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By André Christensen

Is it possible for the glass to be half full and half empty at the same time? In the new normal of coronavirus and #StreaminginQuarantine, absolutely.

On one hand, video streaming has become go-to entertainment as we move into a second month of COVID-19 isolation. New viewers, compelling new services, and a new genre of free promotional content are driving usage levels to record highs. At the same time, however, historic difficulties in ad monetization mean that opportunities to maximize streaming’s Madison Avenue value are being wasted.


Dollars down the drain

To be fair, streaming ad monetization issues are nothing new. Even before the coronavirus surge in viewership, there were far too many examples of ads being missed because of inventory issues, technical glitches or operational problems. Not to mention the inability to truly target specific ads to receptive viewers.

Each time an ad fails to complete, vanishes entirely or is skipped as not relevant, brands lose a chance to engage with customers, and streaming providers miss out on another bite of the revenue pie. Those issues have cost the industry tens of millions of dollars in normal times. In today’s pandemic-fueled streaming environment – with years of growth telescoped into just a couple of months – the unrealized ad dollars are much, much greater.


Filling the glass

OTT’s graduation from a siloed sidelight to the first choice for video entertainment is a life-changer for viewers. Future blogs will explore how those new habits can shape multiple monetization streams, the need for ad traceability, and the trend away from upfront buys to just-in-time placements. A more immediate concern amidst the current surge is ensuring that ad dollars follow the current increase in eyeballs: the industry needs to match the flexibility and targeting of digital ads with the seamless delivery that brands came to expect on linear, as well as the assurance that viewers will watch.

Among the needs:


  • Robust, carrier-class systems that make sure that ads are trafficked, targeted and delivered as scheduled;
  • Policy decisions that relieve viewers of ad fatigue by preventing multiple instances of the same ad from running within a given period of time; and
  • Deep, AI-powered ad curation that goes beyond ordinary metadata to true personalization, resulting in relevant ad content that keeps viewers engaged.

It’s still too early to draw conclusions on how the landscape will look in the long run, but it’s clear that #StreaminginQuarantine has bent the OTT adoption curve. As both existing and new subscribers make streaming services the first entertainment choice now, the likelihood grows that they will maintain those habits in a post-coronavirus world. Let’s make sure we implement the systems needed to make the most of them.


André Christensen