The Evolution of the Awards Campaign: Leveraging Branded OTT Sites to Engage Voters
The 2020 awards season saw streaming services both old (Amazon, Netflix) and new (Apple) claim their share of both nominations and wins for their original content. With today’s media landscape boasting an overabundance of quality content and legitimate award contenders, an effective award campaign is more important than ever for producers and distributors to snag a coveted award and bask in the glow of critical recognition. What may be surprising is how the studios of "Old Hollywood" have cleverly redeployed the tools of the streaming wars in service of their competition with their younger digital competitors.
For Your Consideration (FYC): Why OTT and Why Now?
In just a decade, the rapid growth of streaming platforms has rendered quaint the idea of popping in a DVD to consume the latest content. And just like consumers have come to see physical media as an impediment to content consumption, voting bodies are increasingly supportive of studios using online distribution platforms for award screeners.
But in the same way that simple cardboard sleeves gave way over time to elaborate glossy inserts and packaging for screener DVDs, studios are seizing the opportunity to customize their online screener platforms to deliver voter experiences that enhance their chances of making it to the stage on the big night. To be competitive in today’s environment, content owners are leveraging customized OTT platforms that deliver consistent branding, put the voter in a good frame of mind with modern UI and device support, and deliver unique experiences featuring novel technologies like augmented reality (AR) or a choose-your-own-adventure interaction.
High Risk, Higher Reward
While this technology is not new, there are still challenges that come with leveraging it for a new use. Studios are learning that while they may already be distributing content through OTT platforms, having creative control and implementing the technology in-house poses new challenges. FYC sites must support a multitude of end-user viewing scenarios, ranging from home theater setups with the latest audio and video technologies to mobile devices with bandwidth-constrained connections. Sites must scale not only in terms of technology, but also in terms of design use cases: The visual flourish that might seem like the perfect enhancement on a full-size screen could become an illegible blur on a smaller device. For traditional marketing and communication-oriented award teams used to designing and executing campaigns on their own, there is a learning curve to working with software engineers who impose a second set of requirements and constraints on the project. The reward of a perfectly executed online screener site is balanced against the multitude of pitfalls that await the unprepared.
OTT Takes the Stage, What’s Next?
While we’ve only just begun to test the waters with OTT sites for award show campaigns, it will quickly become industry standard for studios looking to make their mark and maximize their odds of taking a bow on the industry’s most glamorous stages. And as the industry continues to experiment and implement more nascent technologies like AR/VR and gamification in OTT platforms for consumers, the bar for creators and distributors looking to create a differentiated award site experience will continue to rise.
The concept of online FYC screener distribution and the OTT platforms that will drive the process in the future may be confined to a relatively small scope compared to consumer-facing sites with user counts in the millions. But with a focused audience of industry-insider voters, FYC OTT sites have an out-sized opportunity to allow studios to express themselves to a relevant audience and put their best foot forward.
[Editor's Note: This is a contributed article from Deluxe. Streaming Media accepts contributed bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]