OTT Platforms' Changing Publisher Landscape & Ad Revenue Optimization

Serving up monetisable content and making money off advertising knowing that inventory and therefore revenue is ephemeral is the true challenge in today’s publisher landscape.

2020 will go down in history as the year of changes. The pandemic made sure that we all had to unlearn and relearn what we thought we knew. The publisher landscape was no exception. While traditional media took a downturn during the pandemic as they could not create original content, all other digital & OTT platforms experienced unprecedented spikes in consumption that resulted in the rise of subscription revenue, ad revenue or just an increase in DAU’s and MAU’s.

Before the pandemic hit, It is not that we did not read the news, listen to music or watch movies and serialised content. The entire connected population in fact went into an insatiable over drive of devouring content to fill in all the “lockdown locked in hours” we had to fill, somehow.

OTT media was anyway on a steady upward trajectory in growth, so this increase in popularity is not a big surprise. All media companies that own their customer and monetise advertising through data and ad revenue have learned the value of customer experience and data. Data management platforms existed in tandem with the entire publisher landscape and so did buying user data from whoever was willing to sell it. So access to audience intelligence was always a beacon of hope.

Cut To 2021 

On either end of the spectrum, advertisers and audiences are spoilt for choice. Brand safety and compliance are paramount and the whole publisher landscape has been predicting doom and gloom over the death of the third party cookie, while the ones who want to thrive are building data moats and strengthening intelligence like there is no tomorrow.

What then, is the key factor that will drive ad revenue optimisation? What will drive revenue growth? What will keep customers coming back to the platforms, if all content suddenly becomes “equal”?

The new word is “addressability”. Every single activity around media buying utters this word like the holy grail. Addressability is the ability to show different ads to different households while they all watch the same programming. Like any great idea, the concept of addressability sounds like it should already be in play without any barriers. However, this has been the case only in digital advertising and it is still the smaller portion of the ad spend pie, while everyone wants more and more. The OTT platforms have realised that the consumer no longer wants to stay within a landscape that does not create experiences that matter. That customers have limited attention spans, that the next great show, sale, movie premiere, sporting event, award ceremony is just a click away. How do you keep your audience engaged and on your platform? How do you make money off the ads that they watch? Cracking addressability is the answer. Screens converging (but not colliding) is the answer. Serving up monetisable content and making money off advertising knowing that inventory and therefore revenue is ephemeral is the true challenge in today’s publisher landscape.

TV Land Is Now Dancing A Tango In The Digital World

There is truth to certain cliches - big wheels do turn slowly. While digital publishers had agility of movement on their side, the traditional landscape is experiencing seismic shifts. The technology used was designed to cater to an industry that valued appointment viewing and depended on independent rating companies to rate their programming and by extension the ad spot rates. So the sooner the TV company provides unified workflows that can view their audience data and make revenue decisions across screens is the sooner that TV land will catch up to the OTT players who are leaps and bounds ahead, just because they launched later and had better access to real time data from each impression and each customer.

OTT’s ad revenue growth, optimisation and success will hinge on the willingness to:

1. Empower and drive trust, control and execute decisions driven by superlative customer experience and data

2. Unite disparate technology and diverse workflows across teams and stakeholders in ad sales - whether direct or programmatic, integrate with multiple ad servers and run the entire ad monetisation like a symphony.

3. Make split second strategic decisions having orchestrated a technology stack that allows singular, unfettered views of revenue in real time and not an hour, a day, or a month later.

How Will The Fittest Survive?

The OTT’s that will stay standing are those that will:

1. Conquer Cross Channel Selling by making revenue off every sales deal - whether through a direct sales team or through programmatic partners that are run as skilfully as an inhouse team.

2. Harness the power of data across all stakeholders in the company, such as marketing, sales, strategy, tech, finance and people.

3. Merge strategy and tactics when it comes to ad revenue growth - where no revenue is left on the table and all avenues are thoroughly explored.

4. Manage risk and revenue mathematically but ensure that the process is as creative as an art form.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.