This month: the growing appeal of advertising video-on-demand, voice and visual search reach a milestone and how advertisers can deliver gaming success.

Is it prime time for AVOD?

Despite the success of Disney+ and a spate of high-profile launches recently of subscription services like Quibi, HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, it seems advertising video-on-demand (AVOD) platforms are catching the consumer’s eye.

According to an analysis of Europe’s viewing habits by Samsung Ads, time spent watching AVOD content grew by nearly one-third (29%) between January and June this year. In comparison, time spent watching subscription services (SVOD) increased half as quickly, up 13%.

This isn’t just a European trend, though. AVOD’s household reach in the United States grew 6.9% between January and June this year, double the rate of growth of subscription services (3.4%).

Advertising-supported platforms are also more likely to see sustainable growth, as consumers are unable or unwilling to pay for multiple video streaming services.

For example, in Australia, three-fifths (62%) of consumers say they plan to add a free AVOD service in the next 12 months, while just one-half (47%) say the same for a subscription offering. This trend is also visible in Indonesia.

For TV broadcasters, advertising video-on-demand can help attract audiences and investment at a time when linear formats face difficulty. In the United States, the largest TV advertising market, growth in broadcaster video-on-demand advertising consistently exceeds that of linear TV.

For video streaming services to stand-out, though, it’s ultimately about the content. Part of the success of Disney+ is its ability to combine nostalgia with the latest blockbuster shows and films.

Pluto TV, owned by ViacomCBS and operating in over 20 countries, is one example of AVOD’s success. Aggregating content from more than 200 different licence partners allows the service to appeal to a wide variety of audiences, while positioning itself as “a digital product with TV feeling and a TV approach” has proven attractive to advertisers.

Voice and visual search reach a milestone

In a year that has been full of change, that includes how consumers find and discover brands.

According to data from GlobalWebIndex in the second quarter of 2020, half of online consumers (47%) have used either voice or visual search in the past month.

Both prove equally popular, with one-third of internet users having used voice search on their mobile in the past month, an increase from 25% in 2017. One-third (33%) also say they have used an image recognition tool like Google Lens or Pinterest Lens in the past month.

Asia Pacific leads on voice search, with two-fifths using this feature in the past month, while visual search proves particularly popular in Latin America.

Smart speakers, a key device for voice search, are also broadening their horizons.

One-half of smart speaker owners say they use the device for basic tasks like streaming music and over two-fifths use it for weather and news updates.

However, consumers are now using smart speakers for a broader range of purposes. One-quarter (26%) say they are using the device for home control, 19% for online shopping and 16% as a supporting device for mobile or PC gaming.

Some brands have successfully tapped into this broader use case for smart speakers – Chinese infant formula milk brand JinLingGuan used the channel to educate new parents and establish itself as an expert in child nutrition.

For both voice and visual search, brands will need to optimise text and images for these new formats. Done correctly, this can generate more sales – fashion retailer Forever 21 reported a 20% increase in average conversion value when using a visual search tool.

However, marketer investment has so far been limited – WARC’s research shows over two-thirds of marketers are not prepared for the applications of voice.

Advertisers need to level-up for gaming success

Gaming audiences have also grown rapidly this year but advertisers looking to engage with the channel need a clear strategy to succeed.

Comscore data of gaming activity across Asia Pacific shows audiences in Singapore, Australia and India increasing by at least 20% between January and May 2020. Also, gaming’s size relative to other forms of entertainment increased in all ten markets over this period.

While advertisers have recognised gaming’s potential, investing $844m in e-sports this year alone, it’s important to look beyond this rapid audience growth.

A stereotype of gamers as young men persists, so advertisers must realise that gaming proved attractive for a wider range of audiences during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Globally, the share of Baby Boomers (those aged 56 to 64) playing video games reached two-thirds (65%) in the second quarter of 2020, an increase from 56% the year before. While mobile devices proved most popular, PC and laptop gaming saw the quickest growth. This suggests Baby Boomers are wanting more intensive forms of gaming than what a smartphone can offer.

As well as this, some audiences might not consider themselves as ‘gamers’, so advertisers will need to think carefully about who they’re targeting and how they can engage that group directly.

Advertisers will also need to think creatively in order to stand out, particularly as one-fifth of players say they try to avoid all types of advertising.

Samsung is one example of success, creating a new character for hit game Fortnite that players could only access by purchasing the company’s latest smartphone. The campaign proved effective as it struck a balance between engaging audiences but not detracting from the overall playing experience.