FAST Channels Require a Modern Approach to Advertising Management

By Christopher Hession

In this crazy-evolving landscape of media consumption, Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST) channels have emerged as a popular choice for viewers looking for quality content without the burden of a subscription fee. FAST channels offer a broad range of programming, attracting an increasing number of audiences and advertisers alike.

The growth of the format heightens the need for effective advertising management solutions that cater to the unique requirements of FAST channels and aggregators. For example, will the OMS be flexible enough to support the different ad formats and sales workflows needed – now and into the future. Will the OMS scale to meet your growing needs? And will you be able to avoid the generic “ad slate”, eliminating voids of ad space?

Here at Operative, we’re working with customers as they navigate this new FAST normal. We’ve been talking with several FAST providers recently, and we generally find many of them share the same challenges. The bottom line is that they are looking to technology to enable them in the new world of FAST.

Some of their top concerns include the following:

1. Audience Targeting and Personalization:

One of the key advantages of advertising on FAST channels is the ability to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and viewing behavior. When considering new technology, providers are beginning to prioritize platforms that offer advanced audience segmentation and targeting capabilities. The solution should easily enable advertisers to tailor their messages to the right audience segments, enhancing the relevance and effectiveness of their ads. Personalized advertising not only improves user engagement but also maximizes the ROI for advertisers.

2. Ad Format Flexibility:

FAST channels offer a variety of content genres, from movies and TV shows to news and sports. To cater to this diverse range of content, an OMS has to provide flexibility in ad formats. Whether it’s pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll ads, the solution should seamlessly integrate with the content without disrupting the viewer’s experience. Additionally, support for interactive and engaging ad formats can further enhance viewer engagement – and potentially drive integrated “buy now” experiences in the future.

3. Ad Frequency and Placement Control:

Balancing ad revenue with user experience is crucial for FAST channels. Providers need to choose technology solutions that enable them to control the frequency and placement of ads. Excessive ads can lead to viewer frustration and potentially drive them away from the platform. The ability to set ad frequency caps and strategically place ads at natural breakpoints ensures a positive viewing experience, which in turn helps retain and attract audiences.

4. Data and Analytics Insights:

In the digital age, data is king. FAST channel providers are prioritizing OMS platforms that offer powerful data and analytics capabilities. These modern platforms aggregate and normalize valuable information about viewer behavior, ad performance, and engagement metrics. Armed with this data, providers can make informed decisions about ad placements, content recommendations, and audience targeting strategies. Additionally, data-driven insights empower advertisers to refine their campaigns for optimal results.

The success of FAST channels hinges on the ability to strike a balance between delivering quality content with a great user experience and effectively monetizing the platform. 

5. Ad Verification and Brand Safety:

Maintaining brand safety is paramount for both FAST channel providers and advertisers. Solutions that offer ad verification tools can help ensure that ads appear in appropriate contexts and do not run alongside controversial or inappropriate content. By safeguarding brand integrity, providers can attract premium advertisers and build long-term partnerships based on trust.

6. Monetization Models:

FAST channels and aggregators often rely on multiple monetization models, including ad-supported, subscription-based, and hybrid approaches. When evaluating a modern OMS solution, FAST media companies need to choose platforms that seamlessly integrate with their chosen monetization strategy – and be flexible enough to evolve with the strategy. A solution that offers flexibility to experiment with various models and easily switch between them can be a valuable asset in responding to evolving market trends and viewer preferences.

7. Ad Insertion Technology:

Smooth ad insertion is critical for maintaining a seamless viewer experience (we’ve all seen enough blank slates!). FAST Providers need technology solutions that employ advanced ad insertion technology, ensuring that ads are seamlessly integrated without buffering or delays. Advertisements that seamlessly blend into the content contribute to a positive viewing experience, reducing the likelihood of viewers switching to another platform.

8. Security, Scalability, and Performance:

As FAST channels grow in popularity, the advertising load on the platform also increases. Therefore, scalability and performance are essential considerations for advertising management solutions. The chosen solution should be capable of handling a growing volume of ads without compromising on platform stability and responsiveness. Additionally, it’s critical to ensure your OMS meets all industry certification requirements for data security. Your advertising data is your crown jewel and your OMS connects to several internal systems. Security is paramount.

9. Multiple Selling Models:

Programmatic advertising is a data-driven approach that automates the buying and selling of ad inventory. Integrating programmatic capabilities within the chosen advertising management solution can streamline the ad buying process, optimize ad placements, and enhance targeting precision for your non-premium content. Premium content will often be sold direct, meaning your OMS needs to easily handle multiple selling models.

10. Future-Readiness and Innovation:

We all know the media landscape is continually evolving, with new technologies and trends shaping viewer behavior and advertising strategies. When selecting an OMS, FAST providers should consider its potential for future-readiness and innovation. Modern solutions with the tools needed to power sales and drive AdOps – and enabling the future of interactive ad formats – can position FAST channels as pioneers in the industry, attracting both viewers and forward-thinking advertisers.

The success of FAST channels hinges on the ability to strike a balance between delivering quality content with a great user experience and effectively monetizing the platform. Many of the leading FAST providers already get it – they are already have detailed plans and requirements for their advertising technology. Those leading FAST providers are already working hard to ensure that their platform remains competitive, engaging, and profitable.

The right OMS – such as Operative’s AOS – can set  you up for success by driving revenue growth, delivering great user experiences, and building long-lasting relationships with advertisers, ultimately securing your FAST future in an ever-changing media landscape.

Contact us to learn more about how Operative can help with your FAST plans. And stay tuned for further analyses of the exploding FAST market in upcoming posts!


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