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Evolving advertising strategies for the streaming experience

A hand holding chalk hovers over a connected TV with a tic-tac-toe board that contains three circular loading icons.

Illustration by Dave Cole / Getty / The Current

Recent months have been transformative for the video and streaming TV industry. Subscription fatigue, changing viewership behavior, and new entrants like ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) streaming services have positioned video as a key priority — and opportunity — for advertisers. Taking advantage of the opportunities presented by new formats and partners demands an agile approach, as full-year brand campaigns become a thing of the past.

At PMG, we are seeing fewer brands willing to plan investments in a full-year outlook and even fewer willing to pay for full-year campaigns. While some brands now operate with methods similar to day trading (since media dollars are invested based on the previous day’s performance, if not the current day’s hour), more are opting for campaign-based budgets as they strike the best balance between agility and value. This campaign-based approach unlocks greater efficiencies and improved integration across platforms and ad messaging, translating into a few specific strategies.

"Regardless of the platforms marketers use, great, captivating content should be at the heart of every campaign."

Converging channels

It’s best to think of the big screen holistically: Linear TV and connected TV (CTV) and over-the-top (OTT) should be converged, integrating channels with activations across platforms. This means leveraging activations across various platforms to create a cohesive and immersive viewing experience. When linear TV, CTV, and OTT channels converge, advertisers can capitalize on pockets of opportunity that arise from different streaming partners. One of the significant advantages of this convergence is the ability to leverage strong TV creative across multiple platforms.

For example, a creative concept that might perform well on linear TV can be customized and tailored for CTV and OTT streaming platforms, taking advantage of its interactive features and personalization options. In other words, thinking holistically allows marketers to tap in to various streaming partners’ diverse capabilities, such as advanced targeting capabilities, specific audience demographics, or unique content offerings.

By integrating channels and activations, marketers can strategically select the most relevant platforms for their campaigns, ensuring maximum impact and relevance for their target audience, while fostering a seamless viewing experience as multichannel consumption becomes the norm.

Captivating audiences with great content

These days, consumer attention is pulled in countless directions. With such content overload, the need for creativity and innovation plays a critical role in how advertisers can earn the attention of their target audiences and drive desired outcomes.

AVOD offerings by Disney+ and Netflix cater to niches specific to family and low-cost viewing, joining rivals like Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount Global, and NBCUniversal in providing tiered subscription pricing based on how many ads are shown to viewers. For advertisers, these changes have shifted budgets into new tactics as more brands invest heavily in short-form content that performs well and has easy tie-ins across platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Regardless of the platforms marketers use, great, captivating content should be at the heart of every campaign. We recommend brands leverage partnerships with streaming platforms and their creative studios to produce innovative ad formats that allow brands to interact with viewers nondisruptively and encourage them to act.

To illustrate the effectiveness of this approach, we partnered with Kohler on first-to-market activations and custom interactive placements, challenging the brand to think differently about what’s possible on the big screen.

We aimed to position Kohler with custom messaging against premium content, delivering increased engagement. Here are a few highlights from this campaign:

  • Max: Kohler was one of the first to run Max’s newest InFront Brand Block, providing customized messaging with contextual alignment to premium shows.
  • Netflix: Kohler was a first-to-market advertiser within the biggest streaming platform.
  • Interactive: Kohler developed several custom CTV activations, including a home channel takeover and an interactive Hulu unit, per Brightline, to showcase product innovation.

These activations delivered both surprise and delight for consumers as well as contextual alignment across top titles, including Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom. The interactive unit takeover resulted in doubled engagement compared to platform benchmarks.

The streaming landscape will only continue to evolve, requiring a flexible and creative approach from marketers. By converging channels and platforms, creating captivating content, and leveraging creative and technological partnerships, marketers can seize current opportunities while unlocking the full potential of this dynamic industry as we enter a new era of video advertising.

This op-ed represents the views and opinions of the author and not of The Current, a division of The Trade Desk, or The Trade Desk. The appearance of the op-ed on The Current does not constitute an endorsement by The Current or The Trade Desk.