Entrepreneurs

What The 2021 Oscars Taught Us About Streaming Services And Marketing

By Ben Zimmerman, president at Media Design Group.

The Academy Awards have been a staple of television since its first broadcast in 1953. However, while 34 million people tuned into the ceremony that year, just 10.4 million watched the 93rd Oscar Ceremony hosted on April 25, 2021. This marks the fewest viewers ever for Hollywood’s biggest night — and a 56% drop from 2020. The ceremony was also the lowest-rated it’s been in history, scoring a 2.12 rating among adults aged 18 to 49, a 60% drop from last year.

The State Of The Industry

Perhaps this comes as no surprise. Award shows have faced diminishing viewership over the last few years — with the Grammys and the Golden Globes both seeing their weakest audiences of all time in 2021. Plus, we’re still reeling from a global pandemic that ravaged, among other industries, the film world.

In November 2020, just about half of all movie theaters were closed across North America. Many studios pushed back releases of blockbuster movies. Others decided to skip theatrical releases completely, choosing to release films on streaming services instead. All said and done, this led to a box office that was down 77.2% in November 2020.

Despite subpar projections, advertisers still bought spots for the 2021 Academy Awards. In fact, ABC announced that it was sold out of ad time for the Oscars, a ceremony that cost brands about $2 million for a 30-second spot. Although many big brands sat out this year’s Super Bowl, many major companies — including Verizon, M&M and Cadillac — aired ads on April 25. Many brands are desperate for ad space in a world hit hard by a global recession. However, as incomes and consumer spending bounce back, companies may try to capitalize on a stimulated economy.

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The Broken Glass Behind Traditional TV

However, it also suggests that the traditional viewing environment is becoming increasingly broken. On-demand viewing — including digital video, ad-free streaming services and connected TV — is rivaling traditional TV. This is by no means new information. Even though lockdown restrictions are being lifted across the country, consumers are expected to maintain pandemic habits.

According to a May 2021 report, most consumers say they will maintain or increase their viewing habits across all platforms including live TV, subscription video on demand (SVOD) and advertising-based video on demand (AVOD):

• 88% said they planned to stream via SVOD (i.e., Netflix or Hulu) platforms at the same, or increased, rates.

• 86% said they planned to watch live TV at the same, or increased, rates.

• 81% said they planned to stream via AVOD (i.e., YouTube) platforms at the same, or increased, rates.

To reach these consumers, advertisers have several viable options. Ad spend across both traditional and connected TV (CTV) channels is growing. It’s estimated that total TV advertising will increase from $57.2 billion in 2020 to $62.5, a 9% increase. In 2019, connected TV (CTV) ad spend was $6.38 billion. At its current pace, CTV ad spend is projected to jump to $19 billion by the end of 2024. As this suggests, CTV will only continue to increase — and is already giving traditional live TV a run for its money.

Netflix Wins Big

To wrap things up, we turn to one final trend to bring it all home. Not only was 2020 a big year for streaming services and advertising, but it was also a huge year for streaming services on the movie front as well. Netflix took home seven Academy Awards for movies such as Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Mank, ranking it as the top distributor of the night.

Who knows what the future holds for the connected TV world? As I’ve written about before, many traditional TV providers have already integrated with Netflix and other streaming service providers — and partnerships are only expected to increase. As Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services continue to extend their reach, it only makes sense that their efforts pay off. Why? Because that’s where consumers are spending their dollars. For example, Netflix was the fifth fastest-growing company in 2020 and saw a 54% rise in profits in 2019.

So, what does this mean for advertisers? As consumer habits change, it’s important to meet your viewers where they’ll see you (quite literally). Programmatic advertising enables brands to pay for impressions based on the value of prospective viewers. It allows them to spend money on consumers more likely to benefit from their products or services and on formats they prefer — including digital out-of-home, online and streaming services. Basically, adding programmatic advertising on streaming platforms like Hulu means tailoring your ad efforts around buyer intent.

Unfortunately, Netflix has stayed strong and resisted ads in their streaming model. However, there are still plenty of streaming services and CTV platforms that advertisers can reach consumers on. Programmatic digital marketing provides brands with granular tracking and an efficient way to buy ads at scale. While the model automates and streamlines much of the traditional media buying process, it still demands a dialed-in strategy — and a human-centric one at that. If there’s anything this year’s Oscars can teach us about the media landscape, it’s that it’s officially changed.

Don’t wait to catch up. Programmatic marketing can help you reach your audience where they’re already consuming content.

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