Amid market boom, streaming TV is becoming the 'Wild West' for ads: 6 insights for marketing execs

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U.S. advertisers are on pace to spend $11.36 billion on streaming TV commercials in 2021, but some roadblocks are preventing companies from monitoring their target reach, according to a May 4 Bloomberg report.

Six things to know:

1. The uptick in streaming TV commercials is being driven by a slew of new services that target customers who are willing to sit through a few commercials to avoid paying more for programming. Some services with ads, such as Pluto TV and Fox's Tubi are free, while others like Peacock and Discovery+ cost about $5 to $6 per month.

2. Advertisers are struggling to find out how many people are actually watching their commercials on streaming platforms, how often the ads are running and where the spots are being shown.

3. There currently is no independent measuring group to monitor all the streaming services like Nielsen does for traditional TV; Nielsen is creating a metric for the industry to simplify buying and selling advertisements across TV and streaming services, but it won't be ready until 2024, according to the report.

4. The current state of the TV streaming ad market is similar to the early days of cable TV, industry consultant Brad Adgate told Bloomberg. Before Nielsen entered the arena in the 1980s, advertisers who bought commercials on new channels had no way of knowing whether they were getting their money's worth. "It was the Wild West back then, as it is now with streaming," he said.

5. While ad-supported streaming platforms tend to show significantly fewer commercials than cable or broadcast TV, streaming services also promise advertisers they can better target particular viewer groups. The price of ads on Discovery+ is about three times higher than the company's cable networks. 

6. Advertisers are also being careful of inadvertently bombarding potential customers with the "same spot ad nauseam," according to the report. Automated ad servers can sometimes show viewers the same commercials repeatedly when marketers ask to reach a certain number of streaming viewers quickly.


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