The new linear: Unleashing the potential of FAST advertising

FAST is an opportunity to fuse the best of linear and digital – featuring addressability and interactivity (like the ability to click on ads and even buy products). Publishers need a strategy to ensure FAST commands the right price and attracts demand, and this article advises on what that strategy looks like, including the need to show advertisers the different audiences, content and ad experiences on FAST so they do not think of it as a one-for-one linear TV replacement. Publishers should encourage advertisers to test interactivity and targeting. And to make everything work they need insight and control across their entire ad product portfolio, with a unified ‘product’ catalogue.

Advertisers are getting to know FAST advertising, which contains a unique mix of linear and digital advertising elements. FAST, which stands for free ad-supported TV, is a growing category of content that is created and distributed through apps, which gives viewers two experiences – on-demand and live streaming. In addition to device manufacturers like Samsung, LG, and Roku, FAST services such as Paramount’s Pluto TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Tubi give millions of viewers access to FAST content from CBS, ABC, MLB, NHL, and more.

With FAST, content providers and aggregators have an opportunity to fuse the best of linear and digital – delivering bundled products that provide reach, interactivity and performance. However, they need a calculated strategy to avoid some of the complexities of FAST in order to reap the rewards of this exciting media format.

What’s so appealing about FAST

For publishers looking for a new outlet for their content that will provide net-new audiences, FAST is a big opportunity. Analyst firm Omdia foresees FAST channel revenues to reach $12 billion by 2027. However, the FAST market is not uniform. In the U.S., FAST has caught on much more quickly, where cable TV prices are very high and TV ad loads take up a large percentage of view time. Many people have embraced all forms of digital TV as an alternative to cable.

In Europe, viewers have been slower to drop linear TV, partly because it has taken more time for the market to offer enough content on FAST channels to give viewers the selection they want. This means that most TV ad spending is still on linear, but change is inevitable. Variety predicts that Western Europe will lose about 7 million more Pay TV subscribers by 2027.

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