Streaming is the new black, and that means it’s never been a better time for dealers to get on board and add OTT advertising to their brand's media mix. - IMAGE: Pictafolio and Gremlin via...

Streaming is the new black, and that means it’s never been a better time for dealers to get on board and add OTT advertising to their brand's media mix.

IMAGE: Pictafolio and Gremlin via

Whether you have heard the term cord cutters, cord stacking, OTT, connected TV, or a variation of something similar — 2021 is going to be a game-changing year for digital advertising in the automotive industry. Streaming is the new black, with research predicting that 60 million households will watch content on their TV exclusively through streaming by 2025. This means it’s never been a better time for dealers to get on board and add OTT advertising to their brand's media mix.

It gives businesses many opportunities to present an ad in a less competitive environment with an element that's always being refreshed.

Here are seven things dealers need to know about over-the-top, or OTT advertising: 

1. What is OTT advertising anyway?

OTT advertising is a new way to directly market to consumers digitally over the internet via streaming services. This is the best way to reach anyone, anywhere, on any type of connected TV (CTV) or device with full-screen ads that include sound, can't be skipped, and have an average completion rate of 97%.

Named over-the-top because it gives you the ability to bypass traditional media distribution on TV and reach the targeted audience you want directly. This means you are not boxed in by a broadcast schedule, geography, or limited demographic knowledge.

2. What platforms are OTT ads on and are they good places to advertise?

Hulu, Roku, Crackle, Plex, Pluto.TV, Vimeo, Vevo, and more have OTT ads. Amazon has 68 network partners with direct integration to Amazon Publisher Services, including Major League Baseball, Food Network, and Amazon’s own OTT app, IMDbTV. Amazon OTT is brand safe with licensed-only TV and movie content. Brand safe means that Amazon takes steps to manually review content sources, create blacklists for poor placements, block unauthorized publishers from selling impressions, manually audit their inventory for compliance, and provide advertisers with post-impression traffic and standards checks. As an advertiser, Amazon also looks to you and agencies to submit blacklists to weed out apps that do not align with Amazon's brand-safe policies.

3. What sets Amazon OTT apart from the others?

Amazon is known for its wealth of customer data. According to Amazon Advertising statistics, 85% of U.S. adults likely to buy a car in the next six months have visited Amazon.   

  • Better Targeting: As an advertiser, you will have insights into your audience based on product interests and shopping behaviors. Like social sites, you will also have demographics such as age, income, gender, and more. Other publishers and platforms use IP targeting, which averages only 60%-75% accuracy, and even less so at the zip code level, resulting in an immense amount of wasted impressions delivered outside of the targeted DMA (designated market area), or zip codes. Partnering with Amazon will increase efficiency in terms of impressions delivered within LMA (local market area) or zip code by an average of 30%.  
  • Ad Conquest: Advertisers gain the ability to direct ads to an audience that has also viewed competitors’ products. This feature is unique to Amazon OTT advertising. Amazon has unique data dealers can take advantage of, from Amazon Garage data with 144 million vehicles, the largest addressable database in the U.S., to Amazon Vehicles data with more than 700,000 individual VDP (vehicle description/details page) on Amazon where people can browse vehicles, read reviews, and so on. 
  • Engage with Difficult-to-Reach Audiences: You can still reach users who have ad-blockers enabled and users that do not have an active TV subscription with Amazon OTT advertising. Due to Amazon’s direct publisher/app relationships, there is efficiency in inventory because these app-level integrations allow approved vendors to serve ads within those apps on non-Amazon devices, such as Apple TV, Smart TV, Xbox and more. 

 4. Why should you be running OTT ads?

The details are in the data. OTT advertising is highly targeted, scalable, and measurable. Easily add OTT ads into your media mix for marketing and sales initiatives. Showcase inventory, increase brand awareness, and move your customers through the entire funnel by having higher engagement with ready-to-buy consumers. Amazon OTT is excellent for brand awareness and gives you the power and data for retargeting. Complementing your high-impact videos with display, search, and social gives you the ability to guide consumers through the funnel to that final purchase.

With the decline in watching traditional TV, the cost of television ad spots has risen. Amazon OTT advertising is cost-effective with a more controllable ad spend, plus it is easier to get relevant data to track. While a smaller dealer typically has a $50,000 monthly budget, and a larger dealer spends $150,000 a month in advertising, OTT is the best bang for the buck. Dealers can get an awareness campaign that’s targeted for $5,000. There’s no way you can do that with traditional TV advertising. In traditional advertising, there’s typically around 80% of ad dollars wasted and the dealer is casting a wide, untargeted net.

In talking with one of our clients, Jordan Barrett at Liberty Automotive Group in Peoria, Arizona, OTT offers a powerful alternative to the mostly phased out traditional ad buys. There is still a desire to leverage the TV audience, but the needle has moved, as they have gone to streaming and connected TV in droves.

“The reality is that our dealerships are family-owned, so regular TV buys could eat up 80% of our advertising budget,” Barrett said. “I have to play Moneyball with my spends. I calculate that the returns on investment for OTT advertising are typically 300% higher than traditional media buys. That's only based upon a flimsy, correlated lift in Google-listed searches and calls after the traditional media buys. The [digital marketing] savings allows me to use the remainder of the budget on directed mail or email campaigns to get impressions to the interested buyer rather than a hope and a prayer, spray-fire approach."

5. What makes OTT videos different?

Unlike traditional TV advertising, the ads can be dynamic and change throughout the month based on available inventory. And unlike other digital advertising sources, the ads can’t be skipped. 

It is no longer just delivering relevant content, it has to be personalized. Think about the timing, what's going on in the world, location, weather, behavior, etc. Amazon’s vast knowledge of shopper behaviors allows dealers to advertise based on interest. For example, advertise Jeeps and trucks to people who are purchasing backpacks, tents, and other items that indicate they enjoy the outdoors. Another example, someone who is buying diapers and baby items may be in the market for a vehicle with more room for car seats. 

However, similar to other forms of video advertising, keep it snappy. No one wants to watch more than 30 seconds of your ad, so keep it tight and impactful. You don’t need to be as short as a YouTube bumper, but don’t want to hit the minute length.    

6. How good is the audience measurement and targeting with OTT ads?

Just like you layer clothes to survive the winter cold, you can layer your audience targeting. Similar to how you blend and layer together audiences for social media advertising, you have additional behavior insights when creating your OTT audiences. 

Dealers should choose a vendor that allows their advertising to include a scrolling inventory of whatever type of vehicle model they’re advertising. By using real-time vehicle integration, a dealer can advertise a vehicle they have on the lot that day to a geotargeted audience in the local area. It’s like a custom ad for the ad watcher down the street.  

"It gives businesses many opportunities to present an ad in a less competitive environment with an element that's always being refreshed,” Barrett said. “Another compelling thing is how well Amazon is using this data for targeting and placement of our ads."

7. Tips for getting started with OTT campaigns?

Don't go at OTT alone. There is a huge market to take advantage of since 74% of U.S. homes have streaming services. Whether you have your 2021 digital strategy mapped out or your business needs help in disrupting your advertising technology, a vendor skilled in digital marketing is the best route to take. In addition, the right partner can help you approach your entire digital marketing spend (not just the percentage you want to allocate to OTT) with a more holistic strategy to maximize and ensure the dollars you spend get the most ROI — from visitors, to leads, to sales. Work with partners who understand the entire customer journey, not just a small piece. 

Erica Sietsma has almost 20 years of retail technology experience and has been a driving force behind Digital Air Strike’s vision and growth. Her deep product and industry knowledge have earned her recognition as a subject matter expert on the topics of automotive technology, consumer engagement, lead response, social media and reputation management.

Originally posted on Auto Dealer Today