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3 Must Haves for Media & Entertainment Marketing in an OTT World

Over-the-top (OTT) content has cemented its place in the world of media and entertainment. eMarketer shared data that put the number of viewers who stream and download video content rapidly approaching that of pay TV services, at 175.4 million vs. 201.8 million, respectively. When numbers reach this level, marketers have no choice but to take notice. The implications are massive. Media and entertainment (M&E) marketers who are transitioning to OTT suddenly have access to data, and lots of it. The barriers that previously prevented a direct relationship with viewers are down. Not only do M&E marketers now have access to the data that will enable people-based marketing, but because of the massive adoption of OTT, these efforts are scalable.

The emerging viewing habits of online video among adults

The availability of data in the OTT era offers three significant opportunities for M&E companies:

  1. Direct response marketing, people-based marketing
  2. Data-driven content
  3. Scale

Direct Response and People-Based Marketing

Marketers at networks and content creation companies going OTT have just been tasked with a new challenge – drive subscriptions and tune-in. The ability to pivot from brand marketing techniques to direct response and people-based marketing will be a key factor in the success of traditional networks. Housing your analytics and audience data, building actionable insights. and using it to deliver addressable and personalized advertising isn’t easy. And to marketers who have been doing branding campaigns all their career, the concept is a new one. For most media and entertainment companies, their journey will begin with getting the marketing technology and data in place to measure and support their people-based marketing. If you’re looking for people-based marketing guidance, read Merkle’s 2017 Marketing Imperatives: The Activation of People-Based Marketing.

Data Informed Content

The recent launch of Great Big Story (GBS) is an example of traditional networks making the jump to OTT in a strategic and scalable way. As CNN’s web-video venture, GBS began in 2015 as a sort of Vice like competitor with three-to-five-minute videos featuring unique human interest stories such as the “Origin of the Lamborghini” and “A Sword Fit for Kings: Forging Real-Life Valyrian Steel”. Since its inception, GBS has gained over a million YouTube followers and 4.3 million Facebook fans. All the while building a picture of its loyal audience and what type of content they enjoy. GBS was able to collect data that showed GBS viewers were watching nine clips in a row on TVs via devices like Apple TV, leading to 30-minute viewing sessions on average. Social media posts from their viewers comprised requests for specific stories and types of content. GBS is now scaling this model and is looking to create a 24/7 network to launch in 2018. From the audience insights being gathered, GBS can develop data-informed content with the ideal content length and topics. As a result of the ownership of audience data, each marketing and technology dollar is being spent more strategically, and each piece of content will create more loyalty among its audience.

Revenue by type of content, according to CBS corporation


The adoption of OTT is going nowhere but up, which means the thoughtful application of data will only become more and more critical. As the OTT audience expands, the amount and potential impact of that data will do the same. The players who start early and scale their marketing along with the OTT audience will be in the best position to own a growing portion of the market. As you can see from this recent publication of CBS revenue by type, earnings from the media giant’s digital distribution services are playing a significant and still growing role in CBS’s overall revenue portfolio.

Data is the crux of successful marketing in an OTT world. The winners of this era will not be those with “the big idea.” They will be the marketers who build the viewer relationship through data, use what they know about their existing audience to create loyalty while gaining new ones, and continue to provide the experience that keeps viewers coming back. The more you understand about your viewers, the better content you can create for them and the better you can communicate with them. Today’s M&E leaders will stop marketing to segments and households and instead take up the charge found in many other industries –  marketing to individual people at scale.

To dive deeper into the concepts mentioned above, read Merkle’s 2017 Marketing Imperatives: The Activation of People-Based Marketing and Tools for Digital Performance Marketing in the OTT Age or reach out to [email protected].