Shift to Streaming Speeds Up

The marketing landscape is witnessing a rapid shift towards streaming platforms, with a new Nielsen study saying more than 80% of global marketers have incorporated them in their media plans.

But despite a substantial allocation of advertising budgets towards this medium, many believe they are not seeing the true value of their investment in connected television.

Market data company Statista says the local video streaming market is projected to show an annual growth rate of just under 10% over the next four years.

Chris Botha, group MD of Park Advertising, which includes buying agency The MediaShop, says the inclusion of streaming in media plans is mainly an international trend.

“We do not have many connected TV homes, so our approach remains more video-focused. We have, however, noticed how streaming platforms like YouTube, Netflix and Showmax are growing at a rapid rate. The inclusion of streaming in media plans is a testament to the rapid evolution of consumer behaviour.”

Nielsen says traditional metrics such as reach and frequency no longer adequately capture the impact of streaming. The complex nature of streaming data, user behaviour and ad performance requires an innovative approach to measurement.

Media strategist Gordon Muller tells the FM the global marketers polled by Nielsen operate in a market 10 years into analogue switch-off.

“In South Africa, we are a decade at least behind the rest of the world. We are one of the last countries not to have made the change. Until we have full analogue switch-off or digital switch-on … we will not mirror global trends.”

Muller also says most global marketers have 24-hour access to electricity. “When it comes to streaming access, uncapped data is a top end of the market phenomenon. When top-end homes are load-shed, the uncapped Wi-Fi continues because of inverters or generators. Lower-income market segments’ internet access is around 30%. So, when the power goes off, you are on the dark side of the moon.”

Clockwork Media co-CEO Tom Manners says: “Streaming services present an exciting opportunity to connect with consumers when they are at their most engaged. Our job as advertisers is to cut through the noise by fusing two key elements — creative ideas and segmentation. Streaming services offer the promise of hyper-personalisation based on individual preferences. If used correctly, this would allow brands to customise content to meet a market of one, not thousands.”

Manners says these nascent platforms are imperfect and need to be refined. “This is a major focus for these companies as competition increases and subscriber acquisition becomes more challenging. The only way to maintain or increase returns will be to incorporate advertising into the model.”

Owen Williams, co-founder and director of Intimedia, tells the FM that eye-tracking research shows TV ads still garner the highest attention rates compared with any other media channel, but there is no doubt that media fragmentation, ad avoidance and dual screening are a reality for brands.

“In South Africa we are seeing brands driving incremental reach through streamed platforms. The challenge is to compare viewability and attention rates across the plethora of channels.”

Botha says traditional TV viewership has declined steadily, with more people opting for on-demand streaming services. “Recognising this shift, marketers are now adapting their strategies to effectively reach and engage with their target audiences. By leveraging the advanced targeting capabilities and analytics offered by streaming platforms, marketers can optimise their ad campaigns, increase their return on investment and establish a strong connection with their desired audiences.”

Nielsen says streaming platforms also offer an opportunity for enhanced interactivity, bridging the gap between content and commerce. Through interactive ads, shoppable content and seamless integration with e-commerce platforms, marketers can transform passive viewers into active participants. This engagement, says the research company, enhances user experience and creates valuable touchpoints for brands to build lasting connections with their consumers.

Muller questions broader marketing thinking when it comes to planning and expectation with streaming. “Many marketers do not see the value, or they cannot reconcile their ludicrously inflated projections and expectations with the actual outcomes. The problem is not the absence of efficacy from online offerings, but that marketers have bought into the procurement-fuelled race to the bottom. Buying discounted gross impressions is not media strategy. Shift the focus from the cost of the media buy to the in-market value contribution of the buy.”