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Lightcast's Andreas Kisslinger Talks Innovative OTT Monetization Strategies

Learn more about OTT monetization at Streaming Media West 2022.

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Streaming Media East 2022 here in Boston at the Westin Copley. Today I've got with me Andreas Kisslinger with Lightcast. So tell us a little bit about Lightcast, first of all.

Andreas Kisslinger: Lightcast is an end-to-end OTT provider enabling publishers to upload and transcode, store and deliver all their content--on-demand audio, video, live events, linear streams--to all devices and screens.

Tim Siglin: So you did a session in the Innovation Track just a minute ago. What was the topic?

Andreas Kisslinger: It was about Innovative OTT ROIs. We see that many new publishers of all verticals, industries, all types of organizations from nonprofit, education, government, but also independent content creators sometimes struggle to find a good business plan around their OTT presence and their media distribution. So we specialize in offering advice, but also a toolbox with various revenue opportunities beyond the beaten path. So beyond the standard advertising and subscriptions.

Tim Siglin: That's probably timely because traditional online ads are not doing quite as well people would expect at this point.

Andreas Kisslinger: It can be a challenge and nowadays you need five, or even--as someone here at the show told me yesterday--sometimes up to 20 different ad networks and demand partners to, to achieve a decent fill rate of 80%. That makes it very complex. And of course we can handle all that. So in the Lightcast Media Cloud, you can use 20 different demand partners and merge them all into a feeds that go across all devices. But still, it makes it quite complex, because then you have to make sure you get paid from each of these 20 different demand partners.

Tim Siglin: Just because the ads get served on your content doesn't necessarily mean you'll get paid. So yesterday we did the research keynote around the State of Streaming, and one question we asked--especially for those who are interested in doing FAST channels--was how satisfied they are with the revenues that have come in from their OTT channel or their FAST channel. It turns out 54% were either neutral or not satisfied. And so when you talk about ROIs is part of that helping to set expectations for people who think, "Oh, my content's gonna make me a million dollars a month." And then maybe they do have some semi-premium content. How do you help them set expectations?

Andreas Kisslinger: That's a really a great point. We actually try to help consult new startups and new customers early on to make the best decision on the best revenue model that fits their business, and also their viewership size. And we distinguish between large audiences above 1 million views a month, and small audiences between below 1 million viewers a month. And with smaller viewerships we do recommend they look at alternative ROIs, such as lead-gen for sales of service and product while publishers are building their audiences to achieve the levels where advertising actually becomes viable.

Tim Siglin: It's interesting you say this, because we've now done five of these surveys and Michelle who you met helps do the analytics on it. And we were talking the other day as we looked, we've always had questions around AVOD, TVOD, advertising-driven, but we've had a category we've left in there called "free." And when we initially did this, the editor of the magazine and I argued about whether "free" was actually a revenue model. And I said, "Look at loss leaders." And ultimately what you're talking about is, you may need to build the audience with some of it free. And then at some point shift over once you get to critical mass.

Andreas Kisslinger: Exactly. And, subscriptions, for instance, does work for smaller audiences as well if the publisher produces content that speaks to a very specific group that is willing to fork out a credit card for that. But we also have something called Flex subscription, where we allow the viewer to set the subscription price. This is great for startups and media companies as they're growing their audiences who would otherwise give away the content for free entirely. And they say, "Well, if someone sets it to zero, we'll allow them to view it. At least we collected user data that we can now follow up with," and to everyone's surprise, often it exceeds their expectations as viewers set prices of $5, $10, $20, much higher than they expected.

Tim Siglin: And then that also allows you to put your business model together to say, "Okay, I know the average subscriber may pay 5 bucks a month."

Andreas Kisslinger: Exactly. And sponsors. So, many startups and media companies don't realize how many potential advertisers they already have in their pool of contacts within their network who would be willing to add flat-rate pre- or post-roll ads around both their on-demand and live content, and pay a monthly or annual flat rate. And they can be served just like any other advertising from within the Lighcast Media Cloud. So our publishers can upload and manage all of their direct sponsors' ads, and then serve them around all their content and get paid directly without any middle man getting any cut.

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