Roku, Xperi, Crackle dive deep into the rise of FAST adoption

Ad-supported streaming services continue to gain momentum, with free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) players also doling out compelling offerings. Executives in the streaming industry sat down at the StreamTV Advertising Summit to discuss why viewers are so drawn to FAST services.

Ease, choice and value are the key drivers for consumer adoption of FAST, according to Katina Papas Wachter, head of ad revenue strategy at The Roku Channel. Original content is one way FASTs are garnering value.

“I think having originals is almost the carrot to bring people in and have that diversified offering is huge,” Wachter said at a Tuesday panel. “But then also making sure there’s really good recommendations and discovery to keep people there…it’s up to us as the programmers to make sure we’re keeping them there.”

Scott Madux, VP of global content strategy and business at Xperi, highlighted the importance of originals to differentiate offerings from other FAST services.

“There’s a lot of catalog content out there that is available from multiple FAST services and providers,” he said. “So originals, the exclusives, they go a long way.”

Maddux referred to when Pluto TV last year licensed 23 James Bond movies to launch a binge FAST channel for the collection.

“We promoted that, we got that above the fold and drove a lot of viewership,” he continued. “So I think these types of stunts, exclusives, originals, they’re key to drive and get attention in a very crowded space.”

Aside from content, Katie Long, head of demand at Beachfront, noted cost is a huge driver for FAST adoption, as people naturally gravitate towards free offerings.

“Also ease of access,” she said. “A lot of providers are not requiring logins, so I think it makes it extremely easy to access.”

Consumers are becoming more aware of FAST content, Crackle Plus President Philippe Guelton pointed out. And that reach can go even further.

“For a long time, I think consumers saw streaming as a place to go for SVOD services,” he said. Netflix and most recently Disney announcing ad-supported tiers suggests how much that paradigm has shifted.

“A lot of consumers are still unaware of the wealth of content that’s available to them for free,” Guelton added. “Whether it’s on demand or on FAST platforms.”

He went on to say Crackle was actually the first platform to create originals for both AVOD and FAST. As of the second quarter, Crackle had over 70 original titles in its catalog.

The tech behind FAST ads

The session also delved into how connected TV technology is creating more appealing and relevant FAST ads. Chaitanya Upadhyay, VP of product at LG Ads Solutions, noted how automated content recognition (ACR) data enables more personalized ads.

“You might almost call this ACR as the new cookie, which gives you information on what viewers are watching…on a household level,” he said in a fireside chat with TVREV lead analyst Alan Wolk.

LG Ads recently surveyed 1,500 adults who watch content through connected TV. The study found 69% of consumers felt FAST ads were more relevant than ads found on linear TV.

“With linear TV, you’re going to have about 30 ads or more, and then there’d be one or two ads that are more relevant to you,” said Upadhyay. “In a FAST environment, the ads can be a little bit more personalized…more context aware.”

And with the help of technology, these ads can continue to evolve. Upadhyay anticipates ads will take on a variety of new forms on connected TVs, whether as QR codes or more interactive options.

“Let’s say you were seeing an ad for a car…and through your scroll button you could actually change the color of the car,” he said. Overlay ads are also interesting, in that advertisers can place them when the CTV detects the viewer has paused the content.

“So that the viewer could not be too distracted from the content, but [advertisers] also get an impression,” Upadhyay explained.

Advertiser appeal

There’s also the question of how to encourage more advertisers to sell their inventory on FAST channels.

“[FAST providers] certainly wouldn’t be scaling and continuing to invest in these services if the users weren’t there,” Long said on the panel. “I do think there’s definitely room for improvement in terms of getting more brands invested.”

FAST advertising can grow further with technology solutions like ad deduplication, she added. Nielsen last month came out with an ad deduplication product that compares YouTube ad impressions with those across other platforms like linear and connected TV.

Brands are still figuring out the benefits of going into FASTs and streaming in general, Wachter said. As more viewers shift to streaming, advertisers have yet to fully tap their ad dollars into that trend.

“We’ve obviously made a ton of progress over the last five years or so, but I don’t think we’re all the way there,” she said. “The more that we can help them understand what the impact of those changes are to their brand KPIs, the better we all are for it.”

Touching back to the topic of ad relevancy, Maddux said ads carrying genre tags relevant to the content viewed will help advertisers more efficiently sell their inventory.

“Getting it appropriate and relevant to the programming and that associated audience, I think that will go a long way to driving efficacy and relevancy for advertisers,” he said.

“There’s a gap in the audience shift that advertisers have to fill,” Guelton added. FAST adoption isn’t only prevalent among young people but also the 50+ age group, so advertisers not already in the space are missing out on potential revenue.

“All the targeting capabilities, all the data, the technology, they can do things they can’t do on traditional linear TV,” he said.

Catch a replay of the full discussion by registering here.