Three Ad Strategies for the New Era of Premium TV

Maegan Buckler  | 

Signs of a premium TV renaissance are all around us. Premium content juggernaut HBO has more than doubled its audience in the past two years, while the past 12 months have seen the launch of several high-end TV content efforts, including new premium TV projects from FOX Searchlight and Paramount. For advertisers, this influx of premium content is good news. After all, more high-quality content means higher-quality advertising opportunities. But the growth of premium TV has also been complicated by ad-free streaming services like Netflix and new types of viewer habits. How should advertisers adapt to the new era of premium TV? Here are three strategies.

Premium TV is platform- and device-agnostic
Perhaps the biggest change in the new era of premium TV and premium content is that it’s no longer exclusively distributed by broadcast networks. Instead, today’s viewers can watch premium content on a wide range of devices, whether that’s laptops, connected TVs or smartphones. “We’re not necessarily competing with broadcast anymore. We’re competing with everybody,” acknowledged Kevin Kay, president of the Paramount Network, in an interview with Adweek. “So you’re competing with these premium subscription channels, where they have a completely different viewer experience.” This means advertisers need to look beyond the traditional TV ad buying experience to new digital and mobile channels as they seek out coveted audiences. “There needs to be a swift move to become network agnostic, data agnostic, demographic agnostic and age agnostic,” agreed Turner’s CEO John Martin.

Premium TV turns advertising into an event
Another strategy for the new era of premium TV content is a return of event-style ad campaigns. As more consumers tune into premium TV content, both online and on-air, advertisers are returning to “eventized” ad strategies, an approach that harkens back to the glory days of the traditional broadcast networks. One example is the way advertisers have recently experimented with single sponsor TV programs. There is also increasing interest in “appointment” viewing events, where viewers tune in to watch the premium content live on TV or via a digital streaming device. These appointment-style viewing moments will help unlock new ad strategies like live ads.

Premium TV encourages advertisers to reduce ad loads
A third benefit of premium TV is that it encourages more advertisers and networks to experiment with reduced ad loads. As premium ad-free networks like HBO and Netflix grow in popularity, broadcasters who hope to compete are rethinking their own ad experiences in response. For example, Paramount Network’s new miniseries “Waco” cut its ad load by 30%. While a reduced ad load means fewer opportunities for advertisers on a given show, broadcasters see it as a way for advertisers to generate even higher engagement. “That required a lot of negotiation with clients about raising CPMs to make up the difference, but we’ve been able to get there,” said Paramount’s Kay.

Premium TV is showing up everywhere in 2018, from traditional broadcast networks to OTT platforms to Netflix. But the resurgence of premium TV content isn’t just good for viewers, it’s good for advertisers as well, allowing them to experiment with new ad-buying strategies that are more platform-agnostic, that are turning campaigns into events and that are offering opportunities to make a splash with fewer, more impactful ads. No matter if you’re a content creator, a consumer, or an advertiser, this new future of premium TV looks increasingly bright.

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