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Life moves fast these days. However, attention spans are short, and demand for instant gratification is at an all-time high. And advertisers are still adjusting to how the world now operates.

Many forward-thinking advertisers, however, have found an OTT (over-the-top, or direct-streaming) solution to spark their ad engagement by focusing their budget on personalized and informational OTT advertising. Some 31% of respondents to a PwC survey said easy, personalized content recommendations would be a reason for staying with a streaming service.

Those who aren't shifting gears toward a more personal form of advertising must first realize that standard video ad engagement is on a downward spiral. Longer commercials and frustrating ads simply aren't getting the job done. Experts are finding that ads need to be shorter, more precise, and more engaging. Look no further than TikTok influencers' basking in sponsorship products as part of their stories. In turn, brands are receiving substantial value from such content creators.

The standard form of advertising many ad pros once knew is now gone. If advertisers want to attract new business, content must be informational and customized. They must also migrate from selling products to engaging their desired audiences.

Today, brands struggle to fill broadcasts with 2:30-long ad-pods to meet their revenue goals. If sell-out rates are low, those ads may unfortunately be repetitive in a 30 minute or one-hour slot. Brands need to run ads based on experience and not on the highest CPMs possible.

Business dollars and product engagement have to come to terms. Services such as are signing up publishers and advertisers by tightening the contextual nexus between a specific ad and a video viewer. That has worked for banner advertisers for years. However, it was never feasible for OTT—until now.

So, What's Changed?

Although some audiences may be viewing outdated ads, most of those ads are not receiving a significant number of clicks. Engagement on such ads will continue to go down. Advertisers that want to attract new business should consider creating helpful video content that their viewers can learn from, rather than pushing a product through an ad they can't skip.

When airlines started transforming their security briefings into a storytelling format, they could engage and connect with their audiences. Advertisers should take a similar approach because customer expectations have changed. Customers now expect contextual, relevant, and convenient experiences, providing instant gratification. They gravitate toward brands that recognize who customers are and where they are in life.

Modern buyers' emotions play a crucial role in advertising. A personal touch on an ad to a target audience should now be employed through contextual marketing to create work that resonates with the whole person.

When storytelling is done right, ads can make a dramatic impact. Educational ads from a software company may encourage a viewer to pursue a career in tech. Similarly, ads from a university can motivate a high school student to pursue higher education.

As the world battles a global pandemic, educational ads have encouraged people from around the world to get vaccinated to prevent serious cases of COVID-19. Although the vaccine in and of itself is imperative, spreading the word is equally important.

Without the dissemination of crucial and educational information regarding vaccine effectiveness and safety, having billions of people fully vaccinated across the globe may have been a pipe dream.

The OTT Solution: Zoning In on the Target Audience

OTT media platforms, including the one I cofounded, ensure that the content that a client adds to its service is automatically featured in an optimized manner tailored to be in touch with the audience, irrespective of the device a viewer is using. Advertisers need to ensure their ads are delivered in a similar way. That depletes the likelihood of losing the audience's attention or interest like daunting, run-of-the-mill ads do.

OTT ads also need to be formatted to work well and look aesthetically pleasing on multiple devices, from large-screen TVs to laptops to smartphones.

Another part of the OTT solution is to build trust and offer real value in exchange for data that results in tailored advertising. Use that viewership intel to create ad formats your audience is willing to engage with while also building your ad placement techniques.

To show value, enhanced algorithms should be used to target ads and measure audience engagement. Audience data is a goldmine for creating engaging ads.

* * *

Most people stream their content, so OTT platforms aren't going anywhere. It's time to get creative and personal with your advertising methods.

More Resources on OTT Advertising

Top 5 Advertising Trends to Watch Right Now

How to Reach Families Watching On-Demand Video: Charles Gabriel on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Five Ways Digital Attribution Can Improve ROAS for CTV/OTT Advertising

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It's Time to Embrace Personalization and Education in Your OTT Advertising Model

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image of Manik Bambha

Manik Bambha is a co-founder and the president of ViewLift, a scalable end-to-end video streaming platform. He has served in engineering leadership roles at some of the biggest tech companies, including Fox Interactive Media and Myspace.

LinkedIn: Manik Bambha