Home Opinions The new linear: Unleashing the potential of FAST advertising

The new linear: Unleashing the potential of FAST advertising

FAST is an opportunity to fuse the best of linear and digital – featuring addressability and interactivity (like the ability to click on ads and even buy products). Publishers need a strategy to ensure FAST commands the right price and attracts demand, and this article advises on what that strategy looks like, including the need to show advertisers the different audiences, content and ad experiences on FAST so they do not think of it as a one-for-one linear TV replacement. Publishers should encourage advertisers to test interactivity and targeting. And to make everything work they need insight and control across their entire ad product portfolio, with a unified ‘product’ catalogue.

Ben Tatta, Chief Commercial Officer, Operative
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Advertisers are getting to know FAST advertising, which contains a unique mix of linear and digital advertising elements. FAST, which stands for free ad-supported TV, is a growing category of content that is created and distributed through apps, which gives viewers two experiences – on-demand and live streaming. In addition to device manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and Roku, FAST services such as Paramount’s Pluto TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Tubi give millions of viewers access to FAST content from CBS, ABC, MLB, NHL, and more.

With FAST, content providers and aggregators have an opportunity to fuse the best of linear and digital – delivering bundled products that provide reach, interactivity and performance. However, they need a calculated strategy to avoid some of the complexities of FAST in order to reap the rewards of this exciting media format.

What’s so appealing about FAST

For publishers looking for a new outlet for their content that will provide net-new audiences, FAST is a big opportunity. Analyst firm Omdia foresees FAST channel revenues to reach $12 billion by 2027. However, the FAST market is not uniform. In the U.S., FAST has caught on much more quickly, where cable TV prices are very high and TV ad loads take up a large percentage of view time. Many people have embraced all forms of digital TV as an alternative to cable.

In Europe, viewers have been slower to drop linear TV, partly because it has taken more time for the market to offer enough content on FAST channels to give viewers the selection they want. This means that most TV ad spending is still on linear, but change is inevitable. Variety predicts that Western Europe will lose about 7 million more Pay TV subscribers by 2027.

FAST – a mix of linear and digital

For advertisers, FAST offers many benefits. FAST delivers a combination of long-form content programming and in-stream commercials that is similar to linear TV. Viewers can choose from on-demand content and live-streaming, which can refer to actual live events like professional sports, or content that is streaming in real-time that’s the same as what is being broadcast on a linear channel at the same time.

Along with that comes a number of elements that will be familiar to linear advertisers. First is the reach – particularly in the U.S. today. Many viewers of FAST TV have “cut the cord” or are light linear TV viewers, so advertisers can get a valuable and big audience on the channel. Scheduling, dynamic ad insertion and programming all work similarly on FAST as on regular linear, often because the top channels are managed by traditional TV broadcasters. What’s more, advertisers can use third-party currencies, which is a major plus.

There are also a number of key digital elements to FAST that will remind advertisers of AVOD. It’s addressable, which allows advertisers to target audiences using first and third-party data. FAST is also interactive. Viewers can use their remote control to click on ads and even purchase products.

Get the most from FAST advertising

For publishers to profit from FAST content, they must have a strategy in place that helps advertisers make the most of this exciting channel. That means FAST must be part of the cohesive whole of a publisher’s offering, not a separate channel off to the side. Additionally, advertisers need a clear understanding of the different audiences, content availability and ad experiences on FAST vs. other content so they don’t think of FAST as a one-for-one replacement for linear TV.

Publishers should also encourage advertisers to test the unique elements of FAST advertising including interactivity and targeting. When advertisers see that they can get more engagement from their key audiences they will be willing to pay higher CPMs for the inventory.

To make all of this work, it’s important to have insight and control across the entire product portfolio. With a unified product catalogue, publishers can provide advertisers with smarter proposals that help them reach audiences across channels with products that make the most sense for each impression.

Publishers with a centralised order management workflow can also ensure that they are optimising ad delivery across FAST and other channels, incorporating elements like universal frequency capping and yield maximization.

FAST offers advertisers an opportunity to reach a valuable audience with ads that combine the best of both linear and digital. Publishers must take advantage of this window with a strategy that makes the most of FAST so that it commands the right price and brings in demand. FAST is likely the “future of TV” so publishers set the tone for their future advertising business with the way they sell and deliver FAST today.

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