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SME 2016: OTT Discoverability is Still a Challenge

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Advertisers are starting to show real interest in OTT content. "It's definitely something that's been on the radar more and more with clients," said Robert Davis, executive director of content marketing at OgilvyOne, at the Streaming Media East conference in New York. Over the past few months, he added, "I don't have to bring it up myself." Despite that interest, challenges remain.

Davis said brands are starting to ask what is available to them in the OTT space beyond pre-roll ads and programmatic offerings. But that doesn't mean the experts recommend all brands get into the OTT game with their own apps. Why? Because discoverability is still an issue.

"The OTT eco-system becomes very fragmented,"said Noah Fenn, head of video sales and strategy at AOL. And unlike other digital channels, your Roku box or smart TV may not be linked to you phone or social media feeds, which make it easy for users to share their favorite apps.

Eric Lemasters, VP of digital business development and strategic partnerships at Gaiam, said that when his company first launched its branded app, it was one of only a handful of apps in the lifestyle space, and so they didn't need to put any marketing dollars into promoting it. Now, as apps proliferate, he said that marketing budget has shot up into the seven figures.

"I feel for anyone who is trying to launch a branded, niche OTT app right now," he said.

All of this is why "sometimes it makes more sense to partner with someone who is already in the top of fold placement," said Fenn.

"A lot of brands are questioning whether they should be a house of content," said Davis.

But there may be one age group that is willing to dig a little deeper and find the apps buried within their devices: millennials.

"Millennials might go a bit deeper in the menu…versus other age groups," said Fenn.

Lemasters agreed, saying "My best focus group is my teenage kids." So, if you're looking to target a very specific millennial audience, OTT may be for you.

The bottom line is, unless your brand is ready to spend a lot of time and money marketing your new OTT app, you may be better off finding a way to partner with an existing content provider and add value to that audience.

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