In the Consumer-Driven Society, Direct-Brand Economy and OTT Lead to Innovation

Audience and companies are linked in this age of cutting-edge creative

The cloud-based internet is propelling the new consumer economy.
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It started for me with a new television. When I set up my new smart TV, I noticed that there, right next to the traditional networks, were upstart new publishers—sharing space on my screen like equals. That, it struck me, is the new consumer economy.

People now have access to publishers, to brands and to media directly. OTT is no longer simply “over the top.” It is just media. Direct to consumer isn’t a new type of commerce, it’s just a fresh, new brand. And this economy is not a trend. This is a full-scale revolution.

What’s propelling this new consumer economy? The cloud-based internet. Dominant consumer-facing companies have traditionally created value through their ownership and operation of high-barrier-to-entry, capital-intensive supply chains. From CPG to media, the most successful companies owned or had significant control over every major function within their supply chain—including the creation of products or content and their distribution.

The cloud has taken the ability to manage supply and demand and segmented it down to the individual level. Every part of the supply chain can currently be leased for a fraction of the cost.

Warby Parker, Harry’s, Glossier, Casper—just a few of the companies that illustrate the way this new economy operates. Now, anyone with a good idea and a credit card can capture the attention of audiences directly, gleaning first-party data that can fuel those relationships.

More than half of all audiences watching OTT TV discuss the brands they see on screen with the people they are watching with, and incredibly, ad-supported programming is more popular than subscription-only formats.

OTT allows all media companies to act like these new direct brands and talk directly with consumers. As with direct brands, OTT delivers valuable first-party data. Thanks to OTT, media companies are able to offer advertisers richer analytics, more concrete attribution and provide a 3-D view of a customer. It brings the TV/premium video advertising ecosystem closer to the long-held promise of true addressable TV/premium video.

The growing popularity of OTT is also radically changing the traditional TV landscape (56 percent of U.S. adults own IP-connected, streaming-enabled TVs like mine), bringing interactivity, data and targeting long associated with digital media to the big-screen TV.

By 2021, a million minutes of video content will cross the internet every second, representing 82 percent of consumer internet traffic. Whether it’s livestreaming, video on demand, via mobile or on over-the-top (OTT) devices, video is becoming the most significant source of internet traffic in the world. As a result, total digital video ad revenue, including mobile and desktop, rose to $5.2 billion in the first half of 2017, up 36 percent from $3.8 billion in the same period in 2016.

The shift to a direct-brand economy and OTT are the key themes underpinning the best-in-class creative you will see at this year’s NewFronts, which run from April 30 to May 4 in New York.

Over the course of a week, you will see both traditional and newly minted brands going direct to consumer. You will see Casper and Peloton creating TV-like ads for digital. Just as Hulu debuted shoppable ads at the NewFronts in 2017, watch for more innovations this year including six-second videos, long-form video, sequential storytelling, picture-in-picture messages around content so the ads and brand interactions are not disruptive, and so much more.

The one thread that links them: They’re all part of a great content experience in the new consumer-driven economy. This direct connection between consumers and companies is not optional either. Today, two-thirds of consumers expect a direct link with companies.

Consumers don’t skip these ads; they like them (literally), share them and even talk about them via social channels while they watch. More than half of all audiences watching OTT TV discuss the brands they see on screen with the people they are watching with, and incredibly, ad-supported programming is more popular than subscription-only formats.

This story first appeared in the April 30, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.