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Brand Safety Vs. Brand Suitability: The Challenge of Premium OTT

We all agree on what brand safety is when it comes to over-the-top premium online video, said Charlie Chappell, senior director of global integrated media at the Hershey Company. What differs from advertiser to advertiser is brand suitability. Just because a program is safe doesn’t mean it will help a brand’s bottom line.

Damian Garbaccio and Charlie Chappell

Chappell spoke today on a New York Advertising Week panel called “Total Video and OTT for Premium Brands” (presented by video ad platform SpotX), where a mix of players highlighted what works and what needs work in the OTT space. OTT here means long-form TV-quality programming streamed to any device. What gets Hershey marketers excited is that with OTT context can matter more than content. If Kit Kat is putting across the idea of taking a break with a sweet treat, it can focus on content that’s about breaks or people watching while on a break. It’s putting the right content in the right place, he said. It’s more focused, but it’s also more effort than an old school TV buy.

“It’s just a lot more work than it used to be, and how do you do that?” Chappell asked. For advertisers whose budgets and teams aren’t expanding, it’s a challenge.

While marketers have more channels open to them, at the end of the day it’s all tied to outcome, Chappell said. For its overall brand, Hershey takes a broad marketing approach, but it uses greater targeting for its niche products. With online platforms offering different metrics than TV, comparing results is a challenge, but he likes the extra data online offers. That’s why he thinks of OTT as “TV plus.” However, he notes, “the measurement is still evolving.”

The most exciting uses of OTT are yet to come, when brands can see how their customers interact with ads on various platforms. At the moment, Chappell is concerned with frequency optimization. He’s well aware that seeing too many messages from a brand can be annoying, so he looks for the optimum frequency across platforms.

Another challenge is marketing to the “unreachables,” an online phenomenon OnlineVideo.net looked at earlier this week [1]. With many younger consumers getting their video from new streaming platforms, reaching them can be difficult. Brands want to follow their audience to these fresh platforms, but get concerned when their overall reach goes down. But pushing to platforms that don’t yet have reach metrics comes with a degree of risk.

At the end of the day, Chappell says, he’s platform agnostic. Brands need to be agile and go with whatever platforms deliver results.

Taking a similar pragmatic approach was fellow panelist Damian Garbaccio, executive vice president for Nielsen Marketing Cloud. Brands have a lot of data available to them and a lot of cool technology to measure it, but that all comes with a cost. If the cost is too high and the brand’s ROI is underwater, brands are quick to pull out. If a platform isn’t proven to add value, Garbaccio cautions, brands shouldn’t do it. It’s that simple.