The way consumers watch TV is gradually shifting from cable to streaming. Younger generations may graduate college and purchase a TV solely for the purpose of binge watching entire seasons of series. While television itself will never die, it’s becoming easier than ever to online stream on your TVs, tablets, smartphones, and PCs.
And the industry is adjusting to accommodate the changing technology. Late last year, Nielsen updated the name of its Cross Platform Report to the term Total Audience Report. This was a reflection of the fact that online streaming viewers grew at a rate of 60 percent in late 2014, while TV viewership was down four percent. In other words, the distinction between traditional television and streaming media is disappearing, to viewers and advertisers alike. As a result, marketers have a better chance than ever to reach customers.
SEO and Online Streaming
Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus assume most online streamers go straight to their sites, and many of them do. But when a customer is interested in finding a TV show that doesn’t immediately come up in that service’s own search, that customer will often head to Google and enter the search terms, “Watch [Name of Show].” This search effort will typically put an ad for paid options at the top, followed by a variety sites featuring the show available to stream, with plenty of junk results mixed in. It’s a frustrating experience, as anyone who has ever searched for a TV episode or movie online can attest to.
As the demand for streaming content continues to grow, and consumers set their sights beyond a handful of top streaming content providers, new aggregators are coming online that strike a balance between a search confined to a single provider like Netflix, and a search engine like Google that can deliver millions of results with varying degrees of relevancy. One example is Rabbit TV Plus, which has made it easier for viewers to quickly access all the shows they want to watch. For only $10 a year, this service lets them watch TV shows and movies or listen to radio stations. Viewers merely type in the name of the show and Rabbit TV Plus delivers it, whether it’s posted on a network’s page like ABC, NBC, or CBS, streaming on Netflix or Hulu, or anywhere else on the web.
The Importance of Aggregators
The growing popularity of online streaming provides all-new opportunities for marketers to match relevant ads with target audiences far more effectively than advertising on cable and broadcast networks. But with thousands of online video providers, even knowing where to start takes on a whole new challenge of its own. The reason for that, is that knowing where to start is a challenge for consumers as well. If your audience doesn’t know where they want to go, neither do you. A highly targeted web advertising campaign can’t begin with guess work, but marketers can make use of the same aggregators that consumers do to demystify the process of eyeballs reaching content.
Media aggregators play the role of a virtual MSO, putting a wide variety of content in one place where it can be accessed by consumers. By making it possible to search across multiple platforms, aggregators ensure that consumers can always find what they’re looking for, but by limiting their searches to media content, they avoid the problem presented by basic web search engines, which serve up a mixture of ads, totally irrelevant results, pirated content, suspect websites, with legitimate results peppered throughout. Rather than resorting to trial and error with pages upon pages of search results, users of aggregators are usually directed straight to the show they were looking for, and only forced to choose the episode they want to watch.
Internet TV Guide
For advertisers, it may be easier to look at these online aggregators as a modern version of the old TV guide. But where the TV Guide only told you what channel your favorite show was on and when, dozens of episodes of any given show are now available on-demand. This means one more decision to make for viewers: which episode to watch, but also one more pageview for the aggregator, and thus one more opportunity for an advertiser. As our viewing habits get more specific, so too can related ads, allowing them to become far more relevant than those on the pages of a 1950s TV guide or even those alongside 2015 Google search results.
As consumers shift to online viewing, advertising dollars are beginning to follow them, and although reluctantly, so are the content providers. Media aggregators stand to benefit from all three. Rabbit TV boasts over 3.5 million paid subscribers in under 2 years on the market, indicating the growing demand for this type of service. By functioning like a specialized search engine, media aggregators are able to point users towards all types of content, but without the costly and high-pressure deal making that companies like Netflix and even cable providers go through. With both the audience and the content already in place, services like Rabbit TV be a relatively untapped gold mine for advertisers as TV ratings and pay-TV video subscribers continue to dwindle.
TV Advertising Goes Native
Brands and businesses of all types are also learning that they can use the video medium to connect with their customers, building an audience of their own, and a deeper connection than any ad spot could deliver. The rise of streaming media has wiped out the barriers to entry and media gatekeepers of the old days. Advertising on television requires a substantial investment that is prohibitive to most small businesses. But in the online television landscape, even a video shot with a shaky cell phone can become a viral hit, reaching millions of viewers, many of whom will never realize that they’re watching a stealth ad. Some companies like Marriott have even experimented with long-form content of their own.

On television, ads often serve as little more than a signal for viewers to tune out or check out what’s on another channel. Online, that whole dynamic can be reversed, and the content produced by a brand can not only find a home that lasts more than 30 seconds, but also become a main attraction for viewers. Creative advertisers can create the modern equivalent of an infomercial, and one that’s intended to be seen by more than just the 3:00 AM television audience.

Online streaming is not only changing the way customers watch TV, but the way brands reach out to them. The move from cable TV subscriptions to streaming services means customers have the entire Internet available to them. This opens up new opportunities for marketers to link to external sites within ads, giving customers one-click access to buy their products.

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