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Linear vs. Streaming: What’s Your Strategy?

Sheltering at home in 2020 brought on a huge boost in video and television consumption on traditional linear networks and streaming services. In March, April, and May of 2020, we saw a large number of consumers paying more attention to traditional TV, streaming TV, and the web by 40%. As destinations develop their marketing strategies for 2021 and beyond, it’s important to consider the benefits and challenges found in linear and streaming services. To help you determine the right balance to accomplish your goals, we’ve compiled a quick analysis.

Linear vs. Streaming: What’s Your Strategy?

Let’s Start With the Basics

When you’re comparing linear vs. streaming for your strategy, it helps to know the difference between them.

Linear viewing refers to the traditional television model where consumers watch content that the provider presents. Linear advertising can also mean Connected TV (CTV) and Over-the-Top (OTT) options. The user watches a video and is served a banner ad or another video. The platform or network selects content, creating a passive viewer experience. Another challenge comes from DVR services that allow the viewer to fast forward through or skip ads on recorded programming. 

Streaming gives the viewer control of their experience. They choose what they want to watch on demand and can start, pause, rewind, and fast forward content. The streaming model is now the preferred method of watching television for consumers. Time spent streaming surpassed linear viewing in 2019 and has continued to increase over time.

Benefits Comparison

Linear content consumption has been around for a long time and is familiar for users. Decades of data are available to understand the demographics of viewers on different networks. This data shows how to best engage consumers with advertisements. One way to boost linear ad engagement is to purchase spots during the morning or evening news. This is when viewers are more “tuned” into the program and less likely to skip or miss ads. However, the lack of consumer control is the primary downfall of linear viewing. Some consumers flip through channels rather than watching ads. Others change the channel to avoid watching commercials. Many don’t want their viewing experience dictated by the provider. 

Streaming services allow the consumer to choose what they watch at any time and creates several key benefits to advertisers:

What Does This Mean For Your Strategy?

Unsure whether to include linear or streaming ads in your strategy? Consider who you’re trying to reach. Does research show that your ideal audience tends to watch certain networks or types of programming? Do they use mobile devices to consume content or is television their go-to? If you’re unsure, consider investing in a Visitation Intelligence Report or deeper analysis to define your audience. 

To reach a wider audience, advertising on both streaming and linear services is your best option. Customize the ad type and messaging to connect with distinct audiences on different platforms while maintaining a cohesive brand voice. An ad on traditional network television should be crafted with that format in mind and not used interchangeably with ads built for streaming services.

As more consumers shift to streaming platforms, your budget should transfer accordingly. Samsung reports that:

Let’s Bring it All Together

Three key linear vs. streaming takeaways:

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