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TVSquared’s Marlene Grimm: how to make the most of free-to-use video on demand

Streaming services have driven the transformation of TV, with free-to-use ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) platforms playing a vital role in revolutionising the way TV inventory is produced, bought and sold. Even Amazon is looking to get in on the action, with the hotly anticipated UK launch of its AVOD Service IMDb TV. But with the pandemic negatively impacting the advertising industry, AVODs suddenly found themselves in an unusual position – stuck between a sharp decline in ad budgets, production constraints and a strong uplift in viewer numbers.

After a year of revolution and collaboration to solve the challenges in our industry, it’s time to lean in and make the most of the AVOD opportunity. Here’s how:

Using AVODs to reach new audiences

With the number of people confined to their homes increasing around the world, time spent with TV rose – and by that we mean linear, digital and video-on-demand. Viewers were looking for entertainment, distraction and information, and across Europe, consumption via AVOD services increased by over 29% throughout the first half of 2020. In comparison, subscription on-demand counterparts (SVOD) saw an increase of time spent watching by only 13% during the same time period.

Everyone knows the popularity of SVOD services such as Netflix, but the appeal of AVOD for viewers is the free access to a broad range of content. For brands this creates a valuable engagement opportunity to reach audiences disconnected with linear TV. AVODs – including popular broadcast on-demand (BVOD) services All4, ITVHub, and My5 – provide an access point to the growing over-the-top (OTT) landscape, which includes the hard-to-reach cord-cutters and cord-nevers – viewers who have never signed up for or have cancelled paid-for TV options. In the UK, BVOD attracts a broad audience, over half the viewers are above the age of 45 for My5, whereas for All4, 62% of viewers are under the age of 44.

Boosting engagement via AVODS

AVODs are already a cost-effective option – especially in a year of tighter budgets due to the global pandemic – offering viewers access to a wide range of TV and film content. But for brands to ensure their investment is really working, real-time attribution is vital. Viewers aren’t against ads, but they do dislike repetitive and irrelevant ad content. Advertisers can avoid this pitfall by consistently measuring the way TV is watched – and taking elements such as optimal frequency and creative fatigue into account.

AVODs also allow for a test-and-learn strategy, encouraging brands to experiment with interactive ad formats that give viewers more control over which ads play and how they then engage with them. This real-time interaction helps advertisers to understand TV viewing patterns and preferences at a granular level. Access to this performance data in real-time provides the ability to optimise ad campaigns, utilising attribution insights to ensure target audiences are reached and drive the optimum response.

Marlene Grimmc is head of customer success, international, TVSquared.

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