3 ways YouTube and Amazon are changing how brands advertise on the NFL

  • The start of the NFL season is the beginning of a big advertising season.
  • Brands have to change their NFL advertising expectations on streamers like YouTube and Amazon.
  • Here are 3 ways the streamers are upending ad buying on the NFL.

With the NFL season about to begin, advertisers will be in high demand.

The NFL’s push into streaming, however, has created some distinct challenges for advertisers, with “Thursday Night Football” beginning its second exclusive year on Amazon and “NFL Sunday Ticket” premiering on YouTube.

Advertisers used to have an easy time breaking into the NFL. “You used to be able to go to two or three networks and you could own the NFL,” Kasha Cacy, chief media officer at ad agency Known, said.

That is no longer the case, as platforms such as YouTube and Amazon influence how some NFL advertisements are purchased and evaluated.

Here are three ways that YouTube and Amazon are altering the way brands advertise against the NFL.

Advertisers cannot compare streaming ads to TV commercials.

For decades, TV advertisements have been measured using Nielsen’s viewing panel, which tracks how many people saw an advertisement.

However, YouTube and Amazon have made it difficult for advertisers to compare streaming audiences to TV audiences, and each streaming platform measures their audiences differently. There is also no way to track people who see ads on multiple platforms.

“You kind of need individual approaches with all of them, which is what complicates it,” Cacy explained. “It’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle putting it all together.”

Streaming does not guarantee a wider audience.

Advertisers are being pitched on YouTube’s massive reach. People who purchase a “Sunday Ticket” subscription, which costs between $349 and $449 per season, can watch games via YouTube TV or a Premium YouTube channel.

However, not all streaming platforms have a large number of sports viewers. During last year’s 14 “Thursday Night Football” games, Amazon averaged 9.6 million viewers. The figures were the lowest since 2014, when the NFL began selling it to media partners. YouTube TV has over five million subscribers, according to its CEO Neal Mohan, who spoke at a MoffettNathanson conference in May.

According to a YouTube spokesperson, the company anticipates that more than 50 TV-heavy advertisers will purchase ads in “Sunday Ticket” live games, on-demand content, and original programming, including YouTube Shorts content.

YouTube is banking on promotions to increase the number of YouTube TV subscribers. YouTube recently promoted “Sunday Ticket” with Verizon in order to increase the number of YouTube TV subscribers. If you buy a new phone or upgrade your phone and internet plans, Verizon will give you a free Sunday Ticket subscription.

This is critical for YouTube to attract advertisers seeking scale, according to Jonathan Schaaf, global chief investment officer at Stagwell Media Networks.

However, Schaaf is interested in seeing if there is a lot of churn next year and if YouTube continues to offer steep discounts to grow its subscriber base.

However, these types of promotions have a track record of success. Customers who sign up for Verizon service in 2019 may be eligible for a free year of Disney+. According to Verizon, more than two-thirds of those subscribers kept the service after the free trial period ended.

Even if audience numbers fall short of expectations, ad sales will not suffer. Despite missing some audience projections for “Thursday Night Football” last year, Amazon benefited from advertisers shifting up to 20% of their primetime TV budgets away from network TV and cable, as previously reported by Insider.

Brands now require different strategies depending on where games are broadcast.

The NFL’s agreement with YouTube allows it to sell advertisements for all “Sunday Ticket” games watched on YouTube in homes but not in bars and restaurants.

Because of this split, advertisers should consider running separate campaigns with YouTube, according to Mike McHale, Noble People’s head of activation.

Unfortunately for advertisers, he said, games watched in bars and restaurants do not always have sound on.

“Advertisers must consider how their creative works without sound,” he says.

Despite these obstacles, Schaaf believes YouTube’s success with selling “Sunday Ticket” will give the company momentum to compete for large TV ad budgets.

“This is a great vehicle to take that into the market and demand more TV ad dollars,” he said.

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