The Streaming Games Have Begun: Here’s How They Stack Up

It seems like every other day a new streaming platform launches. In the digital advertising space, each new platform is an additional audience we can get our clients in front of. However, this constantly changing CTV/OTT environment has several nuances that come with each streaming provider. While they all may seem similar, each service has vastly different capabilities (or lack thereof) from the others. There are key factors our team looks at when determining what platform is the best fit for our clients. 

A common issue we encounter with streaming services is the rejection of political/advocacy advertisements. As the space continues to grow, our team susses out all new ad-supported providers to understand what content they will accept. In addition to making sure our content is accepted, we also want to ensure that the quality of inventory is high. Low quality inventory is not worth spending our clients’ budget on and will not deliver the results we are looking for. When running a campaign for our clients, we are looking to reach the target audience at a frequency that sticks with them. Streaming platforms that run ads on too high of a frequency and can’t reach our audience are usually not worth spending too much budget on, if any at all. Finally, we look at the actual cost per thousand impressions (CPM). This varies by platform and in some cases can be very high. We work to secure the most efficient CPMs for our clients so they are getting the most bang for their buck on the highest quality inventory. Taking into account all of these factors, we select the most premium and cutting-edge inventory to put our clients in front of the right audiences. 

Let’s look at Netflix and Hulu as an example – arguably two of the most commonly used streaming services. Hulu has been established in the CTV/OTT advertising space for far longer than Netflix, which just began allowing ads at the end of 2022. Hulu allows political/advocacy campaigns, has high quality inventory, and does a good job of reaching our target audience at a reasonable frequency. Additionally, Hulu allows us to use tags, which give us the ability to track the campaign and make sure they are delivering the impressions expected. Netflix, on the other hand, does not allow political/advocacy campaigns and while it has high quality inventory, it does not offer exemplary reach and frequency. The price is very high, and we are unable to use tags to track the campaign. 

The nuances seen with Netflix are common among newer streaming platforms. HBOMax, Discovery+, Paramount+ and Peacock are all newer in the CTV/OTT advertising space and are playing it close to the vest when it comes to which campaigns they allow. While they technically allow political advertisers, they sometimes require a long approval process that doesn’t necessarily align with the fast-paced world of political advertising. These new services also see lower reach numbers at a higher frequency due to the nature of simply being new and needing more people to sign up for their service. Being a newer platform also brings higher CPMs, usually at least $20 higher than what we pay for other, more established streaming services. 

So, newer streaming platforms are more expensive and a slower process – why do we use them? Well, there is something to be said about being ahead of the curve in these new spaces, and in testing out these newer platforms, we are able to be early movers in the space. This innovative mindset was why we were able to place the first political ad ever on HBO Max. The name of the game in this constantly moving space is testing and learning to make informed decisions on which providers are worth it, and which ones aren’t. We’ve done our fair share of testing and have compiled our findings into this CTV scorecard. Have more questions about how Fusion can get your message in front of the right people? Reach out to us.