It has been well reported that as a result of COVID-19, the amount of online media consumed was on the rise. Over 50% of people across the world are watching more streaming services, as a result of staying at home and there’s little doubt that video-on-demand (VOD) – including the likes of YouTube, TikTok and Twitch – is enjoying a surge in viewers at exactly the time that it’s offering brands new levels of opportunity to engage these growing audiences.
Our own research shows that while 62% of consumers have turned to subscription-video-on-demand services (SVOD) in the search for entertainment, the average person is paying for up to two VOD platforms. With 35% of consumers agreeing that their financial situations have been dramatically affected by current situations, it’s understandable that many are more conscious of their spending. This means paying for content is a barrier for some consumers, with 26% saying they have canceled services because the price was too high and 35% saying they would cancel an existing subscription to pay for a new one. However, a more fiscally conscious approach has seen 64% of people across Europe feel that they are missing out on content.
It’s not just viewing habits and bank balances that have changed under lockdown. The way that consumers respond to brands has also shifted – and more consumers are looking for brands to communicate authentically with them.
So how can marketers ensure they are hitting the right notes when it comes to engaging with audiences?
Engaging audiences through AVOD
As consumers find themselves in a tight financial spot, advertising-video-on-demand (AVOD) offers a way for them to consume the content that they want for free. The majority of consumers (60%) would watch targeted adverts to be able to access video content for free, but in order to make the most of this opportunity, advertising content must be sensitive and relevant in manner, now and beyond the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, 26% of consumers believe that the brands that emotionally understand their current situation are the ones that will have success after the crisis.
Advertising alongside content that captivates people’s attention can help brands build positive relationships with consumers. Whether it’s demonstrating empathy or showing support to local communities, brands can use advertising to demonstrate responsibility. There are so many fantastic examples including Guinness’ St Patrick’s Day video, KFC’s tongue in cheek message about returning to business, and Budweiser’s updated ad for 2020. All three of these empathise with their audience under lockdown and had responsible messages to share – going viral for good reason.
The change to our daily routines, workspaces and social media activity calls now more than ever for global kindness. Consumers are looking for brands to be considerate and caring, both as employers and in how they treat their customers.
Consumers are also seeking video content without having to put up with irrelevant or insensitive ads. Provided messaging of advertising strikes the right tone, AVOD helps brands successfully meet people’s need for escapism during challenging times and creates a new way to engage with audiences.
We’ve seen that more and more brands are being held accountable for the content they produce – get it right and you’ll win fans and build a better relationship with existing customers. Brands have the opportunity to be part of this great content and connect with consumers via AVOD platforms.
A mutually beneficial relationship
Watching advertising in exchange for a benefit – be it games, content, or other rewards – is not in itself a new concept, but AVOD offers great potential. It provides a mutually beneficial relationship for all involved. It offers the watcher either discounted or free on-demand viewing, subsidising the costs of producing and hosting this by showing ads around the content. The advertiser, in turn, can get in front of a mass audience where they are most absorbed, ensuring ads compliment what they are watching, and gain access to insightful data. And, with big-budget TV campaigns under threat and 21% of consumers across Europe (20% in the UK) shunning linear/traditional TV for VOD services, a shift to AVOD can offer a cost-effective way to reach viewers. This can deliver a significant boost in ROI – not just because it significantly reduces wastage on advertising to a large but irrelevant audience, but also because viewers are more responsive to, and more engaged by more relevant ads.
AVOD is just getting started
The full potential of AVOD is only just being realised. It is an area that is set to see growth as more consumers turn to AVOD to enjoy the content for free. Digital TV Research has predicted that global AVOD expenditure from AVOD distribution will more than double between 2019 and 2025 to hit $53 billion.
Long-form premium content offers even more potential for brands to access viewers in credible, targeted ways across Europe. There is an opportunity to place more relevant and more targeted ads in a brand-safe environment through premium Hollywood films and localised European content. This ensures brands can maximise scale, relevance and engagement across the content.
If there were nothing else to commend AVOD, the simple fact that it offers advertisers the opportunity to respond to consumer viewing habits should be enough to confirm it warrants considerable attention. Fortunately, it also offers a better way to reach a highly engaged audience and achieve ROI. And, as we navigate our new normal, AVOD looks to have the most staying power post-COVID-19 over other TV services, with viewers across Europe less likely to decrease their level of AVOD than both SVOD (24%) and Live TV (30%). Once coronavirus is brought under control, 88% of people across Europe believe their use of AVOD will increase or remain the same.
As more consumers turn their attention to AVOD to watch the content they most want, brands have never had a better opportunity to get their messages to where audiences are most engaged. With this in mind, AVOD is sure to triumph in this exciting new media age.