Vevo, Magna and IPG recently released the study “An Anatomy of a Video Experience”. The report’s main finding is that co-viewing culturally relevant content on over-the-top (OTT) devices is key to ad receptivity. Going forward for brands, the role of Connected TV Advertising will be crucial. To gain more insights into 2021 and CTV viewing trends Portada talked to Laura Vanison, Director of Consumer & Artist Insights, at Vevo as well as with Bryon Schafer, SVP Research at Vevo.

The  recently published study covers the period of September and October 2019 and highlights that all of the U.S. audiences observed (Black/African American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino and White) shared a love of co-viewing on Over-The-Top (OTT) devices compared to desktop, mobile, laptop and linear TV. The study also found that longer viewing periods result from content that people find culturally relevant, specifically sports and music. We asked Vanison and Schafer whether COVID-19 has accelerated or curbed the trends described in the report?

Laura Vanison
Laura Vanison, Director Consumer Insights, Vevo

According to Vanison, “COVID-19 induced stay-at-home has accelerated and compounded trends that were already clearly visible in 2019. There has been a big shift towards streaming particularly in the living room. Vevo CTV viewership has increased by 40% in the US since the start of the year (Jan-Aug 2019 vs Jan- Aug 2020) as the overall broadcast and TV industries have been pivoting to streaming.”

COVID-19 and stay at home have accelerated and compounded trends that were already clearly visible in 2019. There has been a big shift towards streaming particularly in the living room.  

Co-Viewing Propels Connected TV Advertising

“The already six months long Covid-19 pandemic has made a habit of the co-viewing experience. Due to COVID-19 and the growth of CTV, co-viewing has become an almost forced habit”, Vanison asserts. “It usually takes a month for a particular experience to become a habit, but it’s been longer now. This is going to change things in the long term”, Schafer adds.

Co-viewing’s definition per Nielsen refers to members of the same household watching television at the same time — but not necessarily in the same room.  Linear TV has always involved co-viewing, but now with the rapid growth of CTV this is also the case for digital media. “Until recently digital media created mostly a one-on-one relationship between content and the user. But CTV has created a new multidimensional and community driven dynamic for digital media. A capacity it traditionally lacked,” Schafer asserts.

Until recently digital media created mostly a one-on-one relationship between content and the user. But CTV has created a new multidimensional and community driven dynamic for digital media. A capacity it traditionally lacked.

Connected TV Advertising: Advice for Brand Marketers

Bryon Shafer
Bryon Shafer, SVP Research, Vevo

According to Vanison “The shared experience of co-viewing provides advertisers a myriad of opportunities for conversation as viewers are in the midst of engaging with each other. Co-viewing provides an increased receptivity to advertising because the moment is intended by the viewer.”

Asked about what they would recommend a  brand when it comes to reach multicultural audiences via video, Vanison and Schafer stress that depending on the brand’s objective recommendations will vary. However, most recommendations will be device based. For instance, co-viewing will tend to be higher on CTV than on mobile. “The way a brand marketer wants the user to connect with her/his content dictates the device he will choose for the advertising message”, Schafer notes.

Co-viewing provides an increased receptivity to advertising because the moment is intended by viewers.  

An understanding by the advertiser of the different devices is crucial. For instance, mobile messaging will have a shorter length  than CTV advertising. “Schafer, stresses the importance of communicating with the right message, nuance and time.

According to the Video Advertising Bureau, there are 820 million OTT devices in the United States and 30% of those devices are smartphones, followed by smart television (15%). All OTT devices are connected advertising enabled.  OTT devices also include Chromecast, Roku, 

Content programmers are already taking the lead adapting their programming to the new Connected TV Advertising environment. An analysis of programming reveals that major networks are shaping their programming with a substantial focus on their Video on demand subscription services. For instance, Warner Media tends to dedicate more resources to content programming for HBO MAX  than to its open broadcast networks,  in a similar way NBC  has a major focus on Peacock and Disney on Disney Plus.

E-Sports Environments Are Increasingly Used for Music

Vanison and Schafer note that, overall, music content has been a great beneficiary of the absence of live sports as well as of the fact that the amount of new scripted originals and reality TV has substantially diminished during the current pandemic. In addition, music is a genre with broad cultural relevance.

E-sports and online video game platforms have a very strong community element and the stay at home phase of COVID-19 has increased their popularity. Musicians have been using platforms that are typically being used for e-sports to connect with fans during the pandemic: Rapper, singer and songwriter Travis Scott performed on a virtual concert in April  using the video game Fortnite. The concert was broadcast on Twitch and other platforms. Epic, the developer of Fortnite, said that 12.3 million people had tuned in for the premiere. After five shows, the number reached up to 27.7 million unique viewers, with 45.8 million views, suggesting plenty of people saw multiple shows.

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