By Joan Coyne, Sr. VP Marketing
It’s no secret that consumers are demonstrating an ever-growing, fervent interest in over-the-top (OTT) streaming video content and services… and content developers and distributors are rushing in to deliver. As the field becomes saturated, some will fail and some will excel. How could OTT video win?
Similar to any other product or service, the success of any OTT video service will be highly dependent on how well the four Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place are applied and integrated
PRODUCT—Content is king!
In developing—or fine-tuning—an OTT video service, 3 important factors will be critical:
- A commitment to consistently providing the content the target audience wants… with the quality, quantity, convenience and value they expect. Differentiated and original content standout in the crowded streaming video marketplace.
- Knowing who the audience is and what they want. Trying to be all things to all people is a losing proposition.
- Service features and benefits, cost, and accessibility must be competitive in order to maintain and grow audience and revenue.
Ongoing research and analysis is a must in achieving the above; new entrants into the market and/or competitive enhancements are almost a daily occurrence. Dissect each competitive streaming service to learn such variables as: content breadth and selection, pricing structure, On Demand &/or live streaming, offers, added values, payment and cancellation policies, devices supported, etc. Update regularly in order to take any appropriate corrective action before losing market share.
Study the audience believed to be the prime target … are they cord-nevers, cutters, shavers or stackers, Millennials, Boomers, Hispanic, African American, Asian, male, female, fans of a specific programming genre/s, single-person or multi-person households, etc., etc., etc. What are the key features that would attract this audience? What need do they have that the service might fill? What should be avoided? When, how and where are they consuming content?
Don’t guess… consume all available qualitative and quantitative research findings, conduct focus groups and surveys, engage in relative social media, develop a user advisory board, etc. Having extensive knowledge of competition and audience is essential to fine-tuning a service, identifying key communications messages, developing a unique selling proposition—and growth.
PRICE—Get it right
No matter how wonderful and unique a product is – or how much profit is sought to gain from it—it won’t sell if it’s priced higher than its perceived value… or if it is priced higher than a similar, competitive product. And, of course, pricing too low will negatively impact ROI and could permanently tarnish value perception.
If an OTT video service is unique to the marketplace and has high perceived value, it can be priced aggressively… though if too aggressively a cheaper alternative is likely to come to market!
Since setting the right price is both challenging and vital to success, many OTT video services provide various pricing options:
- Ad-supported and ad-free pricing
- Stand-alone and packaged pricing
- On-demand and monthly or annual subscriptions
- Standard definition, high-definition, and ultra-high definition pricing
- All or some of the above!
Of course, profitability is a prime concern in determining price. Run various conversion rate assumptions and pricing scenarios to assure price structure is a good value at an acceptable profit margin!
PROMOTION—Spread the word
Subscriber acquisition and retention results will be highly dependent on the development and implementation of a strategic communications plan.
Start with brand
Work with a creative department, or an agency like Eclipse Marketing that specializes in branding, to design a logo that appropriately reflects brand and resonates with the audience. Develop branding guidelines that specify colors, fonts, and key messaging so that the product’s look and messaging is always consistent and serves as constant reinforcement. Consider also developing a positioning statement that leverages a unique point of differentiation.
Button up a communications strategy
Frist impressions are hard to overcome… sometimes impossible. Be sure a branding and communications strategy are in sync and well thought out before stepping out with them!
When developing a communications strategy:
- Succinctly identify unique selling proposition, key features and benefits, pricing, offer, and call to action.
- Determine a marketing budget and the most cost-effective and efficient tactics for communicating service information to the target audience within that budget.
- Consider tactics like paid search, social media, email, video, direct mail, display ads, public relations campaigns, etc. Also consider remarketing to capture website visitors that did not convert, plans for retention to encourage tune-in, upgrade messaging, and a win-back strategy, in addition to acquisition efforts.
- Create a detailed plan for each of the tactics, including when, where, and how often they’ll appear, budget, and key performance indicators.
Keep tabs on initial results and make any appropriate corrective action adjustments to the tactical plan as it progresses.
Communications need to be ongoing to stay top-of-mind, and it generally takes 7 to 13+ touches for a qualified sales lead. Be sure a communications budget allows for on-going marketing throughout the year, while heavying up spending during the launch phase.
PLACE—Be exceptionally accessible
Needless to say, the more accessible a product is, the better its chances of being noticed, purchased, and used. Those OTT video services that are being launched from existing linear channels and traditional MVPDs may have an awareness advantage, but even they are forming alliances with other OTT providers and digital companies to maximize reach and accessibility. And, services like Netflix, Hulu, and Crackle are seeking to widen their footprint via cable set-top boxes.
Digital-only services, including those that would only appeal to a limited niche – like anime or sci-fi fans—will want to be sure they’re accessible in places their audience might look rather than just depending on advertising, word-of-mouth and social media followers. Consider:
- Working with – or becoming—a virtual MVPD like DirecTV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV, Hulu’s Live TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, or the recently-launched CenturyLink Stream—to get packaged with other products/services in a niche, or other services in general in order to broaden the audience.
- Being available on key aggregators like Amazon Channels and VRV, the digital video bundle from Ellation.
- Provide apps for playback hardware providers like Ruku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, Android, iOS, and Xbox One.
Although there are costs associated with these options, they can dramatically increase subscriber base. Parks Associates research for a recent Ooyala report found that “… among U.S. broadband households, over one-quarter of current OTT video service subscriptions were purchased through connected device app, including apps on streaming media players, game consoles, and connected TVs.”
Website and user interface
This “Place” is crucial for both acquisition and retention! Successful OTT video providers should be sure:
- Key selling points, pricing and offers are succinct, pop-out and engage immediately
- Registration, ordering and payment is easy and trouble-free
- Search and discovery are simple and customized
- Quantity of content is robust and updated regularly
- Content descriptions, ratings, stars and previews are incorporated
- It is mobile responsive and search engine optimized
- It allows for real-time analytics; allowing for adjustments as needed.
- It doesn’t “go down”—backups and alerts are in place to never lose an opportunity or frustrate subscribers.
Have a “soft launch” with a select group of users a few weeks before the site goes live to be sure there are no kinks and there is an opportunity to make enhancements and corrections as needed.