A growing trend among performance marketers, predominantly e-commerce businesses, is their reevaluation of the role of linear television, and by extension, over-the-top (OTT,) in their channel mix strategy. Traditionally, performance marketers have considered linear TV and OTT as acquisition channels that supply mass reach and scale and evaluated their efficacy against a cost-per-acquisition goal or return on investment. However, as changes in the media landscape have continued to fragment and diversify media consumption, these video channels are more often evaluated based on brand building and filling the top of the conversion funnel.
TV and OTT platforms have a unique advantage: they can serve the dual purpose of enhancing brand presence and attracting new customers. However, the approach and tactics used differ significantly based on which of these goals takes higher priority.
Let’s take a look at the key differences and evaluate how to get the most impact from each strategy.
Enhance brand building through media planning
Brand building isn’t just about showcasing a product or service, it is about crafting an immersive experience that resonates with your target audience. There are a few key strategic elements to keep in mind to carry out a successful brand media plan.
Maximum reach: To achieve meaningful lifts in brand attributes, it is important to extend reach throughout the potential customer base. While reach is important, frequency (at least three times) is crucial for the brand message to be remembered. While there is no universal effective reach number that guarantees success, it is a helpful north star when evaluating different scenarios of channel allocations to determine which yields the highest effective reach based on the budget being employed.
Balanced approach: While reaching a wide audience is significant, the value of your content surrounding your message holds equal importance. Premium content is typically associated with higher costs due to its superior quality, and achieving cost-effective reach involves a delicate balance between art and science, aiming for lower CPM and affordable inventory. To establish a robust reach plan, it’s essential to combine the strategy of securing cheaper ad space with top-quality programming. This balance not only helps in cost efficiency but also creates a positive brand image, as the high-quality content enhances the brand’s reputation.
Media agencies must strike the right balance of efficient and high-value programming. That mix can vary throughout the year based on content calendar and marketplace conditions.
Brand moments: Elevate the connection viewers have with your brand by finding content that reflects your brand’s values. Finding saliency within a program can help create an emotional connection to the brand, which can be powerful and residual. Leveraging a brand moment is most effective if the brand can be more integrated within the content presentation along with purchasing spots. The right integration helps dimensionalize the brand beyond what a 30-second spot can accomplish.
Complement performance efforts: It’s important to view the brand and performance channels holistically, so they work together rather than separately. For example, a marketer may be employing lower-funnel strategies against a particular channel that could benefit from adding upper-funnel tactics that feed and support those efforts. A holistic approach allows the brand strategy to bolster performance efforts, fostering seamless collaboration among all channels.
Other key factors to consider in addition to media strategy
There are other crucial factors that must be taken into account when planning a comprehensive media strategy. The way you convey your brand’s message and evaluate the results of your performance can significantly influence your decision-making when it comes to crucial aspects like determining where to allocate your investments in both the short and long run.
Creative messaging: Messaging is arguably the most important lever that a marketer has at their disposal. It puts a face to the brand and affects how consumers respond once exposed to a given piece of communication. When executing a branded approach, the key goal is to create an emotional connection with the target audience. The construction of the communication can be vastly different from that of a performance spot, where the primary goal is to take an action. That’s not to say a viewer won’t take action after seeing a brand spot, but it is a byproduct of creating a connection rather than a prescriptive directive.
Measuring performance: It is important to define what success looks like prior to the launch of the campaign by defining what KPIs to measure. For a brand campaign, performance is usually measured by lifts in brand dimensions: awareness (aided/unaided), affinity, and consideration. Beyond brand lifts, marketers can also look at harder metrics like increases in top-of-the-funnel metrics (web visits or foot traffic), and overall impact on a blended cost per acquisition (CPA) and/or improved efficacy of performance channels.
Investment/Timing: A branding strategy requires a larger investment that is consistent over time, to build and maintain momentum. This consideration can often be the most difficult for a traditional performance marketer. The amount of investment can be heavily influenced by the brand’s share of voice among the competitive set. If a brand is spending more, but at a lower rate than key competitors, the goal of increasing brand awareness becomes more challenging to achieve. The timeline to see a positive ROI is measured in quarters and years, not days and weeks. For example, if a marketer needs to see a positive return in four to six weeks, they are better off not pursuing a brand strategy, as a positive outcome in that time frame is highly unlikely.
Drive performance with optimization and efficiency metrics
The strategy and considerations for performance marketers are vastly different from the branding approach. The strategic foundation is based on driving efficiency, measuring performance against hard metrics at a granular level, and optimizing against those key performance metrics.
Efficiency: A strong criterion for constructing a high performing media plan is the cost of the media and relative efficiency of reaching the target audience (usually measured in cost per thousand). And while CPM is not a performance metric, it can impact performance efficiency against the desired KPIs. Cost of the media and relative efficiency of reaching the target audience (usually measured in cost per thousand). And while CPM is not a performance metric, it can impact performance efficiency against the desired KPIs.
Measurement and Optimization: There are an increasing number of partners in the media marketplace that offer an array of measurement tools to assess performance from the first web page visit all the way through the conversion funnel. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, but they all attempt to connect media selections to response behaviors, providing important insights as to which parts of the media plan are performing best, and allowing for reallocating spending accordingly. These types of measurement tools are best to use for optimizations within the channel, such as network/publisher selections, creatives, spot length, dayparts, and day of week.
To supply cross-channel attribution, most marketers employ a media mix model (MMM) or multi-touch attribution model (MTA) to show an understanding of the interaction results across the channels being employed, enabling smarter budget allocation decisions. Models take time to learn and can attribute TV/OTT differently in the early days as opposed to six months or a year later. Patience is key to getting the models really dialed in.
Similar to a brand-building approach, getting the creative right is critical. Common characteristics of good, performance-focused creative include a clear explanation of the product or service being offered, a compelling selling proposition (why should the consumer choose your brand), and a strong call to action (what action or response do you want the consumer to take – be specific, promotional incentives are a good means to create a sense of urgency around the desired action).
The investment amount and payback period between performance and brand approach can also be quite different. Clients with modest budgets test the viability of TV/OTT in their channel mix and scale spend according to the success projected in the testing phase, which allows for a thoughtful and measured approach to scaling their business.
There are many factors as to why marketers may choose to employ TV/OTT as a brand-building or performance channel. But whatever your goals are, it is important to partner with an intelligent media agency that understands the differences and nuances each strategy entails to ensure success.