Casting marketing to the right screen

If you are like most people, you prefer to binge watch a favorite program series on Netflix or Hulu rather than wait for each episode to broadcast. But with multi device households growing, it’s also not unusual to cast a program from your tablet or smartphone. Casting is now the new black for TV watching.  Marketers can take advantage of this key activity to better align content and digital media.

Google Cast received new attention as Google announced dedicated pages for analytics measuring Google Cast usage.   Google Cast is a software that allows users to cast entertainment and apps from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop onto a TV or speakers. This emphasis on the software opens doors for programmers to come up with unique apps and features that can enhance casting. Casting in general helps marketers understand how best to
pay attention to viewers, with many home entertainment options coming from subscription-based streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.

If you stop and think about how you watch a show or movie these days, technology has slowly infused the expectationthat you can watch at your convenience. Think of around-the-clock programming of cable, the capability of watching a DVD on a laptop, rear-facing monitors in cars to allow children to be entertained on a road trip.   The cloud nature of subscription-based streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu has certainly advanced that “view anywhere” notion.

The impact is apparent to research firms across the technology field.  According to eMarketer, for example, a Hub Research report found that subscription-based streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus (a premium version of Hulu) were the most common way of viewing digital movies and TV shows among US digital video viewers from 2013 to 2015.  Ars Technica reported how Netflix is influencing TV watching among viewers.

It’s all a far cry from the familiar American image of a family gathered at the TV during prime time, and a huge shift from the concept of prime time television itself.

At the heart of this movement are cast devices–small USB plugins that fit into televisions. These devices are designed to broadcast programming from one device to another.  Most are aimed at allowing smartphones and tablets to share their screen on a large screen TV. The ones from Google, such as Chromecast, come with the Google Cast software included.

The announced Google Cast Analytics shows metrics related to cast device and tablet/smartphone usage: device usage, sessions, and average playback. The data is shown in an adjustable timeline that can display one-day, 7-day, 14-day, and 28-day periods. Users familiar with Google Analytics will recognize these selections as similar to that for the average user in the average user reports.  Marketers can use this to their advantage by developing windows of comparison of trend differences.

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Analytics will become important as other platforms begin to adopt playback devices in their reports and metric considerations. Yahoo’s Flurry Analytics tool added support for Apple TV last month, and in January Twitter’s Answers solution got Apple TV support.  All of these playback metrics reveal analysis capability on how streaming apps, from networks like Netflix and Pandora to complementary cable services like HBO GO and WatchESPN, are performing on cast devices. Marketers can examine these platforms to find opportunities where marketing attribution should start first for many digital strategies.

One way is to leverage video ads, especially on YouTube. Increasingly consumers are turning to YouTube as a source of information and entertainment.  This trend has made YouTube a viable medium for connecting with potential customers through video ads.  Viewer watch time on YouTube is up 60% year-over-year according to Google. Last year eMarketer noted that YouTube has the biggest share of video ads in the US, with gross ad revenues reaching $9.5 billion.  This means marketers have a shot at effective remarketing ads that grabs customers’ attention.

Incorporating analytics tags can help marketers learn if their digital media is attracting the right audience.  Reports for age, gender, and location help marketers compare the demographics at a site or app.  Moreover, marketers can learn which topics are being associated with their media content.  Google Analytics incorporates an affinity report that reveals topics of sites that are driving site visitors or app users. The topics can give ideas of where content marketing can be focused or what topics could be combined with digital ads to make a customer experience that complements a program.

People will never stop watching their favorite shows. Convenience has made programming an everywhere occurrence. We may not be in front of a TV like the days of The Dick Van Dyke Show, but marketers focusing on cast devices will be out in front when it comes to knowing how a marketing message has the best chance to reach the right customers.

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