User Experience Considerations for AVOD Services

With today’s digital TV services, user experience is everything. At Float Left, we believe that the consumer experience is the most critical part of any direct-to-consumer video service. With the money that’s required to elevate these services and attract new viewership, to not be hyper-focused on the user experience is a huge oversight and will leave consumers walking in and right out the back door.

The market for AVOD OTT services is set to explode over the next few years. Although OTT is much more present in the consumer’s mind today, it’s advertising ecosystem is in its infancy. AVOD services are especially sensitive to user experience. Consumers of AVOD OTT services exhibit ad tolerance to a point, but ads need to be as unintrusive as possible. Consumers do not have the patience for a poor experience, especially during an ad break. With so much choice and competition, advertising for OTT should be implemented with careful consideration on the user experience.

To keep up with growing demand, most OTT service providers are serving ads in the same way as they are in now traditional, linear TV. The current adoption for OTT is leveraging old and outdating paradigms, and advertisers are attempting to fit a round peg into a square hole. With this in mind, today’s OTT AVOD services are missing opportunities to capitalize on the TV app ecosystem.

Today’s digital TV consumer expects more from a TV app experience, which includes how they are being marketed to, and the industry must adapt. Those brands that make this connection faster will have a significant advantage. In the meantime, there are some user experience considerations that all OTT services can adopt immediately:

  • Move to a server-side solution. The technology behind server-side ad insertion (SSAI) has evolved dramatically and is a superior user-experience than client-side ad serving. In addition to a better user experience, it also has added benefits that make it a far excellent solution.
  • Ensure diversified ad inventory – as viewership increases, allowing more ad networks to compete will create a diversified range of ads and increase the aggregate fill rate.
  • If your offering long-form content, place ad breaks at the appropriate locations – think about creative placement. Many brands lack the resources to cycle through all of the content and find the proper position for ad breaks. Obviously and black slate or transition is ideal, but there are other appropriate locations. Creating a global ad schedule based on time markers increases the chance that a break will occur in a critical moment, which dramatically decreases the quality of the user experience.
  • Ensure appropriate ads for the target audience. Similar to point #3, the correct diversification of ad networks should also create a variety of quality advertisements. Repetitive ads due to limited ad availability will create a poor user experience.
  • Reduce the ad loads to 3 15-30 sec ads per break, and build revenue by driving eyeballs. If you get too aggressive with the ad pods, it can be costly as users may decide to go elsewhere.
  • Ensure the creative decisions around the ad content are appropriate based on the target device, i.e., a single ad creative shouldn’t be delivered to mobile and TV. The TV is a lean back experience, and mobile isn’t.

Services that break these rules run the risk of losing their audience. Many services believe that just because consumers are modifying their cords that they’ll tolerate any number of ads during the content – this isn’t the case. As an avid user myself, with so many options, services that avoid following these basic principles will struggle to ensure they’re growing their audience.

At Float Left, we have been fortunate enough to work with some of the world’s leading media companies over the last ten years. We’ve seen a variety of different approaches, and there are always exceptions to the rules, but following these principles will certainly give you a fantastic start.

Keep in mind that none of this matters without quality content. Content is king, and user-experience is queen. It’s also our belief that advertising on OTT will need to evolve, and the brands that can think outside the box and adapt will win. That’s an article for a different day.

Until next time!