Free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channels have seen tremendous growth in recent years as viewers have tired of paying for multiple video streaming services. In the U.S., 60 percent of households now watch FAST channels. They’re especially popular with cord-cutters because they’re much like traditional TV channels but for over-the-top (OTT) and connected TV (CTV) platforms.
You can monetize your FAST channel in different ways. One of the best options is implementing server-side ad insertion (SSAI).
SSAI, also referred to as dynamic ad insertion (DAI), is the process of dynamically inserting ads into video content.
Whether you're a media distributor or content owner, SSAI makes ad insertion a better experience. Conversely, client-side ads filled with content from places like Google Ads, SpotX, and AppNexus offer less customization and control.
There are many benefits to using an SSAI, starting with how the process stitches together ads and videos and prevents ad blocking. Because there's no blocking, viewers are more likely to see the ad, driving impressions that lead to increased revenue.
Even better, individual targeting and hyper-local ads can be utilized with available inventory that’s sold programmatically. As a result, buyer access to ad inventory is streamlined.
According to Digital TV Europe, targeted ads attract about five to 10 times higher revenue than non-targeted ads. In the U.S., the advertising rate for premium content is about $50 or $60 cost per mile (CPM). Meanwhile, traditional broadcast ads only generate single-digit CPMs.
It's important to note that SSAI is less disruptive than other online advertising since it looks much like broadcast TV advertising and has no buffering. With SSAI, you can also easily capture ad view metrics, so you always know how things are going and whether you're finding success.
Plus, SSAI's dynamic adaptation means less disruption as advertising techniques change. There's also the live-streaming component; SSAI works seamlessly with streaming content—even when that content is live.
There are still challenges FAST stakeholders must address. One of the biggest is making sure viewers don't see the same ads continuously. Being able to enable prefetch to ensure a better advertising experience is critical. In addition, through products like Playout, the software automatically requests an ad from the ad server even before it breaks. This helps increase fill and render rates.
Another FAST challenge is the possible lack of organized data about the performance of the channels. This is almost solely because FAST is relatively new, and the process of tracking information is still evolving.
One thing is clear: FAST, as it relates to advertising, is a work in progress and rapidly changing. Many platforms want to bring ad insertion in-house. While content owners have some negotiation power with the platforms they use, the decision of whether to use SSAI and how much ad revenue share they get is typically out of their control.
For example, Publica, which helps global publishers and TV manufacturers create a seamless ad experience through SSAI, recently formed a partnership with Samsung Ads. The relationship could further enhance buying techniques so they’re similar to those of linear TV.
Regardless, it seems viewers have embraced FAST ads. LG Ads data shows that 76 percent of consumers found FAST channel ad breaks shorter than those on cable and satellite TV. Meanwhile, 69 percent felt FAST ads were higher quality and better matched their interests.
For more information on FAST channels and how you can monetize yours, download our free white paper, Into the FAST Lane: 5 Essential Tactics for Starting a FAST Channel.