Brand Integrations Offer a Better Way to Get in Front of Streaming TV Audiences

Advertisers are spending more on TV for fewer views

Netflix boasts approximately 214 million worldwide users. Most of them are under 45. They have higher household income than an average consumer. And you can’t reach any of them with an ad buy.

Last year, streaming eclipsed broadcast and cable TV in total viewership. This is according to Nielsen’s Gauge report, which found that 26% of all TV viewing is now streaming. The trend is even more prominent among younger viewers. An eMarketer study from 2021 found that the baby boomer generation (55-plus) is the only age demographic that watches more cable than streaming.

According to the same eMarketer study, and average of 72.3% of consumers under 54 spend the most time watching streaming content, and the relative time spent with streaming increases with younger viewers. Meanwhile, rates for traditional TV are only increasing. Traditional TV’s viewership declines have been accompanied by a 6% increase in TV ad spending from 2020 to 2021. What gives?

One reason for the paradox of brands receiving less viewership for their money is linked to a lack of brand options on streaming. Advertisers face a lack of quality ad inventory on streaming platforms. Only recently have media companies adopted pure-play advertising models like Tubi or hybrid advertising/subscriber models like Hulu. While Netflix has recently started to consider advertising, many streaming platforms such as Disney+ and HBO Max remain completely ad-free, limiting brands’ access to reach highly desirable audiences.

Access to ad-free platforms and audiences

Brand integration has emerged as the best solution to tap hard-to-reach, ad-averse audiences on streaming TV. Instead of paying for media placement across with a direct buy, brands can instead tap networks or productions to integrate into the content itself. These integrations give brands access to untapped audiences across streaming. Not only are these audiences unreachable by traditional advertising, but also skew younger and wealthier than audiences found on traditional TV.

However, the process behind brand integration is more complex than paying your media agency to buy time on a network. There are several ways into the most popular streaming TV shows. Some networks offer buys to secure guaranteed placements in their most popular properties. Sometimes a brand must go through the production partners, which are individual vendors for the networks. Others require onset partners to get products into shows. Each production is different and unique.

An integration agency partner brings production knowledge, know-how and savviness about which productions are worth a brands time and money. Much like an expert media planner, a brand integration expert can help brands find the best value for their marketing dollar. The right find can pay enormous dividends, providing brands with cultural relevance amongst the youngest, most-astute consumers.

Close proximity to talent and stories

Instead of interruption, brand integration seamlessly weaves your product into the content. This offers brands in-stream exposure next to the characters and storylines consumers love. Mainstream actors holding, drinking, eating, driving or interacting with your product conveys credibility, status and familiarity in ways that traditional advertising doesn’t.

What’s more, the ability to have a product be a part of the story itself or drive a story offers brands highly emotional and recallable experiences with viewers. Everyone remembers Reese’s Pieces in E.T., Eggos in Stranger Things and Aston Martin in James Bond films.

With our recent work with Cisco, we placed them at the center of Inventing Anna,which jumped to Nielsen’s top 10 streaming rankings on its second week on Netflix. The brand saw a massive exposure as Cisco received an integration in every episode except one.  

Whether you are new to brand integration or not, the size and scale of streaming audiences should generate consideration among any marketer. It’s imperative that your integration partners have the industry knowledge to not only select the right properties, but organically weave brands in to get exposure in content that is part of cultural conversation. Combined with media buys among ad-supported streaming, brand integration offers brands proven methods for reaching desirable audience groups. The proximity to beloved characters and stories is only a bonus.

The brand integration world remains complex, with plenty of pitfalls and nuances to beware of.  However, with a little know-how, investment and a trusted agency partner, your brand could be the next big hit in streaming.

A brand integration expert, Meilani Weiss specializes in connecting Hollywood content creators with brands and building successful entertainment marketing partnerships. Seasoned in developing organic placements for technology, QSR and transportation clients, Meilani negotiates media leveraged, paid, unpaid integrations and deep brand partnerships across multiple platforms, including television, film, music video and digital.