A version of this article recently appeared in VideoNuze
Our industry loves to talk about the “streaming wars” and speculate on which of the big names out there—Netflix, Disney, Amazon, Apple, and so on—will ultimately “win.” This speculation has reached a fever pitch recently as more players have moved into ad-supported models (and Netflix has started gaining important traction in this regard). But here’s the thing: We don’t need to crown a winner. There are plenty of victories to go around when it comes to the immense opportunity of advertising within premium streaming environments.
The real winners in this equation will be the advertisers themselves. Due to the diverse ways in which the big names in streaming have risen to prominence, innovation within the streaming ad space is about to explode, with each player harnessing its own unique strengths. Not every mega-player in the space today has rolled out or fully formed their ad strategies yet, with Apple being perhaps the most notable holdout. But without a doubt, we know which players will wield the most power within the future state of streaming advertising.
In the years to come, streamers will unleash an extremely powerful new set of tools for reaching consumers in targeted, engaging ways. Ultimately, the successes of today will inform the ad experiences of tomorrow, across all platforms, thereby unlocking more value from every viewer.
The marketplace is watching. Let’s take a look at the unique value that some of the biggest names in streaming will be able to activate—and that the rest of the streaming marketplace will take its cues from when it comes to monetizing premium inventory going forward.
In time, Netflix could bring scale like no other to the ad-supported streaming space, and the platform has the opportunity to deliver informed contextual advertising, at scale, like no other player in the space. The innovations to watch coming out of Netflix will most likely be based on relevance. In this sense, the Netflix opportunity might end up feeling most similar to the more traditional way of buying TV advertising (i.e., heavily focused on the content itself and number of eyeballs), but the possibilities for measurement, optimization and audience insights will be far greater.
Disney brings brand loyalty like no other to the ad-supported streaming space, and the platform has the opportunity to deliver brand halos to its advertisers like no other streamer. The innovations to watch coming out of Disney will most likely be based on building brand love. For this reason, we’re likely to see advertising on the Disney+ platform be particularly platform- and audience-aware to achieve maximum impact.
Amazon brings commerce and shopper intent like no other to the ad-supported streaming space, and the platform has the opportunity to deliver real commerce opportunities to its advertisers like no other player in the space. The innovations to watch coming out of Amazon will most likely be based on driving product sales. In this way, Amazon—whether via its Freevee offering or main Prime Video offering in the future—could carve out a unique advertising space for itself. But it will be one that other platforms can look to replicate as audiences become more accustomed to purchasing within the streaming viewing environment.
Apple brings ecosystem ownership like no other to the ad-supported streaming space, and the platform has the opportunity to deliver integrated advertising experiences to brands like no other player in the space. The innovations to watch coming out of Apple will most likely be based on immersive, cross-platform ad engagements. As noted before, Apple hasn’t yet rolled out its vision for ad-supported Apple TV. But when it does, you can bet it will be as deliberate, integrated, consumer-centric and ecosystem-friendly as everything else the company rolls out.
Ultimately, every player in the streaming space will be watching the industry titans to see how their ad models emerge and evolve, and where viewers find the greatest value. As streaming advertising increasingly moves into biddable, programmatic territory, the models of the future will be informed by the successes we’re going to witness in near term.
This time isn’t about crowning a winner within the streaming space. It’s about identifying the winning ad models that are going to fuel a sustainable, enjoyable streaming landscape for publishers, advertisers and consumers alike.