Prime Video to Run Ads in 2024, Charge U.S. Subs Extra $2.99 to Stream Ad-Free

Amazon Sept. 22 announced that beginning in 2024, its Prime Video subscription streaming platform will include limited advertisements. Since launching in 2005, Prime Video has heretofore eschewed inserting commercials in its streaming service, including original programming.

With Netflix, Disney+, Paramount+, Max and Peacock inserting ads in original programming, Prime Video and Apple TV+ were the lone U.S. services to not include advertising.

In a blog post, Amazon announced Prime Video would include fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers. Ads in Prime Video content will be introduced in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada in early 2024, followed by France, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Australia later in the year.

The ecommerce behemoth also announced it would not be increasing the current $14.99 monthly/$139 annual price of Prime membership in 2024. It will offer subscribers a new ad-free option for an additional $2.99 per month for U.S. Prime members, and will share pricing for other countries at a later date.

We will email Prime members several weeks before ads are introduced into Prime Video with information on how to sign up for the ad-free option if they would like,” Amazon wrote in the post.

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Study: CTV Advertising Fraud Surged in 2022

CTV advertising fraud surged in 2022 with a 69% increase in bot fraud from 2021 and significant growth in CTV fraud schemes, according to new research from DoubleVerify, a software platform for digital media measurement, data and analytics.

The 2023 Global Insights Report analyzed trends from nearly 5.5 trillion media transactions across more than 1,000 customers in nearly 100 countries. 

Globally, eMarketer estimates that advertisers will spend almost $24 billion on CTV advertising this year, noted DoubleVerify, and as ad investments in CTV grow, so too does the opportunity for fraud. CTV ad fraud involves the use of deceptive tactics to generate revenue from advertisers by falsely inflating video ad impressions. Fraudsters typically employ bots or fake CTV devices to simulate viewership, tricking advertisers into paying for non-existent or unviewed ad placements.

The number of CTV fraud schemes and variants DV detected annually has tripled since 2020, according to the report.

Ad fraud is a significant issue in CTV especially for unprotected advertisers, according to DoubleVerify. To quantify the risk, the report compared protected advertisers’ fraud rates against a campaign where verification was not in place. The unprotected campaign experienced a fraud rate of 11.2%, compared with 0.6 percent for protected campaigns.

“An increase in free, ad-supported streaming is helping to fuel connected TV’s rapid growth,” Mark Zagorski, CEO of DoubleVerify, said in a statement. “But with growth come growing pains. As CTV becomes a top channel for consumers and advertisers alike, it also becomes a target for fraud, making measurement and protection a critical part of validating the efficacy of campaigns.”

In addition to a review of fraud, viewability and brand suitability, this year’s report also looked at attention metrics. Launched in 2021, DV Authentic Attention measurement is an MRC accredited privacy-friendly solution that does not rely on cookies, and provides timely, impression-level insights at scale — from the impact of an ad’s presentation to key dimensions of consumer engagement, according to the company.

Key insights DoubleVerify uncovered include:

  • Campaigns in the most mature market, North America, lag behind in their ability to grab attention (based on DoubleVerify’s Attention Index), representing a real opportunity for improvement. For video, specifically, North America is behind all other regions in both attention and viewability. 
  • Most advertisers run campaigns on sites or apps that have lower attention rates; however, DoubleVerify’s analysis shows there is significant available inventory that could deliver higher attention and performance.

 

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“Qualifying an ad’s impact matters more than ever before and attention is fast becoming a key currency for evaluating performance,” added Zagorski. “Our metrics make attention actionable for brands. They can gain insights beyond whether their ad simply had an opportunity to be seen — they can start to understand if it resonated, while benchmarking across the industry.”

In addition to its findings on CTV fraud and attention, the report features new data on the ROI of verification and the need to ensure consistent quality assurance across all platforms, environments and formats. 

Roku Inks Cross-Media Measurement Deal With Nielsen

Roku and Nielsen Sept. 29 announced a deal enabling for the first time four-screen measurement of content consumption across traditional TV, connected TV, desktop and mobile.

The pact affords marketers running ads with Roku to de-duplicate the campaign reach and frequency across all four screens in the home. This measurement, which begins in December, is available on the Roku platform, inclusive of any Roku media running through existing Nielsen measurement technology.

As consumers spend more time streaming, marketers are diversifying their media investments and continue to shift more dollars to TV streaming from linear. Streaming video consumption surpassed cable for the first time in July, capturing its largest share of TV viewing to date, according to Nielsen.

“Marketers can now better evaluate CTV inventory’s unique reach and frequency in conjunction with their entire Roku buy in a comparable and comprehensive manner, and advertisers can reduce waste and help ensure that relevant ads are delivered to the right audiences across devices,” Kim Gilberti, SVP of product management for Nielsen, said in a statement.

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The announcement builds upon a longstanding relationship between Roku and Nielsen that began with Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings measurement in 2016. Since then, more than 200 advertisers have measured their TV streaming campaigns on Roku.

“We believe that all TV ads will be accountable and measurable,” Asaf Davidov, head of ad measurement and research for Roku, said in a statement. “Our direct consumer relationship, our scale, and our tech all make us uniquely positioned to work with Nielsen to make measurement simpler and more accurate as marketers shift spend to TV streaming.”

Ad-Supported Streaming Space Getting More Challenging, Panelists Say at XFronts Event

Acquiring an audience, finding carriage on connected TVs and devices and curating in-demand content are all getting more challenging in the ad-supported streaming space, panelists said May 25 at the XFronts event in Los Angeles hosted by OTT.X.

Getting carriage for FAST channels has become highly competitive, like finding a spot on a cable service, said Erick Opeka, chief strategy officer for Cinedigm, during the panel “How Does Anyone Make Money in this Business?”

“If you can’t get carriage, you won’t make any money,” he said. He also noted that the FAST channel business has become “more of a gladiator pit than cable ever was” in part because it doesn’t include the cushion of carriage fees.

Attracting eyeballs is more difficult as streaming services have proliferated, Opeka said. “To get [consumers] to download [your app] to the TV, you’re competing with all the big services that have driven up the marketing costs,” he said, noting it used to be “relatively cost effective to do a campaign with Roku or others.”

“If you’re competing with Netflix, Paramount, HBO Max, the cost per acquisition has skyrocketed,” he said.

Jonathan Skogmo, chief innovation officer at Trusted Media Brands, agreed that Roku has jacked up its pricing. “They want you to spend a quarter million dollars a quarter to get customers,” he said.

Panelists said original, exclusive, and in-demand, quality content is key as the competition increases.

“The table stakes are much higher now,” Opeka said. “We’re regularly involved in bidding wars for shows that can be an anchor of a FAST channel. … We’ve got a great one in Bob Ross.”

Skogmo added ad-supported streamers need “really unique programming, something that’s not already out.”

Finding content with ready appeal is also a key strategy.

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“We don’t have the major, major new releases to draw audience attention,” said Jesse Baritz, VP of content acquisition and development at Multicom Entertainment Group, so he said his company focuses on quality, star power and timely content.

“It’s making sure that it is 4K restored, star driven, hitting at the right time with the right audiences,” he said, adding that “when Natasha Lyonne was on ‘SNL’ this week, we made sure we had a movie that stars her.”

Ben Lister, senior director of content at Sinclair Broadcast Group, pointed out that the big subscription streaming guns such as Netflix are moving into the space, creating another challenge.

“As the SVODs start turning on advertising, I’m not sure how the consumer is going to respond,” he said, advising those that want to compete to “be prepared to make new content.”

Something as elemental as metadata can also help audiences find your content. Have “as much of that as you can” to help with discovery, Lister said.

“If you ask Siri or Alexa to show you the content, it comes up,” he said.

Another way to stand out from the crowd is to have a clear brand.

“You need a brand,” Opeka said. “If you don’t have a brand, align with somebody who does.”

Paramount+ Uses AFC Championship to Kick Off New Ad Campaign

Paramount+ kicked off a new ad campaign during the AFC championship game Jan. 30.

After launching the platform almost a year ago with a campaign during the Super Bowl that featured more than 30 stars coming together to climb “Mount Paramount,” Paramount+ is mounting a new iteration of the “Mountain of Entertainment” campaign, bringing together a mismatch of characters from across Paramount+ properties.

The first spot, “Bonfire” is a nod to the “Halo” series coming to Paramount+ later this year. It stars “iCarly’s” Miranda Cosgrove, “Halo’s” Pablo Schreiber, “The Good Fight’s” Audra McDonald and Christine Baranski, “Reno 911’s” Thomas Lennon, “South Park’s” Cartman, “Jackass’s” Johnny Knoxville, NFL superstars Matt Judon and Jalen Hurts, and others. The spot is hosted and also voiced over by Grammy Award winner Tim McGraw, who currently stars in the Paramount+ original series “1883.” 

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Running over approximately two months, the four-spot ad campaign will include ads during the Winter Olympics, March Madness, the NBA All Star Game, the Grammy Awards, “Good Morning America,” “American Idol,” “This Is Us,” “The Walking Dead” premiere, MLB opening night and other programs in the first quarter of 2022. 

The program will also include strategic platform partnerships, digital placements across owned channels and an out-of-home presence.

 

Hub Research: Consumers Prefer Targeted Ads

Consumers who thought they saw ads customized to their interests or search history were more likely to be satisfied with their overall viewing experience, according to a study from Hub Research.

Meanwhile, consumers were least satisfied with the same ad run multiple times during a show, according to the study.

The data, collected in June 2021, comes from the first wave of Hub’s “TV Advertising: Fact vs. Fiction” study, conducted among 3,000 U.S. consumers age 14-74 who watch at least one hour of TV per week.

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“There is still a lot of work to be done on ad targeting and customization in the TV space, particularly with streamers, but the common trope that ‘consumers don’t like ads’ is not correct,” Jon Giegengack, Hub founder and principal, said in a statement.

Roku Expands TV Marketing Campaign to Canada

Roku Oct. 5 unveiled its “OK, Roku does that” TV streaming marketing campaign in Canada building on the momentum of new product launches as the streaming media pioneer enters the winter holiday season. The objective of the campaign is to create long term brand awareness for Roku and future streamers as consumers begin to think about holiday spending.

With nearly half (46%) of Canadian TV streamers signing up for new streaming services in the past 12 months, the “OK, Roku does that” campaign highlights the TV streaming platform for the innovation and ease of use in a broad campaign across TV streaming, traditional pay TV, out-of-home, and social media.

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The Roku State of Canadian Streaming survey found that half of Canadian streamers reported using three or more streaming services, a 6% increase year-over-year.

The hero of the 60-second spot looks back in time, over the course of history to see how seemingly simple innovations have transformed the world and how people navigate it. The launch commercial moves through a short history of transformative innovations; culminating in the decade of streaming.

“We are witnessing a fundamental change in how consumers engage with content and entertainment, and that shift has been led in large part by Roku,” Ellie Bamford, SVP, global head of media and connections at R/GA, Roku’s ad partner for the campaign, said in a statement. “In this campaign we wanted to create an emotional connection that highlights the innovation and leadership Roku has provided in streaming. We believe we’ve achieved that with our great partners at Roku in an opportunity within one of the hottest industries.”

Additional video ads are focused on driving awareness for Roku TVs, and will play on the same “OK, Roku does that” theme and be on display in major cities around Canada, including Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. Roku will also use its “OneView” ad-buying platform built for TV streaming, to manage the digital portion of the campaign across desktop, mobile, and TV streaming.

Vizio Appoints Former AMC Networks, Dish Exec VP of Network Partnerships

Consumer electronics company Vizio has appointed former AMC Networks and Dish executive Adam Gaynor VP of network partnerships.

In this role, Gaynor will help build direct relationships with networks across Vizio’s SmartCast platform and its advertiser-direct business unit Vizio Ads.

“Adam’s addition to the team represents Vizio’s continued focus and investment in driving the future of TV,” Mike O’Donnell, chief revenue officer at Vizio, said in a statement. “Not only does Adam have extensive experience working with networks, but he has been at the forefront of championing addressable advertising, going back to his previous efforts driving live linear addressable advertising at AMC Networks and Dish.”

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In addition to spearheading network relationships, Gaynor will be heavily involved in advancing Project Open Addressable Ready (Project OAR), a technology consortium led by Vizio and created to advance the development and deployment of a new, open standard for addressable advertising on connected TVs. The consortium recently announced live market trials with network partners such as Fox, ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal, E.W. Scripps and AMC Networks.

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“Vizio is building the next generation of home entertainment, powered by data and personalized consumer experiences,” Gaynor said in a statement. “I’m excited to join the team to advance VIZIO’s initiatives on the network and addressable front, enabling advertisers to deliver more precise messages to their intended audiences at the right time.”

Before joining Vizio, Gaynor was most recently VP of AMCN Agility, the data solutions sales team for AMC Networks. There, he created and oversaw the development and monetization of all advanced and data-driven TV advertising opportunities across the AMC Networks portfolio. He also served as VP, media sales and analytics for Dish Network, where he led the company’s media sales division, inclusive of all addressable, interactive, programmatic and OTT initiatives. Gaynor also held posts at Game Show Network, Comcast and CBS.

Hulu Launches Ad-Assist Program for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses

Hulu has launched the Creative Partner Program to assist small- and medium-sized businesses in creating advertising on the service.

The program offers access to “creative partners who are specially trained in Hulu best practices, and have expertise creating unique, non-templated ads for smaller businesses at all stages of the advertising creative process,” according to Faye Trapani, director of self-service platform sales.

The Creative Partner Program currently consists of four partners: GeneroShuttlerockQuickFrame and VidMob.

The service helps smaller businesses to design a program “whether an advertiser is repurposing an existing video for streaming TV or ‘baking from scratch,’” according to Trapani.

The Creative Partner Program offers a range of production options and price points.

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