OTT, cap­ti­vat­ing the cord-cut­ters and print-nev­ers

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - Contents - T ▶ SPE­CIAL TO NEWS & TECH FROM PETER MARSH p

Al­most ev­ery re­search study that an­a­lyzes news me­dia habits reaches the same con­clu­sion — OTT con­tent is grow­ing ex­po­nen­tially and is by far the video con­sump­tion choice among younger au­di­ences. In some mar­kets, con­sumers are ex­pected to view an av­er­age of 19 hours of OTT con­tent weekly by 2020, which is a sig­nif­i­cant up­lift from the av­er­age of 12 hours per week in 2017.

OTT stands for "over-thetop," a term used to de­scribe the de­liv­ery of video con­tent via the in­ter­net, with­out re­quir­ing users to sub­scribe to a tra­di­tional paid ca­ble or satel­lite TV ser­vice. De­spite its in­cred­i­ble growth, the OTT land­scape is still un­fa­mil­iar to many. Con­ver­sa­tions about OTT of­ten cause some eyes to light up with en­thu­si­asm, while oth­ers glaze over in con­fu­sion. For news me­dia pub­lish­ers, all eyes should be light­ing up, not glaz­ing over.

"OTT tech­nol­ogy al­lows us to cre­ate a com­plete branded ex­pe­ri­ence for our cus­tomers," said one me­dia com­pany dig­i­tal ex­ec­u­tive in Spokane, Wash­ing­ton. "If users live here, they can get the lat­est in­for­ma­tion on their terms. If they live else­where in the world, they can get a taste of home. With more and more peo­ple rapidly adopt­ing con­nected-TV de­vices, the ques­tion isn't whether we should be pro­gram­ming for the OTT plat­form, but rather how do we change our cov­er­age model to push that in­for­ma­tion out there as rapidly and ef­fec­tively as pos­si­ble." Peter Marsh, vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing, News­cy­cle So­lu­tions

All about the brand

Brand ex­ten­sion is a key fac­tor driv­ing the news me­dia in­dus­try's adop­tion of OTT tech­nolo­gies. In the 2018 DLA Piper Global Me­dia Sec­tor Trends re­port, 82 per­cent of sur­veyed re­spon­dents say that mon­e­tiz­ing con­tent through OTT is a ma­jor growth area for their me­dia busi­nesses. Over 25 per­cent of re­spon­dents pre­dict that more than half their video con­tent views will be driven by OTT next year, which is dou­ble the views driven by OTT to­day.

"Me­dia com­pa­nies are re­quired to de­liver what is called a 'con­tin­u­ous con­nec­tion' to grow their view­er­ship," said Wade Beavers, pres­i­dent of Mo­bile at News­cy­cle So­lu­tions. "OTT is one of the most pow­er­ful brand ad­di­tions be­cause they can pro­vide both long- and short-form con­tent, as well as de­mand higher ad dol­lars be­cause of the value in video. Lo­cal broad­cast­ers are al­ready do­ing it and bring­ing in more rev­enue as a re­sult."

With an OTT plat­form, me­dia com­pa­nies can dis­trib­ute branded video con­tent through de­vices like Roku, Ap­ple TV, An­droid TV and Ama­zon Fire TV. This con­tent can be made avail­able and mon­e­tized through premium sub­scrip­tion mod­els. In ad­di­tion, con­tent de­liv­ered through a stream­ing OTT app can be mon­e­tized via pre-roll, post-roll, mid-roll and pro­gram­matic ad­ver­tis­ing, which can be sold in­de­pen­dently or as part of pack­aged ad cam­paigns.

OTT and mo­bile au­di­ences

With the cur­rent state of OTT, multi-plat­form con­sump­tion is still the norm, but mo­bile-only is on the rise. A March 2018 ComS­core Dig­i­tal Fu­ture in Fo­cus re­port found the per­cent­age of mo­bile-only OTT us­age grew across most global mar­kets in 2017, ex­ceed­ing 30 per­cent of users in nearly half the mar­kets stud­ied.

By 2020, the OTT video in­dus­try is ex­pected to reach $30 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Deloitte Dig­i­tal Democ­racy Sur­vey. With 100 mil­lion ad­di­tional mo­bile users sub­scrib­ing to an OTT video ser­vice over the next 18 months, it is easy to see why an in­creas­ing num­ber of me­dia com­pa­nies are mak­ing OTT ad in­ven­tory avail­able to their lo­cal ad­ver­tis­ers.

Ad­ver­tis­ers and agen­cies also view OTT ad­ver­tis­ing as a bet­ter form of en­gage­ment for mo­bile-first au­di­ences. "We are see­ing me­dia com­pa­nies drive their mo­bile users to OTT de­vices for longer-form sto­ries and spe­cial pro­gram­ming," said Beavers. "The fact that their OTT icon is right next to Net­flix or Hulu makes them one click away from a longer and more prof­itable ex­pe­ri­ence. The OTT in­ter­face is the new shop­ping mall, and to­day ev­ery me­dia com­pany needs to have a store­front."

Video as a des­ti­na­tion

As me­dia com­pa­nies strive to be­come one-stop shops for lo­cal au­di­ences want­ing to con­sume trusted news and in­for­ma­tion con­tent on any de­vice at any time, OTT video will con­tinue to grow in im­por­tance. Video en­ables pub­lish­ers to de­liver a com­plete 360-de­gree view of the news. Some­times, video is com­ple­men­tary to a writ­ten ar­ti­cle. At other times, a stand­alone video is bet­ter for re­port­ing news that is in­her­ently vis­ual, es­pe­cially when a deeper, in-depth dive is re­quired to present the con­tent in the most en­gag­ing man­ner pos­si­ble.

In short, OTT al­lows me­dia com­pa­nies to reimag­ine their po­si­tions in the com­mu­nity — and to com­plete the elu­sive dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion process — be­com­ing the pri­mary des­ti­na­tion for all print, on­line, mo­bile and video sto­ry­telling. What bet­ter way to make a pub­lisher's eyes light up?

Peter Marsh is the vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing at Bloom­ing­ton, Min­nesota-based News­cy­cle So­lu­tions (news­cy­cle.com), a provider of soft­ware and ser­vices pow­er­ing the global me­dia in­dus­try.

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