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Research from Integral Ad Science (IAS) has provided further evidence for the rapid uptake of free ad-supported streaming finding more than four-fifth of UK consumers (83%) are willing to watch ads to gain access to free streaming content, while over half (56%) plan to start watching such services over the next 12 months.
STreetWars 27Jan2021
IAS’s UK Streaming Wars report aimed to provide providing insights into UK consumer use and preferences for connected TV (CTV) devices and ad-supported streaming services. It highlighted CTV usage and preferences for free and subscription-based streaming services in December 2020 to determine consumer use and behaviours associated with watching ad-supported streaming video content, perceptions on the ad experience on CTV, and how the experience can be improved. The survey was conducted in the UK, analysing responses from 514 consumers.

Among consumers that have paid-for subscriptions, Netflix is the streaming service of choice, with almost two-thirds (78%) of UK consumers having access to the platform, followed by Amazon Prime Video (53%), Disney+ (39%), NowTV (19%) and YouTube Premium (15%). The overwhelming majority (90%) of UK consumers have access to a CTV device, with integrated smart TVs preferred for almost two-thirds (64%) over external box or stick options. Seven in ten (70%) prefer to watch video streaming content via those smart TVs, with just over half (58%) opting for a mobile device. Meanwhile, half of consumers (50%) used their mobile phone as a secondary device while streaming video.

The key driver fuelling uptake of free ad-supported streaming content was cost. Almost two-thirds (61%) of consumers want to save money and three in ten (30%) say that they already pay too much for subscription-based streaming services. Secondly, almost a third (32%) preferred to have a large pool of content to choose from. Almost half (44%) of consumers found the ability to skip certain ads as the top reason they prefer free streaming services to linear TV.

Another key topline finding was that digital video and CTV can provide enhanced targeting and richer data insights compared to standard linear TV. Around a fifth of UK consumers (19%) usually watch ads all the way through when streaming. Contextual targeting helps to drive ad completion with over half (54%) of consumers willing to view an ad to completion if it’s relevant to the content that they are watching. Almost a fifth of UK consumers (17%) are more likely to remember ads or likely to look up products and services of ads when viewed while streaming video or watching CTV. Shorter ads and ad breaks differentiate UK streaming services from linear TV, with almost two-thirds (65%) of consumers stating that this makes their ad experience better.

Assessing the trends revealed by the Streaming Wars report, Nick Morley, EMEA managing director, IAS, said the research showed that viewers are now increasingly open to ad-supported video options, so the onus was on the digital advertising industry to help marketers meet consumer needs with an enjoyable experience. 

“Advertisers in the UK are spending more on digital video and CTV than ever before as new formats emerge to become a major avenue for online advertising campaigns. IAS was the first partner to work directly with the largest video publishers to validate that video ads are viewable, fraud free and brand safe when running across CTVs,” he said. “Free ad-supported streaming services can differentiate themselves with both price and content, offering a clear opportunity for brands to connect with consumers, if relevancy and frequency are prioritised.”