, as we predicted, those with better inherent ad visibility still benefit more.”

“This study takes the Benchmark Series a stage further; digging into the fast-growing world of mobile,” noted Kim Portrate, Chief Executive of ThinkTV. “It proves video advertising on mobile screens works on all of these major platforms – as more people lean in to their content choices – but it also shows that not all media is equal on mobile.”

read more here: advanced-television.com

Could The Chrome Ad Blocker Help Programmatic Move Past The Click-Through Rate?

by Michael Lehman

Despite efforts to evolve private marketplaces, investment in automated guaranteed and recent developments around non-standard formats being transacted programmatically, the indirect channel continues to struggle to attract brand dollars and relies heavily on click-through rate (CTR) over any other measurable metric.

As a result, many buyers typically follow standard direct-response purchase patterns and metrics like CTR when executing buys, regardless of the publisher or ad execution. This leads to a world where premium publishers must compete with bot traffic for ad spend, and ads that users find annoying generate higher yield than those that actually convey the marketer’s message effectively.

With Chrome’s new ad blocker, different analyses offer varying predictions of its impact, as competing parties are incentivized to guide the public and industry to certain conclusions.

Depending on where a given company sits in the crowded Lumascape, the blocking of the 12 outlawed ad types on more than 50% of global internet traffic, based on Chrome’s market share, will inevitably make an immediate impact on many businesses: Ad-blocking companies will find their consumer value proposition less compelling, smaller publishers that rely on indirect spend may feel short-term revenue pain and tech platforms that power intrusive, interruptive advertising will be forced to pivot.

But others will benefit. Consumers, for example, will enjoy a more respectful internet experience, and brand marketers and premium publishers will benefit from a less resentful and increasingly loyal audience. Also, tech companies supporting non-intrusive ads will be positioned to catch redirected spend toward their supported ad formats.

That said, Google’s enforcement of the Better Ads Coalition’s approved ad formats will also lead to significant indirect outcomes Effective advertising performance, for example, will no longer be compared to intrusive but high-performing formats, the mean performance for indirect advertising across the marketplace should change dramatically and premium publishers will be more accurately rewarded for audience and content.

The Better Ads Coalition has defined which unacceptable formats will be blocked by Google on its website. These ads were not necessarily built to annoy the user – annoyance is usually an inevitable byproduct – but they were clearly architected to score well against simple digital advertising KPIs geared toward direct-response budgets.

A huge adhesive ad that blocks content is 100% viewable, for instance, even if it forces users to look past and eliminate it. And a mobile pop-up with a tiny minimize button is likely driving excellent CTRs as users unintentionally click on units they are trying to delete.

In very rare instances do the ads actually achieve advertising objectives. In fact, they generally do the opposite by potentially linking consumer frustration to ad consumption, but they appear to perform well by manipulating performance. To make matters worse, these formats also skew the optics around what constitutes strong performance and effective advertising altogether.

For the marketplace to realize the positive indirect outcomes of the Chrome ad-blocking initiative, buyers, publishers and tech platforms must have desperately needed conversations about how to both effectively measure the value of programmatically transacted advertising and prove attribution without relying exclusively on short-term metrics. Ideally, this moves us closer to a world where programmatic channel is consistently attracting brand spend, advertising effectiveness is measured by more than just CTR and more sophisticated ad executions and audience quality will reward publishers with the appropriate upper-funnel spend.

read more here: adexchanger.com

Amazon will soon distribute ad-supported streaming channels

Amazon’s Channels program has been a big hit for TV networks and digital publishers with subscription video streaming products. Soon, Amazon wants to open up advertising as another form of revenue for media partners that have ad-supported streaming apps.

Speaking at Digiday’s Future of TV Hot Topic last week, Rich Au, head of Amazon Channels in the U.S., said Amazon will start offering ad-supported streaming channels later this year. While he did not provide a specific timetable, Au pointed to how Amazon already supports ad-supported channels in Europe, including a partnership with Discovery that includes access to the company’s linear TV feeds in European markets. Amazon will open up similar possibilities in the U.S., he said. (Amazon stressed that this is a distinct offering from the existing Amazon Channels program, which focuses on subscription streaming channels.)

In the U.S., the Amazon Channels program offers subscriptions to top networks, including HBO, Showtime and CBS. Advertising could substantially benefit streaming networks such as CBS All Access that already offer ad-supported tiers on their own. Right now, anyone subscribing to CBS All Access through Amazon can only access the app’s $10 monthly ad-free tier. When Amazon opens up access to the app’s $6 ad-supported tier, CBS has a chance to create a second revenue stream from its Amazon partnership.

It’s hard to understate the impact the Amazon Channels program has had on the growth of subscription streaming services in the U.S. When NBCUniversal launched its now-defunct comedy streaming service Seeso in January 2016, Amazon accounted for upward of 60 to 70 percent of total subscribers, said Evan Shapiro, the former NBCU exec who launched Seeso. By the time Shapiro left NBCU in May 2017, Amazon Channels accounted for 40 percent of total subscribers, Shapiro said.

“That was because over time, we found organic [search] traffic migrating to the native platform,” Shapiro said. “But Amazon’s growth didn’t slow — and the best part of the Amazon Channels product was that the churn is substantially lower than others.”

Two other Amazon Channels partners at TV networks corroborated the program’s impact on their subscription apps, privately telling me that Amazon Channels contributes anywhere from 25 to 45 percent of total subscribers.

read more here: digiday.com

Facebook Watch is not a TV network of the future

It’s safe to say “Ball in the Family,” a show starring famous basketball dad LaVar Ball, is the first hit show on Facebook Watch — it’s certainly the first Watch show that people outside of the media business recognize. And Facebook is spending good money for the exclusive rights to the show, which is produced by Bunim/Murray Productions. Multiple sources have told me Facebook is paying somewhere between $550,000 and $750,000 per episode. That’s cable TV money.

But that doesn’t mean Watch is a TV network of the future — mostly because that ignores the fact that Facebook doesn’t want to be a TV network. Don’t forget, Watch is a product test to get people to spend more time on Facebook — this time, with professionally produced video shows.

It’s been thrown around that Facebook wants its own “House of Cards” or “Scandal.” And Facebook’s pursuit of entertainment content has certainly piqued the interest of Hollywood:

“Facebook just bought a series that’s roughly in the $30,000 to $40,000 per minute range, with an exceptional piece of talent.” — Longtime film and TV studio executive

But as multiple talent agents and studio execs have recently told me, most sellers aren’t taking their best ideas to Facebook. Watch needs to make a serious dent with viewers because ultimately, the big stars that Facebook clearly wants for its shows care about whether their shows are actually seen.

What’s forgotten in all of this is that Facebook has given no indication that it wants to be a TV programmer in the style of Netflix or HBO. Yes, it has the money to buy its own “Scandal” — and it might. I just keep coming back to what Facebook CFO David Wehner said during an earnings call a year ago: Eventually, Facebook wants to fund Watch by sharing ad revenue, instead of subsidizing productions upfront. That doesn’t sound like a TV network to me.

“NewFronts are simply not a viable marketplace for buying video-based programming. We did not see the return on creating incremental, built-if-sold programming for one week where no transactions take place. The event has really turned into a branding moment, and we have a bunch of those throughout the year.” — Former NewFronts presenter on why his company is sitting out this year

read more here: digiday.com

Google says it will fix the online advertising crisis… but will it work?

by Enrique Dans

On Thursday, February 16, as part of its Coalition for Better Ads, Google launched an offensive it says will rid the internet of the worst of the many intrusive publicity formats the advertising industry has inflicted on users for years.

My impression is that Google is pretty much reprising its 2003 decision to introduce a function on its navigation bar to block pop-ups, thus protecting its main revenue stream, advertising, from short-sighted irresponsible companies. Advertising agencies, advertisers themselves, and many media, over time, have opted for anything goes strategies, utterly disregarding respect for a general public it assumes will put up with anything to get to the content we want. We can only count our blessings that some smart-assed developer didn’t come up with a way for ads to reach out of the screen and grab us by the throat, because some advertisers would undoubtedly have used it.

In 2003, the pop-up took us to a point of no return: by then, abuse of that format had made web browsing a misery. More recently, abuse of other intrusive formats and continuous tracking of users has prompted more and more people to install advertising blockers such as German Eye/o’s AdBlock Plus.

At the beginning of last year, the number of devices with advertising blockers installed already exceeded 236 million computers and 380 million smartphones worldwide, representing the largest boycott carried out by consumers in human history. Something had to be done, so Google went to work.

What’s changed since 2003? These were different times, and also a different Google.

In 2003, Google was a “nice” company, enjoying strong growth, with an incipient advertising model and a a positioning that allowed it to make its own decisions. Fifteen years later, Google is now the leading search engine, and along with Facebook, dominates display. Like a bull in the china shop of advertising, it tends to break things when it moves. Hence, its decision to take action has been carried out through the Coalition for Better Ads, the body it has set up bringing together ad agencies, advertisers and media to prevent an advertising apocalypse.

In 2003, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was the main browser, one controlled by a company that, at that time, was anything but “nice”: it was engaged in a crusade to redefine web standards, to exclude competitors, and it noticed how some companies, Google among them, were dominating categories it wanted for itself. All Google could do was to develop a navigation bar that any user could install in their browser with certain blocking functions. Today, Google’s Chrome is the leading web browser, and so can pretty much do what it wants, and knowing that its actions will be felt immediately.

In 2003, Google was practically alone in trying to defend users from abusive advertising formats. Moreover, from what I know about the company, I firmly believe that the pop-up blockade was not entirely about protecting its revenue stream, but also by a genuine desire to improve the experience of its users. In 2018, the user landscape is completely different: those of us able to install an ad blocker consider Eye/o and other companies are allies in the fight against intrusive ad formats, vastly improving our browsing experience. Google’s relationship with Eye/o is bittersweet: on the one hand, it has financed it by paying for the inclusion of its advertising on the company’s white lists, while on the other, it has not asked it to join its Coalition for Better Ads and sometimes refers to its practices as “blackmail”.

Eye/o knows perfectly well that an advertising blocker is nothing without a good block list, and keeping that list updated requires costly supervision, charging whoever it can to meet those costs. Eye/o initiatives to define good practices in advertising have done much more for users than anything Google has done so far, and are much more tougher than the Coalition for Better Ads’ proposals. If you really appreciate your browsing experience, take my tip: keep your ad blocker installed both on your computer and your smartphone.

Google now finds itself in a position where, in 2018, it is being forced to negotiate with agencies, advertisers and media before making a move. It’s looking for a balance between these players and users, a balance that should have a much greater impact on practices that go beyond annoying formats. We will all appreciate being freed from formats such as the one above, aberrations such as pop-up, the interstitial, videos with preactivated sound or large and persistent advertisements, although some advertisements with animation or with distracting formats will remain, because many of the players in the coalition still believe in their heart of hearts that if an ad doesn’t annoy you, it’s because you haven’t noticed it”. And they will continue to install trackers for everything and at all times, because Google itself does. In short, for online advertising to really change, we need all parties to change their thinking.

Is Google going to be an honest broker here? Is it a good idea to have the largest advertising seller (whose global online ad business is bigger than the next five biggest combined), using its position as the owner of the largest web browser (four times the market share as the nearest competitor), to determine which ads are fit to be seen or not?

read more here: medium.com

6 Magazine CEOs, 4 Strategies: How To Survive and Succeed!

The magazine industry is consolidating in the face of multiple challenges.

Rather than the newsstand, competition is coming from social platforms. Marketers want the performance advertising sold by key digital players. And as print circulation declines, magazines struggle to maintain the steady revenue from their direct-to-consumer subscription businesses.

The CEOs and presidents of Condé Nast, Meredith, Hearst, Bonnier, Active Interest Media (AIM) and New York Media spoke Tuesday at the American Magazine Media Conference in New York City about how they are addressing these challenges. In recent years, Rodale and Time Inc. CEOs took the stage – but those companies are now part of Hearst and Meredith, respectively.

1. Evolving to serve performance advertisers

Magazines are struggling to prove their value to marketers who know and love their content but need to prove ROI in a more concrete, logical way.

“There is a disconnect between what [marketers] think and feel [about the magazine experience] and … the KPIs and marketing science,” said Andrew Clurman, president and CEO of AIM.

Bonnier has incredibly old brands, but today it’s focused on connecting that editorial authority to the engagement and results that brand voice can create.

“Gone are the days of leading with how iconic or old your brands are in today’s performance-based environment,” said Bonnier CEO Eric Zinczenko.

The magazine CEOs said they were focusing on building first-party data assets and using this data to diversify their own businesses or help advertisers.

Condé Nast, for example, is investing in its data platform – and if it makes an acquisition, it will be driven by data, not a magazine brand, said CEO Robert Sauerberg Jr.

“We are in a world where whether we like it or not, more money is being spent on performance-based advertising,” he said. “We built a database business 25 years ago. We have been doing this forever. One of the things this industry can do is to use our first-party data to create some targeting.”

2. Paid content

As revenue from print advertisers declines, magazines want to boost subscription revenue.

Meredith’s Magnolia Journal earns 95% of its revenue from consumers, not advertisers. “Usually, it’s 60-40 the other way,” noted Tom Harty, president and CEO of Meredith.

At Condé Nast, The New Yorker is a standout in convincing readers to pay for its expensive-to-produce content, including a recent scoop about Harvey Weinstein.

“Our culture is about getting these stories right,” Sauerberg said. “Creating really great premium content that consumers will pay for its very expensive, hard and time-consuming.”

But such efforts are paying off, even online: “We have one of the most successful paywalls in the world, and it’s growing 40% a year,” Sauerberg said.

First-party data helps in this realm, too. New York Media is building up its data and analytics to help advertisers, and it’s expanded into events, where it can get its readers to pay for cultural experiences like the Vulture Festival.

“We have taken the understanding of why our audience is attracted to us and applied it to building new businesses and developing new brands,” said New York Media CEO Pam Wasserstein.

3. Brand safety

Magazine CEOs see an opportunity with Facebook’s and Google’s challenges policing their content.

“All these CMOs are saying, ‘I had no idea my content was showing up here and here and here – next to terrorists and Nazis,’” Wasserstein said. “Magazine brands are not only brand-safe but brand-enhancing. It’s a step beyond.”

Magazine media companies are also trying to position themselves as more authoritative than digital media startups.

“We have to remind our clients that smaller startups know if they don’t cut a corner sometimes, they won’t show revenue growth … and might go out of business,” Hearst Magazines President David Carey said. “We need to reinforce that [magazine] companies play for the long term.”

4. Revenue diversification

Magazine companies don’t plan on always relying on advertising to bring in revenue. Instead, they are turning to both conventional and surprising sources of revenue.

Case in point: AIM, which publishes Practical Horseman and American Cowboy, also sells horse trailer insurance. To further diversify, the company, which also publishes magazines about skiing and yoga, is applying its expertise in content and video to create online training and certifications.

read more here: adexchanger.com

AT&T still won’t advertise on Youtube

The effects of YouTube’s “adpocalypse” continue to reverberate even after the video platform has changed its practices to help ensure that marketers’ ads will no longer run alongside problematic content. AT&T, which pulled its YouTube ads along with many other brands back in March 2017, has yet to return to the video platform.

According to the New York Times, AT&T’s chief brand officer, Fiona Carter, said that “too much of the content our advertising could appear against was not brand safe — it was objectionable by any measure.” She added that “nothing beats human review” when it comes to determining a video’s brand safety, suggesting that YouTube’s algorithms and filters fall short.

YouTube has already promised that humans would manually review all videos made by creators in the Google Preferred tier, the top five percent of creators in terms of engagement and viewership. “We expect to complete manual reviews of Google Preferred channels and videos by mid-February in the U.S. and by the end of March in all other markets where Google Preferred is offered,” wrote YouTube in a January blog post. The blog post also noted more rigid requirements for channels seeking ad money. Before, a channel just needed 10,000 total views to make it into the Partner Program. Now, it will need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in the past year to become eligible for advertising revenue.

Still, AT&T isn’t convinced. In fact, the telecommunications company is working on its own alternative to advertising in brand unsafe places like YouTube and Facebook.

In a pitch focused on brand safety, AT&T is touting its own private marketplace for advertising across its OTT properties, DirecTV and DirecTV Now. According to Digiday, which obtained AT&T’s pitch deck, the company’s advertising and analytics CEO Brian Lesser explained how YouTube and Facebook fail to offer a “quality environment” for advertisers and presented AT&T’s new offering as a digital video advertising alternative to brands who care about the entertainment content with which they’re associated.

AT&T’s pitch cites the limited competition in the OTT space (which includes Hulu, YouTube, Sling, and Netflix) and mentions a more tailored, individualized approach to helping agencies place their OTT advertisements.

Meanwhile, brand safety remains as big a concern as ever on YouTube. Between one Logan Paul mishap after another and a whole slew of dubious children’s content, the video platform’s content hasn’t been the most reassuring for brands who decided to pull advertising along with AT&T back in March. That being said, many other brands have put their advertising back on the platform, but with extra cautionary measures in place. JP Morgan Chase, for instance, advertises on YouTube with the help of an internal plugin that the finance giant created itself to ensure its ads are appearing on channels that aren’t home to objectionable content.

read more here: www.tubefilter.com

YouTube CEO Responds To Unilever’s Threat

At the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual summit on Monday, Unilever’s head of marketing Keith Weed laid down a gauntlet to tech giants like Facebook and Google: Clean up your platforms, or risk seeing the consumer packaged goods giant pull its advertising.

It’s not an idle threat. With an annual ad budget approaching $10 billion, Unilever is one of the world’s largest spenders.

Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of Google-owned YouTube, responded Monday night at Recode’s Code Media conference. “We take their feedback very seriously. We are an advertiser-supported platform,” Wojcicki said.

“We want to do the right set of things to build [Unilever’s] trust. They are building brands on YouTube, and we want to be sure that our brand is the right place to build their brand.”

She added that “based on the feedback we had from them,” YouTube changed its rules for what channels could be monetized, and began to have humans review all videos uploaded to Google Preferred, the company’s premium monetization product.

Wojcicki added that YouTube still has different relationships with different advertisers, and is attempting to balance the needs of giants like Unilever with direct-response advertisers that collectively make up a big chunk of the site’s ad revenue.

“Not all advertisers are the same. Some are very brand-sensitive, and some are saying, “you know what, we are more focused on direct-response — we are OK with content being a little edgier,’” she said.

Her comments come as YouTube continues to grapple with the brand safety fallout from Logan Paul, the YouTuber thrust into the spotlight after uploading a video that showed him and his friends finding a dead body.

Wojcicki noted that the company suspended its projects with him, and this week suspended all advertising from his account after he posted more offensive videos.

read more here: www.mediapost.com

How to Stand Out From the OTT Crowd

The over-the-top (OTT) video market continues to surge. OTT revenues are expected to grow from $64 billion in 2017 to $120 billion in 2022, according to new data from Juniper Research.

This growth is fueled primarily by the rise in subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, but the OTT market is in no way homogenous.

To succeed in the OTT space, you need good content, sure — but you also need to think like a tenured digital marketer. You need to develop, test and optimize strategies to drive traffic to your digital properties, increase acquisition rates and continually engage and delight customers so you can improve retention. Let’s take a look at how you can improve your acquisition strategies and stand out in the crowded OTT marketplace.

One Size Does Not Fit All

For starters, you have to understand your niche, your audience and the way they prefer to consume content. For example, if you are a sports publisher, it might make sense to allow fans to pay only for the games they care about, and to charge a premium for high-value content, such as a playoff game. Market research is key.

Regardless of your vertical, you will probably discover that it makes sense to offer multiple consumption and pricing options designed around the preferences of your different customer segments. Perhaps there is one audience type that wants to pay monthly to access some or all of your content, whereas another group is only interested in a specific program and thus prefers a metered option.

As the OTT market becomes increasingly crowded, flexibility is a huge part of remaining competitive. All you need to do is turn on your Roku or Apple TV to see the mind-blowing number of apps people have to choose from. You need a compelling offer that stands out and a pricing model with staying power. You don’t want it to be this binary decision for customers, whether to stay with you or not. If customers don’t like your pricing options, it is easy to go watch something else.

Offering the consumption and pricing models customers prefer should also improve your key performance indicators (KPIs). Here, businesses can borrow best practices from e-commerce. Measure traffic to your digital properties, sign-up rates, engagement and retention. Analyze data by content type, specific program, customer segment and pricing model. Be open to testing different consumption models and making quick, data-backed decisions. For content creators that previously syndicated to other distributors, embracing this much flexibility can be a challenge, but it is paramount.

Digital media publishers need to strike a balance between premium and freemium. If you are a new player trying to break into the market, it makes sense to offer some content for free, especially if you haven’t built any brand recognition. How else will you convince people your content is worth paying for? Just be sure you have a monetization strategy in place, whether that’s selling ads or converting those new customers into paid subscribers. Be sure to monitor user behavior closely and watch out for red flags. For example, are people dropping off when their “free pass” ends? What can you do to get them to convert?

A growing number of publishers are offering a la carte pricing, in which users can pay for a single piece of content. You just want to make sure you are not cannibalizing your own business. You don’t want it to be a race to the bottom. With measurement and analysis, you will determine how to extract the most value from your content.

Whatever You Do, Do It Safely

Data privacy and protection matters, not just so OTT providers can stay compliant in light of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but also so their customers feel comfortable sharing more information. The more data you have access to, the better you can drive personalization and engagement by understanding the type of content, pricing, bundling, memberships and loyalty and reward programs your viewers value most.

Be sure to use a secure payment system and to communicate the security measures you are taking, so your users feel secure. You certainly want to avoid a fine, but security is also about growth. Consider treating all personally identifiable information with the same level of protection used for payment information.

read more here: www.broadcastingcable.com